This is a guest contribution from Chelsea Lee Smith of MomentsADay.com.
As a part-time blogger and homeschooling mother of three, I often get asked: “How do you do it all?!”
In the past, I usually ran through a few different answers: I have had a regular cleaner at times; I usually do my shopping online to save time; I rarely watch TV; I have occasional childcare.
But these answers are only a small part of the bigger picture. Yes, making certain lifestyle choices has contributed to my ability to get things done. However that in itself would not provide me with the professional environment required to continue my work as a blogger.
The underlying reason I have been able to keep up my blog alongside a very busy personal life is that I aim to maintain healthy work practices. This keeps my blogging at a level where it doesn’t overtake my life and ensures I keep enjoying it.
I did not map all this out until recently when I nearly hit rock bottom as a professional blogger. It wasn’t because my statistics had dropped or anything else catastrophic had happened (knock on wood). I was simply emotionally exhausted and drained.
I basically got to a point that I felt so overwhelmed with blogging that I was seriously considering giving it up. We had moved to a new town and setting up house was taking much more time and energy than I had envisioned. Article deadlines were constantly creeping up on me, leading to late nights and a lot of anxiety. Nothing was being checked off on my project to-do list. My inbox was going bonkers.
After e-chatting with a few blogging buddies, I recognised the need to sit back and really take stock. I had been through many busy periods during my blogging career. Study, pregnancy, new baby, a year of travel around Australia. What was the issue now? Why was it so challenging?
I asked myself:
- Was I enjoying my work?
- Was I maintaining my boundaries?
The answer to both questions was no. I was not enjoying my work because I felt constantly behind, leading to a little voice in the back of my head saying that it would never be enough no matter what I did. I was sticking to my post schedule instead of writing what I was passionate about. I was checking my email on my phone throughout the day, trying to get one or two jobs done here and there, and not staying present with my family or myself.
Were these patterns contributing to a better blog? Not really.
Did I want to continue blogging? No way. At least not like this…
So I outlined the practices I had followed in the past that would help me enjoy my work and maintain my boundaries again. What a difference it has made to reintroduce these habits in my life. I now feel that I have a better blog and am able to be a better me.
I am sharing my list of healthy Pro-Blogger practices with you in case these points help you create better choices around your work as a blogger.
1. Take yourself seriously
Emails sent in the checkout line are rarely typo-free or complete. Don’t skip meals or stay up all night tweaking something that can wait until tomorrow. Do work when it’s working time, in your own designated working space.
Treat yourself like an important employee – give yourself a desk, all the tools you need, and time to regroup when you need it. If you take care of yourself and maintain your head space, your work will be better and you will be in a better place personally to handle pressure when it comes your way.
2. Guard your work hours
As a work-at-home blogger, it can be tricky to overcome distractions. I have found that when my work interferes with family time, even 10 minutes here and there, I head down a slippery slope towards resentment by myself as well as my family.
Therefore when I am able to schedule time to work on my blog, I fully dedicate that time to working on my blog. No cleaning, no cooking, no laundry, but work, as if I were in an office away from my house. If I find I am getting distracted by Facebook or start procrastinating by doing the household chores, it is time to take a break. I like to be productive in bursts instead of feeling like I’m spending hours getting “nothing” done.
3. Surround yourself with inspiring colleagues
Who doesn’t like to chat at tea break about what’s going on in the office? It’s necessary to have colleagues not only for professional development but for a sense of teamwork and mutual support.
My blogging buddies are absolutely irreplaceable because – it’s just a fact – no one gets blogging like a blogger. I was lucky towards the beginning of my blogging career to be hooked up with some pretty fantastic bloggers who are not only a great sources of information but some of my most reliable cheerleaders. We share our struggles and our milestones, ask each other questions, let each other know about embarrassing typos and all the other good stuff that happens in blogger Facebook communities.
If you don’t have a blogging group that fits you, find one or create your own. It can be a game changer to be supported by like-minded bloggers, especially those in your own niche.
4. Choose quality over quantity
No one can do it all.
All the bloggers I have ever met have expressed that there are so many things they would like to do – ebooks, ecourses, better SEO, more printables – but simply don’t have the time. Being a blogger in itself takes serious commitment, a good amount of planning, a whole lot of time, and often a few tears.
I often have two dozen projects on my list and have to narrow it down to one or two that I want to actually complete. I do allow myself a bit of time to dream and explore different options, but choosing a couple things to actually finish helps me meet a deadline. I also constantly remind myself that I don’t have to be everywhere on social media as long as I’m consistently in one or two places where my readers know they can find me.
5. Be true to yourself
There is a delicate balance between writing what you want to say and writing what readers want to read. No matter what topic you are writing about, you have a voice and a skill set that is uniquely yours. Your blog is your platform to share a message with the world. What will your legacy be? Be true to yourself and write from the heart. Not only is it more satisfying, but following your passions will keep you motivated to continue progressing in your blogging career.
Remembering these healthy work practices has helped me get my blogging groove back on, and I hope they might help you consider what will lift your blogging work higher as well.
Have you considered healthy blogging practices before? What are your must-dos?
Chelsea Lee Smith is an author and parent educator who shares personal growth activities and resources for the whole family at MomentsADay.com.