As a blogger myself and as a psychologist, I know how you can struggle with the mental side of blogging. Especially when you’re self-employed completely, you can feel like you’re constantly walking the line between being stressed, because you’re the only one that can do the work, and not being firm enough with allocating your time well. At least for me, I either stress to get everything done in time or I postpone things, because there’s not a strong deadline. Luckily, there are some things you can do to create some balance in your routine.
Today, I’ll give you some tips to avoid stress and boost productivity!
1. Plan ahead
Become a great planner
My first tip might be quite obvious, but it is to become a great planner. Although I find that inspiration can strike at the strangest times, you need to plan out the rest, otherwise it’s just too much. Also, planning will make you see opportunities sooner and you’ll be able to respond quickly to them. I personally do this in a couple of ways, starting with a excel sheet where I plan my content for the upcoming weeks. I think it’s very important to post consistently for your audience, but it also structures your own life some more. So, my content schedule has a post scheduled every Friday. Since I have divided my content into four categories, I try to plan every category once a month. This way, I can see in one overview whether I’m highlighting every subject enough.
Have an extensive to do list
My second tip in this area is to have an extensive to do list. I used to just write everything down in one big list, but the list kept growing and it got harder and harder to prioritize. That’s where Trello comes in. I have a board dedicated to my blog. There, I have lists with new ideas, PR to do’s, content related to do’s and technical to do’s. I divide my tasks in these lists. On top of that, I label them on priority from high to low priority or ‘extra’ or continuous task’. This way, I can easily see which area needs attention. When I’m scheduling posts in my excel sheet, I can also go to my ideas list for inspiration. Trello is also available in app form, so I always carry it with me.
By planning everything out like this, I am never having stress over needing an idea right away when I don’t have inspiration or having to write a post now. I also tend to plan a month worth of post ahead, so I never have to write articles last minute. This helps me so much with managing my stress and with not forgetting things.
2. Divide and conquer
Define your peak of productivity
All of us have a time that we’re most productive. For me, the morning is better for administration, SEO and social media, whereas my creativity is more active in the evening. Therefore, most of my content is written in the evening. This is also the time that I tend to create most new designs for Pinterest or Instagram. I also know that around 4 o’clock, I’ve likely lost my focus and I won’t get it back until dinner. This time is therefore allocated to more active things, like housework or exercise. This way, I feel energized enough to work a little longer in the evenings. Finding out when you’re the most focussed can help you so much with productivity, but it also makes it more likely you’ll enjoy the tasks. Therefore, it’s important to divide your time in ways that suit your needs and body. Although I know many people love to exercise in the morning, I just know I won’t be as motivated and I’ll be less likely to achieve my goals, whereas I’m happy to finally get off the couch at 4 o’clock.
Get the annoying tasks done
In addition, I know that I tend to be happier when I get the annoying tasks out of the way. That’s why those tasks are mainly scheduled in the morning for me. When I’ve finished them, I feel accomplished, instead of stressing over having to do them later. For instance, last week I had to update loads of alternative texts of my images. In the evening, I would’ve felt more compelled to watch Netflix instead and I wouldn’t have done it, whereas in the morning, I promised myself a nice lunch after it was done, which was motivation enough.
Divide your week to optimize your achievements
But dividing your time like this doesn’t only work in your day rhythm, it’s also applicable throughout the week. Do you feel creatively inspired in the weekend, but less so after work during the rest of the week? Use it to your advantage and write! It could be the perfect timing to also read posts from others to get inspired. Or do you need your weekends to be relaxed? Maybe this is the time to take breaks from social media and your blog to get fully charged for the upcoming week. In that case, you need to stop scheduling posts for those days! If you hate Mondays, make them full of nicer tasks and but the boring stuff off until Tuesday, when you’re back in your flow. Or maybe, it works better for you to get them out of the way as well? Be mindful of these things to optimize your time.
Take time off from blogging
In all of this planning, planning in some much-needed self-care time is also important. Plan days or evening off. Give yourself a chance to re-charge. Not only will this help you relax, it will also make you way more productive when you are working again. The brain can only be stretched so far, you need to give it time to heal as well. I mean, think of it like exercise. What push-ups go better, the first 50 or the last? Exactly, the first few, so don’t expect your brain to be super productive after hours of hard work, it’s just not fair!
3. Interact with the blogging community
Get help from others
Another big part that can help is to reach out to other bloggers. It can be hard sometimes, we all know that, so don’t be afraid to get some support. This can be emotional support, but also practical support. Are you a star in SEO, but making pin designs is not your thing? Go out into the world! Maybe there’s someone out there who makes amazing pin designs, but who finds SEO to be a tedious process. Maybe you could help each other out!
Don’t compare your beginnings to someone else’s middle
However, there is something that you should be a little careful with. Although the blogging community is a beautiful and supportive community, it’s also one that can make you compare yourself to others. I’ve had multiple times where I was honestly happy for a milestone someone had reached, like reaching 1000 views in a day, but I couldn’t help but think my highest was only 100. This can be motivating to do better, but it can also be stressing you out when you’re comparing yourself to others. But remember, you don’t know how long someone has been working on that number or how much they’ve invested in their business. Focussing on your own goals can be way better if the stats of others are bringing you down mentally
Share and celebrate your blogging wins
And the community can help you here as well! You’ve reached a new goal? Share it! Signed your first brand deal? Celebrate! All the times you’ve celebrated for others will come back to you now. These are the moments you’ve been working for! Another thing that you can focus on are the lovely compliments you can get on your blog. Read them over if you’re feeling down, you deserved them.
4. Grow your Mindset
And to continue with the numbers game, what’s in a number? If you compare 50 followers to 1000, it may not seem like much, but if you treat each one as an individual, it’s a lot. There are 50 human beings that probably have no idea who you are in real life that find your content valuable enough to take time out of their precious days to read your articles. From all the 100.000 blogs there are, they chose yours to read. 50 people. Isn’t that astonishing if you really think about it? It’s all about your mindset!
And if that doesn’t work, you could go the other route. Why is it so terrible? ‘Only’ 50 people read your article. Are you going to die from it? Or even live less of a life? Will it hurt you? Yes, you may feel the sting for a second, but is it truly horrible? I can’t imagine it is. And of course, the bigger you get, the more you have riding on your business, but still; is your life over if this doesn’t work out? I don’t think so. Catastrophizing always helps me in being realistic. It can put things in perspective. I always start with two questions: ‘What is the absolute worst that could happen?’ and ‘Why would this be so horrible?’. Especially that last one is hard, because you can keep going. I’ll give you an example:
- The worst that could happen is I lose my income
- That’s terrible because I need money to survive and I’ll have to find another job
- This is terrible I’ll like this new job less
- That’s terrible because I won’t like it as much
- That’s terrible because I don’t want a stupid job
- A stupid job is terrible because it’s not fun
- Something not being fun is a waste of my time
Do you see how quickly it diminished from something really dramatic to it ‘not being fun’? Of course, I want you to have as much fun as you can in life, but there are not many things that are truly terrible. If it would come to the point of you being homeless, yes, that’s really bad, but if you’re such a successful blogger now that you can live off of your blog, it should realistically be achievable to get a job as a freelance writer or something similar, even if it was writing postcard texts or something. It may not be as fun or earn you as much, but you’ll be fine and you’ll get on your feet again. Have a little trust in yourself.
5. Enjoy the journey
And last, but probably the most important tip? Enjoy the ride! You started doing this because you’ve found your passion. Many people will never even do that! So, enjoy having something that you’re so passionate about that it makes you care so much up until the point your stressed. If you wouldn’t be stressed, you likely would just care less about it. If you think of this when your post didn’t go online as scheduled or your Instagram post didn’t get as many likes, enjoy the fact that you care. And did you know a little stress is actually a good thing? Of course, too much is never good, but a little goes a long way. It helps you stay focused and alert. That type of stress is called eustress and it’s essential for achieving anything. As with everything in life, it’s all about balance.