Great idea. So today I think I shall.
Now, I need to let you in on something first. My schedule changes every few months. Sometimes I find one method of organization works for me; and then all of a sudden it just doesn’t. So about two weeks ago I started my new schedule. How long this one will last, I don’t know, but I shall share it with you now since I’m doing it!
One of my problems that God has really been speaking to me about lately is that when you work from home it’s all too easy to let your work invade every aspect of your life–and never be able to shut off. I was finding that I was at my computer ten or eleven hours a day. Not always productively (sometimes I was just checking stats or sales, etc.), but I was there.
I had a hard time turning away from the computer because I kept thinking of things I should be doing.
But then I realized an important lesson:
There are always more things to do.
You will never be “done”.
And so if I will never be done, no matter how hard I work, then it’s important for me to put my family first.
So I’ve instituted a “stopping” time for my work. I now stop work at 12:30 and get lunch, and then spend the afternoon checking over my teenage daughter’s schoolwork (we homeschool), cleaning the house, running errands, and generally just living.
So here’s what my day looks like:
Blogging, Social Media, Newsletters, etc.
I get up at 7, shortly after my husband does, and while still in my p.j.’s (and often while still in bed 🙂 ) I make sure my blog posts are good to go for that day, tend to all my emails, and schedule all my social media. I also check up on any orders that came in yesterday, update all my reports (I never used to do this; it made tax time a nightmare, so now I write everything down everyday as it happens), and check on new subscribers to my newsletters.
Let me boil that down a little more.
My main blog is To Love, Honor and Vacuum, where I talk about marriage, sex, and parenting. I get about 300,000 unique visits a month, so it’s quite a large blog, and it takes a lot of upkeep.
I write a post daily. I like to have most of these scheduled in advance, so I’m not working on today’s post in the morning, but working ahead. I try to post one guest post a week to cut down on my writing time, and then I post my weekly column on Fridays. On Saturday I answer a reader question. I get TONS of emails everyday from readers, and I just can’t answer them all. I’ve had to learn to say no. But I do take one email and turn it into a post.
What helps with this: WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin. It’s amazing! It lets me schedule posts ahead of time, and even just write in the title of a post that I want to write coming up, even if I have no content yet. Great to plan your blog!
During that 7-9 period I also try to update any outstanding advertising I have to take care of (I have to bill people for advertising, and recruit people to advertise in my newsletters, and there are always multiple emails going on about that).
Social media is the big task that many of you may wonder about. What do I mean by “scheduling”?
Well, let me detail it for you exactly:
1. I post four times a day to my Facebook Page.
- First thing in the morning I post my “From the Older Post that Was Pinned Last Night Files”, and post something that was pinned. This helps people see my older posts.
- Around noon I post a question. This tends to get lots of answers, and the more people engage with you, the more likely your posts show up in their newsfeed.
- Around 3 I post a link to my blog post.
- Around 8-9 I post a graphic.
I’ve been playing around with those times a bit, but that seems to be what works.
But I don’t actually POST at those times. I schedule them. I go into Hootsuite and post all four things at once, so that they’re all set to go on autopilot. Hootsuite helps you schedule your Facebook updates so that you can send them all at one time.
2. I post 10 times a day to my Twitter Account
I have a list I keep called “Tweets to Buffer”.
What’s Buffer? It’s a really cool Twitter app that lets you decide what ten times you want to tweet throughout the day. Then you just “add stuff to your buffer”, and it sends it out at those times. What makes it cool is that you don’t have to keep loading in the times you want things to go out; you just put the next tweet in, and then the next tweet, and it’s scheduled for you.
In Evernote (a great place for storing notes or lists or anything you want to have handy that’s super searchable) I have a list of about 100 tweets that I want to go out fairly regularly, talking about different products, or highlighting neat quotations. So I add my post for the day into Buffer three times, to go out throughout the day, and then I just cut and paste seven more.
The whole thing takes maybe 3 minutes.
3. Pin some posts on Pinterest
Then I try to go into Pinterest and repin a few pins, and pin today’s post. But sometimes I do that later in the day as well because it’s actually more effective to pin in the afternoon. So I do cheat on that one.
Breakfast, Shower, Etc.
Then, to the tune of March of the Bumblebees in my head, I try to have a shower, make my bed, get dressed, and grab some breakfast. I can usually do this in half an hour.
I used to try to do my devotions during this time period, but it never seemed to work. I couldn’t concentrate because something was always pulling at me, or the kids were just getting up. I’ve now switched it so that I read my Bible last thing at night, and then hubby and I read something together. I’m not sure if that will work long term, but it’s one of the new things I’m trying!
Big Task for the Day
Now I have a three hour blog to get something big done. On Mondays I write my weekly column (though I try to only take about 45 minutes to do that. You can read this week’s here.)
On Wednesdays I try to write my guest posts for that month. I used to write a lot of guest posts; I’m now a regular contributor at two different sites (Happy Wives Club and The Unveiled Wife), and I’m going to stop regular writing gigs at other blogs. I just don’t have the time. But guest posts are a great way to get known and to reach outside your niche, so I try to reach out to other websites every week.
Other than those two regular features this is the time where I get my big projects done. Some examples of things on my to-do list for the next few months during these hours, for instance, would be:
- Updating my shopping cart system on my blog
- Editing CDs and videos of talks I’ve given over the last four months to turn some into products and some into YouTube videos or clips
- Writing a book proposal based on one my blog posts that went viral
- Writing the second edition of To Love, Honor and Vacuum (my first book, it was published in 2003. The publisher just sent me a contract to update it).
- Writing an ebook that I want to launch in the fall
- Organizing all of my notes for speaking engagements that are coming up and making sure that I have enough inventory for the book table
Other things I’ve recently used that 3 hour block to do:
- Launch a new newsletter. I’ll be telling you about that in an upcoming post!
- Redo the design on my blog
What don’t I do?
You may notice that there’s nothing in there about booking speaking engagements. That’s because I’ve just hired an assistant who takes care of all the incoming speaking requests and coordinates things for me. She follows up and sends out the contracts, and saves me a lot of time.
When I know I’m going to be in Michigan, for instance, I ask her to contact all the MOPS groups in the area and see if they want to hear me speak. And I have her send out an email to everyone on my list who lives in Michigan to see if they can get their church to have me speak so that I can turn it into a tour. So everyday I send her out tasks to do, but I don’t do them myself anymore.
I also don’t have anything in there about writing my newsletters, and yet I send out about 6 different ones a month. I’ve hired a different assistant who does my newsletters, makes my graphics if I need more, formats my column post and my reader question post and any guest posts (I send her the text, she uploads it all for me), and other things like that.
Again, she saves me time.
It’s been expensive having assistants, but I’ve also found that in the time that I used to spend doing some of these tasks I’ve instead looked into creating more products and getting more advertising, so I’ve been able to use my time for more effective things.
Then I just quit. At 12:30 the computer goes off. I do check email throughout the day because I have to; often there are emergencies or quick questions (especially from my assistants) that I just have to answer. But I don’t work anymore.
The work will still be there the next day.
And I’ve been finding that by having a deadline–I know I have to stop work at 12:30–I get so much more done.
So that’s it–that’s my daily schedule! What do you find works to organize your time? Or what app do you find has been the most helpful? Let me know!
If you want to try to get a better handle on where you should be spending your time, my audio download Treating Speaking Like a Business can help. It enables you to prioritize, tells you how to make goals and measure them, and gives you a system for figuring out where your time would be most productively spent. Check it out here.