This is the third post in our series of 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done, and in the month of January I am working on getting computer, blogging and social media goodies done. I have to ask, what was I thinking last week when I set myself numerous tasks the very same week that we started a fresh new school year. Let me explain for those readers that don’t homeschool… when you have taken a significant break from homeschooling and head back into it, even if you carry on from exactly where you left off, each of your students will take this as a sign to say “mam” every five seconds and claim they have no idea what they should be doing, other than just hanging about waiting for you to instruct them… truth is that isn’t how we homeschool and something they only try in the first week and then figure out that isn’t our style and carry on as usual. So you won’t see a new about page and you won’t see a new media page up on the blog, I do have roughs, and outlines, and I have a whole lot of new blog goodies that I have been working on, just waiting to launch.
Se7en Steps to Getting Your Work Flow in Order
Meanwhile I got to thinking, if I am getting things done then it is genuinely time to start organising my work flow – I know I can hear you laughing out loud… but until last year, I never considered blogging work at all. It was just something I added onto my day once everything else was done. So picture this… running a home (full time job), parenting a gang (full time job), homeschooling the same gang (another full time job), and add in a little volunteering, and my working day finishes at the earliest 11pm every night. And then I would start blogging, for as long as it took. This meant that I was getting little to no sleep for a number of years, long after my smallest children had outgrown sleepless nights, I was still up nights and all nighters, ahem, were far to routine. This does not a happy mother make and last year I took my appalling sleep habits in hand… and blogging got a whole lot slower. For the first time I realised that the amount of time I put into blogging was another full time job. So definitely time to figure out how to do all the things I do, and sleep and blog. I love blogging, it is here to stay, we just need to figure out a way to fit it into our day.
- Find Your Sleep Rhythm: You cannot work if you haven’t slept. Period. If you get to your computer too tired to type, let alone too tired to think… then you should definitely be sleeping. I decided to make sleep a priority… and just go to bed, in fact I don’t blog every day and on nights when I am just too tired I no longer sit at my computer hoping that a blog post will jump out at me. Instead I reward myself with a trip to bed, I am tired enough to have earned it. The feeling of wellness after a good night’s sleep is phenomenal and the amount of quality work you can get done completely removes the effort that goes into trying to work when you are just too tired.
- Split Your Work into Chunks: I always considered blogging to be a chunk of work at the end of the day. Turns out that just isn’t so, you can break it up. Turns out I have three distinct types of work that all fall under the umbrella of blogging. You may have more, you may have less… whatever you have, you can’t actually do them all at once. The first type of blog work for me is responding to email and social-media-ing… sharing and engaging with our community is imperative; the second type of blog work is the creative side of blogging, creating content, generating ideas, writing and taking photographs, actually doing the stuff that we blog about; and finally editing the photographs and getting posts ready to launch. I have always done all three of these tasks simultaneously at the end of the day. Realising that I was continuously multi-tasking and distracting myself from the task at hand, was a bit of an eye opener!!!
- Finding the Time to Work: Believe it or not, epiphany warning, if you go to bed earlier, then you can wake up a little bit earlier. I know, things your mother tells you and you never believe… I am not your mother, and I am telling you… that if you are going to bed earlier… at the same time as your kids even, you will naturally wake up earlier. Truth. In that early morning slot, while the house is still quiet, before my kids begin their day and after I have read a little bit, I do all my social-media-ing… tweeting, instagram, pinning… and emails. What I don’t get done I leave until the next day and at the end of the week I drop it all together… I tend not to bother with emailing and such over weekends. The early morning turns out to be a good time for me to get all those little things done that you don’t necessarily love doing, but need to get done in order for our blog to keep rolling. Honestly, I am not at my best first thing, but I can reply to things and read other folks blogs and leaves comments.
- Figure out Your Best Time: My best time to work, is towards the end of the afternoon. That time after school, after our rest, when I used to get into the kitchen and start dinner. Turns out that that is when my brain really gets into gear and likes to create, just before the evening rush. So now I know I try to do all my blog creating then. Dinner can start a little later, when I am relaxed because I know I have done the major work of the day. Just one thing, I have eight kids, and if it was easy to work with a gang of kids around I would never have started the bad habit of blogging all night. Turns out, that you can actually blog with kids around… and this is how I do it…
- Consider Wearing a Hat!!!: I am not kidding… my kids need a distinct physical sign that says, “Now is not a good time to interrupt the mother person.” I don’t want to be in a room out the way, with the door closed, that would be crazy not to mention dangerous. I am guessing that with one or two kids asking for something once every minute… that it would be difficult to get anything done. Well with eight… it is impossible. After an entire morning spent doing school with them, and yes I do completely ignore my phone and the internet during school time, our kids have my full attention… and after lunch we read and chill together… they tend to drift away in the afternoon and work (some might call it play) on their own projects. It appears to be a good work slot for all of us, and they know that if I am wearing my hat… that they need not bother me for incidentals. I just have to point at the hat and they wander off again. It works for us.
- Set Some Limits: The limits are mine… once I get started I can just keep at it… but I make sure that I have a working blog post before I get up from my desk, and then I stop. It is very easy to get distracted, check out a few blogs, have a look what happening in twitter and like a couple of photographs on instagram… and before I blink, all my blog time has been eaten up. So I do have a few ground rules, no engaging on the internet when I have a post to write and get the post prepared as far as I can before starting dinner. Just knowing that there is a physical limit, makes me concentrate harder and get the work out of the way. And trust me, a number of folk are quite happy to let me know that it is time to start dinner. Not to mention, quite a few folk are trained to start dinner if I am too busy.
- The Very End of the Day: Once my kids are in bed, blog posts are pretty much pre-planned from earlier in the day… photographs are taken, se7en points are jotted down and I literally have to edit photographs and get the post ready to launch. With my new sleep plan, if I am too tired, I skip this and head for bed. Honestly, I don’t for a moment believe that our followers are holding their breath for the next blog post… and I know posting on a schedule is key and all that… but I am only human, and if a post has to wait a day or two, or even three… the internet will not break. Talking of breaks…
- Take a Break it’s often the Most Productive Thing to Do: You don’t have to be in a state of collapse before you take a break… Long before that stage, you can actually stop and read a book you would like to read, watch a movie, take your kids for a walk… they will play and you will be in the great outdoors… it sounds crazy, but often the most productive thing you can do is refresh brain, so that it is good and ready for work a little later. In order to be creative, and blogging is creative, your mind needs time to potter about and relax… you can’t just go go go all the time. Rest is the key to creating fresh content.
The challenge to getting things done this week is to get the sleep you need, and once you have that, find your most productive time to work and really work then. If you can’t get to your computer because you are watching kids at that time, then make a plan to get something done… at the very least have a notebook and pen with you so that you can jot down ideas. In order to get anything done you need to be rested, and then you need to work with your rhythm and not against it.
Previous Posts in our 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done Series