Being an independent blogger can be a great job – you can work from wherever you want, design your own business niche, and really hone in on a topic you care about – but none of this makes it an easy job. Unlike in a traditional office where supervisors and coworkers keep you accountable, as a blogger, you need to be focused and self-motivated or you won’t get anything done.
Many people dive into the world of blogging insufficiently prepared to buckle down and do the work sans deadlines, to hustle for jobs, and send out pitches. Others do well for a while but eventually find their focus fading. But you can regain (or learn) the drive and attention it takes to blog.
Next time you hit a wall, consider these 4 strategies to get back to business.
Consider Your Routine
Do you meander out of bed each morning and eventually wind up at your desk after your errands are done or you’ve had coffee with a friend? If so, it’s no surprise that you’re struggling to get things done. Just like a traditional job, being a blogger requires discipline if you’re going to get things done. Create a schedule and stick to it. Don’t let that appealing midday museum date or an invitation from a friend distract you. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean blogging isn’t real work.
There’s one exception to the rule of scheduling. If you’ve been great at sticking to your routine but find yourself surfing the internet or staring into space, consider mixing things up. That doesn’t mean throwing your schedule out the window, you just need to rearrange some things. You might answer client emails or approve blog comments before you start writing or work at a different coffee shop. Even just changing rooms in your house can break things up enough to help you get back to work with your normal focus.
The Pomodoro technique is a proven approach to improved productivity and focus and a go-to for many bloggers. Simply put, this approach gives you 25 minutes of focus, after which you take a five minute break. This may sound simple, but the Pomodoro technique really requires you to stay on task during those 25 minutes and to be willing to step away when they’re over. It’s about controlling your time and that’s the most important skill any blogger can have.
If you have a hard time keeping track of time while using the Pomodoro technique and find that watching the clock distracts you from your work, consider an app like Focus Booster, which is designed for use with Pomodoro. You can use Focus Booster on any device and let it take over the timing part of this strategic attention technique.
Rest Your Mind
Besides self-motivation, one of the hardest things about being an independent blogger is that you need to learn when to rest. At the beginning, you’re likely to be just scraping by financially so it’s tempting to never take a break. You’ll work too many hours, miss out on things, and never take a vacation. The simple fact, though, is that without rest you’ll never do your best work.
Sometimes the best way to learn to rest is by doing something dramatic like going on a silent retreat. Such retreats are an opportunity to quiet your racing mind, take a step away from your work, and also learn more about tolerating the silence and focusing on your goals. You’re sure to come back ready to push the limits of your normal work life.
Learn To Prioritize
The simple fact is that most of us were never taught how to focus, so it’s no surprise that we grow into adults who are scattered and bad at managing our time. One way to counter this problem is by identifying two or three important tasks to accomplish each day. You might have other things you want to do, but the goal is to accomplish these top priority items before moving on.
Feel free to switch between tasks if you find your attention starting to wane, but don’t move away from those top ranked activities until they’re done. After that, you can assess what else needs to be done and move forward with the rest of your day, but the idea is that you can potentially switch off for a little while once your top priority tasks are done. You don’t have to – and you shouldn’t – work through the entire day.
Though we might not have been taught to focus, as an independent blogger, your job is to teach this skill to yourself. Once you’ve mastered a few strategies that work, though, you’ll see a complete change in your productivity and in how much you enjoy your job. This is serious work, but only you can turn blogging into a sustainable career.