My first experience of a travel blogging conference, the TBEX conference last October in Athens, was a bit of a wake-up call for me.
Wow! There really were a lot of people there. To my novice eyes, it seemed like everyone knew each other. I needn’t have worried though, I quickly got to know people. As for the conference itself, I thought the speakers for the main part were excellent.
I kept hearing one recurrent theme from lots of different speakers.
Increasing productivity is the key to maintaining a work/life balance.
Yes, it was as simple as that. I had been feeling overwhelmed running my personal blog (NYLon Living) and this family travel blog as well as running around being a busy wife, mother and serial house renovator.
I’d been doing lots of stuff but not necessarily in the most productive manner. So, how do you go about increasing productivity? Here are some excellent tips I learned from the pros:
1. Bunch your work to be more efficient
If like me you were doing all of one post before moving on to the next post, you are taking up a lot of time per post. The smart guys seem to be doing things in groups – all writing in one instance, all photo editing in another time block etc. It’s a lot faster doing one thing at a time even if it is for multiple posts because you get on a roll with whatever you are doing.
2. Outsource some of your work.
Hiring a real or virtual assistant will save you a ton of time that you could be doing something else more productive. For example, top bloggers use virtual assistants to report on their social shares or do research for a blog post.
Tim Leffel the uber-successful blogger behind Perceptive Travel says he has help from 4 assistants and 18 blogging freelancers all of which have supported his professional success. He not only runs a few websites but has 5 published books and is a regularly featured authority in the media. Another speaker at the conference, Green Global Travel has 10+ interns working for them learning the blogging business.
My first thought was that having a real or virtual assistant is tough to do when you are on a limited budget. Tim mentioned a handful of online services that are really cheap though. For example, Fiverr has many jobs starting at $5 and is good for discrete, specific tasks such as creating a flyer. Likewise, Envato and Elance has a large community of global freelancers.
Worried about giving random people access to your passwords for your blog(s) and social media? Last Pass holds your passwords so you can share them easily with the people of your choosing. The system works with an email authorisation so that the other person never actually knows your passwords. 1password and Dashlane are two other password apps that come recommended.
3. Prioritise what needs to be done.
Make sure that you have a couple of things every day that must be done. Once those high-priority tasks are done, you can move onto other tasks. That way you feel (and, more importantly, actually are) more productive every day.
4. Manage your social media time.
I know all about being sucked down the rabbit hole that is social media. You can manage your social media time better though if you batch your responses to emails several times a day. The constant pinging of emails, twitter etc. is a distraction and a time suck. I tried this tactic (inadvertently, I must admit) the 2 days that BT decided to disconnect my broadband. With no distractions, I was able to sit down and just write a handful of blog posts.
If you are spending more than 60 minutes on social media, apparently you should consider getting a virtual assistant (see point 2 above).
Another top tip is to save routine non-thinking tasks for when your body clock hits a low point. As much as I love Pinterest, I am the first to admit that it is a wonderful medium to just zone out. When I start pinning pictures, I can almost hit a zombie-like trance very quickly.
5. Automate Some Tasks
Tim Lefferts suggest that Hootsuite is the one automation that you need to have. It sets up streams for your individual social media feeds which makes reading them much easier. I use Hootsuite but I know lots of people also use TweetDeck.
I’ve also started using Latergram.me to schedule for my Instagram. All the photo editing is done, the text is written and when the Instagram needs to be posted, a little pop-up shows up on my phone saying it’s time to Instagram! Thanks to Latergram, I have been much more consistent about posting on Instagram. Previously, I would go for days before I got around to my Instagram feed.
Some media such as Facebook, for example, lets you create a bunch of posts and then schedule them at regular intervals of your choosing. Remember to bunch your posts (point 1) and then leave it to schedule.
At some point, however, social media only works if you are social, i.e., interact with people instead of just sending content out into the ether constantly. You should be spending your social media time actually socialising instead of posting stuff.
6. Keep Perspective
Apparently Friday afternoon and Saturdays are the lowest days for media interaction. There’s really no need for you to check your social media on the weekend! Bonus point! Time away from your desk can actually refresh and revive you for the work week.
You don’t need to convince me to step away from the computer on weekends but I keep reading articles about the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO). Apparently FoMO really is a bonafide syndrome where you are worried that you are missing out on something. In all honesty, nothing is happening on the internet most of the time that is so earth-shattering that you can’t tune out for the weekend. If you are still not convinced, how about a visit with my favourite doctor?
Productivity in Practice
Advice is only good if you follow it. How have I been doing?
On the plus side:
- I’ve definitely learned to bunch work which has increased my productivity.
- I’ve had a couple of good experiences using Fiverr.
- I’ve hired an outside consultant to sort out technical issues on my personal blog.
- I’ve automated more stuff which has kept my blog and social media more consistent.
I need to work harder on some things though.
- I have to figure out what else I can outsource (a point of difficult for someone with control issues).
- My big downfall is still social media which is still a major time suck for me. For me, it is like time spent at the water cooler if I had an actual office.
- I find it harder to prioritise my main tasks each day. Everything seems important and I get easily distracted.
What do you think? Do you agree with the points raised at TBEX Athens? Do you have any ideas for increased productivity?