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10 Practical Productivity Hacks of Successful Bloggers

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We all have a million things going on and the world is busier than ever.

Bloggers and Entrepeneurs have to be weary of where to spend their time in order to cut through the clutter and reach their goals.

Today we’ll cover some of the hacks that come in handy for many of the worlds best bloggers and entrepeneurs and will greatly increase you productivity as well.

1. Journaling & Planning

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” – Albert Einstein

journal

Journaling is one of the most effective ways to get thoughts out of your head and transform them into definite plans of action. It was used by many great achievers as a tool to get both inspiration and perspective on their thoughts and actions.
among them are:

  • Richard Branson
  • Albert Einstein
  • Thomas Edison
  • Leonardo Davinci
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Winston Churchill
  • Napoleon hill

just to name a few. Since our time on this planet is limited, it comes to no surprise that successful people and those seeking success value their time as their most precious asset. So should you! Planning and reflecting on your actions and the Problem at hand, even just for a 5 minutes a day, will definitely give you more clarity. It makes sure that you spend your valuable time doing things that give you joy and have a positive impact.
Also, successful Bloggers get into the habit of taking notes of their ideas, plans and knowledge in order to stay on top of things. The faster you establish the habit of writing things down when they come to mind, taking notes on the books and courses you read, the more you will be able to stay on top of things when times get busy and stressful.

Practical steps to get started:

  • Grab a Journal or Post-it and write down at least 7 Things you want to do tomorrow and Put/Post it somewhere where you will definitely see it tomorrow morning (i.e. your screen, office etc.)
  • Get into the habit of performing this task every day before going to bed.
  • Train your idea-muscle (especially helpful if you don’t have a website yet or are short on ideas) Use a timer, set it for 5 minutes. and write down as many ideas as possible. Do not judge or evaluate anything, just write as much as you can. This can include everything, from exporting Grizzlies to zoos in India to creating a new iPhone app. Go Nuts! The aim of this exercise is to train your creative idea muscle and get ideas out without being limited by reason. If you do this every morning you will be amazed at the amount of ideas that pop into your mind.
  • Apply the idea-muscle idea from above to any specific project you like. Got a website? Create a to-do list for your website! What needs to be done. What could be done, what would be awesome.
  • Go through your list and limit it to 5 things.
  • Prioritize them by ease of implementation.
  • Then do it!

2. Working in short bursts

“Getting your shoes on is the hardest part of any workout.” – Kathrine Switzer

time blocks

For most people including myself, the most difficult thing is do take action consistently. I believe that the main sources for this are fear and the feeling of overwhelm. We dont take action because we fear that its not gonna work, that we will look stupid once we fail and we can’t see the end result yet.

Sounds familiar?

We try to estimate what it would take and conclude that its not really worth the effort and i dont have the time now.

Think of jogging.
Most people start running and love the feeling. They run for 30 minutes and the next day their muscles are sore The problem is that they think they need to run for another 30 minutes, otherwise whats the point. That is hard to commit to when your muscles are sore. I will go tomorrow they say, but tomorrow never comes.
The solution. Instead of aiming for 30 minutes, they should make it a habit to put their running shoes on and walk for 20 meters before jogging back. Everything more is up to them, but that is 20 m is all that’s necessary. Sounds stupid? Try it out and see how it works. The beauty of this is that very soon people will want to run, because 20 m become too simple. When you take this approach with any endeavor, your whiny voice will shut up much more often, because it can’t tell you that you don’t have the time to put shoes on for 20 meters. And that’s great, because on some days you’ll run just that, and on others you’ll do much more.

I have used this strategy successfully for several goals of mine.
2 Years ago I wanted to create the habit of meditating daily, since I really enjoyed the feeling whenever i did it. So I set myself the goal to meditate for at least 1 min each day (5 deep breaths). That’s it! I have meditated daily ever since and I will continue to do so, because even though now I always do 15 minutes, even on the busiest day i will find time for 5 deep breaths.

Another thing is writing. Be it for University or Business, we have to write a lot. Therefore, I often set myself the goal of writing at least 4 x 15 minutes, which makes it easy to get myself going because the anxious part of my brain knows that I could come back any time later and finish it. Of course I rarely need this but it’s easier to convince the lazy/anxious part of my brain of 4 x 15 min sessions than 1 h each day. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Practical steps to implement this:

  • What is something you need to work or a habit you’d like to create? Is it a blog post? A study paper? Phonecalls? Running daily?
  • Whatever it is, give yourself a limited time between 1 – 15 minutes depending on your task and skill
  • Remember. it’s better to jog 50 meters each day than for 30 minutes once every blue moon.
  • Get stayfocusd for online tasks and use the nuclear function to assure you won’t cheat yourself.
  • Use a timer like focus booster for your 15 min increments or productivity.

3. Batching

“Batch meetings or calls in one or two set days, with 15 minutes between appointments. Scattering them throughout the week at odd times just interrupts everything else.” – Tim Ferriss

documents in the trayBatching describes the principle of grouping similar actions together to be done in one “batch” of time in order to enhance productivity. This approach is highly practical and has been adopted by many successful online entrepreneurs.

By organizing your week in batches you’ll not only know when is what but have more clarity of what to do in between batches, since these batches can provide a productive framework to schedule your days.

For example, Derek Halpern from socialtriggers.com has a determined day for shooting his YouTube videos. Instead of filming each video individually and posting it, he writes up the scripts during the weeks and has one day where the camera is rolling for hours. This way he creates a backlog of Videos and posts that will be released automatically over the coming weeks, during which he can take care of marketing, researching and living a great life.

Probably the biggest drain on our attention online is everything regarding to communication, be it emails, twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp or any of the others.
While it may seem scary, try to limit your email to certain times to check. I personally allow myself only 10 min of distraction sites (FB, News, etc) each day using a chrome extension called stayfocusd! I also aim to check mail only twice daily (12.15 & 18.15) That may seem extreme, but it has worked wonders for me. I get more stuff done and have clear goals for using those 10 minutes.

Obviously you want to adapt this to your preferences and sites, but lets be honest. We all have sites that we use as outlets for wasting time and chilling around. And there is nothing wrong with these sites. Just make sure you use them in moderation and focus on the things that will actually give you energy (working out, quality times with friends and loved ones etc.) This will not only get you faster towards your goals, but make you happier too.

4. Pulling content into resource pages

“There are tons of different factors that go into ranking well, but the biggest is high-quality content.” – David Sinick

bundelingWhat’s the lifeblood of successful Blogs? Great Content and Promotion of that content.

If you find yourself in an evergreen niche (where your published content will always remain relevant), you may benefit greatly from pulling your already created articles into even better Resource pages. A great example of this is Josh Dunlops Beginners guide to photography, which provides a great content overview and links out to many of his own articles.

The beauty of this is that these sites have natural advantages:

  • High SEO potential, since they they tend to be long in nature
  • Get shared a lot, since they provide a concise overview over a specific topic
  • Provides a hub for people entering your page
  • Great monetization potential since you’re providing great value and your CTA is highly relevant (i.e. if you want to do X, I recommend Y/sign up for more via email)

5. Engaging users to generate content

group contentOther ways to get great content without having to come up with ideas is asking questions to your audience and answer them as in show format. Marie Forleo does an excellent job at this. While this format is especially great for YouTube shows, podcasts and Webinars it can also be done in text format, especially when using polls or contests to get participants. If you make it a habit to engage your audience in this way, getting new content should be the least of your worries. Most followers enjoy personalized content since they often can relate to it. And if you give your fans the chance to be run part of the show, the are likely to take you up on the offer.

It can also make introductions much easier, since you have a crowd to back up demand.
Example: If you ask your audience whom to interview next and get 20 votes for Michael Dunlop, you’ll have both an easier time following through (because you pretty much have to at this point ;)) and also have a reason for contacting Michael and presenting yourself more or less as the Ambassador of your audience (i.e. these people want you and have these questions!). Furthermore, if you follow through on your audience tips, they will be more open to reciprocate if you give them the chance to (i.e. “Let’s get to 25 shares in order to get a second round interview etc.)

6. Outsource writing or research

“Do what you do best and outsource the rest.” – Julian Hall

write5While successful bloggers always add their personality in their texts to make sure their content is consistent, it can be a great investment to pay for research or Blogposts themselves. If you find it easier to edit existing content than writing something from scratch:

  • Research your keywords and topics of interest.
  • Pay for someone to write on them.
  • Edit the content to fit your needs and make it pretty.

That way you can make progress much faster, especially if you don’t have many posts yet, since the base structure is already written and you have something tangible to work with. Also, you will find that the more you invest in good research and base structure, the more interest you will have in getting the post out there! It gives you a feeling of control and consistency to know that other people deliver while you sleep.

7. Allow guestbloggers with caution

guestGuestblogging is seen on Blogs like this one, problogger, fourhourblog and many more. Guestblogging can be great because you can get great Content for free or very little money while have others work for you.

Whether to use guestblogging depends on your strategy and goals:

Positive:
If you plan to build a business that becomes less about your but about your brand. By enabling guestposts you not only have more content to share, but your Blog also becomes easier to sell since your audience is used to guestposts and the business could potentially be operated without your involvement. Furthermore, if you find relevant content and make it an exclusivity to write for you you can attract great relationships and offers. For an example of this look at Tim Ferriss’ Blog: By leveraging high quality guest posts that attract a lot of reach he not only boosts his own credibility (He’s the guy giving all these people a stage and is affiliated with them), but also becomes a desirable platform to be on for many top notch entrepreneurs.

Negative:
If you want to build a great personal brand that relies only on your appearance and thoughts, than opening your blog for guestauthors may harm your personal brand and upset your audience. People usually don’t like it when their favorite author suddenly is replaced by another, even just temporarily (this is particularly true for domains with your name in it (imagine guestposts on sethgodin.com).

In any case: you have to be very conscious about what type of guestposts you allow –> don’t drop quality for quantity!

8. Distraction free environments

“Deleting 200 spams a day is a drag. And I was checking my email constantly, rather than getting on with my real work, which is reading and writing. Email was becoming a distraction, a burden rather than a liberation.” – Tom Hodgkinson

distraction freeOne of the biggest win for any blogger is the setup of distraction free environments! Creating a place of order, structure and clarity is not only helpful for your productivity, but will make your day more satisfactory by allowing for maximum output in a short period of time. There is definitely a reason why Steve Jobs demanded every Wall and Ceiling to be painted in pure white, without anything hanging on the walls. But creating your own distraction free zone can be had more quickly.

Here are some hacks I found helpful in setting it up:

  • Clean up! No-brainer, but a messy environment leaves a messy mind. Go pick up your stuff and either store it or throw it away entirely. The time will be well invested.
  • Open the window for fresh air and get a glass of water.
  • Give yourself a time-frame (i.e. 4 x 15 minutes, see point 2.) You mind enjoys clarity!
  • Write down all the things you need to take care of later and put it somewhere behind you so that you can act on it later.
  • Turn your phone into airplane mode and put it aside so you can’t see it (behind you or in another room.
  • Use good headphones (I personally use these Headphones model from AKG, but others will do as well) and just put them on. I often don’t listen to anything, but it helps me shut out any noise.
  • If you do listen to something or feel your mind wandering too much, put on one of these two tracks. (XX-Intro 10h & ambient Rain 10h) to neutralize auditory sensations until you get into flow (usually takes around 10-20 min. for me)
  • Get F.Lux! This free little software runs in the background and shifts your screen colors to reflect the state of the sun at your location. No more eye strain or headaches from working in the evening! Must have.
  • Use the Nuklear option of stayfocusd to only allow the websites you need to work effectively!
  • Maximize your browser window to go full screen (F11 on Chrome). More Space, less distraction!

9. Get a life outside of the internet

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

offlineLast but not least, it is important to get a break and take care of life. The most important business decisions happen offline!

While your blog, your community and all the other goodness are all great fun and a big part of your life, don’t be foolish to think that a successful blog will solve all your problems.

Example: Lets say that your constantly online, only focused on your blog. You publish new content daily
and your community is growing. You hustle and post on Facebook, YouTube and all the other things that are
out there. You build great relationships with other bloggers, which enable you access to an entirely new level online. Your audience loves it and wants more of you and your voice online. That’s when you discover that you feel burned out and the enjoyment that you got in the beginning from a new comment has veined to something annoying. You may have lost relationships along the way because you never spent time with friends and only wanted to talk about business, you may have gotten in bad shape or even become ill in the process.

In short, you have become unbalanced! But the problem is, your audience has become so used to your presence that they riot about why you’re not posting or responding to comments like you used to. We as humans get used to things very quickly and usually don’t like it when things change.

Be aware of your commitments in the beginning and maintain a life outside of Business as well, so your Business can become and stay a sustainable pillar of joy, service and wealth for you and your audience.

10. Learn less, do more

“Knowledge doesn’t pay for anything, it’s what you do with that knowledge that pays.” – Napoleon Hill

startIf you want to get ahead in life, this is definitely the biggest piece of the puzzle. Spend less time looking and more time doing! Simple advice that you’ll find hard to follow! It is something that I personally struggle with constantly! I love learning and see how others got to where they are and how I can do the same. However, it has become my comfort-zone.

Learning is great joy and should be a definite part of your life, however, too much learning can cause you too never take action and stay in the belief that there is something else you need to learn before you can get started!

Sounds familiar? I have spent 1000+ hours just learning stuff about computer graphics and online marketing. I have had great successes in many areas, but still have no successful blog!

Learning has become my comfort-zone and that needs to change!

The reason is simple. it is easy to stay where we are and comfortable to know a lot and talk a great deal but never acting on it. This is also the quality I admire most about Michael.
When he’s got an idea he acts on it, IMMEDIATELY!

As Noah Kagan from Appsumo says: “Getting real Feedback from potential customers is more valuable than any book you’ll ever read.”

So let’s stop right there and get going!

To sum up, here are the 10 areas to improve your Productivity:

  1. Journal on your goals & ideas to gain clarity over the lifestyle you want to live. (The best books providing self assessments are: Click millionaires and Think and Grow Rich)
  2. Use a timer to work on one task for 1-15 minutes, than see if you are in for another round.
  3. Batch your Tasks, especially mail and social media.
  4. Combine your existing articles into resource pages.
  5. Try outsourcing your blogpost drafts! For more info on how to do this effectively, check out Traffic Domination.
  6. Experiment with allowing Guestposts! Choose Quality over Quantity!
  7. Get your users to contribute content (Q&A, contests, polls, desired interviews etc.)
  8. Schedule time for your offline life.
  9. Create distraction free environments where you can get to work without loosing focus.
  10. Learn less, do more! No one will pay you for what you know, but only for what you do with what you know!

If you found this article helpful, share with your ambitious friends. Also tell us your experience! Which tools and techniques help you to get the most out of your day! We’d love to hear it!

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Comments

  1. Mark A Carbone says:

    Loved the article. Especially #10. I have thousands of pages of research and fall into the trap of researching so much before I post and only produce 10% of articles I start.

  2. Andrea Francis says:

    Very nice piece, and solid advice! I agree with +Mark A Carbone that my research far surpasses what I ever use. It’s mostly down to a fear of being wrong, or not thorough enough. Do you have any more tips on audience engagement? I find that a challenge.

  3. Iam Donald says:

    I really appreciate this content Michael… Thanks for taking your time to write and share this Mattis. I was wondering if you can help recommend a good place to outsource the creation of very high quality content?? i don’t like the quality i am getting from Iwriter – in fact their quality is simply poor. I’d really appreciate any recommendations.

  4. I like keeping journals of goals and ideas. Think and Grow Rich is a great book and I find myself returning to it from time to time. I normally time myself for writing blog posts but I usually give myself an hour but I like the idea of 15 minutes because there are times when I waste 45 minutes with my blogging plan.

  5. Vijay Sharma says:

    Really ! income diary is my inspirational for blogging. thanks!

  6. Heidi Pungartnik says:

    This post could use a week of editing before it has been posted. Otherwise a relatively good post.

  7. Nizam Khan says:

    Awesome and informative post. Well agreed, knowldge with action pays off. Thansk for sharnig 🙂

  8. Katie Harp says:

    Great ideas for productivity! This seems to be a good summary of just about every productivity hack there is.