One of the great things about being a pro blogger is that you can do what you want when you want. You will never have to deal with seven people coming around to see how you the TPS reports are coming along. If you have seen the movie Office Space, then you know what I am referring to.
This wonderful blessing can also be a curse. The flip side of this is that you can feel all alone and get easily distracted. Let’s just use a moment of weakness that occurred with me last week.
I had just finished up writing a post, and I went to YouTube to search for some related videos to embed. A video about the Star Wars Episode 8 caught my eye only for a second, and I was pulled into an endless black hole of Star Wars fan theory. From videos on Rey being Emperor Palpitine’s daughter to Snoke being Mace Windu, I spent over an hour jumping from one 8 minute video to another.
While I love Star Wars and even have the original Kenner AT-AT, circa 1981, this was not getting me any closer to finishing my blog post.
I am still a work in progress when it comes to saying no to distractions. However, I have improved my productivity immensely by staying true to eleven tactics and rules.
#1 Use The Pareto Principle to Avoid The Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
Because I am in bed sleeping for almost 13 hours a day, I have taken the Pareto principle to a whole new level. Instead of 80/20, I use 90/10. That means that I focus my time on the 10% of activities that deliver 90% of results. My ten percent includes organic Google traffic, monetization, and list building. There are many activities that are related to these three, which include keyword research, title creation, writing, visuals, linkbuilding, webinars, podcasting, and a few more.
I still test new strategies that are outliers and apply them to my blogging system, but I only dedicated 10% of time to the bottom 90% of activities. This means that I am not going to get pulled in to working on Snapchat for hours on end.
#2 Do Not Work Too Many Hours in a Single Day
There have been multiple studies on the varying productivity that occurs in a 10 hour work day versus an 8 hour work day. All of these studies showed an increased productivity when the 10 hour work day is reduced to 8 hours. They also looked at a five day work week versus a six day work week, and the five day work week clearly showed more production.
A study by Flow Town found that for knowledge workers productivity begins to decline after working 35 hours in a week. Although you can get a spike in productivity by working a 60 hour week initially, by week four productivity falls off the cliff completely.
With that being said, many bloggers do not have the luxury of quitting their day job to blog full-time. If you fall into this category, then you will want to give yourself a 2 or 3 hour break between your job and your writing. You can use this break to spend quality time with your family or friends.
#3 Do Not Multitask
This is another proven theory backed by scientific research. A study by Samsung found that productivity drops by 40% when you try to do more than one thing at once.
Your best work occurs when you focus on a single task to completion. If you want to take this to a higher level, then you should work in batches. For example, there are many tasks related to publishing a blog posts. Here are some of the big ones; keyword research, title creation, writing the post, and promoting the post.
Instead of doing each of these tasks for every single post as you create them, it is best to work through them in batches. I schedule an entire day each month for keyword research. At the end of that day, I have identified over 100 keyword phrases to create blog posts on. I also schedule a full day for creating the titles for a month’s worth of blog posts. Keyword research and title creation are more important than the actual writing portion of the blog post. If you do not schedule the time for focused batching, then you are going to rush through it. This will torpedo your post before you even hit publish.
#4 Make Sure You are Sitting Up Straight with Excellent Posture
This may sound small, but it can kill your productivity. As I began to dedicate more of my time to writing posts, I found that I was getting headaches everytime I wrote. In the beginning, I attributed it to staring at a computer screen. Twelve months later I started to feel tingling and pain in my left arm. After a year of slightly leaning my head forward, I had developed a pinched nerve in my neck. It took me two months of physical therapy to fix it.
Since then, I have made a point to place my computer monitor in the correct spot and maintain perfect posture. I was able to achieve perfect posture through the aid of a small device that beeped everytime my head leaned forward. I also begin doing neck exercises every other day to strengthen my neck muscles. It is hard to write with a headache and a hand that goes numb after thirty minutes.
Here is great infographic from Mind Body Green that shows the perfect posture position when working in front of a computer.
#5 Buy Yourself a Comfortable Ergonomic Chair
As a blogger, you are going to spend a big portion of your week sitting in a chair. There is just no other way to cut it. I started off using a dining room chair, and it literally made my butt flatter than it already was. Also, my lower back would be killing me after a full day of writing. Most office supply stores have ergonomic mesh chairs starting at $160.
#6 Create a Workspace Next to Some Natural Light
The great thing about being a pro blogger is that you can create a workspace anywhere you want. Unfortunately, many of us do not take advantage of this. I recommend finding a nice window to set your writing desk and computer by. Open the blinds and let the light shine on as you write. People that work in locations with no natural light tend to be susceptible to seasonal affective disorder and depression.
#7 Meditate Twice a Day for Ten Minutes
Your mind is bombarded by thinking all day long. Meditation is a way to reboot your mind so that it can work more effectively. Happify revealed the results of a Harvard study that will motivate you to meditate on a daily basis.
Although there are plenty of expensive meditation apps and products out there, I prefer to keep it simple. The goal of meditation is to spend a period of time without thinking. The easiest way to accomplish this is to focus on each breathe that you take.
I meditate at noon and sunset everyday. My noon session incorporates Tai Chi. It only took me thirty minutes on YouTube to master a few Tai Chi moves. The simple movements are timed with deep breaths. My sunset session is all about watching nature. Most people associate meditation with closing your eyes, but you can also achieve mental stillness by focusing on different aspects of nature. My two favorite nature techniques are watching a single cloud move through the sky and observing a small tree branch swaying in the wind.
#8 Go for a Short Brisk Walk Outside
A 10 or 20 minute walk has been scientifically proven to spur creativity and problem solving skills. Whenever I get stuck on a problem I always take a brisk walk outside. The motion and the outside stimulation activates my mind after the first fifty strides.
#9 Use the Pomodoro Technique to Work in Sprints
I use the Pomodoro technique to get the most out of my work sprints. The Pomodoro formula is to work in four sprints of 25 minutes. After each 25 minute sprint, you take a five minute break to get up and move. When you complete four sprints, then you take a thirty minute break.
Fedra Congressi created a great infographic that visually explains the exact formula.
You can incorporate your brisk walks and meditations into your five and thirty minute breaks. This will make you get out of your chair and get your body moving. The last thing you want to do is take a thirty minute break to check social media as you sit in the same chair.
#10 Silence Your Phone During Your Sprints
I have a special setting on my cell phone that is called do not disturb. This setting is on iPhones and most Android devices. It allows you to only receive calls from the numbers that you have marked as a favorite with a star. My starred numbers include my wife, the school my boys attend, and my highest paying clients. By using this feature, my phone rarely rings when I am working.
#11 Never Leave Your Email Application Open
The only thing more distracting than a phone ringing is your computer dinging evertime you get a new email. I don’t know about you, but I check to see who sent the email whenever I hear that ding. It’s like Pavlovian instinct that I can not resist. The best practice is to check emails a single time in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
The Samsung study I mentioned earlier found that 23% of the average work day is spent checking email. That is just ridiculous.
A few simple adjustments to your day can lead to a dramatic increase in productivity. There are only so many hours in the day, and we all need to make every one of them count.