Inefficiency and procrastination are dream killers: a blogger’s worst enemies.
So why do many of us welcome them with open arms?
Blogging is one of your passions and it’s your job. Yet, sometimes it seems impossible to turn the world off, sit down and focus on what you love. Then once you do finally start writing, you feel like your mind inevitably wanders to anything and everything else!
Well, here’s the good news:
If you feel you aren’t the most efficient blogger, it is NOT because you aren’t capable of becoming one. There are fundamental reasons why your brain fails to do what you demand, and there are tangible explanations for why you aren’t as efficient at your craft as you’d like.
Let’s make blogging easy. Here’s how:
Avoid lazy spaces
To be productive, you need to be comfortable.
But don’t blog in the same spot you sit and watch TV in every day. Your mind has already stuck a flag in that stained couch cushion that says, “I’m incredible. This is my recreational space. And yes, I am saving that Cheeto for later.”
Example: psychologists say your bed is for two things: sex and sleeping. [Note from Sophie: OK, maybe *your* bed is only for sleeping. Do the other thing wherever you like.] If you work or study in bed, your sleep life will suffer.
That’s true for your writing spaces too.
If you start working on the same couch where you watched TV and drank a few glasses of wine last night, guess what? Your mind is waiting for you to turn on the TV and pour another drink.
Several glasses later, you won’t even remember how to spell your name.
As much as we try to fight it, we’re creatures of habit and our brains have a hard time breaking the mold we’ve created. You don’t have to blog in a padded room with blank white walls, but don’t write in a space your mind has already learned is for something else.
Set aside at least one space for your productive, creative work.
Jot down ev-er-y-thing
One of the most overwhelming questions that haunted me when I decided to start writing was, “How am I going to come up with enough consistent, engaging content?” I felt like I was behind before I’d even started! I had no blog posts, I had no real writing resume. I had nothing.
But everyone has to start somewhere. So where is your content coming from? The answer is simple:
Ideas are everywhere!
Your brain has thousands of ideas ripe for the picking, you just have to be ready to take advantage of that and write them down.
Trying to keep all your ideas inside your head is like collecting apples without a barrel; you can only carry so many. And the ones you do manage to keep hold of, you’ll end up dropping or damaging (misremembering) along the way. So ALWAYS be ready by making sure you have a method for keeping track of your earth-shattering, Nobel Prize winning ideas!
Clear your mental clutter
This may come as a surprise, but you are not a machine. I don’t care how many hot dogs you ate in that contest in college.
You cannot switch seamlessly from task to task, day in and day out and expect perfection; especially when it comes to something as intensive and creative as blogging. Your mind needs time to focus on what it has to accomplish. Beforehand.
I know a lot of people shut down when they hear a word like “meditate.” And I’m not going to tell you you can hum your way to freelance blogging greatness.
But meditation doesn’t mean you’re affiliated with a specific religion or that you’re preparing to liquidate all of your possessions. Meditation, in the most simplistic sense, is a state of relaxation where focus is heightened. That’s the same state of mind you’re in when your writing flows easily.
So ask yourself, “When am I the most relaxed, focused, and productive?”
After exercising? Then this is the productive time your brain is alert and ready. After cooking? Then that’s when your superpowers kick in. After putting the kids to bed and sitting down for what feels like the first time all day? You got it: write then.
Plan to write at a time of day that helps to maximize your efforts. Not a time of day that fights against you.
Schedule deliberate practice
Like I said before: you’re awesome. I can tell that just from you deciding to read this far. But are you the best blogger alive? Are you in the top 1% of your field?
If you don’t think so, why not?
The answer probably has something to do with deliberate practice.
Expert performance is not an accident. Consistently great writing and blogging is not an accident. And, as counter-intuitive as we may think this sounds, studies show that expert performance is not generally derived from talent (If you’re having trouble keeping up, just replace “performance” with “blogging”).
How encouraging is that for those of us who are passionate about blogging, but feel untalented compared to the competition? It changes EVERYTHING! Suddenly, we live in a world where anything is possible.
Welcome to Earth. Nice to meet you.
And, now that you’re here, you can embrace the truth:
The quality of your practice is crucial if you want to deliver a quality performance.
So what is deliberate practice?
Deliberate practice is a rigorously designed method with the sole purpose of improving performance. Sounds complicated, right? But it really isn’t.
So here’s the question. Which is deliberate practice?
- The woman who practices violin for 60 minutes per day with her phone in front of her, periodically checking the time and texting her friends.
- The woman who practices violin for 30 minutes a day while solely focused on the task at hand.
The answer should be fairly obvious. And it has nothing to do with the amount of allotted time.
To deliberately practice being a more efficient blogger, you need to be fully engaged in blogging. If your attention is slipping in and out of the task at hand, you aren’t fully engaged. If you reward yourself by checking Facebook every time you write a new paragraph, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Deliberate blogging is writing that has you engaged and fully focused.
Once you’ve got that, you can continue training your mind to increase quality and efficiency EVERY time you blog.
With the right knowledge and a little elbow grease, the career you’re striving for is in sight. So put to rest your days of inefficiency and procrastination, and become the blogger you were born to be!
If you have any of your own tips to add or questions to ask, leave me a comment. 🙂 Best of luck!