[Note from Sophie: Meet Timo Kiander, AKA Productive Superdad. I helped edit his new book of productivity tips for busy solopreneurs. Now he’s going to tell us how he found time to *write* the book… and Timo’s giving you a free copy at the end of this post!]
Back in September 2012, my business coach Danny Iny ended our bi-weekly coaching call with a seemingly innocent question: “Timo, would you like to take your blog to another level?”
After I learned what “take your blog to another level” meant, it took me like a fraction of a second to say “yes.”
My coach asked me if I was willing to write a book related to the topic I was already blogging about — productivity.
Although I initially said “yes” to this proposal, I also had some concerns:
- How would my family react to this, knowing that my days were already jam-packed with my day job and blogging?
- What would happen to my sports activities? I’m a marathoner and a triathlete, and didn’t want to give that up.
- How would I find time for my blog if I was going to write a book?
I felt each of those concerns was valid, so I had to find a way to crush those doubts and turn them into my strengths.
Crush the Concerns First
The most important starting point for any big project in your life is to have the right kind of mindset. This means you eliminate all the doubts related to the successful outcome of your project. Otherwise, your journey is going to be a bumpy one.
I dealt with my concerns like this:
- How was my family going to react?
Right after the call, I went ahead and told my wife about the project. She was happy and excited for me. At the same time I told her that I’m going to adjust my schedule a bit, making it more flexible.
- What was going to happen to my sports activities?
I had to re-set my priorities and decide if I wanted to focus on sports or take my blog to where I wanted it to be. I decided that the book project was priority #1 and I’d do less training and competitions than in previous years. For instance, I didn’t compete in triathlons at all, and the races I did compete in were mostly 10K runs rather than marathons.
- How was I going to find time for my blog while writing a book?
This question was pretty much solved when I decided to skip the marathons and triathlons for 2013. Sure, there were going to be times when I had to prioritize the book project over family time, but I knew those occasions were always negotiable — thanks to my wife, who is very flexible about these things.
Book First, Blog Second
When it comes to blogging, I have to thank my coach for his great advice on what things to focus my time on.
I’ve also used some of my own methods to “keep the ball rolling” as effortlessly as possible.
For me, the principles of getting work done when writing a book are:
- Wake up early
- Never work without a plan
- Slow down your blogging pace
- Batch content creation
- Drop everything unessential
- Take advantage of travel times
The sole purpose of these principles is to make room for something else that matters more at that moment (like writing your book). When that something else is out of the way, you can get back to a regular schedule.
Now that you have an overview of the principles, let’s go through them so you know how to apply them in your situation:
1. Wake Up Early
There are people who say they simply aren’t early risers, and I was definitely one of them.
However, I changed my habits some years ago and now I try to wake every day at 6 a.m. at the latest. Waking up early is possible if you connect it with a strong motivation (for instance, “I want to build my online business so that I can quit my stinking job!”).
The main benefit of becoming an early riser is the ability to work without any distraction. I know that as soon as my family wakes up the distraction levels go up too (especially when my two-year son gets up).
I can do the most important tasks of the day without resistance in the morning. I’ve realized that if I postpone something till later in the afternoon, it may be more difficult to get started. When I focus on the most important things first (like writing the book) in the morning, the task is already taken care of before I start work for the day.
You should decide what your ideal early wake-up time is. My time might be too early for you, so test different times to find the optimum one for you.
I switched to my target wake-up time in one leap, but you might find it easier to adjust your wake-up times bit by bit until you reach your target.
2. Never Work Without a Plan
Even when you wake up early, if you don’t know what your next action is going to be, you’re just wasting your time.
That’s why I make sure I’ve created a task list for the next morning before going to sleep each night. This way I know exactly what tasks I should be working on when I wake up.
Knowing your next actions is useful when you get unexpected blocks of free time, as well. Sometimes you might have some extra time on your hands, so if you know what tasks to work on next, you can make the most of the available time.
To take this principle a bit further, prepare for your upcoming tasks as much as possible. For instance, when writing this guest post, I planned the post outline in advance so I didn’t have to spend time thinking what to write about when I sat down to write the piece.
3. Slow Down Your Blogging Pace
When I started my blog almost three years ago, my publishing plan was to create one post per week. Later on, I started to publish a weekly video tip too.
When I started to work with my coach, he suggested that I should blog only once every two weeks. At first I was shocked, but after a good night’s sleep I started to think otherwise: this was smart advice!
Instead of planning and writing blog posts all the time, I had the freedom to do something else instead. All of a sudden I could work on other things I never had time to do before.
4. Batch Content Creation
To get the best results from the slowed-down blogging pace, I decided to do something new to make even more time for the book project.
Instead of writing a blog post every fortnight, I started creating two months’ worth of content in advance. In the first week of every second month, I focused my efforts entirely on writing the posts for my blog. After my content-heavy week was over, my blog had enough scheduled content for the next 60 days, and I could spend the freed-up time over the next two months writing my book.
I used this same batching strategy for messages to my e-mail subscribers, writing the majority of my content in advance and scheduling it to go out at the appropriate times.
5. Drop Everything Unessential
Another valuable piece of advice that my coach gave me was to drop all the extra stuff I was doing to promote my blog. In my case that meant social media and SEO.
I had to spend time on things that really matter. Social media and SEO weren’t an essential part of my plan. I also dropped podcasting temporarily and I stopped recording productivity videos for my blog.
Consolidating tasks helped, too. Before starting the book project, I had two e-mail lists for which I wrote exclusive content. I realized this was too much, so I combined these two e-mail lists into one and saved a lot of time.
6. Take Advantage of Travel Time
If you travel, try to take advantage of the time you spend on the move. I’ve realized that I get a lot of work done when I’m travelling by train —this post was written on a train— or when I stay at a hotel.
To take advantage of your travel time, you have to be well prepared so that you know what to do — even if you don’t have working Internet access (which can be most of the time when riding a train).
I’ve written many blog posts while travelling, and once wrote almost an entire e-book while riding a train home. Don’t underestimate travel time as a writing opportunity — you can get a lot of work done if you really want to.
Want to Learn How to Find Even More Time to Write?
I’ve just finished my first book and the main problem it aims to solve is this: How can you find more time for your freelance business? This is especially important if you’re building your business part-time, alongside other commitments like a day job and a family.
This book – 197 pages – is free for you to download! All I ask is that you enter your name and e-mail address on the download page. I’ll give you instant access to the book, which you can download to your computer.
If you prefer, you can buy a printed or Amazon Kindle version of this book instead. It’s probably more convenient to read that way than being tied to your computer screen.
I hope you enjoy it, and I welcome your comments and productivity questions!
Image: ** RCB **