So today I thought instead of bookish things I’d take a break and share with everyone how I get my blogging stuff DONE. Now, I’m concentrating specifically on blogging for this, but if you’re not a blogger, this is still applicable! You don’t yet have to click that red X! This is how I approach most project-based jobs and it’s been helpful to me in SO MANY situations that I think it’s applicable to more than just blogging.
I first learned about this productivity method in a writing class during a segment on project management. Now, I know there are people who get paid to manage projects(I am not one of them), and I don’t know if this is common practice or just something my professor had us do, but it works well for me, so I thought I’d share!
First, what type of method this is: This is a PRIORITIZING method. It does not necessarily work if you’re trying to schedule things. For bloggers, this works better when you apply it to “back end” sort of blogging stuff, rather than just writing & scheduling posts. I do have a way to schedule posts(which I may share at a later date), but this is mainly a method to prioritize tasks & get things done. Triage, if you will.
Also, there is slight math involved. Don’t panic(I hate math too). If you can count up to six, you’re good.
Step one: Select your project(s).
Easy, right? Before you can be productive, you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish. I’m going to use bloggiesta for my example since that’s what I’m working on right now as I draft this post(Yes, I wrote this SUPER early for the date it’s scheduled). First, I made a list of everything I wanted to accomplish over bloggiesta, including some things I knew I wouldn’t get to but wanted down on paper.
Then, I re-wrote the list into categories. I had three categories: “Content Writing”, “The Boring Stuff”, and “Brainstorm/Planning”. Then, under each category, I made a list of bloggiesta goals. In the end, my paper looked liked this:
- Do Book & Beverage featured to send to Brittany(I had signed up for this feature a long time ago & the deadline was approaching!)
- Banned Books Week post(about a week before banned books week)
- Write rest of 15 day Book Blogging Challenge Posts
- Schedule & Get everything squared away for horror October
- Same for Sci-Fi November
- Email publishers about potential giveaways
- Begin planning blogoversary event
The Boring Stuff
- Make a blog roll
- update challenge posts
- Update ARC spreadsheet
- Clean up my Feed reader
- Clean up twitter following
- Pinterest optimization
- Check my bounce rate
- Update policy pages
- Organize blog email
Now, I realized when I made this list that was a LOT of goals and it probably wouldn’t all happen during the Bloggiesta weekend. That’s OK! The important thing was that I had them all listed out somewhere physical. This is the easiest part–figuring out what you want. Also, if you’re working on a lot of things, feel free to break it down further, because it will make our next step much easier. For example, I put to “schedule and get things squared away for Horror October”. Because my list was smaller this time, that was acceptable, but normally I would have broken that down into sub-tasks. Like so:
- Get everything squared away for Horror october
- 1. Decide on when to post certain posts
- 2. Write that secret post
- 3. Make that secret game.
- 4. Make that infographic you have in your head
And so & and so on.
Step 2: Assign numeric value to the time you believe it will take to complete each task.
Okay, here’s where we really get into project organization. Besides each task, you’re going to assign a task value. Here’s how this works:
First, besides each task, you’re going to rate the time you estimate a task will take with 1 being a short amount of time and 3 being a highly time-consuming task. Obviously, this is all relative, but YOU know how you work. If it will take you forever to organize your email, put 3 besides that task. If you generally keep everything organized and this is just the equivalent of running a duster over your bookshelf, put a 1. So, for example, my task under “Content writing” now look like this:
- Book and Beverage (2)
- Banned Books Weeks Post (3)
- Write rest of 15 day book blogger challenge post (3)
Once you assign a time value to each of the task, we’re reading to move on to the next part.
Step 3: Assign a number between 1 & 3 to the DIFFICULTY of the task.
Much like we just did for the time we believe it will take for a task, we’re going to do the same thing for difficulty. One is a task that will be extremely easy, Three is difficult, whether that be because you just don’t want to do it or it takes more brainpower or whatever. It’s important to note that you might have 1’s for difficulty by task you assigned a 3 for time-consumption to. That’s OK–actually, that’s kind of the point! And there will probably be task you have 3’s for both time & difficulty besides. Not to panic. For now, just assign your numbers. Using the example above, here’s what my “Content Writing” section looks like now.
- Book & Beverage feature (2 + 2)
- Banned Books Week Post (3+3)
- Write rest of 15 day challenge post (3+3)
Step 4: Add Your Numbers.
Now, I’m terrible at arithmatic, but I’m going to assume we can all do this. Now, you have a final numeric value besides each task.
- Book & Beverage Feature (2+2)=4
- Banned Books Week Post (3+3)=6
- Write Rest of 15 day book blogging challenge post (3+3)=6
As you can see, I now have a concrete number besides each task. We’ve moved from the realm of having a vague idea as to what each task will take into workable goals, because we have an objective (as objective as possible) measuring system.
Here’s what my final bloggiesta goals looked liked on paper:
- Book & Beverage feature(2+2)=4
- Banned Books Week Post (3+3)=6
- Write the rest of 15 day book blogging challenge posts (3+3)=6
- Schedule & Get everything squared away for horror October (3+3)=6
- Same for Sci-Fi November (3+3)=6
- Email publishers about giveaways(2+2)=4
- Begin planning blogoversary event )3+2)=5
The Boring Stuff
- Make a blog roll (3+1)- 4
- Update challenge page (1+1)=2
- Update ARC August spreadsheet (2+1)=3
- Clean up feed reader (3+1)=4
- Clean up twitter following (2+1)=3
- Pinterest optimization (3+1)=4
- Check my bounce rate (1+1)=2
- Update policy pages (1+1)=2
- Organize blog emails (1+1)=2
To take it a step further, I highlighted anything that was on a deadline on my paper(reflected here with the task in blue text).
Step 5: Prioritize.
Great, you’ve got some objective data! Obviously, the lower the number, the easier/least-time consuming a task should be. Basically, a #2 task=easy-peasy! A #6 task=roll up your sleeves, we’ve got some work to do. In the end, I had four #6 tasks, one #5 task, five #4 tasks, two #3 tasks, and four #2 task. That’s a pretty good breakdown, except it would have been nice to have one less #6 task. But what can you do?
Now you need to prioritize. Obviously, anything on a deadline comes firsts. After that, the way you use your data is up to you, but I think it’s important to break up similarly numbered tasks. Of course, the way everyone works is different, but I HIGHLY recommend against starting with a #2 task. Why? You do a few easy tasks, cross them off your list, feel accomplished, and take a break. Great! But now you have all the big tasks left.
I’ve found my personal best way to work is to start with a medium task(think a #3 or #4–probably not a #5). It’s difficult and/or time consuming enough where it takes some effort, but not such a daunting start. After that, I’ll do a large task, small task, large task, small task, working towards the middle.
Using my bloggiesta example, this is how I might start:
1. Update ARC spreadsheet–a 3. Will take a little time & some hunting, but nothing too big.
2. Work on Horror October stuff. It’s big(a #6) and has a deadline(as in, the month of October), so I do it next. I get everything to where I want it.
3. Update my policy page (a #2). It’s easy and fast, and will take all of five or ten minutes. Plus, I’ll give my brain a break.
Then I might follow up with doing the book & beverage stuff, since it’s at a reasonable place on the number line AND on a deadline.
Obviously, this will all depend on how you work best, but I find this method INCREDIBLY useful, and I hope you might as well!
Step 6: Feel Accomplished! (And a few last takeaways).
Look at you! You are being so productive and crossing your items off your list like the boss that you are. And now, some takeaways:
- Do what works for YOU. I love this method, but if you KNOW it won’t work for you, don’t sweat it!
- I highly advise NOT changing this number scale. Yes, if you did from 1 to 5, you might be able to really get into how difficult certain tasks will be or how much time a task would take, but in this case, I’ve found simplest is best.
- The best way I’ve found to prioritize is to do big task, small task, working from the highest number to the lowest number and working IN towards the middle.
- Your estimates might be off. And that’s okay! If you continue to use this method, it’ll also give you a pretty good idea about the amount of time it takes you to complete task. Maybe you said the time it would take you to complete your inbox was a “2”, but it was really a “3”. You’ll know next time!
- This works the best when you can break down projects into their simplest form, especially if you’re working with BIG projects that involve several steps(starting a blog, for instance, would be daunting if you tried to prioritize it this way. But if you started with identifying your target audience, it becomes much simpler).
- You don’t have to do this, of course, but I’ve found it really helpful to write out my number assignments as I have here (2+2)=4 for example. While you could use this method and just assign an overall grade, this is also great for giving you a breakdown of time vs. difficulty. For example, I have “making a blog roll” as something time consuming, but not difficult, so I know it’s a great task I can do while unwinding in front of Gilmore Girls, etc.
I LOVE this method, and I’ve used it almost exclusively since I learned it in class. I’ve used it to great success at every job I’ve had since then, internships(in which I was once told I was the most productive intern! And my productivity definitely stems from making this method work for me), school work, etc.
YOUR TURN: Do you have good methods for getting your stuff done? Have you tried this method before? How do you prioritize tasks?