I was going to call this “How to blog while having a life”, but I realized that my approach is heavily dependent on who I am, and it won’t work for some people. But for some it might. So here goes.
Recently I was chatting with Moya, who noted,
i’ve always been low-key impressed by how you can have a job, a family, and a blog at the same time
“No problem,” I thought. “It’s really simple. It’s just… um… gee. Huh. How do I do it?”
So after a fair amount of reflection, here’s what I do to strike something resembling a balance in my life:
In a nutshell: Know yourself.
I know pretty well what works for me. Every day I tend naturally to pass through the same stages:
Early morning: The Creativity Phase
Mid-morning to early afternoon: The Focused Phase
Afternoon through evening: The Chill & Relax Phase
At least, that’s what my body and mind want to do; real life doesn’t let me follow this plan perfectly. In an ideal world, I would brainstorm blog posts in the morning, write them all day long, and then watch some anime in the evening. However, that path to Paradise includes a few small potholes:
a) Four little kids
b) A disabled spouse
c) A full-time day job
d) Homeownership and the myriad things that go with it
So I’ve had to hitch the steed of Nature to the chariot of Necessity. Here is how I manage my day in order to maximize its benefits across the board, without burning out!
Waking up, my mind tends to be full of random stuff. As soon as possible, I take a few minutes of quality spiritual time, to clear out the mental junk, focus, and gain strength for the day ahead.
Because nothing says “quality spiritual time” like Gurenn Lagann.
With my mind cleared and focused, I can harness my creativity effectively. The start of my day is the time for brainstorming, getting everything down on paper/computer that I want to do, to remember, to write about, etc. Basic blogging ideas get written down here, just stream of consciousness notes or outlines. If something occurs to me later in the day, I’ll jot it down then, but typically the early morning is the time when I see the most possibilities. Next I prioritize and strategize, deciding what is most important for me to focus on this day. This includes all of my goals regarding work, home/family, and the blog.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon is focused on burning through the given tasks according to my plan. Typically this is primarily work stuff at the office, when I’m naturally at my best for getting stuff done.
In the afternoon, my energy and focus may begin to give out somewhat. But wait! Even if the workday is done, the home-day is about to begin. What to do to make sure I’ve got the energy to take on these challenges when I feel like kicking up my feet, popping a beer, and turning on anime? Two things:
First, I’ve already decided back in the morning which tasks I’m going to do in the afternoon. Making decisions takes energy. So I decide what to do and how to do it when I’m fresh in the morning, not tired in the afternoon. Then my energy in the afternoon can be focused on simply doing the tasks themselves.
Second, I take another spiritual break for a few minutes just as I did in the morning, before tackling the afternoon chores. This renews my focus and strength. Literally two minutes is sometimes all I need.
After taking care of 1-4 items on my list, I call it a day. Typically this is the time I spend with various members of my family: having fun, solving problems, and generally doing daddy/husband stuff.
Eventually, everyone else heads to bed. It’s time to Blog. I flip on my favorite anime shows and get the blogging creative juices flowing. Then I work on a post, hopefully finishing it, and get it scheduled or posted. This is the time I do the actual writing, but it’s not when I’m at my best for thinking—fortunately, most of the actual thought for blogging was taken care of in the morning or has been percolating on the back burner of the mind throughout the day. So all I have to do at this point is bung something down, as Bertie Wooster would say.
Now, you may be asking a very important question:
So what? How does this apply to you?
I’m glad you asked.
First of all, get to know yourself. Ask yourself these kinds of questions:
- When is my mind freshest for creativity or focused work? When is it not so fresh? A few minutes of work when you’re at your optimum mental peak are many times more effect than time spent when you’re running on fumes.
- At which points in the day am I regularly called to perform when I’m not at my peak? What can I do to rejuvenate/re-energize just prior to these points? I’m a fan of taking a few minutes for a “spiritual break”, but do whatever works for you. Some folks might go for a run, take a nap, read a comic book, whatever. The point, though, is that this is not to relax, but to re-energize. Relaxing comes later.
- What kinds of decisions do I need to make each day? (This is going to depend on your goals for your life, blog, etc.; but goal-setting is beyond the scope of this post.)
Now you should have a pretty good sketch of your day and when you’re at your best for various kinds of activities. Pencil in your optimal time for making decisions and being creative, as well as the times when you’ll need to re-energize (and what you’ll do to re-energize).
Anyway, that’s what works for me with my particular responsibilities. Obviously everybody’s different, so this is meant as an inspiration and food for thought. Happy blogging!
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