I’m not going to lie: if someone would ask me to sum up last week, I’d probably describe it as “notorious”. Although I mean that in the sense of the-black-death-kind-of-notorious. As I repeatedly complained over Twitter last week (and Instagram Stories, and to the postman, for the matter), I got THE flu—or to be more exact and as I will refer to from now on, the plague.
Last Wednesday, I went to bed feeling a bit dazed but I didn’t take it too seriously. I’d planned an early work morning, expecting to go through most of my blog to-do list while Sebastian was off to France for a conference. Unfortunately, I woke up to a not very pleasant palette of symptoms including (but not limited to) aphonia, a running nose, and the unquestionable promise of a descent into the abyss. It was that good.
Now, I am not telling you about all of this asking for sympathy but to give you some context for this post. I am the kind of person who enjoys being super productive when the opportunity arises and—case in point—with Sebastian gone for a couple of days, working was my number one priority. Of course, Mr. Murphy’s Law had a different plan for me.
By Thursday afternoon, it became quite obvious I was not going to spend the next 48 hours writing without distractions. Instead, there were going to be loads of honey lemon ginger tea, countless tissues and an embarrassing number of The Spanish Princess episodes (hello Starz, could you please stop producing addictive Tudor’s period fiction? I try to have a life of my own, you know?). At a certain point, I was not even able to stand comfortably—let alone researching for SEO—so I resigned myself, lay down on the sofa and ordered a cheeky Domino’s to comfort me. (I don’t know about you but I take heart in tasty pizza instead of chicken soup and it usually makes me feel about a thousand times better, although I suspect my family doctor would be hesitant to prescribe it as a remedy.)
The point is, sometimes life gets in the way: 9-5 job, children, sickness…—you name it. If you haven’t established an emergency plan or routine, the chances are you will end up stressed and with a to-do list as long as your arm.
So, how do you manage to keep your blog running when you are busy or unable to focus? These are the most valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Create batch content
You might have heard about this over and over but that’s just because it is a real life-saver for bloggers and content creators. At least once a month, I block some time to sit down and write as many posts as possible—which was what I was trying to do when the flu hit me last week. Sometimes, creating content on the spot can be stressful and lead to writer’s block (not to speak about how this affects your sub-editing time and the general quality of your writing), so content batching is a great alternative. Although I prefer to take pictures of my outfits in real-time, I have been feeling a bit more inclined towards shooting in batches as well. To be completely honest here, it is not my cup of tea but since my spare time can be quite limited, this a good solution too.
Keep an editorial calendar
This is closely related to the previous tip and absolutely essential. Grab a diary or create a special Excel document in your laptop where you can plan your schedule ahead (organize your upcoming content for the next few days, weeks, months…—the most time, the better!). When I first started blogging, I had created three months worth of content before the official release. I knew my spare time was limited, so this way I was sure I had some room for manoeuvre. As I anticipated, this worked wonders and I could keep posting with minimum hassle.
Set your alarm
Whenever I am short of time, I use this prioritisation strategy: I set a phone alarm for 10-15 minutes and assign a given task for that specific time slot (let’s say, replying emails). Until the alarm rings, I try to do as much as possible in decreasing order of importance (urgent emails first, for instance). You would be surprised to see how much you manage to do without distractions, focusing one thing at the time. Extra tip: Don’t forget to turn your phone notifications off so you don’t get distracted by external time-wasting factors.
I said once but I will again—turn phone notifications off. I can’t count the number of times I will grab the mobile if I keep it ringing next to me. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook… Pick up your poison. When working on your blog, you should try to treat that time as office time, so keep your phone out of reach. That way, even if you only work on an hour, you’ll make lots of progress compared to what you would do if you check your phone every couple of minutes. And you know what? All those cute kitties photos you receive through your family Whatsapp chat can wait too…
When too sick to work, do the fun part
During the plague, I was far too dizzy to focus on writing or planning content, but at some point I found myself reaching for the phone and checking the blog comments which I could easily reply while watching some Netflix on the couch. That’s the good part of this job, you know? It is lots of fun and some parts do not require for you to be 100% OK. With that said, whenever you are not your usual self, it’s time to ask for help or simply have a sick day. Your health goes first and rest should always be a priority—after all, the sooner you get well, the better for your blog.