Finding Time to Blog

It’s Anna here to confess that I have been struggling to find time to write this blog. For that, I must hold my hands up and apologise as I know all the benefits of blogging and the excuse that I was busy isn’t good enough. I should have made more time to write for my business, rather than just as part of my business.

It seems odd to think about it in these terms, but it can be harder to write for your own business than for somebody else. You’re often too close to what you are doing to take that step back and write objectively and you can fall into the trap of assuming that other people know as much about what you have been up to as well as you do. There’s a saying about assumptions isn’t there?

I write articles and blog posts for others frequently. I dash off web copy and social media content that reflects the brand and tone of voice of my clients and help them to establish their business online and yet I’m often guilty of neglecting to do so for my own business despite knowing how much it would raise my visibility online. I’m using this blog post to commit publically to regular updates and to ask people to get in touch if there is anything they think I could help them with.

Productivity hacks are ubiquitous online, (and they provide a guilt-lite form of procrastination too…) I have read and shared many myself. One of my favourite ideas is to plan your time in blocks. When you look at your entire week as a series of blocks of time you begin to see how much can be achieved in each and gain a greater understanding of what you can do with a limited resource (time).

The 50/10 rule can help maintain focus and gives enough time to achieve a task (such as writing a blog post) and it doesn’t require any app downloads or fancy kit. All you need is to time yourself and work for 50 minutes and rest for 10. If you’ve worked at your desk the whole time it might help to stand or take a quick walk, but the choice is yours, use those 10 minutes to grab a drink, watch a funny cat video, send an email, or check social media, it’s your rest time.

I think the most important aspect is that 50 minutes is a manageable amount of time to be out of contact. You can check your emails after the time has elapsed and will find that you don’t need to react straight away to every email as it hits your inbox. This technique helps you realise that time is an asset and that you can achieve a lot more in a shorter period of it but only if you work distraction free.

If 50 minutes might be a little too long for you, the Pomodoro Technique might be better suited, with each 25 minute Pomodoro being tracked to see how long tasks take and then planning your time around completing tasks distraction free based on however many Pomodoros you need. Say you’re clearing out your inbox at the end of the week, see how long it takes using Pomodoro time periods and then the week after you’ll know how long to set aside to achieve this objective.

I really recommend that you break projects down into smaller tasks that you can tick off rapidly in order to really measure progress and feel fired up about what you have managed to get done. I’m going to do this with blog posts. Rather than spending a day scheduling a few when I’m free, instead I’ll dedicate an hour a week to drafting one really good post in 50 minutes. Then I’ll spend the other 10 recharging my batteries by making a cup of tea and checking how many likes I got on the latest picture of my dog I uploaded on Facebook.

 

Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen R. Covey, (2004), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.

859672

As its headline boasts, this book has been a huge seller since it was first written in 1989 with over 15 million copies sold. I read the 2004 U.K. edition of ‘7 Habits’ when still quite fresh to the self-help/business book and found it was not as full of irritatingly obvious common sense advice as I had expected.

This book focuses on understanding yourself by assessing your own personality traits and working to develop the principles and values within your own character that will enhance your personal and professional effectiveness. The argument Covey makes is that by understanding your habits, how they are unconsciously formed and the process of breaking them, you can then replace them with more effective habits. He tells us that personal change must precede any public change.

Habits are defined as being the intersection of ‘knowledge, skill and desire’ and these are the three main points he makes with regard to habits that make a lot of sense; first you need knowledge, you must recognise the need for change before you can implement it. After that you must learn the skills you need to bring about the change and, last but not least, the only way to actually make the change stick is a burning desire to change that specific habit.

Covey goes through the ‘7 Habits’ in sequence and asks the reader to complete the associated tasks sequentially in order to make the changes permanent and effective. Each of the accomplishments leads step-by-step on to the next, moving you from personal dependence (the paradigm of you), to independence (the paradigm of I), and finally to interdependence (the paradigm of we). index

 

There are several useful templates that are set out as part of the approach, along with personal success stories and anecdotes. In the chapter on ‘Putting First Things First,’ his time management matrix and weekly worksheet were both useful resources to help you allocate your time wisely and discover how to make time for what is most important and will bring about the best results for you in the longer term. It helps you understand the tasks that need to be prioritised over those tasks that can distract and ultimately waste your time.

Covey-Quadrant

In order to create win/win scenarios that make you a more effective person and leader Covey argues that you must be willing to assess your own life and habits, to questions your values and whether you are being true to them in order to battle against doubts or a lack of self-confidence and take the risk of changing and developing new behaviours.

The approach set out in the book is simple to understand though undoubtedly less easy to actually follow. Covey describes his own personal struggle to live these principles on a daily basis and the same will undoubtedly apply to everyone else who has read and tried to follow the habits. There were several ideas contained in the book that I found useful and adopted at Active Outcomes in order to increase my own productivity, planning and effectiveness.

Overall, it contained some good insights. Although as a personal choice, I try to find my own way rather than follow any prescribed self-help methods, especially those that don’t seem to be the right fit for me.

For more information see: https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits.php