Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Managing the Blog Madness Without Going Mad

We've all read somewhere that we should be blogging, right? And so like the good little children we are, we created our beautiful blogs or websites and wrote posts filled with inspiration, humor, and of course, wisdom.

Then somewhere along the line, we realized we needed friends to actually read our outbursts of brilliance. So we proceeded to read up on how to increase our blog traffic, which opened a whole new world of must-do's. You know how it goes...Visit other blogs, comment on them, then revisit them, then comment on them again, then sacrifice your firstborn. Er, something like that.

Now I'm being sort of snarky here, and in all honesty, I love all the friends I've made through blogging and would sacrifice my firstborn for them...My firstborn being Finny the fish, of course. But we can all relate to this time struggle, right?

Jody Hedlund addressed this topic on her blog recently and had some great thoughts, one of which was the importance of prioritizing interactions. So I wanted to share one trick I've found to do this, particularly in the world of blogging. But to better appreciate it, I want to show you my former life.

Here's the typical scenario. I get up at 6:30, do my morning time with God while eating breakfast, then cram in as much email and blog visits as I can before my kids get up and eat breakfast at 8:00. After that, I turn on Mickey Mouse and let my kids veg until lunch so I can finish reading more blog posts. Then I slap some PB&J together and put the kids down for naps, during which point I read more blog posts, make more comments, and wonder where my actual writing time went.

Can you relate?

Now, picture this scenario. During my morning cram session of email and blogging, I do this. I open up my dashboard and Twitter account in a separate internet window. Then I do a quick scroll through the blog roll, right clicking on the posts that are of interest or high priority, and select "Open in new tab".

Important note: I do not read the posts at this point.

Then I skim through Twitter and do the same thing. All new tabs. When I'm finished, I may have 10 tabs open or 50 tabs open, depending on the day.

Here's how the rest of my day progresses. If I'm home with the kiddos, I take those short snippets of time while my son is crashing hotwheels together and I read one of the tabs, comment, then click the X. One down, 9 to go. I continue to do this throughout the day so that by naptime, if the stars align, I can write.

Here's another scenario. Say I don't have kids at home, and I have a full day to devote to writing. (Did I say "scenario"? I meant to say "in my dreams".) So I spend my day like this: Focused writing for 45 minutes, then a 15 minute break which may include getting up and stretching, grabbing a snack, and visiting a few of those blogs I'd opened earlier.

See how easy that was? Focused time. By opening all the items of interest at the start of my day, I can more easily budget my time and sneak in my blog reading in little snippets. And it helps me avoid getting sucked into my blog roll or my Twitter account for five hours straight and never leaving. If my list of must-reads is ridiculously long on a given day, I copy the links into an email and save them for another day.

How do you manage the blog madness? Any tips or tools to share that can save someone else time in the blogsophere?

*Blog & Hourglass photos by Salvatore Vuono /
**Sandwich photo by Rawich /


henya said...

What a refreshing post!!! How do I manage? Still at the "madness" stage, you know? The stage of frenzy and time consuming.

So what I'm going to do, is follow your advice and see what happens. Glad you were my "first" this morning. Now back to my own writing....

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

This is difficult for me, especially since I work a full time job from 7:30 to 4:00. I get up at 5 for my quiet time & email checking, then I do what you do when I get home. I scroll through for blogs that interest me, then read/reply. Cook supper, clean, engage with family, then either write or write blogs, or *gasp* watch Castle! :)

It is a difficult thing to manage your time with so many things on your plate. Blogging is a great tool to connect, but if you aren't published yet, you really need to spend most of your time writing. That's what I've been thinking, anyway.

Jody Hedlund said...

Great system, Sarah! Love it! And thanks for the shout out! :-)

Casey said...

Great points Sarah, I have struggled (okay I DO) struggle with getting off the internet most days. But I have found that when the end of the day roles around, what am I going to be most proud of in front of the Lord? My blogging adventures or the bit of writing I completed? I tell, I have walked the path of the former and I don't like it.

So very helpful, I have been looking forward to this post since you mentioned it!

Keli Gwyn said...

Have you been watching me, Sarah? Blogging has been on my mind lately--a lot. Like many, I struggle to find time to post, visit, comment. I like your technique. I'd just have to remember not to close my Internet browser while I had all those tabs open. And yes, I do silly things like that. =)

Jenn said...

What a great idea!

I try to set a timer--20 or 30 minutes to check blogs. That means I have to hurry up and read the blogs I want to read, I have to be choosy, I can't just read every blog. Then, when the timer goes off it's time to write. (Or supposed to be anyway). ;)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Hey all! Sorry to make a late appearance today...It's been one of those weeks, which would take a week's worth of blog posts to explain.

Anyhow, considering my schedule of late, this post came at a good time for ME...ha!

Henya, So glad this came at a good time. Feel free to tweak it for what works best for you. :)

Sherrinda, Good for up after supper. I've been known to forego that in the name of good blogging etiquette, but have since come to my senses. :)

Jody, Thanks for triggering the post idea in the first place. :)

Casey, Ouch, you're so right. Some day we will give an account for how we spent our time. I need to write that on my forehead and look in the mirror often. :)

Keli, LOL, If your internet browser is like mine, it pops up a message making sure you want to close multiple tabs. Maybe that'd help remind you? Or, maybe you could copy the links into an email first thing and do it that way instead of the tabs.

Jenn, Oohh, love the timer idea. I've used that when I have to crank through writing or editing. Why not blogging, right? :)

Tamika: said...

This is for me:) I love blogging and reading blogs but 2009 it sucked too much of my writing time. This year I've narrowed down the "must read" blogs in my book and I visit them first if I find extra time I visit the rest. And I've cut back from three days a week to two days a week.

Laura S. said...

I don't have children. Just a husband. (Hmmm, did I say I don't have a child? LOL!) So I admire all people with children who manage do all they do!

You have some good tips here! I write first, then blog. Blogging is like a reward for writing. Usually I blog in the morning for an hour or so after I've been writing for a little (the morning is when most people seem to put up new posts anyway). Then I get back to writing. I'll blog after dinner for a little, too. Some weeks I don't get a chance to comment as much as I'd like, so then I try to catch up on the weekend.

Angie Dicken said... wise...I feel overwhelmed with all the internet networking sometimes! I am going to try your system, instead of shoving my kids to the side and becoming a zombie in front of my laptop!
Thanks Sarah!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Oh my goodness my computer would throw up on me if I opened all those tags at once and I'd get stressed. I love that it works for you. I've tried it but it adds to the crazy for me. I swear I'm a grandma at heart.

I love that we are living this together, Sarah! I love that I met you and have prayed with you.
~ Wendy

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

LOL...Wendy, you are so funny! Your computer would throw up on you? Hilarious! I will open some blogs in new tabs and read through them later, but not 50 of them! I think my computer would hiccup a bit too, if I did that!

Joy Tamsin David said...

Oh my, it is blog madness isn't it?! I struggle with spending too much time on it all too. I think what I'm going to need to do is limit it to an hour a day because it can really suck up all evening if I let it.

Right now I follow about 300 blogs in Google Reader. Waaaay too many. My strategy is to scroll down my reader glancing at pictures and reading titles. If something grabs my eye I star it. I like that feature of Google reader b/c I can come back to posts I want to comment on.

I come back to the starred posts later or on the weekends as time permits.

Tracy Krauss said...

Good advice. there are also some great tips on the comment section here. Allotting a certain amount of time works for me. if I don't get to it in the allotted time I don't get to it. Simple. it forces me to get rid of the unimportant right away so I can focus on the ones I really do want to read.

Jillian said...

Keeping up with all of the blogs and a full-time job leaves little time for writing. I like Laura's suggestion to use blog time as a reward after the writing. For some reason, I have a hard time focusing on writing when I know my e-mail account is overflowing.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Tamika, I hear you. I found that cutting down my own blog posts to once a week really saved me time!

Laura, Your husband must be like mine. I like to say I have 3 children, not 2. :) Great strategy on writing first!

Angie, We need to start a group called Mommy Zombies Anonymous. What do you think? ;)

LOL, Wendy, I love you. You know that, right? :)

Sherrinda, Truth told, when I cull my blogroll down, it doesn't get as high as 50 posts. More like 20-30 max. I guess 50 was an exaggeration (which I'm never known to do...ever). :)

Joy, I've never used Google Reader, but what an awesome feature! Thanks for the tip...I must check it out.

Tracy, Such good advice to draw a boundary line. I'm always afraid I'm missing the party by not visiting everyone, but sometimes you just gotta stay home. :)

Jillian, I hear you on the email. That's always the first step. I say, "I'll just check email really quick before I start writing." Three hours later, I'm perusing blogs and Twitter and wonder where my day went. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Any tips for me are helpful, Sarah, so thanks! My kiddos don't nap, one is in school, and with another on the way, I'm not sure how much of a schedule I'll have. But when I do have time to write or check posts, I usually try to write for a fraction of that, then do my on-line stuff for another fraction. Like you said, focused time. I try to make time for both because they're both important to me. AND, I think this is also why I haven't signed up for Twitter. I balancing what I have okay right now and it works well enough for me. Thanks again!

Julia M. Reffner said...


I've cut down on my blog posts, too. And I'm glad for your tips, because I feel like I go to one extreme or the other. I gave up on even looking at Google Reader because even that was too overwhelming. I'll have to try your system.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Oh Cindy, I can't imagine how your life will change when the baby comes. I'm treasuring naptimes right now. My son is growing out of them, but I still make him lay down for "rest time". Truth told, it's more for mommy than for him. :)

Julia, Extremes...I so get that. Hope you find a system that works for you! :)

Sarah Allen said...

Great advice :) An attempt to follow it is what has brought me here, ironically enough. I'll try to come back soon, and my first born shouldn't be too much longer...

In all seriousness, thanks for the advice. Wonderful blog!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Sarah, No firstborn necessary. Gracing us with your presence is payment enough. :) So glad to have a fellow "Sarah with an H" here.

Tessa Emily Hall said...

I do about the same thing. Visit my favorite blogs then go through dashboard and open in new tabs the ones that seem interesting. I leave them up throughout the day whenever I have time to read and comment.

Thanks for sharing this! =)