Happy Monday. What did you do this weekend?
Perhaps you spent the weekend blogging. Almost half of bloggers do exactly that every weekend, according to Orbit Media’s recent blogger survey.
That still leaves about 60 percent of you who leave blogging to the work week, and that means the arrival of Monday brings with it a mad rush to do the hard work of content creation.
So, when the weekend is over, do you get a case of the Mondays when it comes to blogging? Then you need to use the weekend to make your Monday arrive a bit better, without sacrificing your weekend to work.
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Use Friday And Sunday For A Better Monday
Monday arrives, for many of us, a groggy shock to the system. It's difficult to remember where you left off on Friday, and the lag in the morning that is required to resume forward motion from Friday wastes a lot of time.
Mondays will never be productive if you wait until Monday to figure out what to do with the day and the week.
There's a reason TV chefs have all of their ingredients measured out and in bowls, ready to dump into the pot when the time is right. You don't want to be running around trying to find what you need, hoping you have enough, when the time crunch is on. The same can be said for your blogging.
Doing a bit of prep work is like packing the night before you leave on a trip. Packing the early morning of a flight is stressful. Packing the night before and having everything ready to go means you can hit the ground running the next day.
Do some prep so that when Monday arrives, you don't spend the first hour or two trying to figure out what's happening in blogging this week.
Handle your Fridays better.
By making the most of your Friday—a day most of us are in a good mood—you can reduce the angst and workload of Mondays.
Unfortunately, according to productivity app Flow, most workers experience a slump on Friday when it comes to productivity. That means Mondays are forced to be the busiest days; they are compensating for Friday.
- Kill unpleasant tasks. Friday morning should be the time to complete those onerous tasks that have been hounding you all week. Finish them before Friday afternoon so you can coast into the weekend—and so that you don't leave them for Monday. No one should start the work week with the most challenging tasks.
- Make Friday notes. One helpful trick I've always used is to make a list and notes in the last 20 minutes or so of work on Friday so that I know where I left off and what I was intending to do next. When you are "in the zone" and you stop for two days, it is extremely difficult to get back to where you left off and head in the right direction without a lot of backtracking. By leaving myself notes on Friday for when I arrived on Monday, I shaved a lot of wasted time off of my Monday morning. Your Friday plans need to instruct where you'll start on Monday.
- Plan the next week. Friday is a good time to plan the next week. Depending upon how far in advance you plan your editorial calendar, you might want to consider Fridays. Whatever you plan, Friday works well because you've come off a full week of activity and it's fresh in your mind. You have a good idea of where to head next week. Also, avoid content planning meetings for Monday, especially Monday mornings. Oddly, the Monday morning staff meeting is common in most offices. If you can, use the morning for serious work. Push meetings back into the afternoon. The point of many Monday meetings is to recap and discuss the coming week, which can all be done better in the afternoon on Friday. Plan, schedule consistent content, write content goals—but do it on Friday.
- Get to inbox zero. You should not start Monday with last week's email still nagging at you. Answer, delete, and clear out your inbox. That's a good Friday afternoon task.
Do the heavy lifting during the week and finish it up by Friday. If your blog post involves interviews, follow-up questions, or heavy research, don't leave it for Monday.
Make Monday as easy a day as possible.
By turning Monday into a highly productive day, you give yourself a boost for the rest of the week. Nothing feels as good as completing tasks. The right Friday can turn your Monday into a productive powerhouse that keeps you ahead of the curve all week.
Use Sunday to review and refresh.
Your weekends should not be filled with work, so it's important not to turn Sunday into a full work day. However, in the evening, you can do a few minor things that prepare you for Monday without falling headlong into serious work.
- Review. On Sunday evening, review your Friday notes, and what work you completed or were working on when you left on Friday on Sunday evening.
- Reread your research for upcoming posts. Hopefully, you don't leave your research for a blog post until the last minute, and have been collecting research as soon as you scheduled topics to write. Review your blog post research, and see if you have enough. Do you have enough to support your thesis? Do you need to do a little more research now so you're ready to go on Monday? If you feel like you're short on research but don't want to research on a weekend, make some notes about the areas you need to flesh out.
- Make some notes as a jumping off point. Jot down notes and ideas of how you'll approach your blog post. These notes might be in the form of questions you want to be sure to answer when you actually write the post. In a way, these notes are a kind of trampoline. On Monday morning, you review your notes, and then take a leap into blog writing. The notes give you an extra boost. You can leap much further from a trampoline than the cold, hard ground.
- Review the week's editorial calendar. Hop into your CoSchedule editorial calendar and see what tasks you have for the upcoming week. Check out the conversations on the blog posts you're involved in. Add any notes, tasks, or comments that other team members need to know.
- Get your tools in order. The final way to close off your Sunday prep time is to make sure everything is in order. Depending on how you work (and where you work) will define what that looks like. Work at home? Clean up your home office, and put away anything from the previous week that you don't need for the upcoming week. Lay out a pen, your daily planner—anything that you will be using. Set your desk and work area up so that when you walk in on Monday, you're ready to go. Use a daily planner? Whether you use a paper daily planner or a planning app, review it. Any tasks from the previous week that you did not finish should be carried over to the new week.
A wisely used Friday and Sunday should leave Monday free and clear to simply write, write, write.
You Shouldn't Be Blogging All The Time
I'm wary to suggest even a modest review and prep time on Sunday, because it will encourage some bloggers to start working on the weekend. One of the interesting factoids in that Orbit Media survey is this statement:
8% of bloggers write all the time! They selected every option: before, during, and after work, as well as on nights and weekends.
If you blog all the time, with or without a regular schedule, you're on your way to writer burnout. It's very easy to take the mantra that if you are a writer, you "must be writing every day!" and turn that into an unhealthy habit of constant writing at any time and in any place.
Keep some of your time sacred, when you do not blog and you do not think about blogging.
Keep some places sacred, too. If you sit down to enjoy an hour or two of TV, don't try multi-tasking (which doesn't work). Write during the time and in the place where writing gets done. Take a pass on the burnout that comes from always being "on" when it comes to blogging.
There are things you can do that aren't blogging that will help you when it comes time to blog:
- Reading non-blog related books: You'll broaden the base for your blog posts by referencing new material your blog readers haven't seen used on other blogs.
- Creative exercises: Whether you keep your creative muscles in shape by creative writing projects or by various creative writing and brainstorming exercises, you'll be glad you did when Monday rolls around. Starting your creative engine up cold on Monday is painful. Keep it warm all the time.
- Spend time on conversation: Devote an hour or so on reading and responding to conversations on social media or old blog posts. During the work week, it is sometimes easy to let this slide or to rush it. On the weekend, have fun actually talking to people and bouncing ideas around. Forget about your blog. Focus on people.
Being rested and refreshed on not so inwardly focused on your blogging duties will help you be a better blogger. The narrower your focus is (i.e. you only think about blogging, and all the time), the more your field of vision is reduced. That's going to hurt your writing.
The truth is that, in order to be a better Monday blogger, you need to be a more disciplined Friday blogger.