Balance. Ahhh, that elusive nirvana. I get asked all the time for tips on how to balance work, life and blogging, so I’ve put together my most valuable hard-learned lessons, genuinely time-saving tips and honest practicalities into one, single blog post instead of many wine-fuelled conversations.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links. If you buy an item after clicking on one, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only ever recommend products and services that I genuinely use and love myself.
Let’s begin in a place of honesty – balancing everything can be hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat this.
Honestly, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to solving this time problem. Much of the time it’s as simple (and at the same time as complicated) as calculating how much time you have, and what your priorities are. Sometimes even that is easier said than done – and you have to just take time off to relax and enjoy.
So many people ask me how I manage to balance everything that I do – running a business looking after multiple clients, gadding about London, writing a blog, travelling as often as I can get away with, spending quality time with loved ones – and it’s with the help of these hacks.
I’ve also given myself permission to not feel guilty about taking a break, and I post my Instagram a day behind. This means that I have all the images & videos stored, and I can enjoy the moment, and then when it’s quiet the next day (and it’s probably a more optimal posting time) I can have a little fun with my posts.
When I began writing this post, I initially segmented everything into work/life/blog, but actually, I use all of these tricks across every part of my life. I don’t know if that’s a bit sad – perhaps it’s better to ask my husband who checks our shared Google calendar before asking if I fancy going to the pub of an evening, just in case I’ve already got plans…
– Keeping everything synced online
It means that I can switch from phone to laptop to PC back to my phone – and everything updates on the go, as long as there’s wifi. I’m more likely to use a booking platform (hotels, restaurants, you name it) if they sync with my Google calendar.
Also, all of my gear ‘talks’ to each other; I can airdrop between my MacBook Air and iPhone, between my iPhone and Camera (an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II which I adore), and my camera memory card goes straight into my Mac for uploading blog/work/life images.
– Knowing that I have a bad memory
Everyone thinks I’m super organised, but I have a secret weapon. I firmly believe that the key to success is knowing your strengths and weaknesses, so everything goes into my calendar or my to-do list immediately. Reminders to buy new shoes when I’m next in town, notifications to chase something outstanding up, birthday reminders, trips away, dinners with friends…
– An old-fashioned ‘to do’ list
Strangely enough, I’m not a fan of online or app-based ‘to-do’ lists. I suspect it’s mostly down to the satisfaction I feel when I can finally cross something out of my ‘to do’ list. I keep my Moleskine notebook near me at all times – except when I’m relaxing. Then it lives with my laptop in my lovely light and sturdy Longchamp tote bag that doubles as a camera/laptop bag.
But, the best tip that I live my life by, is using the Pomodoro technique of intense 20-minute sessions and picking the 3 most important items on my to-do list, ticking them off and then identifying the next 3 most important items – especially when I’m super busy.
– Looking after all of my kit from the very beginning
Using everything so much can be a little hard wearing, so I make a proper effort to look after what I’ve got (goodness knows that I’ve not got the time to mess about replacing stuff.) I’ve got my MacBook Air in a slim but sturdy case protecting it from knocks, I’ve got about 700 iPhone charging cables – the long ones are especially handy for working from cafes, the damask effect iPhone case I’ve got gets me all kinds of lovely compliments and if you are clumsy like me, you have to have these iPhone screen protectors. Actually, that reminds me, I need to order a backup camera battery…
– Which nicely brings me to my mantra – if it takes less than 5-minutes, just do it straight away.
It is as simple as that.
– Having an online, colour coded calendar
I use Google calendars as they sync everywhere and it means I know pretty well at a glance what’s going on –
- Yellow is travel or meetings – including flights, hotels, activities
- White notes are reminders of things to do or catchups with friends
- Red & green are blog posts (green is for invites/sponsored content – I don’t like to have more than one a week at the absolute, absolute maximum)
- Turquoise is @lbloggerschat hosts and their topics
It’s not a foolproof system, but one that works pretty well most of the time! To keep work and life separate, I’ve started to use two calendars, but even they chat with each other which helps!
– Letting myself relax
I actually schedule pyjama days into the week, and I’m quite honest about it. I know when I’m doing too much and starting to burn out, so I schedule in days that I don’t actually get dressed into outdoor clothes – just clean pyjamas to relax around the house in. And I try not to pick up my laptop…
– Directing different email addresses into the same main account
Running multiple email accounts is hard, so I redirect all of them into 1 or 2 main accounts which I dip into when working/blogging/arranging life stuff. I’m also pretty disciplined about only using specific email addresses for booking travel – then you don’t have to go hunting through 4 different places to find flight confirmations!
– Seizing and helping the writing muse
In my blog ‘draft’ folders there are 127 unpublished blog post ideas just waiting. In fact, this post was drafted out an age ago and has languished in the drafts folder as a promising topic. Then, when I’ve got the writing muse, or I can’t think of anything to write about, I pop into the draft folders, and voila! It makes writing a post much, much faster.
You also never know when the muse will hit you – I’ve written innumerable posts on my phone as an email to myself, on the backs of paper bags and even opened mail envelopes at 3 am – sometimes you just have to seize the moment that the words tumble out.
See the above, that’s how slimline my MacBook’s protective screen case is.
– Cheating & batching
Batching is my favourite organisational hack. When I’m in the mood to do something, I do multiples of it. Eg. editing photos (I really don’t do very much to my photos at all), queuing social media posts, writing blog posts etc. I do a lot of these when I’m commuting, having down time or simply not in the mood to achieve anything.
I love Buffer. Personally, I find it MUCH easier to use than Hootsuite to schedule social media posts – it’s cleaner, simpler and it’s pretty darned reliable. Then, I make sure to interact manually each time I pop into the apps. I also have all of my phone notifications turned off, so that I can limit how often I’m distracted by these apps and so that the time I do spend on them is worthwhile.
What is the best time-saving tip or hack that you use and recommend to friends?
Ps. do you find reading blog posts about blogging interesting?
<< pin for later >>