If you’re like me, you can’t spend every waking moment of every day writing, editing, polishing, Tweeting, and enjoying the fruits of your hard labor.

You have a life.

For me, that looks like a steady 9-5 job, during which I work on other stuff–my blog, writing, and life must take a back seat if I want to take home a paycheck.

So how can you maintain both? Losing sanity, to me, is not acceptable–I don’t want to pull my hair out trying to get everything done at once. And I really don’t want to lose any sleep–I’m a sleepaholic.

I’ve found that the best way to maintain an active lifestyle and steady job, while still consistently push out great content, is to plan better.

Specifically, planning the parts of the day that most people forget about.

Instead of:

  • Wake up at 6.
  • Go to work at 8.
  • Work until lunch. Take a one-hour break.
  • Work until 5.
  • Come home, watch TV, go to bed.

This is what a “normal” day could look like for me:

  • Wake up at 6. Try to get two or three blog posts finished.
  • Go to work at 8.
  • Work until lunch. Try to write 1,000 words (on anything: blogs, books, etc.)
  • Work until 5. On the way home, brainstorm and plan the evening’s writing goals.
  • Write until 8 or 9 pm (I like to do this in Starbucks, because everyone loves to make fun of writers in Starbucks).
  • Go to bed.

You can see from the above list that I’ve blocked out the “major” chunks of my time, and filled them with some of the goals for my writing. But upon actual analysis of this method, it turns out that it’s still not an efficient-enough strategy if I expect to get a lot of writing done.

But by taking the above schedule and popping it into my favorite task-management software (Wunderlist is mine, but of course this can work with anything), I can “check in” to my progress throughout the day.

  • During the “brainstorming and planning” blocks, I plug in different tasks to my to-do list, like “write X post,” or “finish novel outline”
  • When I wake up in the morning, I try to get a few blog posts written–I don’t worry as much about doing “structured” writing here–my brain is usually mush anyway until about 11:30.
  • During lunch, I focus on knocking off as many items as possible from the ongoing list. I use the Pomodoro Technique for this.
  • Throughout the day, I’ll have Wunderlist open (part of the reason I love it so much is that it’s literally on every device) and I’ll drop in new tasks and post ideas to work on sometime later.
  • At home (or at the coffee shop), I’ll knock out two or three more tasks.

This whole plan may seem dauntingly obvious, but here’s the catch: I try to keep everything out of my head and in a tracking tool–pen and paper, Evernote, Wunderlist, whatever my preference happens to be that week. But I try to catch and “dump” every single task and item into a tool. Sure, the little things start to stack up after awhile, but there’s not much that motivates me more than knocking off a little item here and there.

So the plan is to block out major sections of time throughout your day first, then focus on writing everything down. When your “chunk” of time that you’ve allotted toward blogging comes up, you’ll have a nice, organized list of things to do. You won’t be worried with checking email, Facebook, or wasting time coming up with post ideas–your entire to-do list will be right in front of you, just waiting to be checked off as “complete.”

What do you think? What are some other ways of maintaining a successful work-life-blog balance?

Photo credit: Sami Keinänen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Love this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook