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How to Maintain a Blog AND a Full-Time Job

How to Maintain a Blog AND a Full-Time Job


    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.

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    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.

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    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:

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    • 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.

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    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)

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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

    The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

    In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

    Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

    Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

    Conflicts are literally everywhere.

    Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

    Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

    Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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    Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

    Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

    Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

    The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

    Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

    Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

    How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

    Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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    Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

    Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

    How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

    Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

    Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

    Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

    How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

    Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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    Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

    Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

    How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

    Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

    Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

    Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

    How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

    Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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    Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

    Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

    How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

    Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

    Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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