Some of these productivity tips are going to seem downright weird to you…

You’re probably going to think we’re a couple of freaks by the end of it, but I can guarantee you that there are at least a couple of tips on this list that you’ve never heard of before!

I know that it’s easy to look at our success and think that it just ‘came easily’ to us and that we just have a ‘knack’ for it or possess some qualities that you don’t have.

I know that because I saw the same thing in others that I looked up to when I first started.

But that simply isn’t true.

As we outlined in our stages of blogging success, there is what we call a “poop stage,” and we know this from personal experience.

Alex and I were in the trenches for many months, plugging away for hours into the nights and weekends on our blogs, with nothing to show for it.

Not only did it take us 6 months to make ANY money from our first blog, but we also had a failed blog and a LOT of money down the drain under our belts.

On top of that, we were both working full-time jobs through all of this.

I was a recently certified public accountant working your typical 9-5 and Alex was a certified personal trainer, also working a pretty standard 40-hour workweek.

So, how did we manage to get our blog off the ground and actually successful?

These are our best tips, tricks, and strategies that we learned over those first few dark months of hard work on the road to success.

And don’t worry, y’all… We aren’t going to just tell you to work more and spend less.

We did some super weird things to get where we are today, including surviving mostly off eggs and rice for a few weeks (more on that later…).

You’ll want to hear this.

Alex and I have done some seriously random, weird, and questionable things in the name of productivity and time management.

Let’s talk about them!

1. Meals

Do you know how much time and energy you can save by eating the same meals every day?

Yes, I mean same breakfast, same lunch, and same dinner. Every day. For weeks.

Okay, we’d rotate out a few other meals here and there to make sure we were getting enough nutrients. But I remember eating salmon for dinner almost every night for probably a month at one point.

As a previous health blogger, I’m not recommending this as proper diet advice. But I want to illustrate a point.

Deciding what you will eat every day and how you will cook it (on top of actually cooking it) takes a lot of mental time and energy that you don’t have as a new blogger.

Having these decisions made for you frees up a lot of time and energy to focus on your new blog.

Write down your top 2-3 favorite dishes for each meal that are relatively quick and simple to make and try to cook them as often as you can to simplify your life a bit.

2. Wardrobe

This was a weird one that we picked up while living in Austin and it’s one that has stuck with me ever since.

We, as a society, also spend far too much time thinking about what to wear every day and far too much money buying new clothes when you get sick of your old ones.

Alex and I decided to limit our wardrobe to white, black, and gray plus one accent color — which turned out to be green for both of us.

But everything in our closets matched and it simplified the thought process for deciding what to wear every day. AND kept us from buying shit we didn’t need.

Lauren and Alex blogging in Austin

And y’all… Pro travel tip…

I STILL do this now while I’m traveling!

I often live out of a suitcase for months at a time and limiting my colors allows me to have more outfits to mix and match — without taking up too much space in my luggage.

3. Alarms

One of the biggest problems with trying to blog with a full-time job was that we were giving away our most productive hours of the day to our other jobs.

Those first few, coffee-fueled hours of the day were THE most productive and we felt like they were being wasted.

We made the decision to forgo an hour or two of sleep most days to set an early alarm and work on our blog BEFORE going to our full-time jobs.

This is tough and requires a LOT of self-discipline, but it was worth it.

We also kept this up long after we quit our full-time jobs because those early morning hours are so important to get a lot of deep, focused work in on our blogs.

And for some of you, this might not be in the morning. If you’re a night owl, your most productive hours may be late at night.

In that case, try delaying bedtime by an hour or two to crank out a couple more hours on your blog!

4. Consistency and Convenience

Honestly, all of the time-management and productivity tips that we can give you revolve around two things: consistency and convenience

The more decisions you allow to creep into your day, the more distractions and wasted time you will have on your hands.

Do your best to simply as much of the decision-making processes you can in your day.

Alex and I are able to do this mostly through consistency and convenience. We have a lot of repetition in our workdays and do what we can to keep food, transportation, workouts, etc. as convenient as possible.

I know that it sounds boring and I promise you that blog life is a lot ‘less sexy’ behind the scenes, but THIS is how we achieved success so quickly.

And now that we have it, we can take more time for the personal things and decisions in our lives. It’s a temporary sacrifice that you make to help you stay focused and budget your limited time.

5. Social Life

It’s time to say goodbye to your precious social life…

This goes hand-in-hand with time-management because one of the biggest sucks on your time is your social life.

This was especially hard for us because we were 26 years old when we started and were living in the heart of uptown Dallas – aka where all of the young professionals work hard and play hard.

Alex and I were accustomed to weeknight happy hours, weekend brunches, and a lot of pool days in the summertime – all of which came to an end when we got serious about our blog.

 

A post shared by Lauren McManus (@laurenitous) on

This is a tough one for many, and you can try to balance it if you’d like.

But remember that 8 hours at brunch at the pool means 8 fewer hours of work put into your blog, which roughly translates into:

  • A new post written
  • Tons of Pinterest pins created
  • An outline for a new product
  • A series of marketing emails written
  • 8 hours doing anything more productive than day drinking at the pool

Okay, maybe you’re not at the stage of life where you’re still day drinking at the pool in your spare time.

But if you’re married with kids, this still applies to you.

Skip that family BBQ or ask your husband if he can make the Saturday soccer game so you can stay at home and put in some work to create a better future for your family.

The point is that you must make SACRIFICES if you want success – especially if you want it QUICKLY.

The hardest part about this is that your friends and family likely won’t understand. They will put pressure on you to make time for them and they likely just won’t understand your priorities during this stage.

Do your best to explain as much as you need to and be firm in your decision to make your blog the priority right now.

6. The ONE Task

This is an important one because as a blogger, you are a one-man show and responsible for all tasks that need to be done at any given time.

The problem is that if you work on multiple projects at once, nothing ever gets finished and it’s half-assed at best when it does finally get completed.

To avoid the overwhelm and failure involved in this, get organized.

Write out a to-do list of all of the most critical tasks that you need to work on. Then, prioritize them based on what is THE most important.

Work on that ONE most important task to the success of your business first, and do NOT move on until the task is completely finished.

And guys, let me give you a little clue here… It is NOT blog design.

Everyone and I mean everyone, spends DAYS on this task first and foremost when they first start.

I know because we did it and so many of our new bloggers fall into the same trap despite our warnings.

This is why it’s important to get some help in the beginning. Find bloggers that will teach you the ropes without all the mistakes.

As a new blogger, you literally have EVERYTHING ahead of you, including:

And it’s not just about the what to do – the timing of when you do these tasks matters just as much, if not more. 

7. Saying No

On that note, it’s super important to learn how to just say NO to people.

Whether it’s asking you to blow off work and do something fun or someone needs a favor…

Get better at knowing the value of YOUR time and when you need to just politely say NO to someone because something isn’t worth your time.

Don’t let anyone give you a hard time for spending time indoors on the weekend.

And don’t feel bad about not offering up help every single time you’re asked. You deserve to put yourself first from time to time.

If people truly love and support you, they will understand.

8. Deep Focus

Once you have prioritized your tasks and you know what you need to work on and when you need to work on it, it’s time to shut out the world and find your DEEP FOCUS.

Think of ‘deep focus’ like deep sleep. It’s those few hours where you’re basically dead to the world.

It can be really hard to get into this place, but once you do, it’s like productivity on steroids. You’ll get so much done and feel so accomplished.

Everyone will have a different place for ‘deep focus,’ so try out a few different things to find yours.

For me, it’s usually at a café or co-working space where I can plug in my headphones for hours and not be interrupted.

 

A post shared by Lauren McManus (@laurenitous) on

For some people, it’s at home. I personally find that I get too distracted at home and I often interrupt myself by getting up often for food or other things.

Find your work groove and get in it as much as possible!

The best work to be done in deep focus are things that require a lot more mental thought and energy: blog post writing, product creation, writing emails, etc.

Some tasks that are better to prioritize outside of your deep focus are image creation (like social media images), blog design, etc.

I also find that my deep focus generally happens in the morning but if you’re a night owl, you may be the opposite!

Bottom line: Do whatever you can to minimize all distractions when in the precious little time you do get to work on your blog! 

9. Investing

Let’s be honest… We could all be a little better about managing our money. Always.

I know for a fact that many of you that tell me that you can’t afford the $29/month for ConvertKit are spending the same amount of all kinds of non-discretionary items.

I know this because Alex and I are the SAME way. Everyone is. It’s human nature.

We make space in the budget for the things that matter to us.

The problem is that we generally have our priorities all out of whack and end up spending our money on the WRONG things.

How is this related to productivity?

The right investments in your blog will make you more productive and save you a ton of time and headaches.

If you’re trying to begin with a free blog and get by as cheaply as possible, you will get cheap results. If you don’t invest a penny, you will never make a penny.

It’s as simple as that.

For all of you out there that are wanting to tell me, “But I don’t have any money to invest in my blog right now,” I have to tell you that a career in blogging isn’t for you.

We aren’t here to sell you on some get-rich-quick scheme or make this look easy.

If you aren’t willing to spend any money on your new blog/business, the life of an entrepreneur is not for you.

I don’t mean to discourage any of you either. I just want to make sure that you have the right expectations going into this.

You CAN start with free options, but you cannot expect to make any real money with those free options.

We honestly spent several thousand dollars over those first few months learning everything we could, implementing the strategies that we learned, and mostly failing.

But through all of that trial and error, some things stuck. We eventually found something that worked and were able to double our revenues for those first 5 months of Fings.

And the rest is history!

We’re not asking you to invest thousands of dollars on your new blog. Most people don’t have the income to do that.

For more information on the expected costs to start a blog, see our post below.

You don’t have to have tons of capital to invest in your blog when you’re getting started.

But also don’t allow yourself to believe that you can’t afford literally one of the best investments you can make for your blog (again, ConvertKit) but then turn around and buy a pair of $70 shoes or keep up with your weekly Starbucks latte habit.

The little things add up and it comes down to whether or not you want to make your blog a priority or not.

Alex and I chose to make it THE most important priority in our life, and our experiences speak for themselves here.

I was in credit card debt at the very early stages of the discussions about starting a blog, and the idea of starting and running my own business was what finally motivated me to get the damn debt paid off once and for all.

I’ve been debt-free ever since.

Alex and I also started eating eggs and rice for dinner every night for a few weeks at a time to save money because we were investing so much into our business.

Again, as a health blogger, I am NOT advising you to take it to this level of extreme.

I just want to show you how dedicated we were to the things that mattered to us.

If you have any questions for us on how to blog with a full-time job or anything else we discussed in this article, please feel free to leave us a comment below!

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