Just recently I began blogging myself. It is something I am enjoying very much, but have found that it is becoming very easy for me to allow it to steal my time, energy and affection more than it should. I definitely think that this is something I can do right now, but realize that it's something that needs to be *very* carefully managed. The time I spend online, writing, commenting, etc.
I see that you have a young family, with two children and one on the way--just like me! You have a husband, you have a desire to put your family first. You're spending time teaching and training your children and making a home for your family. Just like me. And you've been blogging consistently for what, a year and a half now? Putting out quality content on a regular basis.
So, while I know you're not perfect ;) I also see that you probably have some wisdom to offer on how to manage online time well. Would you mind sharing how you do this? Do you have a set amount of time for writing, commenting, etc?
Thanks for the excellent question, Brianna! It's so encouraging to hear from another mom in the same boat, who is seeking to keep the same kind of balance and priorities!
That said, this has been an area that I have become very aware of over the past year and a half, and I would love to share what I've been learning during that time.
1) This blog is not my priority
These are the things that take precedence over this and any other computer time:
- My relationship with God
- My husband
- My children
- My homemaking responsibilities (if I have written three fantastic posts, but dinner is sorely lacking, there is a problem)
Honestly, maintaining these priorities has been a struggle at times. There are days when,
unfortunately, I treat blogging like a higher priority than it is. There have
been seasons where I have let it become more consuming than it ought to
have been. There have also been times when, by God's grace, I have
recognized that my priorities were out of whack, that something had to
give, and that my blog would be the thing to suffer. Overall, these priorities are what I strive for and reminding myself of my true priorities helps me to keep my blog time in check.
2) Computer time happens when my kids aren't awake
This is one of the most important things for me. I have two main times that I do blog work: 1) In the morning, before my kids are out of bed, and 2) During their naptime/quiet time, which is my specific blogging time each day.
I also occasionally work on it in the evenings, if my husband is out for the evening, or he is is occupied doing something else. I try as much as possible to avoid it during the weekends, as those are family times. By sticking with this basic rule, I am able to keep my focus on my children, my husband and my other tasks, and not become distracted by the computer.
Another important thing in relation to this is staying off the computer unless I have set aside time to do something specific. This includes even looking up something legitimate on craigslist or checking our family email. It is simply too easy for me to sit down for "only 2 minutes" and suddenly find myself checking out Bloglines or reading new comments on my latest post, and suddenly 15 or 20 minutes have flown by. This is a self-discipline thing for me, and I simply need to be strict about the fact that when I am not supposed to be on the computer, I just choose to not sit down to use it, for ANY reason!
3) My personal tips for blogging as a busy mom
- I use a blog reader to manage my reading time- however, I only open Bloglines if I actually have the time to read blogs. This might mean I go for days without checking my favorite blogs, because I keep this as a fairly low priority for the precious computer time I do have. I also keep my list of blogs that I subscribe to fairly small, and try to go through every once in a while and weed out the ones I no longer read regularly. I have a folder called "A bit of time to read" which contains my very favorite 10-15, and they are the only ones I scan on a very regular basis.
- I don't comment on other blogs much. I do still try to comment whenever I can, but the busier I have become, the more that this has decreased.
- I don't respond to every comment on my blog. If there is a specific question or issue that needs to be addressed, I'm more than happy to respond to that. Otherwise, I don't get into a lot of dialogue through my comments. I really wish I could, but it's just not practical for me. :(
- My goal is to always be ahead in my post writing. Sometimes I get behind, but generally I like to have at least 2-5 posts that I am already working on or have completed, so that I am not pressured to start and complete something new each day.
- I switched from moderating my comments individually, to allowing comments to post automatically. This prevents me from feeling the need to regularly check my blog for new comments. I still check it a couple of times a day, and so the rare inappropriate comments are never up for very long.
- I use auto-posting. This feature lets me set a post to go up on a particular day at a set time, without having to go and manually publish it when I want it to go up. This allows me to prepare something on Fridays, for example, set to publish early Saturday morning, and many Saturdays I don't even touch my computer at all or at least not until sometime in the late afternoon.
- Whenever I get post ideas, I either write them down immediately in my daily planner, or if I'm able to, I quickly compose a post draft with a title and a few notes on what I want the post to be about. This means that I always have post ideas on the go, and rarely have to spend time thinking about what to write.
- I don't do any social networking... no Twitter, no Facebook, etc. I find them to be another distraction, and although they may be good for my traffic, I don't believe that they would be good for my mothering or other priorities (this is just my personal decision- not a mandate for the rest of you!)
- Responding to emails is something that I do as I have the time. I don't stress out about it if I am not able to get to them all quickly (unless they are emails of a business nature, that require a timely response). When I do email back, which I really enjoy doing (and this is why I must be cautious of how much I write), I try to use the 5 sentence rule. I often break it (oops!), but it helps me to be okay with sending emails that are on the shorter side, and to try to condense what I have to say into only what is truly necessary. I also file or delete all emails as soon as they have been dealt with, to keep the inbox clutter to a minimum.
How about you, fellow bloggers? How do you keep your blogging time in check with your other priorities and responsibilities? For non-bloggers, how do you manage your computer time in general?