Vintage clock

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. 

…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…

Would you mind sharing how you do this? Do you have a set amount
of time for writing, commenting, etc?

Brianna

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 almost two years. I am certainly not perfect (!!!) and have had many struggles with this area myself, but 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, if I'm able to 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 avoid the computer on 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 compute. I try to just choose to not sit down to use it, for ANY
reason! One thing that has really helped me in this regard is that we recently switched my desk from the family room/school room into my husband's office, which we now share. This really helps to lessen the temptation to just jump on the computer!

Keyboard

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 as well as Monday morning if I'm on the ball, and most weekends I don't even touch my computer.
  • 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?