The last two months I have organized my schedule in a totally different way than I did for the last 4.5 years. The reason for that? I wanted to be more productive in order to keep up with all those things that I have to do in a weekly basis: University lectures & projects, blogging for pestaola.gr, working on my bachelor thesis project and of course spending some quality time with friends and family.
The truth is that there is a great change in my way of living but nothing has really changed. Ok, that sounds impossible and weird. Let me explain what I mean. By following a strict program, there is plenty of free time to do all those lazy things that I did before but without having to worry about deadlines. How did I manage to do that? Small, simple, steps.
1) Changed my web browser’s homepage to google.com/calendar. And I activated the Google Tasks add on. So, whenever I open Chrome, I know exactly what I have to do and when I have to do it. When I have 20 days -let’s say- to complete a project, I see it every day and I can do a little thing per day. That way, the project is usually completed a couple of days before and stress free. It never comes that last day with me running mad and trying to finish a 20days project in a day or so.
2) Rearranged my feeds. In Google Reader I kept only those subscriptions that are really interesting and have something to offer. In Facebook, lists helped me sort out the people I really want to follow. In Twitter, I have some saved searches in echofon to find the latest info on whatever I care about. That way, only crucial information reach me and I know that there is no chance to lose something that I find interesting in an enormous pile of useless information.
3) Turn off whatever may get you distracted. Distractions don’t only force you to spend more time doing the same thing, but they also lower the quality of the outcome. Yes, it is really interesting catching up with a friend on MSN Messenger but trying to concentrate back again is difficult and you may not succeed. The flow of your thoughts is never exactly the same. Too many times in the past, I have started writing a blog post, I left an unfinished sentence because of an interesting tweet and when I came back to the post, I didn’t remember what exactly I wanted to write.
4) I don’t need to be at a certain place in order to work. Blogging and coding need only one laptop and a decent Internet connection. Nowadays, most of the cafeterias have free WiFi. I think you get my point.. Working out of home has many advantages. I can simply stare at the road, at people around me and see every minute something different. This, never happens at my place. I know exactly what I ‘ll see out of my window. And that is not very creative.
What I didn’t mention above is the will you need in order to follow these steps. That is probably the most difficult of all. I tried to follow some of these steps a couple of years ago. They never actually worked because I didn’t want them to. So, before trying to do any of the above, be sure that you really want to be more productive, otherwise you will just lose time trying to rearrange your feeds and organise your Google Calendar..
As some of you may know, I am an editor at pestaola.gr, a Greek blog with thousands of visitors every day. Like every other blog, pestaola.gr gives the ability to users to comment on a blog post. In fact, many people do and that’s great because it shows two very important things. First, it proves that the blog post is really interesting and second, it proves that your readers are not bored and are trying to get more information about something.
What really confuses me is the questions that sometimes are asked. And I will explain that with an example. Let’s suppose that there is a blog post about a new car. The article makes clear that the car is just a concept and it won’t make it into production. However, there is a user asking what the price will be.
So, either the user wants only a small part of information that he is too bored to search for (by reading the article) or, even worse, he is unable to proccess what he is reading.
In the first case, I don’t really believe that there is a solution. I mean, blog post are not THAT long, most of them are approximately 200 words. Reading these 200 words, won’t take more than a minute. However, writing a comment will take you less than a minute. But you will have to wait until someone else will read the whole blog post and the comments and then decides to spend some time for something that is, at least, obvious. That, will definately take more than a minute. So, the person who wrote the comment will lose much more time than reading the post in the first place. Plain logic that, as it seems, some people don’t have.
In the second case, I think that there is a solution. And it is very simple in fact. Read carefully. By that, I don’t mean reading ten times a simple blog post, it may don’t even worth reading it second time. But once you decide to comment on it, make sure that you have completely understood what is written. As it seems, you are interested on that topic, so pay the attention you think it deserves the post and read it carefully. By reading an article and finally not understanding or realising what you have just read, you only lose time..
Some days ago, I started writing a blog post. I edited it like a million of times. I deleted it completely and then I ended up tweeting about that phenomenon. As it seems, many other bloggers face the same problem. It goes like that:
- start a new blog post -> don’t like it -> delete it -> start a new blog post
Cory Doctorow doesn’t seem to agree with that particular tactic. I am quoting him:
Just publish and let comments do the rest.
Personally, I disagree completely. I mean, it’s ok to write a bad blog post if you think that is good, but what happens if you already know that your blog post sucks? Why let your readers down by delivering a below-average article according to your standards? Maybe some of your readers will find it “perfect”. Yeah, ok, but why are you blogging? For your readers or for yourself?
I strongly believe that a blogger is successful when he (or she) is blogging for him (or her). Writing comes normally, not because “I must write a new blog post”. Forcing yourself to do something you don’t really want, will have the exact opposite results from what is expected, a mediocre blog post that most of your readers will probably dislike. And when you write for your readers, that is even worse.
- bad blog post -> readers dislike it -> “I must to write a new article” -> forced blogging -> bad blog post
So, next time you have written an article, think twice before pressing “Publish”.
[Thanks to Nikos Anagnostou for inspiring me to write this article]