How to Blog if You Don’t Have Time

How to Blog if You Don't Have Time

If you want your message to reach the maximum number of people, a blog is hands down the best means I know. But who’s got time?

It doesn’t matter if I’m speaking with someone just starting to blog or someone who’s been building their platform for a few years, the No. 1 struggle people face is finding enough time in the day to do it. Maybe you can identify.

I definitely can. In fact there have been times I’ve wondered if I even have what it takes to keep up the pace with any sort of consistency. But I’ve found seven strategies that help me make and maximize my time for blogging.

1. I Own My Schedule

This is foundational. Nobody has more time than anyone else. We just have different commitments and demands on the time we have.

The important thing to remember is that we have agency when it comes those commitments and demands. We don’t find time so much as we make it. It’s not accidental. It takes intentionality, determination, and the willingness to make tradeoffs.

That means I have to take responsibility for my time. If I don’t prioritize my life, as Greg McKeown says in Essentialism, “someone else will.”

2. I Set My Schedule

Armed with this determination, I act on the responsibility by setting my schedule. I cordon off time in my week to work on my blog.

Whatever the activity, the principle is the same: What gets scheduled gets done. I’ve tried different things, but right now I’m working in concentrated periods on more posts. I’ve done it differently in the past, and will probably switch things up again.

The point is that I carve out dedicated time to work. If I relied on fitting things into a few unclaimed hours each week, you'd only have something to read about once a month from me.

3. I Use a Timer

One of the world’s greatest productivity tools is a deadline—and that goes for micro deadlines like setting a timer for writing. If I have ninety minutes in which to finish a post, I set myself an alarm and work as intently as possible toward that goal.

Part of owning our schedules is making them work for us, and setting a timer forces me to stay focused, get to the point, and keep the schedule I’ve set for myself.

4. I Write

I know, sounds obvious. But do you know how much time I don’t actually write in the time I have set aside for writing if I’m not careful? The humorist, P.J. O’Rourke, has a funny passage about this. And plenty of other professionals say the same.

“Let me tell you about writers,” says John Podhoretz. “Writers sit. Then, after a while, they stand. They pace. They sit again. Sometimes, they talk on their telephone. Or they surf the Internet. At some point, they generate words.”

Here’s the truth: It’s hard to stay focused and write. While coaching another writer, Flannery O’Connor said she thought the person spent too much time reading during their writing time. And of course research, social media, even fiddling around with formatting can slow us down.

Now when I write, I write—at least when I’m being good. I try to have all my research ready to go when I start, and I learned MultiMarkdown and use Scrivener to stay drilled in on the work.

5. I Stay Close to My Subject

I read somewhere that writing is like wrangling a horse. No matter how well you did yesterday, you have to saddle it again today if you want to ride. The trick is not letting the horse get too far from you.

I try to stay as close as I can to my audience and the topics I cover. I’m thinking, talking, reading about them all the time. The benefit is that when I sit down to write my head is already in the right space. The horse is already saddled and ready to go.

6. I Keep a Notebook

Part of staying close to my subject is keeping my subject close to me. I have an Evernote notebook where I keep research, quotes, post ideas, anything that will keep me present to the work. I never have to work from scratch because I can always pick up an idea and get started.

7. I Use a Template

I’ve identified the key elements needed in most of my posts. That list has become a template that offers me a simple, straightforward guideline as I get started.

I’ve written about my blog template before, and you can read more about it here. But the big idea is that there’s no point wasting time reinventing the wheel if you don’t need to. I don’t, and the template has saved me countless hours over the years now.

We all know that blogging consistently is crucial for building our platforms. The question to ask yourself is, How much influence do you want to have? How far to do you want your message to go?

If you get connected to what’s at stake, it makes the decision to blog consistently a no-brainer. And it doesn’t have to be torture. Like anything, it just takes commitment and a little help from a good system.

What are the biggest obstacles you face to blogging consistently?

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