Sometimes, in order to move forward to the place you want to get to, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate the route you want to take.
Last week I took part in the 5 Day Productivity Challenge, run by the fabulous Aby at youbabymemummy.com, in the hopes that I could improve my productivity (obviously). The course was amazing and I took endless pages of notes and came up with a huge list of things I want to do to become more efficient. However, it was also a week where home life was extra hectic, I had joined more linkys than ever before and I had two migraines (a sure sign something needs to give). Every spare minute seemed to be spent playing catch up and commenting on all of the posts I needed to as part of the linky commitments and by the time I got to the course each night I was virtually falling asleep at the screen and I got no new posts written at all (not exactly very productive).
Today I flicked back through my notes looking at all the things I wanted to implement but kept going back to the very first lesson on setting goals (short, medium and long term). It got me thinking back to why I started the blog in the first place and where I want to go with it.
I started the blog because I needed a creative outlet and a place to record all those special moments, I wanted to become part of a community (being a sahm makes this even more important), and I also hope to one day make a living from blogging. But I don’t need to do it all at once.
I have spent the last few weeks joining an ever increasing number of linkys. They are fantastic and everytime I hear about another one I have to join it. The problem is, I am spending so much time doing that, there’s no time left to actually write.
In terms of my long term goal, I want to be making enough money from my blog in two years time so that when my youngest begins school I can continue to work from home and not have to worry about school pick up and drop off times and school holidays. Two years is a long time. I have been acting like I have to get everything done right this minute, like there’s some big ticking clock.
My husband hit the nail on the head when he said that I have a habit of going all out on a project and putting myself under so much pressure that I burn out and it no longer becomes fun. His advice? Slow down and enjoy it.
And he’s right (don’t tell him I said so). My blog is only two months old and I love it and want it be a success but I need to not choke the life out of it in the process. I have a list of posts I want to write that’s longer than my arm but I need the time to actually write them well and do them justice. I have a number of different areas I want to explore and if I really want to make a success of this I need to take the time to discover my style and develop my own voice.
There is also another reason for me wanting to take a slight step back. If you read my last Happy Days post (see here), you’ll know that my husband works away for ten weeks at a time and is coming home this week. Before we had kids I used to work for a temping agency so that I could take on jobs while he was away and then stop when he was home and we worked together renovating our home, it was a great set up.
With him being away for such long stretches our time together is limited. Once the kids are in bed on a night, that’s our time. Since starting the blog I have spent every night commenting on linkys or trying to improve the look of my blog, or work out social media, and I’ve loved it. But, I don’t want to be doing that when hubby is at home. The ultimate dream would be a job that enabled me to work more while he’s away and less while he is at home, so maybe that should be my long term goal. And what’s to stop me?
With that in mind I am going to try and contain my urge to join every linky going every week. I have a few favourites and I can alternate which ones I join each week, joining more when I have the extra time. I am going to focus instead on having fun with my new found creative outlet and experiment a little till I find my style. I will go back through the productivity course and start implementing some of Aby’s amazing tips such as scheduling and bulk actions and then, as I become more productive, I can slowly start adding in more elements.
I joined the challenge expecting to it to help me get more done, because lets face it I was floundering. But what I actually got out of it was so much more. I am now redefining what productivity means for me. It doesn’t mean getting absolutely everything done all at once, it means making the best use of the time I have available. Aby references Parkinson’s Law, that “work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion”, and this is so right. I was allocating all my spare time to my blog so every second was taken up, and not necessarily in the best way. I’m not going to do that anymore. I am going to work out some ‘office hours’ and stick to them. I will still read and comment on other blogs in my spare time, but as something I enjoy doing, not as a task that must be completed to improve my social media rankings. At the minute the best use of my time is writing good content and figuring out my style and voice. I will still engage on social media and join linkys but it won’t be the main focus of my time.
So, for the next ten weeks I am going to enjoy having my husband home and spending time together as a family. I will continue to blog but without the pressure of a set number of posts a week or joining X number of linkys. I will spend the next ten weeks exploring the type of posts I really want to write and the direction I want to take my blog in, I will implement Aby’s fabulous tips to become more productive with my time, and most importantly, I’ll have fun and enjoy the process.
(I’m now going to completely contradict myself and add this to lots of linkys, just not to all 28 that i want to join every week ;))
Have you ever had to take a step back? Do you need to?