Tuesday's Tip // Get Organized! 3 Habits to Start Doing NOW For Your Future Blog.
I haven’t yet mentioned what the point of my website is, so allow me to explain. My goal for this blog is simply “to document my journey”. As I learn the ins and outs of blogging, and the things I figure out about becoming an entrepreneur, I want to be transparent and show you the trials and errors I encounter. But with documenting the bumps, I also want to document the tips, podcasts, “aha!” moments, and friendly encounters I have along the way. My hope is that my transparency will encourage others to keep trying with their business or blog (and who knows? Maybe build a community along the way? Let me know if you’d be interested in this.)
My first “Tuesday Tip” is about organization. Since the start of my journey back in November I’ve felt my head spinning with information and ideas. It wasn’t until February that I found any direction whatsoever. I bounced from one idea to another, with little to no documentation or satisfaction. I felt lost and overwhelmed and ultimately procrastinated my launch because of it. Don’t do what I did. Start off on the right foot by creating a dream log, goal sheet, and then ultimately a calendar. I’m going to break these down for you, in case you have no idea what on earth I’m talking about.
Dream Log. A dream log is crucial when first starting out. It’s also incredibly fun. There are a few ways you can accomplish this depending on your personality and how your creative juices get flowing.
- Smash Journal. I found this idea by Tahnee Smallwood over at Massive Sway (powered by The SITS Girls). She says in her post that she is the type of creative that gets hit with an idea in the middle of doing something else. So she jots it down on a post it note, napkins, or her bathroom mirror! I don’t know about you, but I’ve so been there. So instead of spending time gathering and organizing everything into a google document, she decided to make it artistic and fun. She created a smash journal that included her napkins, sticky notes, pictures from magazines, color swatches, inspirational quotes, etc., etc. I find this incredibly fun and exciting, because you can always flip back through it and find inspiration whenever you’ve lost your direction (or begin to feel the dreaded writer’s block).
- Google Document. If you’re more systematic and crave that organization, then maybe a smash book isn’t for you. I can see how a random collection of ideas could easily become overwhelming and confusing, so instead, try a list on Google Docs. This is the route I had to take. As fun as a smash book would be for me, my OCD would eventually kick in and I would quickly become frustrated with this system. So for me, I created a google doc. I titled it with a pretty font, I broke it down into a standard outline format, and I dumped out all of my wildest and more attainable dreams. I used colors to mark which was an attainable dream and which was more of a large or dynamic dream.
- Hand Written Journal. Actually this is how I started out. There’s something so fantastic about the feel of pen to paper. I can format it however I want to. I can doodle in the corners if I need to daydream for a minute. It forces me to practice proper handwriting. ;) So if you’re a bit more “classically-fashioned”, then I say go for this method. Go buy a fun, ruled, spiral bound notebook, grab a package of colored pens, and go to town. This combines both the creativity of the smash book, and formality of the google doc. I truly loved this method, but soon I realized that if I forgot my notebook at home, I had no access to my collection of thoughts or ideas. So I ultimately copied everything over to the Google Cloud and haven’t reached for my notebook since. But oh how I miss it. So if you’re not as scatterbrained as I am, and can keep a hold of your notebook(s), then this method is perfect for you!
Goal Sheet. A goal sheet is gonna be where you take all of your dreams and evaluate which ones are attainable and when they are most attainable. You can dump these goals into a Google Doc or your Hand Written Journal. But just know that this one is gonna take some effort and thought. So I recommend going somewhere distraction-free, putting on some inspirational/motivational music, and dedicating a certain amount of time to complete this task. You want to set goals that are going to feel doable. Don’t be like me; making a bunch of lofty goals that you have no idea how or when you’re going to be able to accomplish them. Instead, think about what you can do today. It’s okay to take baby steps at first. I started out by breaking my goals down into monthly goals, but maybe you need daily, weekly, AND monthly goals. Whatever it may be, make sure the goals inspire you. Break it down as much as you need to in order to attain each goal. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
Calendar. This is actually something I’m working on today! I read about it this morning (thanks Kaleigh!) and it’s honestly what inspired this post. Without even realizing it, I began to do something similar about 2 months ago.
I continually found myself sitting down to write something and getting slammed with 5 or more ideas at once. My ADD was attacking in the worst way, so I went back to my 6th grade english lessons and wrote a very simple outline. Categorizing my ideas by general theme, specific topic, and sometimes even detailed blurbs or quotes I would like to include in the post. This helped free up my mind so much, just knowing that I could leave the thought on paper and focus on one thing at a time. So this morning, I found that there is a more organized way of creating and utilizing this simple tool. Kaleigh explained the steps to take in order to get organized:
Step one: keep your blog or business’ theme in mind. Put this at the top of your calendar so that everything can be compared to this theme for cohesive purposes. A theme is what your blog or business’ main focus is. If you’re a lifestyle blog, your theme may feel vast. Pick one focus to start out with, and know that as your blog develops a following and grows into a popular resource, you will be able to broaden your focus/theme.
Step two: remember the middle school level outline I mentioned before? This is the point where you make something similar. It doesn’t have to be as detailed as I made mine, but it definitely needs to be a list of ideas you would like to write about one day. Continually compare each idea to your theme/focus. Do these ideas point you back to your blog/business’ goal? If so, include them. If not, create another list of random ideas you will one day like to develop.
Step three: choose your calendar tool. I prefer Google Sheets or Excel because they’re free. But there are SO MANY tools out there. (check back here to review the list Kaleigh provided in her blog)
Step four: start getting organized. Below is a screenshot of the calendar that inspired my editorial calendar. Reade Milner found it on Hootsuite, and I found Reade Milner via Google Image. I simply searched for “Editorial Calendars templates”. I recommend doing the same if you need inspiration, and then tweaking it to your liking like I did. I tweaked mine to break up into separate sheets per day, rather than have each day in one long sheet. I also organized them by day // date. Ex: “Monday // 03.20.17” Once I set up my entire day in the sheet, I duplicated the sheet and renamed it “Tuesday // 03.21.17” and personalized it based on what I did today. I continued to do this for the rest of the week. This took a good chunk of time, but it was worth it because now I have a plan for my entire week! Hollaaaa! Look at me being all organized and #adultish.
I know this all seems like a lot to do at once. But like I said before, go somewhere quiet and put on some motivational music. Set aside a specific amount of time (I recommend an hour or two) to get organized and build your system’s structure. When that time is up, take a break. You may not be finished, but you’ve achieved a lot! I hope you’re proud of yourself.
If you must get this entire project done in one day, take a 15-20 minute break and do something mindless. Play with your kids, dogs, or catch up on some social media. Then, after your break is up, jump right back into your project. Add details to your spreadsheet. Fill in your color coded blank spaces. I’ll write in more detail about my editorial calendar process in another post. But for now, get excited because pretty soon this is going to be a machine that will equip you week after week.
Did any of this help you to get started with your own organization? I hope so. I’d love to hear what you thought or how you applied any of these tips, in the comment section below! Sometimes all it takes is a little organization to light a fire in your heart and get your creative juices flowing!