Tuesday's Tip // Get Organized Part II - Calendars, Schedules, and To-Do Lists...OH MY!

"AND THE BLOGGER'S CHOICE AWARD FOR WORST ORGANIZATION SKILLS GOES TO... CORINA ELAINE!"

*loud applause roars. As I trip up the stage in my best JLaw fashion, I casually brush away Hugh Jackman's efforts to help me up.*

"Thank you, thank you... I should probably say that I'm surprised to win this award... Or that I never thought I'd be given this honor... But that would be a lie. Thanks mom and dad for allowing me to be the typical millennial-creative who couldn't even keep her sock drawer organized. Without your support I wouldn't be the hot disorganized mess I am today!" **

To say that I'm a mess is to offend messy people. Don't get me wrong: I go through bouts of crazy organization OCD...I get the entire house spotless AT LEAST once a week. But as that week wears on, I find myself too busy or too lazy to stick to my process.

**And to clarify, my poor parents really did try to engrain the skill of organization into me. (LOVE YOU GUYS) In fact, for about two years in high school, their efforts were successful! My room was always perfect. But that didn't last long, and now that I have my own home to run, I quite often find myself doing the panicked, 15 minute-throw everything in the bedroom and shut the door-routine.

Thankfully I've learned the art of keeping my messes in "hot spots" around the house. My sink, bedroom floor, and laundry room being my favorite spots to allow to get disheveled. But unfortunately this means that I'm a bit rusty when it comes to making systems of organization. So when I jumped into the world of blogging, I found myself scribbling or typing thoughts and ideas everywhere. Like we talked about in my previous post, I finally had enough and NEEDED to sit down and get organized.

Y'all. This took me forever to understand and fill out. My brain LITERALLY HURT after trying to pull this plan out of thin air. Thankfully, when it was all said and done, I found myself free to think again. I was amazed at how my brain fog suddenly lifted, and I felt my writer's block lifting. "WHAT ON EARTH? You mean to tell me this stuff actually helps?" I told myself yes, and I committed to using this valuable tool for the rest of my blogging life [until something new and easier comes along - duh].

So today let me break down the last week for you and show you what I've come up with. I took some inspiration from templates I Googled, a Hootsuite example, and added my own tweaks to the system. 

  • Step One: figure out your ideal posting schedule. Each blog or small business is going to require its own unique posting frequency/schedule. Since my blog is based on the high volume social media game, I have to post more frequently than say, the locally owned coffee shop who's target audience will come from friends of friends on Facebook. Or perhaps your small business doesn't need a Pinterest following; so instead you would change that section to something more relevant. Do you see what I'm saying? So perhaps my frequency of posts isn't relevant to you, or may even overwhelm you. Don't get overwhelmed. Simply tweak my example (or other examples!) to fit your blog/business, and then bam! You've got your basic plan/schedule. (also, this is always subject to change. You may get your analytics back one month and realize that you need to change your post times for a more ideal response - that's the beauty of an online spreadsheet!!!)
  • Step Two: create a personal daily schedule. Now that you know what you would like your posting frequency to be, try to imagine how much effort this is going to take you each week and break it down into easier steps for each day. This is going to take some thinking for you personally. My schedule is unique in the sense that I have no kids, my husband works 50+ hours a week, and we stay up way too late (with no desire to change). So I get the benefit of writing my work schedule around his! You should think this way too. What is the lifestyle you want to live? How can you achieve this by hustling on certain days and leaving lighter days up for play time? Personally, I decided that Monday-Tuesday I will work a 10-5 schedule, leaving me time in the morning to myself, and then time after 5 to enjoy my friends, catch up on housework, or get a hobby project done while the sun is still out. Wednesday-Thursday are unique in the sense that Jeremy is off work from about 5 on Wed, and doesn't go back to work until Friday. Of course I want to spend that valuable time with him, so I made those days shorter with a much lighter work load. Friday I finish about an hour earlier than the start of the week because HELLO. It's the weekend and I want to party. Yay for working from home!

** I also want to note that this schedule is light and flexible from the start. Even on my "heavy days" I've made sure to keep my expectations short. I want some wiggle room as I grow this business, and in the beginning I may not get the exact schedule I'm hoping for. Any time that you're starting something up, you have to expect a trial time of hustling and working 11+ hours a day. So far, this has been the exact schedule I've been working this week. Each day has been anything but organized, and I've definitely logged more hours than 10-5. Some days I've started work at 8:45, and not finished until almost 11 that evening. Other days I started and paused work every other hour it seemed, because there were so many other responsibilities I had to take care of. This is okay in the beginning, but not a good habit to keep. Try your best to make some sort of schedule, meanwhile leaving yourself proper wiggle room, should something pop up. I also factored in that my husband doesn't come home until midnight or later most nights. So after I've finished my "work day" around 5, I still have another 7+ hours to accomplish house chores, work on a side project, or learn about new concepts to help me grow. If you tally it all up, I end up working 14+ hours a day, in various areas of my life. But I try not to think about it like that ;)

  • Step Three: create your editorial calendar! This is the part of the blog you've been waiting for right? Now that you have a basic idea of how often you want to post, and what your ideal work day would look like, you can create your weekly editorial calendar. This is where you strategically place your ideas from your Topic Idea Log (my idea log looks like this). When choosing topics, try to think about the week you'll be writing for, and what events might be taking place (i.e. holidays, political events, things you'll be doing at home, etc). Be strategic.

So as you can see, I'm creating a very basic map that organizes the 3-4 blog posts and social media posts I will ideally write for the week appointed. Don't go into too much detail because it's unnecessary. You just need to put enough info about the topic or title, so that you will be prompted to remember what you wanted to write about for that week. I also recommend planning out your editorial calendars 2-3 weeks in advance. This allows you to have blogs posting from your queue's in the background each day, meanwhile you're writing for a week in the future. It's almost machine like, and gives you time to edit things at the last minute if you need to, without panicking and staying up until 4am to meet a deadline. 

So for example: let's pretend that I wrote this editorial calendar FOR the week of 03.20.17, all the way back on Friday 03.03.17. (I didn't, because I just learned about this concept this week...but keep pretending) That would have been 2 weeks in advance, which would have given me time the following week to plan for the week of 03.27.17 (which is the week you're reading this post...I know. It's tricky, but stay with me.) Now, at the moment you're reading this post, I will be writing something that you won't even see for another 2-3 weeks. But I didn't have to worry about this post at all because I already edited and finalized it weeks ago.

This method/system takes a hot minute to get setup; requiring a lot of thinking ahead, and writing. But if you're not in a rush, it is so worth it. It keeps you ahead of the game and frees your mind to focus on one thing at a time without random moments of panic. At the same time, don't be afraid to randomly write and post an article for the day you wrote it. This system should never hinder your creativity or the direction you want your blog to go in. So if something becomes suddenly relevant for the day you're writing; go for it! This is your business, your blog, your system. Bend the rules where you want, and have fun with it.

So what do you think? I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I'm awful at organization...but this system has already helped me get ahead in my own game. Do you think this will help you? Or are you more of a, fly by the seat of your pants, kinda person? Or do you have a more simplified system yourself? Let me know in the comments below; or contact me privately via my contact page. I'd love to hear your thoughts.