On June 27th, 2013, I went to work and turned on my computer. As soon as my laptop had started, I opened my e-mail inbox which had one message. It was a calendar reservation for the same day at 1:30 PM.
The reservation was sent (by my boss) on the previous day, June 26th, at 11.59 PM and it read something like this:
Let’s discuss your future in this company today. I’m sorry that this message came so quickly.
Boss (the name changed)”
At first, my breath was taken away for a moment since I had a hunch of what was going to happen. Even if I had prepared for a moment like this in advance, my heart was still beating harder than usual.
Quite soon things settled down and I made an internalized “What is this all about? Am I about to get fired?” In fact, I wasn’t even surprised about this – I was expecting it to happen.
I knew that our company had layoffs going on (because of the slow economy). I also knew that the first batch of people were about to be notified by the end of June, 2013, if they were going to be kicked out of the company [laid off seems better than kicked out]. So as soon as I saw the calendar reservation and the small note with it, I knew that I was going to be part of those people.
Eventually the clock turned to 1:30 PM and the meeting began. Approximately around 1:40 PM I was officially fired.
What a relief!
Thanks to my former employee, I now had the chance to live my dream and become a full-time blogger and an online entrepreneur – something I had dreamed of for a long time.
I also had more time to spend with my family and define my own rules when it came to managing my time – especially the working time.
Now that I write this, the dust has settled down a bit and I have been a full-time blogger for the last 75 days. Nope, I’m not earning anything through my blog (at least not yet).
The most important thing right now is that I have more time to focus on my blog than before and I’m very grateful for that.
Anyway, these first 75 days have already taught me a lesson and two about time management. Here’s what I have learned so far:
1. Scheduling is more important than ever
You might be fooled to think that time is not an issue anymore when you become a full-time blogger. It’s the complete opposite!
When you have more time to focus on building your online business, you have to plan things out well enough, so that you know the tasks you should be focusing on (and when you are supposed to do them).
For instance, I have a schedule that I’m following on a weekly basis, and in some ways it looks like a school’s timetable: You know, on Mondays you had math from 8 AM until 9 AM, then you had a history lesson from 9 AM until 10 AM and so on.
Anyway, here is the visual presentation of my weekly schedule. Please note that this schedule is flexible and I’ll change it whenever needed. For instance, this could happen when I have an appointment with someone and for some reason it cannot be moved to another time.
2. Don’t have too much on your plate
One of the real dangers when it comes to full-time blogging is to be blinded with too many ideas. Thinking that you have an unlimited supply of minutes may cause you to think that you can implement each and every idea that you come across – in a short time-frame. Unfortunately, this is not true and the reality is different
I understood this myself, when I looked at all the things I had planned to do until the end of this year:
- Build a membership site
- Have an online video course at Udemy [Should there be a .com or something here?]
- Write and launch my book
- Write my first Kindle-only book
- Design a new layout for my blog (and move it to another web host)
- Start a video blog (in Finnish) about time management
- + Other ideas
There is a lot to do if I want to make these things happen before the end of this year and I learned that too much is just too much.
Certain things are surely going to be done (publishing a book, new layout for my blog, moving my blog to another web host), but other projects can be easily be postponed until a later date.
There is just no need to rush and try to get stuff out of the oven when it’s half-baked. Don’t you agree?
3. Remember the family time
Being a full-time blogger means that you can focus the whole day on your blog, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Especially if you have a family, working from home means that you are more available for your family than before. This is very easy to forget when you start blogging full-time.
In our situation, our son is not on day care, which sets certain restrictions on how much time I can spend on blogging. Besides, I want to give my wife more time of her own. That’s why we have decided to split the days, so that I work in the mornings and then in the afternoon she can have her hours off (while I spend time with our son).
This way, both parents can have personal time for themselves and recharge their batteries while doing so.
4. It’s very easy to waste the hours
You may be fooled into thinking that blogging full-time gives you more freedom to engage with low-value activities. This is yet another illusion and if you keep doing this, you’ll just waste your precious time.
Having a coffee break be too long or spending a little bit too much time on Facebook can turn into a nasty habits. At some point you’ll realize that you haven’t gotten anything done – even if you sit 6 hours in front of your laptop.
All the minutes add up and eventually you’ll see Slight Edge in action. (If you want to learn more about this topic, I wrote a book review of Jeff Olson’s book – The Slight Edge. It’s something you should definitely check out!).
Anyway, it’s okay to have coffee breaks – and even check your Facebook status at times. At the same time, it’s worth understanding that the longer you spend your time on those things, the less time you have for building your next product, niche website or spending time on activities that could bring income to your household.
Put some limits in place – say 20 minutes for a coffee break or 5 minutes for your Facebook checkup. That’s how you keep those activities in control. You could even download a timer set as a reminder to get back to work, if you suspect that you spend too much time on browsing web sites.
5. Mr. Parkinson is watching you …
According to Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, the more time you give for a task, the more time it’s going to take.
However, if you clever in the use of your time, this phenomenon is not going to happen. In my situation, I work from 8.30 AM till 12.00 AM and I’m literally forced to plan my days in advance so that:
- I know the tasks I’m supposed to do
- I know in which order I’m supposed to do them
- I know the potential tasks I can start working on, if I finish my pre-defined task list earlier than what I expected
By taking these steps I’m able to get more done in fewer hours than what I had in my day job.
Good planning is the foundation of good productivity. [Click to Tweet]
6. You need a task list (and a Drop Area too)
No matter what anyone says, you need to have a system in place where to keep your ideas and tasks listed. In my case, I’m using two ways to keep track of these things.
First, there is Nozbe (affiliate link), a task-management system, which I have been using for months. It helps me to see the tasks I need to do and it also helps me to plan my days in advance, so that I know how to execute my actions in a logical order.
Then there is a thing I’d like to call a Drop Area. It’s just a simple notebook in my EverNote, to which I have access to through my smartphone’s EverNote client.
This particular area is a place, where I write down all the random thoughts and ideas related to my blog. Every night before going to bed, I check out the Drop Area to see if it contains any notes. If it does, I’ll then copy them either to:
- My Google Calendar
- My smartphone’s calendar
- To Nozbe
- To Google Docs
That way I won’t forget them. After I have copied my notes, I clean this area in my EverNote, so that it’s ready to start fresh the next day. By the way, I have a recurring task in my Nozbe, which reminds me to check the DropArea and to process it, before I shutdown my computer for the day.
The reason I created a DropArea, was because I became frustrated with all the paper notes I had on my desk. Now that I have a centralized location for ideas and thoughts (and I have a system for processing them) my life is simpler and my desk is cleaner. :)
These first 75 days of full-time blogging have been eye-opening when it comes to time management. I knew that my blogging would go through changes when I switched from part-time blogging to full-time blogging.
I learned to respect time when I was building my blog on the side. That’s exactly what you should do if you are a part-time blogger. The sooner you learn to feel grateful about the available time you have (no matter how little you have of it), the better.
Besides, as soon as you become a full-time blogger, those time management lessons that you have already learned become very useful.
PS. You may be wondering how I’m able to live as usual if I’m not earning any money through my blog. Well, here in Finland, if you have worked at least 12 years for the same employer (I worked over 14 years), you have the layout period of 6 months (the less time you have worked for the same employer, the shorter the layout period is).
During that time, your former employer is paying you the regular salary with benefits. After that you’ll get an earnings-related income (for the next 18 months), which is lower than your regular salary, but yet, it’s much higher than getting just the normal unemployment benefit.
Want something extra?
Join my e-mail list and get access to PSD+ (Productive Superdad+), a special resource for my readers. This resource gives you something extra in the form of PDFs, videos, checklists and articles – something you can’t find on the blog.
For instance related to this post, you get access to a PDF, which shows my weekly schedule in much more detail than what I showed you on the image on the post.