How to find time for your blog in the midst of a busy family life

How to find time for your blog in the midst of a busy family life

how to find time for your blog in the midst of a busy family life

Today’s guest post is by Carrie Willard, who blogs at Natural Moms Talk Radio. I appreciate Carrie’s writing style and her refreshing perspective, and am delighted to introduce you to her today.

First I want to take a moment to say thanks to Anne for letting me address her readers. I too am a “long books/big ideas” person. And with the exception of my current pregnant state, she had me at strong coffee too!

I want to share how I find time to write alongside several children and our homeschool schedule. (I’m currently expecting my 7th.) There are several reasons this is so important to me.

The other day I read a discussion on several linked blogs of how the authors find time to write despite having a busy family life. While there were some good tips, I was disappointed to read that the overall tone implied that having a successful blog meant not putting your family first. The authors were basically apologetic about their writing.

I have a very different view of my blog. I don’t feel that pursuing my personal goals as a writer and online business person competes with my role as a wife, mother and homemaker (or homeschooling mom). I think it quite complements those roles. Writing makes me a better person and adds to our family’s bottom line financially.

A mom may start a blog for many reasons: because she longs for a creative outlet, to earn income, to create a community, to share her wisdom and experience, to document family events that are so easy to forget in the blur of daily life. All of these are perfectly valid!

I read a wonderful quote by blogger Amy Lynn Andrews that I would like to Sharpie across my arm. In her book Tell Your Time, she says: “I think you should spend less time doing what you have to do, and more time doing what you’re made to do.”

Isn’t that great?

The quote immediately reminded me of a principle I discovered in a wonderful, game changing book by Laura Vanderkam: 168 Hours. The principle of Core Competency. (And this is something Anne has written about a lot here, search around!) A core competency is something that you are uniquely qualified to do. A core competency is also something that only you can do, such as exercising your body, spending time with the hubby, and pursuing your spirituality. (In other words, things you cannot outsource.)

What are your core competencies?

Mine are: nurturing my children, my marriage, and my relationship with God, writing/blogging, facilitating my children’s education, caring for my family’s health by cooking good food, and exercise/self care.

Can you guess what comes next?

Once you know your core competencies, you can schedule your life around them. The other stuff can be minimized, outsourced, or overlooked.

So now that I’ve shared with you the principles of my thoughts on time management, here are a few tips that illustrate how those principles can work out in your daily life:

  • List your core competencies and create a daily schedule based on those “big rocks.” My most important daily tasks are: Bible reading, Exercise, Read Aloud with the kids, Write at least one article/blog post, and Dinner. Those are things I do every single day, and if nothing else get done, I still go to bed feeling satisfied that I lived my day in alignment with my highest values.
  • Track your time. Similar to a dieter keeping a food journal or a newbie to budgeting tracking their spending, write down how you spend your days in 1 hour or smaller increments. Do it for at least 1 week. I did this for 3 weeks and it uncovered some very useful information.  What changes do you need to make to your schedule to find time for important goals?
  • Make hard decisions. Once you see where your time is going, you’ll have to cut some things out to make time for what really matters. I permanently deleted my Facebook account. I don’t watch TV. I get up earlier than the rest of the household to have quiet time to write. You can’t make time, you can only buy out time.
  • Be prepared. When you get online, know exactly what you want to accomplish so you don’t get distracted. I play a little trick with myself. When I turn on the computer, I get to writing immediately and only after I’ve published a blog post or written an article do I allow myself the “treat” (visiting Twitter or reading what’s in my RSS reader). It’s helpful to keep a notebook or file on your computer with a list of blog post ideas. Some people love Evernote for this, but I find paper and pencil to be quicker, and I won’t get distracted by the Internet. When an idea pops into my head, I jot it down quickly in my notebook. I add ideas as they come to me, and sometimes the outline of a post is done before I sign in to WordPress.
  • Minimize and outsource. Don’t assume you can’t find time for blogging. Get creative about what you can take off your plate. I outsource a lot of chores to my children! In the past I’ve hired mother’s helpers to play with the kids in my home while I worked in another room. Currently I keep a “work” schedule that I take seriously, with my hubby taking the reins while I skip off to a coffee shop to write.
  • Be flexible. Different things have worked for me as my life situation has changed. When this little one makes its appearance, I know things will change all over again!

Never complain, never explain.” It’s a quote attributed to both Katharine Hepburn and Henry Ford. (Either way, I’ll take it!) Don’t apologize for your writing, whether it’s a hobby or a bona fide business endeavor. Make it happen!

Carrie Willard is the host of http://www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com, a wife and mom of soon to be seven kids, and has been blogging for nearly 10 years about motherhood, homeschooling, frugality, healthy food and commonsense green living.

This post contains my affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog!

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19 comments

  1. Jodi says:

    This is fantastic. I love the idea about “Core Competency”. I’ve been toying with the idea of “outsourcing” household chores. I’ve noticed that there is just too much other stuff that *I* have to do to get to any sort of regular deep cleaning. I am requesting that book from the library ASAP.

  2. Julie says:

    This resonated with me on so many different levels. I need to permanently tattoo “you can’t make time, you can only buy out time” onto my arm! Thank you for this gentle nudge. It’s time I stop assuming that other moms/writers/cooks/crafters simply have more hours in their days!

  3. Rachel says:

    Great advice. I love that you include cooking meals as one of your core competencies- it’s true, and it is something I have to do too. Often keeping a home and preparing meals can seem burdensome or not very important. But these things make a big difference to our families, and bless them! So they really do qualify as “big” rocks. 🙂

  4. Stephanie says:

    Great post Anne. I particularly like the part about ‘being prepared’. It is very easy to procrastinate and wander over to pinterest, favourite blogs, twitter etc, but I also find getting straight into the writing helps. A trick I play on myself when beginning a post is to think “this is just a rough copy, I’ll fix it up later”. This takes the pressure to be perfect off, and I’m usually happy with what I’ve written anyway!

  5. Debbie says:

    So I love this post – because I like to work around my core competencies. However, I struggle to FEEL like I’m a great nurturer or homekeeper – not in comparison to others, but in meeting each of my children’s needs and in taking care of what we’ve been given. I’d MUCH rather write and develop things online – because I’m fairly good at it. Competent as a mother – eeesh – I struggle with it. But it’s my calling. And I have been given a family to take care of – which is far more valuable than anything I can do online. How do I develop a sense of competency as a mother – as a homekeeper – as a nurturer??? Competency can be developed, but I feel like I’m constantly fighting an uphill battle to reach that level as a wife & mom at home.

  6. I just reviewed that book on my blog. 🙂 I loved Vanderkam’s focus on core competencies.

    I think one of the hardest things for me is recognizing that I need to give up good things in order to find time for better things. I mean, it’s easy for me to see that I am wasting my time if I am zoned out in front of the TV watching trash. But what if I’m reading an ok book? Once upon a time (i.e., before kids) I was much more careless about reading so-so to good books. Now I try really hard to only keep reading when the books are good to great.

    Making those decisions about what I’ll give up in order to blog (or read) isn’t fun, but it’s so much more fulfilling.

  7. Auntie Em/Melinda Stanton says:

    This is just what I needed! I’m new to MMD and hadn’t heard “core competencies” before– what a great concept. And I like the challenge of a time log. I’m afraid ill find that I fritter away much of my time.
    Thanks so much, Anne and Carrie!

    • Anne says:

      Melinda, I highly recommend everyone try the time diary once. It’s highly enlightening–and probably a little mortifying too. Good luck!

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  9. Thank you so much for writing this post! I’m still getting my feet wet in the blogging world and everything gets overwhelming at times. It is nice to have a focus on what actually matters.

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