How We Managed to Find the Time to Start a Blog
Time Saving Tips and Tricks from Two Busy Career Moms
We are what our tagline says – two moms of three boys wearing multiple hats, wearing endless outfits and too many pairs of shoes. Between the two of us, we have been “branded” as the following: single, married, divorced, partner, wife, mom, working mom, stay-at-home mom, work-at-home mom, classroom mom, volunteer, board member, employee, manager, director, boss, entrepreneur, and CEO. When looking at what was already on our plates, our first inclination was to scoff at the thought of adding blogger to the list. Like so many women out there, when it came time to doing something for just ourselves, we were ready to declare, “Who has the time?!” and call it a day. But the more we thought about it and spoke to our support systems, the more it seemed like the challenge was not insurmountable. We got everything from impassioned, “you got this, sisters,” to the more no-nonsense, “you are busy moms. It’s not like you are sleeping much anyway.” The best reaction was from a friend who compared it to having just given birth to her fifth baby, “At this point, what does one more kid really add to the pile?”
Having met at work, we knew we make a very good team. We excel at time management, prioritizing our tasks, communication, and follow through. We have managed everything from large-scale fundraising campaigns to national television broadcasts to stateside arts advocacy programs. Heck, I managed an entire staff for a Texas senator during an intense legislative session while pregnant and Ellen was planning GRAMMY events while planning for her first child. Between the two of us, we have decades of experience figuring out what works for us time management-wise, both personally and professionally, for ourselves and our families. We are very good at juggling all the balls and wearing all those hats. Here are a few things we learned when adding blogging to our pretty full plates:
Pre-planning is Key
From Ellen I always take about 30 minutes on Sunday and about 15 min each remaining school night to plan my day/week ahead. I check my bag, grab any paperwork, look over my immediate schedule, outfit plan (do I need to pack extra shoes, is it a day to night type situation, do I need workout gear, etc.). A brief “staff meeting” with the family over diner ensures we are all on the same page. Lastly, I doublecheck my to do list and see if there are any tasks that need to be rescheduled. A few minutes of planning can save hours and hours of scrambling and your sanity.
Plan out blocks of time and come hell, high water (or child with high fever), stick to it. Regardless of career or motherhood status, most of us have gotten to a point in our lives that took a certain amount of discipline to reach. Once I scheduled in regular time to tackle anything blog related, I treated it like any other appointment. Much like showing up to the gym once I made the commitment to improve my health, I show up to my laptop to finish current blog posts and brainstorm future content.
When we started the blog, we had delusions of daily outfit posts, plus deeper content, and at least one event a month. After a few months, not only did we drop the #ootds, we dropped blog posts almost entirely and decided to concentrate on social media posts and engagement (see Be Technical below). We also set a conservative follower goal of 500 by the end of the year, accounting for the fact that we were starting with zero followers and limited time. We hit the end of the year with 455 and decided to call it a win (see Be Kind below as well). Plus we got a crash course in fake followers over these past few months, so we are celebrating that that while we fell short, all of our followers are real humans who actually engage with us!
Having been honest in our challenges with the technological aspects of blogging, we have found ourselves embracing more apps and programs to steamline processes. Learn a tech time management and even workflow app to help keep you organized, stay on top of deadlines, etc. There are also apps that help organize the family calendar (Ellen used Cozi, but we use a good old Microsoft calendar and spreadshee)t. Blogging specific, we use Airtable, Google drives, Planoly, and Sprout Social. Many of these allow for the pre-planning Ellen describes in tip number one. We have both synched our multiple emails and calendars to one place on our phones and computers which is a small, but underappreciated time saver.
In Be Realistic, I mentioned that we dropped the blog and concentrated on social media. This is because the metrics told us people weren’t clicking through and reading the blog posts. Because we make these types of data driven decisions in our day jobs all the time, it was easy to stop writing long posts nobody was reading and compiling links of items nobody was purchasing anyway to just write about what excites us and fits our mission. Once the numbers allowed us to make much needed changes to our goals, the blog became less stressfull, less of a chore. It them became easier to find the time.
To yourself. So, we didn’t reach out 500 goal, but we got within a respectable range and toasted to our being close given has how far we came in our learning curve, including more than we cared to know about not just fake followers, but bots, giveaway scams and more. Ellen accidentally deleted one of her first posts right before publishing. She edited a lot of it directly in the backend of the site, so when it was gone it was gone and she had a hard time recreating it. I reminded her to be kind to herself instead of cry. And while I am pretty sure she still cried, I do believe she was kind to herself when she did.
Rather than busy. It may be cliché, but it is so true. I have been asking myself this question for years when considering invites to everything from joining boards and committees to meeting people for drinks socially: will saying yes to this make me busy or productive? Busy is just having something to do. Productive means achieving a significant result. Using this litmus test, it is easy to say no to things that are just taking up space and yes to things that have a tangible outcome. Meeting a former co-worker who I wasn’t that close to anyway after a hard week is just busy. Deciding to get my hair done and take a walk to clear my head is productive. I think we could all benefit from the believe that self-care is productive.
Perspective is Key
From Ellen My husband said it best when he stated, “You have to get dressed for work anyway.” He also pointed out that I love to outfit plan and find time to play in my closet practically every day, so from his point of view, all we had to do was take a few photos and write about it. Granted, blogging is not that simple, but his way of simplifying everything, as well as his natural ability to weed out life’s noise are two things I admire about him. Those little shifts in thinking are key; similar to switching from saying “I get to” rather than “I have to.” We do not have to go get our pictures taken in public and post our opinions. We get to give our wild idea a shot.
While it is human nature to exaggerate, things are rarely as hard as we make them out to be. Yes, launching the blog was stressful and rather labor intensive at first, but using the other tips on this list, has allowed this project to slowly become part of our routines and gotten easier as we have gone. It is tempting to tow the party line of “OMG YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW CRAZY BUSY IT ALL IS,” but keeping a healthy perspective helps us feel like we are accomplishing our goals instead of spinning our wheels.
The memes are true, people. The older you get, the less you know what’s you have left to give. We may look slightly crazy wearing sequins, boy mom tee shirts, heels, and swinging on swings, but it was also crazy fun.
As far as time saving fashion hacks, one of our favorites is a reliance on statement print. There are just some days that a fabulous outfit isn’t coming together no matter how hard you try and you have a limited amount of time to figure it out before you have to head out the door. A dress or two-piece set made of bold patterns and colors is an easy way to look polished with minimal effort. Ellen looks effortless, as well as a million dollars in her Farm Rio dress, Bottega Veneta booties and vintage Gucci purse she found on eBay. My Zara outfit looks complicated, but it is only two pieces, so it is as easy to wear as a tee shirt and jeans. I added a vintage Coach bag I thrifted and Ralph Lauren heels that were a Last Call find.
The title of this post started out as Finding THE Time, but I ultimately decided to call it Finding YOUR Time. Yet again, that small shift in thinking brings about a larger perspective. We hope this blog post inspired you to find your time – your time to finally address those internal questions of “what if” or “can I”. Even if that question is just, “can I find the time to take a weekly bubble bath and paint my nails,” the answer is yes. You are worth investing in. Your family, career, and self-worth will all benefit because of it.
Images by Breezy Ritter