Latest posts by Ahmad Imran (see all)
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There are two types of bloggers.
Those who blog casually and don’t mind if things slip a little bit. Their objectives are flexible and blogging perhaps does not sit near the top of their priority list.
And those who like to be focused, disciplined and strict when it comes to their blog and blogging activities. They like their blogging schedule to be reliable and they are keen to manage the over-demanding nature of blogging efficiently.
This article is primarily for this second type of bloggers.
“Serious, focused and determined bloggers who like to up their game when it comes to blogging-discipline.”
I have been trying to be one of this kind as well.
My blogging journey is approaching its third anniversary this summer (2017) and I have personally experienced the ups and downs of this road. I feel that while efficiency and continuous refinement in blogging are paramount, they are not easy to maintain if you are not visionary and disciplined.
And one of the key ingredients in this mix is focus – have a read here if you don’t agree.
This article is not about how to achieve this super-useful trait – focus. That is for a different day.
I am going to tell you what not-to-do to help achieve the focus that everyone is talking about.
We call them distractions as a broad heading.
“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do – John Carmack”
There are a few major ones that I want you to think about.
In this article I have picked up 10 of those key blogging distractions which every serious blogger should be aware of and plan to avoid. These 10 distractions are based on my personal experience. Have a read and see if you can relate to any of these.
Don’t forget to share your views at the end of this article and let us know what is your biggest distraction in blogging.
Let us dive in.
This means your “normal day”.
If you are a part time blogger like me and you have your studies or day job to deal with as well, I am telling you now that you are not in an easy territory.
Blogging is a demanding activity and for those who have been in it for a long haul know that very well. Your home, work and personal life will come in your way and will offer resistance to your blogging plans.
“Hence, if you are not careful, your normal day is your biggest distraction if it is not planned.”
You need to have the blogging and writing near the top of your priority-list on a daily basis. Unless you do this on paper and constantly pay attention to it (daily), your natural tendency will be to get sucked into the day to day hustle and pace of your lifestyle.
I have personally been a victim of this distraction. It has kept me away from my blog for days and sometimes weeks. It is so easy to give in to the more urgent and more noisier activities in your daily routine in favour of more strategic and more important tasks (blogging in this case).
The key is in your desire and urge to blog and blog well.
Don’t let your routine and day-to-day grind to come in your way and distract you from your blogging goals and objectives.
Plan ahead, prioritise and execute.
Work backwards from your goals and strategies and then filter them down to your day to day task management.
Make sure that your blogging activities are listed on your daily to-do-list and check them off every day.
If you don’t, this distraction will seriously affect your blogging progress.
You have been warned.
Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle and its understanding will help you to plan your day better.
Blogging is not just about writing and publishing.
It is a mesh of activities, all carried out to a certain standard and linked in to each other to produce results.
And they can easily make you feel overwhelmed if you are not careful.
I call it a distraction because it took me a long time to understand that I can’t do every single task to the “nth” degree of detail and perfection to achieve results. I now narrow down my focus to a few key activities, aim to master them and then put my fingers in the next pie.
You should be strategic and selective in your approach as well, otherwise, you will be distracted big times due to the sheer size and complexities of the blogging related activities.
If you are a new blogger, you have a plethora of choices in front of you.
Let’s assume that writing and marketing are the two main activities that you presently need to concentrate on. Now understand that perhaps podcasting, youtube videos and vlogging is not for you at this stage. Don’t start too many activities and leave them all half-baked. Concentrate on few and try to seek excellence in them.
Master, not dabble.
Otherwise, you will be a victim of this subtle but deep-penetrating distraction. You will try to juggle too many balls and will not be efficient with any of them and hence affecting your results.
Keep you blog simple to start with, then add variations and improvements to it as you go along and when you feel comfortable to address the next challenge.
This is a psychological one. It will support the procrastination in you which you hate and want to get rid of.
Understand that it will take time for you to be a good writer. You will be ordinary to start with and gradually working your way up the ladder. Every successful writer I have read, has said the same thing.
You need to allow yourself to be average occasionally or below average as well on a bad day. This is the only way to write above average content in a consistent manner.
Because you can produce a high-quality article once, twice or thrice in a row. But then to maintain this momentum with quality becomes difficult and as you have set your expectations high, you procrastinate to write in pursuit of excellence again.
Go and write on a daily basis.
Forget about good or bad, just write. The editing and proofreading parts will take care of the quality. As a writer, you need to produce content on a consistent basis to feed the belly of your blog.
You don’t need to be perfect to make a start – instead, start first and then strive for excellence.
This is a big one which kept me engaged for a long time.
As a new blogger, WordPress can be both pleasantly-surprising or mildly-overwhelming. There is just so much you can do and so many options to try and explore.
There is every temptation and tendency to try a new plugin, a different theme or a bit more adventurous tweak to spice up your blog. I have been there and can understand this.
I used to spend hours and hours trying a new plugin and tweaking a minor adjustment or design refinement.
After nearly 3 years of blogging, I have calmed myself down now. I have learnt the lesson. It is a distraction which keeps you away from your original task. Quality content creation and then its effective marketing. As simple as that.
You need to make that decision and find a perfect balance between your overall blogging activities and everything you do with your WordPress and website. I can tell you that if you are on your own and managing everything, you will have to sacrifice a few things to keep the basics in shape.
Now you have to decide what you choose.
My advice would be to keep your blog simple yet elegant and practical. Get the fundamentals right first and only touch the complexities if you can afford to spend time and energy on them.
You are not alone in this one.
Majority of us are victims of this distraction.
Our smartphone has become a necessary part of our lives and stays with us most of the time. While it is a great companion and serves us on many fronts, it can be a huge distraction at the same time if not managed actively.
If you are not careful, its notifications and beeps and rings and random checks will not let you focus and concentrate on your task in hand. The research shows that our smartphone is one of the biggest distractions we are encountered with in today’s lifestyle.
Control it and don’t let it manage you and your time.
Don’t be a victim of checking your phone and turning it on every 30 minutes. You have a bigger fish to fry. Every indiscipline affects every other discipline.
I would go as far as saying that if you have decided to focus on a task for a certain period of time, put your phone on silent and keep it away from your reach for that period of time. You will notice that you will get more done.
It is a simple concept, not rocket science.
I have been a victim of this distraction for a long time – and still struggling sometimes.
I used to check my email literally every hour or even less. I don’t know what I was expecting but it is just one of those habits which I struggled to get rid of.
I am now down to 5 to 10 times a day.
I know what you are thinking. Still too much.
But it is the reality.
I am trying to get it down to 3 times a day max. Strictly.
Our emails and inboxes are so ingrained in our daily routine and tasks that it has become our second nature to open them and anticipate an email or message which can make us feel excited. There is something psychological attached to it. Perhaps Dopamine.
You have to physically stop this habit.
Think about how many times you check your email on average. If it is more than 3 times a day (strategically chosen times), you need to have a plan in action to control this.
When I say Twitter or Facebook, I mean social media in general.
Let me get this right. If social media is a part of your carefully selected blog marketing plan and you are doing it strategically and in a controlled fashion, that is absolutely fine and great.
However, don’t be like me what I used to do for a long time.
Aimlessly scrolling through my twitter timeline and meandering here and there.
And clueless-ly spending hours and hours on my facebook timeline checking what other people have put up there for fun or whatever reason.
Nicole Avery for Problogger has written this detailed article about the dynamics of social media distraction, what are its types, how do they affect a blogger and how can they be managed.
Only now I realise how much time I wasted on social media as I was not managing it well. It can be a major distraction in your daily routine if you are not careful.
Resist your temptation to just open any social media channel and aimlessly start scrolling and swiping through the events. They don’t do much to your bigger cause and objective – blogging.
There used to be a time when I had my “real-time” site visitors window constantly opened on my laptop behind the active window in which I am doing my main task.
You guessed it right.
The Google Analytics can be an addiction. It is just so much fun to see even if there are only a couple of people on your blog in any given moment in time. Not only can you check this on your laptop or desktop but the super-useful Google Analytics app can be a source of major distraction as well if you have it on your mobile phone.
I suggest lowering the frequency of checking your numbers and stats once a day at maximum. Every week or month then, you can perhaps set up a more detailed and thorough review of different stats with a view to improve your traffic generation tactics.
Anything more, I am telling you now that you have to cut it back.
It affects your focus and attention to other more important tasks.
I like watching football. In fact, I like watching most of the sports.
Well there is only so much time in a day to fit in your important tasks. I am sure it would have been nice to have a few hours easily available to enjoy television at your leisure.
The reality for most of us is opposite.
As a part-time blogger who is serious about making an impact, you don’t have too much surplus time to spend in front of the TV. I am not hesitant to say that unfortunately, you have to cut down on the time you spend on watching your favourite TV shows and sports and whatever.
Something has to give in favour of a bigger cause and more pressing objective. I am not saying “don’t watch TV at all”, just manage the timings more carefully.
Assess your TV times and see if it can be classed as a distraction.
I now don’t watch the television more than half an hour a day. On many days I skip it completely and then over the weekend, perhaps enjoy a football match or something else for a couple of hours.
Neil Patel has over 800,000 monthly visitors on his blog.
Jon Morrow’s blog posts easily get 100 comments or more within days.
And Copyblogger offers a huge resource of quality cornerstone content for free to its thousands of email subscribers.
I am sure you must have come across such facts. And not only do they mildly surprise you for a minute, they temporarily take you in a phase where you put your own game to the backburner and start chasing the streaks and paths of the others without any action plan.
This is a distraction.
While it is absolutely fine to follow the footsteps of successful bloggers and replicate their best practices, this has to be managed under your own action plan and blogging strategy. You can’t just follow someone blindly and get distracted by these spikes on a daily basis.
Next time you see such a significant fact or statistic, note it down, think about it and ponder over it at your convenient time. Your aim should be to extract the meaningful gist out if it and implement it in your own blogging game.
Remember, there is nothing stopping you to reach to that level as well.
But you have to be organised and focused to reach there.
And remember, your circumstances are unique to you only. Be a student, not a follower.
You have seen what I struggled with and how I want to manage these distractions.
I want you to reflect on your daily routine and do the same checks. I am sure there will be a distraction or two (or perhaps more) which is silently affecting your blogging efforts and journey.
It is the time to accept this fact, aim to reduce these distractions and be more focused.
Share with me if you can relate to any of these distractions that I listed in this article above.
If there is something else that you think I have missed, feel free to chip in and share your views with us.