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January 9, 2014

how to: get down to business & blog efficiently.

Though a large part of blogging is channeling creativity and making or doing things that are fun and exciting to blog about, the actual blogging part can be a little daunting. I love writing, and find it easy to find my voice and my words, but sometimes it's just easier to write a post in my head than to sit at my computer and do it. When this happens, (I can't be alone here) everything seems to be worded perfectly and I am sure I will remember exactly how I articulated myself, until I'm sitting in front of a blinking cursor - then I forget all of it.

Though I'm sure there are plenty of successful bloggers that do all of the following things, I'm positive that there must be a few people out there who are like me and need a little bit of help with the execution of writing a blog post, or honestly, sitting down to do any type of work.

Make sure you are mentally ready. There are deadlines and goals to meet, but when there isn't much time left to waste and you are really and truly uninspired or not into doing what you have to, you may need to take a few minutes to do something fun or creative (maybe snapping some shots of the flowers outside or doodling on a piece of paper), refocus your mind, then sit down to get it done. A lot of times for me this step requires making a huge cup of coffee and flicking through my instagram feed before settling down with my computer to work.

Organize everything you need before you begin writing. For me, this step is key. If I am posting something that  I have taken a lot of pictures for, I need to make sure that I've edited my photos (which for me is usually "smart fix" or a bit of brightening), sized them to fit my column, and decided which ones are going where in my post. Sometimes, if I'm away from my computer I'll doodle the post on a piece of paper and decide which pictures go after certain types of text, but a lot of times I do have a routine of sorts for how I organize and format posts, for example my recipes. Along with pictures being ready, make sure you have information at hand (directions, instructions, materials list, etc.) so that you do not need to conduct a search for a recipe or DIY you were following in the middle of the flow of your post. In addition to having everything organized as you sit down to work, it helps to organize posts a week in advanced or so so that you have all of the materials and information you need before you start doing something that's lined up to post about (i.e. making sure you have flour in the house before you go to the grocery store for everything else and set up your camera and workspace to bake a cake. I could be speaking from experience here.)

Edit after you get your words out. I always reread my posts and change things around after I've written one, but if I ever start reading paragraphs as soon as I've written them, I start to get a little bit crazy with myself and rearrange text order, or change words or phrases around to the point where I've forgotten what I really wanted to say or what to say next. Another thing is if you reread your work too many times, you will probably get uninterested in what you are saying, skip over reading it again at the end, and overlook a possible error. I have found it monumentally helpful to just write, write, write to my heart's content so that I'm saying what I need to say in the moment and while my thought process is chugging along, and then I can fine tune later and make sure everything is the way I want it before hitting publish. If you have a good flow going on, don't stop! Obviously we run into distracting situations or loss of creative flow, or other scheduled things get in the way, but if you can keep going, go.Make a checklist. I am a very visual person and I experience a certain euphoria every time I cross an item off a list (call me crazy, but I know I can't be alone in that). Even when I'm doing something I know how to do, sometimes I make a checklist anyway and every time I cross something off it feels like a huge accomplishment, which pushes me to cross the rest of the things off of my list. Sometimes these checklists are huge, sometimes they're tiny, but they always help me to remember what needs to get done most importantly. If spending an hour on #whatshouldwecallme isn't on the list, I'll usually stay away from it. Though I really can't make any promises.

Figure out what works best for you. Though these tips and tricks work for me specifically, they may not be what you need in order to get something like a blog post or a school paper finished. With that being said, try to jot down the things that do work for you so that you can make your own checklist of things to do in order to engrain those habits into your working routine. For me, sitting at a desk or a table works best for me in terms of how much I get done in a short amount of time. I am capable of sitting on a couch in front of the television and getting a post done, but it probably takes two to three times longer or I end up getting discouraged completely. If you're the opposite, so be it, just make sure you make a note of that so the next time you are getting ready to work you can get straight to the most conductive environment.

I'm no expert, but these are things that I discovered work for me through trial and error. It's just a fact that if I sit with some music at my desk or dining room table, I'm going to get ten times more done than if I am on my couch catching up with my DVR. I get my to do list, a giant mug of coffee, and I fly through what I need to do most of the time. It's all about finding what works for you, execution, repeat. Let me know if any of these things work for you or if I gave you an idea of something to keep you motivated and on track. I know this isn't groundbreaking stuff, but you don't always need to reinvent the wheel to do great things.

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