“Routines are important, but only if you make them your own. Simply copying someone else’s routine probably won’t work.” — Jeff Goins
Although I’ve researched daily routines and habits often, I still find myself constantly coming across great ideas from other bloggers, marketers and entrepreneurs about how they manage their time and productivity.
Productivity and using time wisely is always on our minds at Buffer as we develop our social media management tools. In fact, “work smarter, not harder” is one of our 10 core values.
Here are six tips from bloggers who continually produce great content, based on their own routines.
Maria Popova: Write for yourself first
Writing is meant to move the heart, the mind, the soul – not the page-view meter.
Maria writes the incomparable blog Brain Pickings, which is full of timeless advice and insight from writers, philosophers and creative leaders.
Her advice comes from her experience in focusing on what intrigues and moves her:
I’m fortunate – biased, perhaps – in having always approached my writing as personal development rather than business development and always having written for this personal audience of one.
I completely agree with Maria’s insistence that every blogger needs to understand why they’re writing in the first place.
It’s fine to find gratification in the approval of others or in financial success or in any other extrinsic reward, but it’s toxic to make that approval or prestige the motive to write.
She also offers a short, simple piece of advice for anyone starting out: learn by doing.
Sarah Wilson: Work on the same piece over time
Sarah’s blog includes topics such as “my simple home,” “i quit sugar” and “bike love.” It’s full of great-looking photos and her posts include a mixture of recipes, thoughts, inspiration and research.
Sarah’s approach is to start drafts when the inspiration hits and work on them over time until they’re ready to be published:
I tend to bang out some ideas and clip links as I go and keep about 20 “on the boil” posts in my drafts folder which I add to, patchwork, fiddle with over time.
This means she always has plenty of ideas to keep going with when it’s time to get something ready to publish:
I’ll write some afresh, or I pull one that inspires me from my drafts and tidy it up.
I really like this approach, and I’ve noticed whenever I spend some time away from a draft and come back to it, it’s usually in better shape than I remember. Plus, this helps me to get past the blank page hurdle that all writers face.
Leo Babauta: Write every dayHe has an incredible ethos for how he does business, and regularly shares his experiences of building and changing his habits over time.
His advice to writers and “non-writers” alike is to write something every day:
I started this blog in January 2007, and have written pretty much every day since then.
It was life-changing.
Leo shared a whole list of reasons why he recommends daily writing to everyone on his blog. Here are a couple that stood out to me:
Writing helps you reflect on your life and changes you’re making.
Writing clarifies your thinking.
This last one in particular makes sense if you’re hoping to improve:
Writing regularly makes you better at writing.
Jeff Goins: Change your routine to suit your life
Jeff isn’t especially keen on routines, although he does see the value in having one:
Having a routine is not something that comes natural to me, but it’s nonetheless important. I discipline myself to have this structure, because it helps me be creative in other parts of my life.
Jeff wrote about his routine on his blog, making the point that his routine works for him, and copying it wouldn’t be the answer to improving your writing:
The reality of routines is they’re usually so quirky and idiosyncratic that they really only work for the person practicing them.
And that’s the point: Find a system that helps you get the work done, and then use it.
Jeff’s routine is planned around his family, which means as his family situation changes, he’ll adjust his habits to fit in as well:
Every day is unique and different, but that’s what my routine has looked like lately. As our son gets older, I’m sure this will change.
Andy Orin: Have a quick lunch and walk fast
Andy Orin is an Editorial Assistant at Lifehacker, one of our favorite blogs around here.
In his Lifehacker interview about how he works, Andy shared two tips for saving time that I really liked. The first was to save time when getting around:
I walk fast. No patience for slow walkers, dawdlers, map gazers, and phone zombies.
The second was a counterintuitive one, as I’m a pretty big fan of lunch, but Andy saves time by skipping a big noontime meal:
I usually skip lunch in favor of a humble granola bar or something like that; a cup of coffee in an empty stomach and you can practically see around corners.
Neither of those might work for you, but the takeaway is to save time wherever you can. Read the newspaper on the train to work (or don’t read one at all!) instead of spending time on it before you leave the house; skip coffee time in the morning and get to work straight away; or even cut down on time spent cooking or going out to buy lunch: cook a big meal at the start of the week and have leftovers to save time.
Michael Hyatt: Adjust your habits to fit into the rest of your day
In this post about his morning routine, Michael mentions a few habits he has. One that jumped out at me was that he listens to audiobooks in the mornings, since he was struggling to find time to read physical books:
The problem I have is that it is difficult for me to sit still. I have a hard time finding a long enough stretch in the day to sit down and really read.
Several of us at Buffer listen to audiobooks on a regular basis, so this really struck a chord for me. I love the idea of working reading time into your daily routine:
I can listen to books while I’m working out. Honestly, there are days when I hate to stop running or exercising because I am so engrossed in my book.
What habits or routines do you do every day that help you to write more (or better)? Let us know in the comments.