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Learn to be an expert multi-tasker: Lessons in balance and blogging

Recently, we were contacted by one of the editors of Hometalk. We are always excited when one of their editors sends us a note because usually it means they want us to curate fun board full of pretty projects or contribute to an existing project board. But this time was different. Editor Tikva Morrow wanted us to share our secrets for how we manage our personal lives, full-time jobs AND our side hustle blog. In fact, she referred to us as ‘multi-tasking experts’.

Whoa.

Tikva’s article was published at The Daily Muse and then picked up again by Newsweek – which is crazy cool!

But it got us thinking about her questions. We realized that over the last year, we have developed some serious technique for making it all work. In fact, it’s the one question we get asked more than anything else – ‘How do you manage it all?’

So we’re committed to being transparent and sharing our tips with you in the hopes that maybe you’ll share some of your secrets with us and then we’ll all be better for it. It’s kind of hard to just learn to be an expert multi-tasker, but if you are to start anywhere, these would be our best tips.

The most natural place for us to start, is actually with Tikva’s original questions to us. Obviously, she couldn’t publish them all, so we’ve parsed them down here. We’ve listed who’s talking. D&E means it’s both of us answering together and otherwise, it says who’s who!

Learning to bean Expert Multi-Tasker

Question 1: What do you do for a living?

D&E: Dan is a curriculum development specialist at a national career college and Erin is a former broadcast journalist, who recently left that grind to take a position as the marketing manager for a digital health-tech start-up called The Rounds.

Question 2: What activities or side projects besides your job do you take part in throughout the day (i.e. parenting, blogging, hobbies, etc.)?

D&E: Right now, we don’t have children. But we do have three fur babies! So, when we’re not blogging at DIY Passion or working on projects to fuel our blog, our downtime is spent with our dog and two cats. We are also total board game geeks, so every once in a while, we’ll host a board game night at our place for our friends. But mainly, we’re both very career focused and goal-oriented, so the majority of our time is spent brainstorming on ways to improve our side hustle at DIY Passion.

Question 3: How do you manage your time (i.e. planner, timers, lists)?

D&E: Our time management system is fairly basic, in the sense that, we schedule pretty much everything, even our relax time. But we always make time for relaxing and recharging. It’s just too important when you work in a creative space and realm like we do.

Erin: I have written a few blog posts about how I’ve developed my own time management system and my own metrics for measuring our productivity. They are systems that I developed after years in broadcast news, where I was constantly facing deadlines shorter than 30 minutes. Somehow, I’ve learned to adapt those skills to DIYs and blogging. It’s actually the most common question we get asked “how do you fit it all into a day?”. But we say, once you figure out how to prioritize, what you want to achieve and what your expectations are for yourself, you can really do anything you set your mind to.

Question 4: Do you find that this routine works for you consistently, or are you usually playing catchup?

D&E: When we follow our own rules, we usually hit our targets. When we don’t hit our targets, we tend not to ‘play catch up’, so much as use it as a reason to reassess our priorities. Right now, our blog and our side business is just that – a side business. If something suddenly becomes overwhelming, it’s because we aren’t listening to ourselves enough and we aren’t setting proper priorities and boundaries. In essence, we aren’t learning to say ‘no’ – even to ourselves.

There was one time, when we had it in our heads that we could reasonably post three intense DIY projects per week on the blog. As soon as we started, we were failing. We were miserable. So we had a real conversation with each other and we pivoted. We altered course. It wasn’t a matter of playing catch-up, so much as changing the game entirely. Now we post less often, but we get better results from those posts. And we’re also a lot less exhausted (and crabby!)

Question 5: Do you ever feel pressed for time?

Dan:  To be honest, sometimes we do feel a bit pressed for time. But we just try to recognize that most deadlines are self-imposed and that the alternative to ‘just do nothing’ isn’t necessarily more appealing and it’s certainly not more rewarding. When I’m personally feeling pressured about issues related to the blog, I try to ground myself and say out loud that ‘it’s not really pressure, it’s just something that has to get done’ and we get it done and we do it to the best of our abilities. If the pressure is there because we want to do the best we can do, then that’s never a bad thing.

Question 6: What are 3 go-to tricks you use to manage your time properly?
Erin: Well the number one trick is our 15-minute metric for time management. It’s hard to learn, but once you do, it’s amazing.
Dan: The number two is understand that once we get home from work, if we sit down, we’re down for the night and will rarely accomplish anything. The best thing we can do is to not stop until we’re fully ready to stop and when we do stop – it’s a full stop.
D&E: The number three thing is to use online scheduling tools. We’ve recently purchased CoSchedule for our blog and it’s made a huge difference in the amount of time we have to spend dealing with social media and sharing. It’s great.

If someone told you they were awful at managing their time, what advice would you give them?
Dan: Block off your time and devote that time to that task. When that time comes, just do it. Never say “I’ll do it when I get home. Or I’ll do it next week.” Just do it right then. Move the needle forward.

Erin: I’d echo Dan’s advice. For us, time management comes down to setting priorities. Right now, we’re in a place where we are excited to grow our brand at DIY Passion. I’m excited to be in a new industry and have some freedoms that I never used to have in terms of personal and professional expression. We make building success a priority and we make sure that we set aside time every single day to measure our progress, learn from our mistakes and dream about what’s coming next.

So what are your tricks? How do you balance work and life? What hacks do you use? We’d love to know!

 

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