Creating a Healthy Blog/Life Balance

The following post is from Sherri of Zen Family Habits:

blog-life balance
source: hans s

As we work behind the scenes to add new features to Life Your Way, we’re reposting some of our favorite posts from the archives. Look for all new posts and some exciting announcements in the coming weeks!

When I first started blogging I was filled with excitement. There was the excitement of my very first subscriber (that wasn’t a relative), the excitement of getting my very first comment, and the excitement of a big name blogger taking notice of one of my posts. All very exhillarating.

It’s all these little wins that got me focused, and like a pit bull, I just kept going and going, largely to the exclusion of everything else.

It is true that blogging can become all consuming, if you let it.

But it doesn’t have to be.

It’s easy to become obsessed by the stats, comments, word counts, and posting schedules. When this happens other things in your life may start to take a back seat. Work responsibilities and even relationships can begin to suffer.

I think it’s pretty common that people have a tough time finding a balance between online activities and their real life. Speaking from experience I know there can be a real imbalance in blog/life dynamic.

Here are my suggestions for establishing a healthy blog/life balance so your real life relationships don’t suffer:

1. Start with a high level plan.

Blogging can soak up all of your time, if you let it. The easiest way to establish a balance is to start with a plan.

Here are a few things to consider:

:: Post frequency: How many posts will you write per day/week/month? Be realistic. I started out with 5 posts a week which turned out to be unsustainable for me. I’ve now settled into a 2-3 posts per week rhythm and it seems to be working well for me.

:: Estimate time: How long will your articles be and how long will it take you to write one? If you’re not a professional writer it may take a lot of time in the beginning to turn out a post you are happy with. With practice and time you will get better at it and you will get quicker.

:: When are you at your best? Are you an early bird or a night owl? Or do you feel most creative right at midday? Take note of how you feel at different points throughout the day. When do you have the most energy? When are you able to think most clearly?

2. Talk with your family.

If you are going to be spending a lot of time on the computer away from your family, be up front about it. Include them in the decision making so they don’t feel like you’re “always” on the computer. Decide how much time you need on the computer during the day then approach your family. Tell your spouse and your kids you need 3 hours during the day to write and tend to emails. Then discuss as a family when those three hours will be. Avoid hard feelings, on their part, and feelings of guilt, on your part, by letting them have a say in your time management.

3. Reduce distractions.

Once you’ve agreed on the time you will spend in front of the computer, reduce distractions so you can focus on the task at hand. Yes, I’m referring to the phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, Reddit, instant messaging and any other social media network you may belong to. It’s easy to whittle away the hours with these things, and rarely do you end up with tangible results. When you set time aside to write try closing all programs that may distract you. Use programs like WriteRoom (Mac) , Writer (PC) or simply use notepad. When you’re less distracted you are better able to focus and use your time more effectively.

4. Be open to change.

You may have a schedule that works for you and your family right now, but it likely won’t last forever. Situations, circumstances and priorities change — and this is normal. Be open to changing or shifting your schedule or post frequency. Consider short-term or trial periods to give these changes a fair shot. It’s easier to go with the flow than to resist it and fight every step of the way.

5. Take a night off.

It’s important to show your friends or family that they are still your top priority. Choose one night every week to unplug. Unplug from TV, the computer, phones, smart phones etc … Find activities that you can enjoy together as a family. Try a nature walk, shooting a few hoops or a picnic in the park. Making time for your loved ones is one of the best ways to show them they are still tops in your books and it’ll be rejuvenating for you as well.

6. Don’t take on too much.

Yes, you want to grow your blog and that means doing a lot of guest posts, commenting on other blogs, and doing interviews. When you say yes to these things you are saying no to other things — likely time spent with family or friends. So learn to respectfully say no (even to yourself) to free up more time for the activities and people you truly enjoy.

7. Live.

If you want to become a full time blogger, you need to have an interesting story, outlook, or experiences. These are really difficult to get when you’re sitting in front of the computer all day. Get outside, enjoy the fresh air, talk to new people and get new perspectives on issues. These experiences can expose you to ideas, events, and new ways of doing things that you may never have come across otherwise.

So ask yourself: Are you obsessed? Has blogging become all consuming? Do you feel a disconnect between you and your family? Are your friends or family telling you you’re spending too much time on the computer? If so take a couple of minutes to re-evaluate you current situation and work towards creating a balance that works for everyone. Creating a blog/life balance isn’t a one-time deal; it’s an ongoing process of identifying priorities and setting limits.

Sherri is a work-at-home mom to two young boys and has been married to her high school sweetheart, Gwynn, for 13 years. Read more from Sherri at Zen Family Habits, where she talks about all things family.