There's some twisted irony in the fact that at the time of writing this post, my stress levels are at a record high and I have a negligible amount of time remaining to bash out the final few thousand words of my dissertation... HELP.
Anyway, I digress. One of the questions I'm most frequently asked when people find out that I am a full time student as well as a blogger, is 'how do you manage your time?'
. I usually give a relatively vague answer about knowing when to prioritise one over the other, but as I'm at the very peak of my busiest ever time at university (specifically, the end of my final year) I thought it appropriate to give my time management techniques, both conscious and subconscious, a little more thought. In doing so I hope to both help myself in this final stretch, and help others who are perhaps struggling to manage blogging (or another hobby or flexible job) alongside university, college or school.
Tip #1 - know when to prioritise one over the other
Although I said this was my usual vague answer, I do think that it is really the crux of the issue. Over summer, as I'm lucky enough to count my blog as the equivalent of a part time job and so don't have to work another one, I blogged at least 5 days per week with no trouble at all, during term time I reduce this to every other day (or there abouts), and at the moment with deadlines and exams approaching I am blogging more like once every three days, or twice per week. Naturally I am noticing a decrease in traffic on those consecutive days where I am not posting, but I also know that this is not the end of the world, and if anything it motivates me more to build back up to more regular posting when I'm not so busy.
Tip #2 - don't take on more than you can manage
This one is particularly important if your blog (or whatever other project) allows or requires you to work with other people, be that brands, PR companies or customers (let's call them 'clients' here). Whilst blogging as a job allows for a great degree of flexibility as you are not subject to actual concrete deadlines by your readers, if you are working with a client to a deadline it is extremely important that you don't break this deadline. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't take on work when you're in a period where you need to prioritise university more, but it does mean that you need to think realistically about what you're going to be able to achieve without letting school suffer. If you are doing paid work this will likely have a deadline attached to it; make sure you let your client know what your situation is, and if you think that the proposed deadline is unachievable there is no harm in asking for an extension. If this isn't possible, there is also no harm in not taking on the job, unless you're desperately reliant on the money then it usually is not worth the stress. If the work is unpaid, make it abundantly clear that you will not be able to work within a deadline (or perhaps, at your discretion, propose a lengthy deadline, but don't feel like you are under any obligation). TLDR: take time to explain to your client exactly what they can expect of you, and of course maintain personability and professionally whilst doing so, and only take on something with a deadline that you're sure you'll be able to make.
Tip #3 - get clever with your content creation
My blog is predominantly focused on my outfits, and gone are the days where I feel I can get away with a bedroom or living room series of snaps, so I am constantly thinking about when and where I can photograph what I'm wearing. This is an especially pressing issue during the winter when daylight is scarce, or around exam or deadline time when you're holed up in the library (or if you're like me, at home in your PJs), but I actually find myself thinking like this 100% of the time. Some people prefer to tackle this by taking photos of 4 or 5 outfits over the space of a couple of hours in one day
. The way I manage it is by always carrying around my camera
- not entirely practical depending on the size of your camera, but my Canon 700D
with a 50mm
lens is comparatively quite compact and I have no problem fitting it into a medium sized bag. Alternatively, you might think about investing in a more compact camera
, or even just shooting on your smartphone. If I have my camera on me then, providing I'm with a friend, shooting an outfit only takes up 10 or 15 minutes of my day. I also think that this is a much more organic way of translating what I'm actually wearing on a day-to-day basis onto my blog.
This tip also extends to lifestyle posts: the question 'can I blog this?' is always on my mind
. Granted, I don't blog everything in my life that I could, but taking 5 minutes to take some photos of your meal out
, your favourite café
, in a new bar you've visited
, or even a few snaps in the library for a post about your studying tips
, is a very time efficient way of getting the basics for your content under your belt.
Tip #4 - don't compare your blog to a full time blogger's blog
Finally I think it's important to avoid comparing yourself and your work to others generally
, but sometimes it is helpful to gauge where you are at in comparison to your peers. This becomes less helpful, however, when you start comparing your blog to a full time blogger's blog. Blogging is very time consuming, and naturally those who are fortunate enough to call it a career have a lot more time to put into it
. Whenever I'm getting a bit stressed about the quality and frequency of my posts, I just remember that many of my friends and others who I admire simply have a lot more hours in the day to dedicate to blogging than I do.
In conclusion, balancing blogging and university is about just that: balance. Sometimes I give university work a little more weight, sometimes I prioritise blogging, and of course don't forget to add having an actual social life into that mix too. I hope that these tips are helpful or at least in some way cathartic if you're in the same position as me; don't stress too much, it's not that hard and you're doing great!
Labels: advice, essays, lifestyle