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Friday, September 14, 2012

Discussion: How I manage blogging, school, work, and life.


I had a fellow blogger friend tell me on Twitter the other day how impressed they were with my ability to maintain a great blog while going to college and working. It was slightly humorous to me, because just last week I was freaking out about not having anything to post and wondering when I would get my reading done or my commenting done or my posting done or my homework done, pretty much in that order >_< Blogging is hard work and when you throw the responsibilities of blogging on top of the rest of your life it can make everything a lot harder. I'm in my final year of college so everything at this point is incredibly important, but I'm finally getting the hang of dealing with the work load that college offers while still having my own fun.

How I deal with school.
Over the years I've become a lot more organized with my homework and assignments which has enabled me to get things done without stressing over them. At the beginning of the semester I take all my syllabi, my wall calendar, and my planner and I write down ALL of my assignments for the next 4 months. I color code them too. At this point you're probably going, "Woah, Anna, that is just too much planning and organization to even think about before school actually starts." And, before I started doing it, I would have thought so too! But the thing is, it makes life so much easier. After I'm done filling in my calendars and planners I move on to that month's assignments. For all essays, exams, midterms, and presentations I write out their due date, assignment, and class on a sticky note and put them up on my desk. This way, every time I sit at my desk I can see that in two weeks I have an essay due in a certain class. Things like that. This doesn't mean I do anything in advance, however. Also, over the weekend I try to get most of the upcoming week's reading and such done so I don't have to worry about it during the week.

How I maintain my blog.
Here's the thing, I don't let my blog dictate what I do. Yes, I try to keep up with blog tours, reviews, memes, and things like that, but if something gets in my way I don't stress over it to the point where I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I try to do things in advance, but sometimes life gets in the way and you just have to deal with it. I don't have class until noon every day so I try to wake up around 8am and that gives me about 2 hours of interruption free blogging time. So, yes, I schedule in my blogging time as well. This is the time I comment, plan, post, etc. The more things I can schedule ahead of time the better. 

How I keep from getting burnt out.
As many times as I've wanted to quit it all and throw the blog out the window, I can't. My blog is my baby. I've worked hard to get where I am in the blogging world and I can't just throw it all away. I love my blogging friends, and the opportunities I've been given because of blogging have been amazing. But every now and then I still get stressed out about blogging. It's not my number one priority in life and it shouldn't be. I need to keep up with school, maintain my real life friendships, and keep myself working. But, sometimes life gets stressful and I need to put everything on the back burner, so these are some of the things I occupy myself with when I'm getting to stressed:
  • Watch TV: Since we have a DVR in my house I record a million things throughout the week. When I'm feeling stressed I just plop myself down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and turn on The Office or Doctor Who.
  • Go for a walk: Whether I'm by myself or with a friend, walking around my neighborhood has always been a great de-stresser for me. If I have a big essay due I'll usually try to figure things out in my head while I'm walking and the combo between fresh air and exercise gets my brain working over time. 
  • Spend time with friends: It's important to remember that we have friends. Like, I'm not even kidding. I'm always so busy with work and school that most of my free time gets spent with my boyfriend (if I have any free time). It's important to remember that there are other people who are there for us and it's always great to get someone else's perspective on something that's going on in your life.
  • Read a book: I know what you're thinking. You're like, "Anna, I am trying to get AWAY from the stresses of blogging!" But I don't mean a book you plan on reviewing. I mean a book you want to read just for you. I think my brain works in different ways depending on what I'm planning on doing with each book. If it's a review book I'm constantly trying to figure out what I liked and what I didn't. If it's for school I'm trying to analyze every sentence and every theme in order to interpret the messages beneath the surface. But if I'm picking up a book just for me I don't feel those pressures. I can just read and enjoy. 
  • Play some video games!: This one is somewhat older and newer for me. I used to be a huge gamer, but college sort of destroyed all my gaming fun, so I've started to unpack my dusty Game Boy and PSP and get in the groove of gaming again. I love playing video games and they're a great way to sort of pass the time while having fun and giving your brain and your body a break. If you don't have a gaming system there are a lot of great ways you can still play! Android phones have an app called GBC A.D. that lets you download .ROM files onto your phone and use it like a Game Boy Color. Also, Big Fish Games has a ton of games you can download free trials for and play for like an hour on your computer. I used to spend HOURS playing these.
Give yourself a break.
Just remember that you blog for you and if you start to get burnt out on it, take a break. If I'm swamped with school work or I just don't feel like doing anything then I just won't post. I'll take a week off. Everything will still be there when I get back. Sometimes a week off from blogging will help you realize how important it really is to you. Or maybe you'll realize you've burnt yourself out on blogging and you'll decide it's time to call it quits. Either way, stepping away from that responsibility can be an eye opener. Just don't take it so seriously. It's not the end of the world if you can't read a book before release. I have a shelf of books that are already out and I've yet to read and review. Do I care? Of course. But there's nothing I can do about it. I'm doing my best with what I've got and that's all I can do.

What are some ways you maintain your blog with your busy schedule?

*****

Do you like these discussion posts? If so, ask your own questions! I'll answer anything and everything to the best of my ability!

31 comments:

  1. Great discussion! Love this!! I've never really been THAT stressed with blogging, maybe because I have someone doing the work with my (my lovely sister), but yes I know what you mean!! Especially when I had school, it was very stressing, especially to get the books done! I really like your suggestions, because i love taking walks and playing Pokemon on my DS! :D Haha, lovely post Anna!
    - Farah @ MajiBookshelf

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    1. I'm sure having two of you makes things so much easier, and I've considered having people do guest reviews to lighten my load a bit, but I love my blog and I also don't want someone else touching it LOL!!!

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  2. This is a great discussion post. I try to organize all my bloggy stuff in my planner and I use a spreadsheet in Google Docs to keep track of all blog related stuff. I have gone through this twice where I felt like blogging wasn't fun anymore and then I realized I WAS making it not fun. Over booking, taking on too many blog tours/review copies etc. Time for change! Glad you found a balance that works for you. :) And thanks for sharing your tips!

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    1. I have a spreadsheet with all of my review books as well! It makes things easier for me to know what's coming up and what I need to review and when.

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  3. Great post. I think it is really important to not let your blog dictate your life too because then it would feel like work, and who wants that? You seem so organized! That's awesome.

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    1. Exactly! If I don't have time to post for 2 or 3 days, I just don't. No one is going to be like, "OMG ANNA ISN'T POSTING LET'S BLACKLIST HER!" People understand.

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  4. I agree with everything you just said. :) I'm in my last year at university and I always do the same thing you do: take all my syllabi and sit down with a calendar. It definitely helps me with all those deadlines and assignments. As for the blog, I just try not to panic if I can't post for a few days. And I also try setting aside half an hour or so each day for commenting and such. :)

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    1. Don't you feel so organized at the beginning of the semester??? And then like half way through you're just like OMG LIFE IS TOO HARD!

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  5. I totally agree with you. Blogging is hard, as much as I love it. It's hard to balance time between this and that and that and this. I really need to learn how to let it go and spend time playing games and just... do nothing. But its hard. Real hard.

    Awesome post, Anna :)

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    1. I know! You feel so committed to your blog that it becomes something you really have to deal with every day, and that can make things stressful. I love it, so when I get up in the morning the first thing I do is turn on my computer :P But sometimes I just need a break to do NOTHING.

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  6. This is a great post! I'm a senior in high school and I have been stressing about getting everything done. I am also very organized, my schedule is one of my pride points - haha. However, I need to get better at doing a little bit at a time. If I sit down to write an essay that is due in 3 weeks, I just want to finish it right then and there. That seems like a good idea, however, then I take away time from the things that are do tomorrow, etc.

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    1. If I can't sleep I'll just start writing an essay sometimes. I end up having to revise most of it later on, but it definitely gets me started and makes things easier later on!

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  7. i\m going to blogg a little less. it so hard . i know lol . gr8 blog post

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  8. I'm not a college student anymore, but I have just had to give myself the motto - Real life comes first. At the end of the day, blogging is a hobby, and if that means it has to go in the backseat for a week or two if my life is crazy- oh well. :) Excellent post you youngin' you!

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  9. Being a senior in college...LIFE IS STRESSFUL, being organized definitely helps! Sticky notes are basically my best friend. I have them everywhere, on my books, by my computer. I use them for my blog, school, and random things (like to remind me I need to watch Adventure Time and Sherlock). I also use the To Do list app on my phone. It makes my life way more organized. I agree, blogging should definitely not dictate your life. We started this because we love books and if it's stressing you out, take a step back and try to remember why you started it :)

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  10. Great advice Anna! I wish I had this advice when I started blogging. I never realized how overwhelming it can get. I definitely have gotten really organized with school and blog stufg. I have day planners and white boards that have become life savers. I like the part about taking a break though. Every few months I take a break and read a book that is just for me or I will reread a favorite book. It's refreshing to read a book without taking notes and thinking of what to say in a review. Great discussion post again! :)

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  11. I love how committed you are even though you are super busy. You are proof that it is possible! I have a hard enough time blogging and reading with work and my kids, I can't imagine if school was thrown into it too. Organization is definitely a good idea. Maybe that is one of my problems, I am terrible at staying organized. LOL Great post and advice Anna. :)

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  12. I used to accept every review request, but I not only had time issues, the books weren't ever interesting enough to TAKE UP my time. Now I am super picky when I choose what to review, because I want to enjoy it!

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  13. Great post hon!! You are a total rockstar!! I try to plan things and organize too. I have like 3 different planners lol! I am also a sticky note addict. It really does help though having things right in your face. You can't forget when it's staring at you constantly.

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  14. Great post and great advice! I get super stressed about the blog and review requests if I feel like I'm getting behind...I try to organize things out, but I can't really schedule time when I can focus on reading. I use a little pocket calender for all of my blog posts, giveaways and such so it helps me some. I agree about video games though, they are a fantastic way to de-stress. I just have issues with spending too much time on the game, I can blow 6 hours of free time like it's nothing. I think I'm going to start walking, it might be more productive.

    Michelle

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  15. Thanks for this post! There are some great tips in here.

    I find that I have to schedule my posts in advance. I usually will schedule the week's posts over the weekend. Otherwise, I say "Oh, I'll write that review on Wednesday" or "I'll just type up that post Monday." But I never do.

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  16. These are really good tips:) I'm huge on planning as well; I schedule my posts about a month in advance and joy down reminders about due dates and things I need to get accomplished.
    It really vital to find a balance, because everything you talked about in this post is so important. Two of my favorite bloggers just started college, so they have been a bit quieter, but I totally understand. Life is just full of things that suck up time, isn't it? I just try to think about the time-consumers I enjoy rather than the homework and the studying.

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  17. Anna this was such a great post! Thanks for saying what you did. I have been trying to balance work, school, my giant family, friends, and my blog but lately the blog has been put on the back burner. It is good to know I am not the only one. I definitely think the first step is getting organized. Again, great tips!
    -Katelyn

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  18. I absolutely LOVE this post. It's true that blogging is a big and very important part of all our lives - I don't think most of us can imagine life without it anymore. At the same time, it's still important to be selective and prioritize the things you need to get done! It's a lot of work balancing everything, but IT CAN BE DONE. I mean, look at you - you're doing a fantastic job! Thanks for sharing :)

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  19. Great post. You and I are quite alike in some of the things you've mentioned! I also mark on my calender everything that needs to be done for school and I try to do as much as possible before that time. I also try to schedule my blog and I do a lot of things to keep myself from getting a burn out. The most important thing for me is; having fun and enjoy everything I'm doing with my blog. It's not a job, it's not something you MUST do. I always try to remember why I've started it all and that's more than enough :)

    And I think you are doing a great job with your blog!

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  20. This is very helpful, Anna! I am one of those people who is very impressed at how you run your blog. :) I am also on my last year in college and with that comes thesis, paperworks, presentations. It also clashes with my other hobbies like watching TV series and such. In the past months, I've learned to let go somehow of my blog and it was good to do that but I realized that along the way I learned also to neglect my blog. I thought about quitting, too but I know it's not the answer. As of now, I'm trying to make everything work. I suck at planning and scheduling because I feel cluttered and disorganized the more I try to do it but I'm really working it out. I'll get there someday.

    I love love love this post, Anna. I salute you and keep up the good work. :)

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  21. I seriously need to do some of your tips for burning out, because I AM SO BURNT OUT right now. I freaking hate it. I haven't really done anything for fun (like writing or reading) in a while so I'm all moody and sad and ughhh.

    college sucks. having a social life sucks.

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  22. Great post Anna! I do the same thing with my school work. At the start of the semester I break out my google calendar and put everything in it, color coded as well! I also have my blog stuff in there, so when I can tell I am going to be extra busy with school I schedule interviews, and guest posts and things like that for the time, so I don't feel extra reviewing pressure.

    I have just started having the same attitude as you about blogging and it makes a world of difference for me! my problem is that whenever I get a free moment I am scheduling posts and trying to stay on top of my blog but commenting and twitter gets pushed aside. I need to be better about working that into my schedule.

    PS- I have been seeing a bunch of blogs mentioning you and your awesome discussion posts on their blogs and it makes me so happy because you really do such a great job with them. I always look forward to reading them :)

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

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  23. As a fellow student, I can relate. I typically try to post a couple weeks in advance. Weekends are great for preparing tour posts and reading books for review. Typically, I'll pick a familiar comfort read during exam periods; since I know the book already, I don't stress out about how it'll end. Non-exam periods, I'll read books that I'm looking forward to (what book on my TBR&Review pile am I not looking forward to???) :)

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  24. Wow, I wish I could be so organized. I try and start off doing it but get lazy and don't keep it up. I will get motivated one day and maybe then my blog will get back on track. Lol.

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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from Goodreads.com unless otherwise stated.
 
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