The Blog Balancing Act: On Working Full Time and Keeping Up With Your Blog

Posted March 23, 2016 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Features / 28 Comments

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I’ve mentioned it here and there over the course of the past 7 months, but I recently started working full-time at an amazing job in a big city. It was my biggest lifestyle change since graduating from college, and it has shaped and changed the course of my life in amazing ways. However, there’s no denying that is also significantly impacted my blogging, which up until I started this job had been one of my main focuses. Book blogging still remains my favorite hobby and one of my largest passions in life, and what I’ve learned is that I didn’t have to diminish the presence of blogging in my life because of working. Rather, I had to learn to accommodate it into my new lifestyle and routine. In some ways it has even pushed me to be a better blogger, an outcome I did not anticipate from the change in my schedule.

I wanted to share some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned and changes I’ve endured to my blogging life since starting my new full-time job, in the hopes that it can help at least one person who may find the balancing act overwhelming, to show that you don’t have to give up something you love even if you don’t have as much time for it as you think is necessary.

I now adhere to more of a blogging “schedule”

Granted, I use the term “schedule” loosely, but I definitely have days where I have a plan to sit down and draft up posts. Since working full time, almost all of my blogging happens on weekends. I try to write 2-3 posts for the upcoming week, as well as respond to comments and check out other blogs. I tend to spend 2-3 hours both on Saturday and Sunday working on all of the elements of blogging, and will save shorter, more sporadic posts for the weeknights if I’m feeling up to it (such as participating in a meme like Top Ten Tuesday). I reserve this time on the weekends to blog because it often is too draining for me to write up an entire post on a weeknight, since I usually only have about 4 hours between the time I get home and the time I need to go to bed.

I’ve learned that it’s so important to not try to push myself to produce content when I’m tired or short on time, because my personal rest is more important. Rather, I spend my downtime during the week (such as my commute to work or lunch break) jotting down post ideas in my Erin Condren planner, and keeping a running list of reviews I need to write and books I plan on reading next. Like I said, it’s a loose system, but it provides enough structure to keep my blogging up without being a source of stress.

I’m pushed to write more meaningful content that matters

I participate in less memes or “fluff” posts because I just don’t have the time to spend on them, and the time I do have is devoted to reviews, discussions or features. While sadly this has meant the decline of some fluffy posts I enjoy, such as my Sunday Funday weekly recap, it also helps keep my blog less cluttered and more focused. I usually post a review on Monday or Wednesday, participate in Top Ten Tuesday (if I like the topic) and post discussions/features on Wednesday or Thursday.

I read what I want, when I want

My ARC envy has admittedly gone way down since I started working full time, because while I would love them and hope to get chosen to receive them, I see many bloggers who struggle to keep up with an insane reading schedule due to too many arc commitments (too much of a good thing, am I right?) I still request ARCs that I am very excited and passionate about, but it’s become less of the focus of my reading, and I find myself more content to read what I want, whether it be new releases or back list books that I’ve been meaning to get to. Already this year I’ve managed to read several incredible books that I just didn’t make time for last year (when I ironically had much more reading time) such as Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and Heir of Fire. My reading time is so much more valuable to me when I don’t have it as a guarantee everyday (I can’t read during my commute due to the fact that I get pretty bad motion sickness) and I make sure to make everything that I read count.

I found ways to integrate reading into my weekdays in small bursts

As I mentioned above, I can’t read during my 1.5 hour commute because I get motion sickness (I’ve tried audio books with varying success but that’s a whole different story). Because of this, I try to squeeze in reading as much as I can in ways that work for me. I now have a pretty near constant habit of reading two books at a time. I’ll have my “home” book that I save for weekends and weeknights before bed, and my “work” book that I bring to the office and keep in my desk, and it only gets read on my lunch breaks. I’ve found that this helps for several reasons:

  1. By leaving a book in my desk it alleviates adding more weight to my backpack by hauling it around everyday
  2. By not hauling it around everyday, there’s less chances for the book to get torn, bent, or be susceptible to any other sort of damage (I like to get my books in pristine condition)
  3. It helps to keep my reading schedule exciting and varied

The books I usually reserve for my “work” books tend to be shorter, contemporary fiction novels that are fast reads. I can usually get through one “work” book every 1-2 weeks, and it helps balance the longer, more “intense” books that I read at home (this past week’s selection was The Distance Between Us by Kasie West). This helps ensure that I’m mixing up my genres and helps me get through more books, as I can always balance a longer book with my shorter lunch time reads.

I learned to focus more on social media

Perhaps the biggest positive change that I’ve encountered since having “less” time to blog is that I’ve focused more on social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram. They’ve moved more to the forefront of my focus since I can engage in them easily from my phone, and can utilize them throughout the day, rather than having to have a dedicated time to sit down on my computer. If I have a 15 minute wait for my train, I can scroll through bookish hashtags on Instagram, send a quick tweet to a fellow blogger, and just keep up with the book blogging world in general in smaller chunks of time. A photo I post on Instagram on a Sunday night, for example, can lead to engagement for the next Monday as I respond to comments, check out new accounts of people who have liked my photo, etc. Leveraging my social media accounts more keeps me feeling connected to my blog even when I can’t physically work on it everyday.

Let’s Discuss!

Do you work full time and blog as well? Does blogging feel like it’s own part time job to you? Has you blogging been impacted by a major lifestyle shift before? How do you work blogging into your work (or school week)? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and your advice!

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28 responses to “The Blog Balancing Act: On Working Full Time and Keeping Up With Your Blog

  1. I love this! I’m so glad you’ve found a way to balance everything because I love your posts obviously 😉 I find that I have a decent amount of downtime while I’m at work where I can get a bit of blogging done in between. I always have an audiobook and physical book going, and sometimes I have a third eBook going too. I can read that on my Kindle app on my computer too, which is great for lunch breaks! I’m also generally less focused on ARCs too because I love being able to read whatever, whenever.

    • I WISH I could fit more blogging into the weekday (I am staying up past my bedtime right now as it is!) but it is SO hard since I don’t have the flexibility to work on my blog on work breaks and my commute is so crowded that I usually don’t get a seat on the train to blog/read (not that I could anyways because of motion sickness). I personally like having at least 2 books going at once because it breaks up the monotony if one of them is slow…and I usually don’t like to bring my super nice books to work or on my commute! I’m seriously impressed by how much you’re able to blog while still working full time! 🙂

  2. Balance is definitely important Cristina! I don’t work full time, I work about 40%, I guess, but I’m also an MA student, and I am married with four children, plus my blog. Which means I know what it means to be very busy, and to have to blog a little differently to balance it all.
    I have seen some of the same things happening to me, less weekly ‘meme’ feature posts, even some that I really enjoy, just because I want to rather spend time on my own original content than on things that are a bit similar all over the blogosphere.
    I usually read two books at the same time (both on my kindle, mostly) in different genres. And I have gotten the hang of audiobooks. Just this afternoon, I chatted with a blogger friend about wanting to stop requesting so many ARCs. I have so many books that I have bought, but when I get ARCs, I get so excited I tend to read those first.
    Awesome post, Cristina! I hope you’re having a fantastic week!

    • Thank you so much for the thoughtful words, Lexxie! It’s seriously impressive that you manage to balance all of your commitments along with blogging (especially with being an MA student too, as I imagine that’s a lot of additional reading and writing for your coursework!) I really want to avoid a blogging “burnout” so it’s important to feel like I am achieving a balance of sorts. When I first started working full time and headed into my first busy season at work, it was SO easy to get discouraged with blogging because I could barely keep up with anything in my personal life, and the last thing I wanted to do when I got home from work was stare at another computer screen. It just felt so overwhelming that it was easier to not even want to try. However, sometimes you need to reevaluate WHY you’re blogging and stop comparing yourself to other bloggers who can post 2x a day, update their instagrams, pinterests, etc. And the end of the day blogging is such a wonderful, fulfilling hobby that is so rewarding to do for yourself 🙂

      • I totally understand getting a bit discouraged, because blogging is a very time-consuming hobby 🙂 But it’s also a great get-away – chatting about books with other book-lovers, and discussing things we are passionate about. I’m glad you’ve been able to figure out what works best for you, and that you’re able to both work full time and continue your blogging.
        I’m almost at the end of my MA, I only have one class left, plus that pesky MA thesis 😀 And I do have quite a lot to read for that, which actually makes my ‘own’ reading even more precious to m.

  3. Interesting post. I’ve been struggling with this lately as well (you may or may not have noticed I haven’t been posting much lately and have been doing a lot more mini reviews). I only work part time but with the addition of a new boyfriend and learning to drive as well as going on a lot more outing lately I’ve had less time. I know how much I struggled to blog at university, so I can only imagine how hard it must be to keep up with a full time job and a long commute.

    I have also been really struggling with sitting down and writing post lately, the motivation just hasn’t been there. Since university I’ve been so burnt out when it comes to writing! So I’ve been rethinking what I want my blog to be and where its heading in the future. What I enjoy writing most and what I should focus on for instance. Sometimes these things can be a blessing in disguise. 🙂

    • I definitely understand the burnout when you try and sit down to write a post! I spend SO much time all day answering emails at work that sometimes the LAST thing I want to do when I’m off is continue to stare at a computer screen. Congrats on learning how to drive! Are you close to getting your license? Congrats on the new relationship as well! 🙂 I’ve been with my boyfriend for several years but I will admit it is a time commitment to balance a relationship as well as blogging, especially when you want to go out to dinner, vacations, etc!

  4. I really liked this post! It’s always eye-opening to discover how other bloggers manage their reading/blogging time in their real lives, and you and I are quite similar. I’m definitely more of a schedule girl myself, and do that as much as I can! (Though I haven’t been so good at it lately.)

      • Ah, that makes me so happy! I definitely work on scheduling posts ahead so that there’s plenty of content for my readers. As for social media, I just try to take whatever time I can (usually it’s 10-15 minutes) during my morning, my lunch break and evening to be online and to engage in conversation with people! 🙂

  5. It can be extremely hard to balance everything. I work full time. I also have a teenage daughter who is very busy so my evenings are often spent getting her where she needs to be or attending her events. There are some days that I work 8 hours, come home and feed the family, then sit at the school for 3 hours or more to listen to her concert or attend another event. It is exhausting. AND we have 3 dogs at our house including 2 puppies under 9 months of age which take up a lot of time. Of course, I have never know blogging any other way since I have been a parent with a full time job the whole time that I have blogged. I think the main things is finding a system that works for you and having fun with it. Blog tours were stressing me out so I decided to pull back. I have 2 coming up this week that are stressing me out so I won’t be signing up for any more for quite a while. Blogging needs to be fun!

    • Blogging definitely needs to be fun! And not something that brings stress. This week, for instance, I haven’t had a chance to blog at all until Saturday night because I worked a 50 hour week with my job’s busy season. By the time I’ve gotten home from work, I cannot stand to look at a computer again. It can be hard to balance (and easy to feel like you’re falling behind) but blogging needs to be something that brings me pleasure and not an obligation!

  6. I completely get it. I don’t have my own blog, but I do review for two different blogs (Rabid Reads and Hot Listens). I do work full-time, but blogging/reading isn’t my only hobby. I also have horses and I volunteer at the zoo telling people about the animals and the issues that the species face in the wild and how they can help at home. For the most part, I don’t do any posts that are not reviews. I do them on occasion, but it is rare. I don’t do any memes. I’m very picky about the arcs that I take. I get a lot of my books from the library or purchases I make myself. It has helped me from getting overwhelmed. I’m really glad you found a balance. I’m always disappointed when I hear of someone leaving the blogging community, though I completely understand. Great topic.

    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted: Review: Howl My Name by Celia Kyle (@mlsimmons, @celiakyle)
    • That is so great that you have so many hobbies outside of reading and reviewing centered on animals! I sometimes feel guilty doing things other than blogging in my free time, because it can be such a commitment that I don’t always feel that I have the bandwidth to take on other hobbies. Thank you for the comment, Melanie!

  7. What a great post! I think the balancing act is one of the things many bloggers struggle with and it was informative to read how you handle it. I have a full time job, but as I work from home and spread the work over all seven days that also means I can have 1-2 hours of blogging time each day depending on the day. If I have time I write a blog posts and do some replying and commenting back to comments each day. Instead of focusing it all on one day my strategy is to do a bit every day and keep up that way. I usually spent an hour or two in the evenings on my blog and a bit more time on Sunday when I usually have less work.

    I have noticed I spend less time on social media. i don’t have a commute, which means more time for work and blogging, but it does mean that social media time is the first thing I drop. I schedule my blog posts ahead on social media for each wee and in between work and blogging I sometimes check my feeds.

    I also started reading two books, although for different reasons. I now have my ipad book which i read during breakfast and my evening break and an evening book i read before going to bed. I quite enjoy reading two books at the same time and I feel like I can get more books read this way. I still get a lot of arc’s and review copies, but also make time to read what i want a bit more. Great post!

    Lola recently posted: Sunday Post #171
    • I agree, when I’m reading multiple books at the same time it does feel as though I am getting through books faster! It’s great that you have the flexibility to be able to work from home and create your own schedule to a certain degree! I occasionally am able to work from home, and it’s nice to be able to use the time I’d otherwise spend on commuting on my blog! It can be exhausting sometimes to save all of my blogging for the weekends, but I find that I prefer to focus on reading on the weeknights (especially since once I get home I tend to want a break from staring at the computer screen). Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lola!

  8. I started blogging when I was already working full-time, so I don’t really have the before/after comparison in terms of habits. There was definitely a difference between when I was working full-time versus when I was working OVER time. Interestingly enough, I think I was a more consistent blogger when I was working over time, because I was more likely to, as you said, adhere to a schedule.

    I can definitely relate to everything you’ve said except the social media thing — I’ve always struggled on that front in general. I tend to have a bit of dedicated time on weekends to blog, and I do very little on weeknights. That’s significantly impacted on physical health though, as sometimes I just get sick of sitting at a desk.

    My “work book” is usually just a kindle book that doesn’t bother me to read 5-10 minutes at a time; I don’t carry my kindle around, but I’ll pull up a book on my phone when I’m between meetings and such.

    Liza Barrett recently posted: Sunday Post: March 27
    • I completed understand what you mean about how it can have an impact on your health. Most of the reason why I don’t usually blog on weeknights is because I don’t want to stare at a computer screen after working on one all day at work. Social media is definitely something I make an effort to work on, however it’s easy to slip if I’m not consistent! I always admire other fellow full time working bloggers!

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