In episode 246 we talk with Chelsea Cole, blogger at A Duck’s Oven, who shares about how and why you can navigate building your own systems to achieve success as a blogger.
We cover information about why you should put the most important things on your to do list at the top, why you should try systems but not adhere to them if they aren’t working and communicate with clients, employees and family about upcoming busy times to manage expectations.
Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.
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Bio Chelsea Cole is the food blogger behind A Duck’s Oven and author of Everyday Sous Vide: It’s All French to Me. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and lives with her husband. She’s been food blogging for over 10 years and is a marketing director by day. She spends most of her free time in the kitchen. Cooking became her stress outlet in college, and remains that today. Instead of using it to tune out the pressure of school work and a part time job, it now serves as her way to unwind after work and her favorite creative outlet.
- Be aware of what you take on personally and professionally and then find a way to keep each one going with a system.
- Prioritization is very important when you have multiple businesses and for your personal life’s commitments too.
- When you take on an important, short term project, you might have to choose to intentionally drop balls but communicate with each one so you can alert them up front and manage expectations.
- Sometimes you need to intentionally pause a task or job you do for the short term. Know that things won’t fall apart because you have to prioritize something else.
- Know your peers, your audience and professional contacts appreciate you bringing them along into your projects and can support you, cheer you on.
- You can avoid burnout by being aware of all you have taken on and purposefully set something down when you need to for the short term.
- It’s really important to find out what works best for you and do your best to build your life around that. This is in relation to sleeping, organizing, communicating, productivity, etc.
- What works for you now might change in the future. Learn to be fluid with that.
- Set the tone to be productive. If you need it quiet or clean or get a workout in first to feel good about the rest of the day, make those priorities, then get to work with your blogging duties.
- Be open your schedule and what gets you productive to change when there’s a busy season.
- Creative people need time to do nothing. There’s time to allow an idea or project to sit and simmer in the back of your mind and allow yourself to think on how it can be something you move forward with.
Megan covers productivity tips for you to check out in episode 015.
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246 Chelsea Cole
Hi, this is Chelsea Cole from A Duck’s Oven, and you are listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
Megan: I record a lot of really great conversations here at Eat Blog Talk. But every once in a while, I record an interview with a guest that is just unbelievably valuable and magical. This episode is definitely one of those situations.
Chelsea came to the table with this concept of not having to do all the things and actually giving herself permission to put some things down once in a while, so that you can focus on the things that matter. She talks about her strategy for getting through really busy times. She has come up with a really cool system that she shares inside this episode.
But the talk that we had actually evolved into so much more than that. It took a turn and we just went with it. I’m so glad we did because the end was absolutely amazing. So valuable. I hope you listen all the way to the end of this episode. You’ll be so happy you did. Enjoy it and thank you so much for being here.
Hey food bloggers. Thank you so much for joining us today. I am super excited about this discussion with Chelsea. We are going to have a chat about how to prescribe your own system to create balance in your business and in our life. Chelsea Cole is a food blogger of 11 years. She is a sous vide enthusiast, cookbook author, and founder of the cookbook lab, a program that teaches food bloggers how to self-publish their own cookbooks.
Hey Chelsea! Thank you so much for being here for your second chat with me here on Eat Blog Talk.
Chelsea: I’m so excited to be here.
Megan: First though. We are curious, do you have a second fun fact for us?
Chelsea: Yes. So I was thinking about this. So I just finished writing my second cookbook and I made this commitment to myself that I was, okay, I’m not going to start anything new. I’m going to only work on the things that I have going right now and refining those and building those. Then of course, like a week after it’s published and done, I’m starting to Google. Because this is like one of my secret dreams for the future, but of course, I’m trying to find a way to make it happen now. I really want to become skilled at cheesemaking. I played around with it at the beginning of quarantine a little bit. It’s something that I really hope to spend a lot of time on in the future. So I just started Googling. Is there some kind of course or certification that you can get to become a cheesemaker? Then I’m like, no, stop it. Not now.
Megan: You have to slap your own hand. Oh my gosh. You and I are so much alike in that way. I feel like I do the same thing constantly. I finished a big project and I’m like, okay, Megan, listen. You’ve got to stop. Just chill. Then I’m like what about this? Then I started Googling. So that’s so funny.
Chelsea: Yes. I need a year off. Even my husband was like, this is several months away, but he’s a teacher. So in the summer he has time. He’s like next summer, do you think you could not be writing a cookbook? I was like, I think that’s a fair ask. Yes.
Megan: Oh, that’s so funny. Cheesemaking, what could be more fun and delicious than that. Oh, I’m excited for you to get into that, after a few months, of course.
Chelsea: A few months break and then we’ll tiptoe in that direction.
Megan: Yes. Cool. That’s exciting. Okay. Perfect second fun fact. I loved it. Now let’s talk about how you do all the things. I know you’ve been getting this question lately from a lot of people, food bloggers, your audience, people who are curious. Whoa, Chelsea, you’ve got a lot going on. How did you write a cookbook and keep up with your blog and keep up with the cookbook lab and all of the things. So would you mind just talking us through all the things? What all did you have going on? At what point did you say, oh my gosh, I’ve got to figure out a system.
Chelsea: Yes. This has been a few years. So I’ve been food bogging for 11 years. Up until this past February, I’ve always also had a day job. So it’s been a lot. I’ve always had a lot of extra things and I’ve almost always, since I was, I would say 23, I’ve always had freelance clients as well. It’s just a lot of things to keep in the air and to manage. For those who are into this type of thing, I am an Enneagram type one. If anything, if any balls get dropped, it hurts me. I am at all times trying very hard to do things in the correct way. So if something happens incorrectly or if I feel like I’ve let somebody down, it’s very hard for me. So from a personal perspective, managing all these things fairly well is important.
So I have just been getting this question a lot lately because I just self published my second cookbook. This is like the number one question I get asked. How do you do it all? How do you write a cookbook while blogging? First I’ll answer the actual question. What are all of these things? In the most recent case, all of the things were food blogging which is an important source of income for me. I also do some work for my dad. I have freelance clients. I do brand partnerships. I have the cookbook lab and sous vide school. Then freelance clients are also a really important part of my income. So that’s another really high priority thing. So just finding a way to keep all of those things straight and how to prioritize them. I don’t know if anybody follows fitness people, I follow Alyssa Olynyk from Little Lyss Fitness and she talks a lot and was really inspiring for me about how balance isn’t necessarily always a thing.
You can’t always have balance .What I’ve found to be more successful for me is prioritization. So just going into a time in my life, knowing it’s short and knowing that balls are going to be dropped and I’m dropping them intentionally. I’m communicating with people around me that I’m actually putting that to the side for a moment. That way the expectations are clear with everyone. That was so helpful for me. We can get more into that, but yeah, brief overview of that.
Megan: Yeah. So you are a person who does not like to drop balls. You said that you actually are emotionally tied to that. You feel bad when balls are. You want everything to be done well, and right. You want everyone to be pleased. I think a lot of us listening can relate to that because food bloggers are natural jugglers. We have so much going on and then add another project, like a cookbook. Oh my gosh, how am I going to survive?
So I think we can all relate to this idea that we are juggling tons of balls and that we don’t want to drop them. That’s where the stress comes from. Oh my gosh, how do you do it all? You came to a point where you were willingly just deciding to drop some balls. So how did you decide which ones to drop and how did it go?
Chelsea: Yeah, so in this past instance, so with getting my second cookbook done, I of course I think this is probably pretty normal for a lot of us. I went into it, planning on keeping all of the things alive. But I had also set a really tough deadline for my cookbook in August. The great thing about self publishing. So I really started working on my cookbook in earnest in March of this year. So a five month turnaround for a cookbook is incredibly short. There are people who have been known to do it faster, but I have some standards for myself that make it harder to do it faster than that. A lot of that is needed because other people have to test your recipes and you have no control over how long it’ll take them. But I could have extended the deadline for myself. That’s the beauty of self publishing. I could have done that. But I didn’t want to. My book was about meal prep and I really wanted it to be available as people were getting back into the school year. The natural time of year when we have to get back into a routine. I knew how helpful it could be for people during that transition and so I really wanted it done at that time. That was important to me. We also just had a busy summer. We went to New York city in June and we camped; so much this summer because I still wanted to be able to do some fun things.
So it came down to a crunch time, for the last probably six weeks, where I knew I was really going to have to work my butt off. So I didn’t blog during that time. I posted much less on social media. The things that I kept were a few freelance projects I had committed to in advance and then my existing brand sponsorships and the cookbook and that was it. The reason I chose those things, I freelance and brand partnerships are part of the bread and butter of my income, so that just needs to happen. I had already committed to those things, so I was going to make them happen. Then with my cookbook, another reason I just decided to power through at the end, was because I just wanted it done.
It’s funny, even though I am an Enneagram type one, I don’t identify with perfectionism as much. I want to do things right and do things well, but I am very much like a, get the thing done. Don’t overthink it. We’re going to power through this. So I wanted the book to be done because I knew how much freer I would feel when that thing wasn’t hanging over my head. So I just made the commitment to just power through and get it done. That was like the logic behind my prioritization this past time.
Megan: So you stopped blogging. Did you completely stop or did you slow down and then what happened when you stopped? What happens when you decrease your social media time too?
Chelsea: Yeah. Honestly, nothing happened. So in that time I just talked about, I think I had one new blog post go up and it was actually a preview recipe from my book and it was intentional. That was it. My income, it just stayed the same from my blog. It didn’t decrease, didn’t increase, just stayed stagnant, which for me was fine.
Then for social, I was still really active on stories. It just wasn’t a lot of feed posts. What I did there is like people knew that I was focusing on my cookbook. One thing I think is super important and I tell all of my cookbook lab students they need to do is bring their audience behind the scenes with them when they’re writing a cookbook, because then that helps them feel attached to the process.
It gives them a peek into how much work goes into this, and it just gets them really excited about the book that’s coming. So I focused a lot of time on that and a lot of my content in my feed was around the book writing process, because I wanted them to feel attached to that process as well. I like to share stories. It’s fun for me. It can be a nice outlet sometimes too. So everything just stayed stagnant for six weeks. In my mind, that was a good trade-off. So that may not feel like a good trade-off for everyone, but for me, that was totally fine because I was able to get the project done. I wanted it to be done and I did it really well. Like I’m really proud of the book that I created. I think that allowing myself to focus so singularly, helped me create a product that I’m so happy with.
Megan: I think it has such an important message to deliver right now that sometimes you can just stop doing everything. You don’t have to be dedicated to write, pumping out blog posts and new content, if it’s not on your agenda. If it’s not aligning with your life and what else is going on. I love that this little experiment of yours brought about literally no change, because we tend to think oh my gosh, the world’s going to stop. All my traffic is going to go away. People are going to hate me. They’re going to leave. That is actually not what happens. So I love this message. I think people need to hear this. Even bloggers who have been blogging for a long time, I think getting that groove of feeling like everything is going to explode if we stop.
Chelsea: I totally agree. I think a really important component of that is, if we allow ourselves, if we say, I know I’m taking a little break, I would be cautious against huge total breaks of anything. But if you give yourself permission, I think it makes it so much easier to come back. I think one thing I see a lot of people struggle with consistency wise, is they think, oh crap, I haven’t posted on my Instagram feed in a week. I should just give up. Then they’ll literally stop for six months or something like that.
I think that as bloggers, we can get into all or nothing mentalities. I think that’s one thing that’s allowed me to keep blogging for 11 years because there were seasons when I didn’t do a blog post for six months because whatever day job I had was so crazy. But then I would go back to it. I think that’s like its own form of consistency and sure, it’s not the best, but it means that you don’t give up. I think that we have to record. That there were so many other things happening in our lives at any given point. So just giving ourselves permission to take time off I think can be really helpful.
Megan: Yes. I love that you’re sharing this message. Also you don’t need to stick with a schedule forever. So for a long time I was posting new content, every other day or something ridiculous like that. This was a handful of years ago. It’s okay to do that for a time, but then it’s also okay to stop doing that and to do something else. You don’t have to do that forever. Maybe you have the bandwidth to do that for a year. Then it’s okay to give yourself permission to post once a week or to take a six week break like you did. I was in that mindset too. I’ve been there where I’m like this is what I do. I post every other day. I’ve got to keep going. That’s not true. You are in charge of your business so you can change it at any given time.
Chelsea: Totally. Yes. I think that’s like such an easy way to burn yourself out and nobody wants to be burned out. If we can think about it a little bit in advance and try to avoid it, I think that’s helpful.
Megan: So for the balls that you were still juggling during this time, when you were getting your cookbook ready to be published, what was your system? Because you still had a lot on your. You said that you were still trying to create downtime and take vacations, go camping, spend time with your husband while he had the summer off. What was your system for getting through all of that?
Chelsea: Yeah. So one thing that I think is really important is super clear communication, both with people in your personal life and with people in your business. So with my husband, I would tell him, Hey, we’re going camping for four days. I’m so excited. I’m all in while we’re camping. But when we get home, it’s going to be a long day for me. It’s going to be the weekend. Because the trade-off for me going camping with you for four days is that I’m going to have to make that time up a little bit. Especially because this is an unusual circumstance because I’m trying to write a cookbook. It’s not just normal day to day. He was so understanding and supported and he’s so great about that kind of thing. Of course, like he misses me and wants me to spend time with him, but he’s still very sweet and supportive about all of that, which is great. I think the clear communication, at least for us, was super helpful. Then with my clients too, it’s just, yes, I’m. I am happy to do this for you. I’m going to need to know what you need from me by this date, and then just tell them and the reason is, I’m writing my cookbook. Most of my clients were super excited for me and totally understanding and did exactly what I asked, which was largely, let me know what you needed in advance here. Then just laying expectations for them. Just saying my turnaround time from shoot to finish product might be a little longer than usual. But here’s what you can expect from me. Just really clear communication up front. The same thing with my brand partnerships too. I think that one thing that I found, especially with cookbook writing and I say this a lot, is I think we underestimate how much people around us will be excited and for us and supportive of us. I think sharing what you’re doing, even from a practical perspective, not just I’m going to share with my audience, but just asking for help, asking for support from those around you, even the people that you work with, people are going to be way more receptive than you think because they’re excited that you’re doing something cool and they recognize that the thing you’re doing is taking a lot of work. If your past interactions with them have been good, they’re used to you being prompt and doing what you say you’re going to do, then this isn’t going to be a big deal, is what I found.
Megan: I love that. I think we do underestimate that. We get into the trap of thinking I’m bragging or I’m one of those people who’s oh, I’m so busy. We don’t want to be that person. But when we share projects that we really feel strongly and passionately about, people love to support us, whether it’s our audience or our peers. People within the food blogging space. If I hear that you’re writing a cookbook, I’m like, oh my gosh, you’re amazing. Absolutely. I automatically just come up with all of this grace and encouragement, so I think it is really important to share that. I love your style of just being over communicative and this is my situation. I am going to do my best. But just being really clear up front. What are your thoughts about, I think I know what you’re going to say, but what are your thoughts about time-blocking? Does that work for you? Does it not? Just talk us through that.
Chelsea: So time-blocking does not work for me. I am definitely a person who used to listen to all the podcasts, read all the books, try to emulate what the pros were doing even down to when I should wake up in the morning. It’s funny because I actually am a pretty early riser. But I’m usually up between 6:15 and 6:45. But I would try to push it and get up at 5:15 instead. I just feel like that doesn’t work for me. I think one thing I’ve learned, especially with my husband, we’ve been together since we were 16. So we’ve had to get used to each other for a long time. I’ve been in a relatively early riser for most of my life and he is not. He is a night owl. My ideal sleep schedule would be 10 to six. He sleeps more than me so it would be midnight to nine. I think that one thing that’s unfortunate is people who are more of a night owl or who do need more sleep or whatever, that they get labeled as being lazy. Their needs are somehow bad, which I don’t think is fair. So I think it’s really important to find out what works best for you and do your best to build your life around that. Of course, that’s not always going to be doable. We’re always going to have morning meetings or, I have to go to work by a certain time or things like that. When it comes to stuff like how we structure our to-do lists, how we structure our days, I think that we can empower ourselves to do what works best for us.
So I tried time blocking. I tried tons of different ways to manage my to-do list, all that stuff. Time-blocking absolutely does not work for me. Maybe other food bloggers will relate to this too. I swing between feeling like I really want to be at my computer. I want to be deep in spreadsheets. I want to be building systems. I want to be getting ahead of everything to like days where I’m feeling way more creative. I feel like shooting something beautiful today. I’m feeling really inspired to create this recipe or whatever it might be. I try to lean into that as much as I’m able to. We’re not obviously able to always take advantage of those feelings, but a few ways that I do that, I try to cluster my meetings. I love a day where I don’t have any meetings because I like the freedom and to be able to lean into those whims. So I love a day where I’m not obligated to anybody else. So if I do have a day, if I do have meetings or obligations, I try to put them all together, because mentally for me it’s been okay, my day is committed to that. But I have a much harder time getting into a rhythm or a workflow if I know that’s going to be interrupted. I really like uninterrupted time. So I know that works well for me. Then the other thing that I found, in terms of we still have to get stuff done. We still have to keep track of what needs to be done. So I keep a running to-do list and then in a perfect world, this doesn’t always happen and it’s fine when that doesn’t happen. At the beginning of the week, I look at that to-do list and pick what I’m doing for that week.
Then at the beginning of each day, I pick what I’m doing from the week list for that day. I can do that whenever I want throughout the day, but that’s what I’m doing that day. A system like that, that is somewhat prescribed, but has some more freedom built-in, works really well for me, as opposed to 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM I’m doing A. I need fluid structure which works well.
Megan: You’re like, Chelsea don’t tell me what to do.
Chelsea: Exactly. I don’t want to be told what to do by anyone, even myself. I just want to do what I want.
Megan: That’s awesome. A lot of people will be able to relate to that because some people work really well with time-blocking and some just don’t. They like that more fluid approach, you still have to get stuff done. You still have a list of projects that absolutely need to get accomplished, but it’s not like you have to do it at a certain time, which just frees up the pressure almost.
Chelsea: Yes. I would find myself feeling bad if those systems didn’t work for me. Feeling like I’d fail if I wasn’t able to get up at 5:00 AM or things like that or feeling like I’d failed, if I could feel it not working for me. Feeling like I was deficient and I think that sucks. It’s so much better if we can give ourselves enough grace to understand ourselves and just lean into what works for us. Another person who’s amazing about talking to this is Courtney . I don’t remember her Instagram handle off the top of my head, but she’s amazing. She has ADHD. She talks a lot about seeing her ADHD as a superpower. So she’ll objectively look at herself. She says, I have ADHD. What does that mean for me? What are my habits and how can I lean into this? Then anticipate my quote, unquote, bad is not the right word, but for lack of a better phrase, bad moments or whatever and lean into that and let that still be a productive moment, but in a different way. Anyway, it’s just thinking about yourself and how you can work with yourself.
Megan: We’re all so unique and we all work so differently and we all have different strengths. There are so many different components to this whole equation. So just knowing yourself really well and working with your strengths and knowing your weaknesses and all of that, I think is really important.
I’ve started doing this new thing, it’s very new, but it’s working really well. I was going to share it with you. So forever what I would do, for years and years, I would write out a to-do list for my next day. So if it’s Monday night, I write out a list for Tuesday. I write all the things I have to do. I’m like you, I used to block time and now I just get whatever’s on my list done whenever. But I found that looking at my list was just ugh. It was like me talking to me. You have to get this done. I was like, ugh, do I? So I’ve started writing a list more on like emotions. So I have mine sitting here from last night. So instead of what I would previously have said was something like, record an interview with Chelsea. Record interview with whatever. But instead I wrote, having an amazing conversation with Chelsea. Have an amazing conversation with my other guest.
When I look at that, I’m like, oh, I am really excited to have an amazing conversation with Chelsea. Somehow that’s just different from having to record an interview. You know what I mean? So sometimes you have to dress up the emotion a little bit. If you do that on your to-do list, it’s like you are talking to yourself in a different voice that’s actually evoking something positive and fun, as opposed to you having to do this. So that’s my newest trial. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Chelsea: I love that. I think that sometimes reframing is good. Of course you’re going to have to do things you don’t want to do and there’s no way to dress it up. But I think that there’s so many things where we start the project cause we’re really excited about it. Or we write the recipe because we’re really excited about it. Then all the other elements of what we have to do to bring that to life, feel like a drag. That reminder of that thing you’re making, or like the thing that you’re doing, there’s so many great components of it. I think that’s an amazing reminder. That would be really helpful for me to implement as well.
Megan: Yeah. You can do that with everything you do instead of making and photographing potato casserole. You could write something like, make and enjoy delicious potatoes and then take pretty pictures. For me, it puts such a different picture in my head than just something that I have to quote and have to get done.
Chelsea: I think even giving yourself permission to enjoy it is interesting too. What I mean by that is I love taking photos of food, otherwise, why would I be doing this? But sometimes it can feel like a drag and I’m like, I just have to knock this out so I can get the blog post done. But if I give myself permission to have fun with it and take the time to make it a thing and lean into how much I enjoy that, I always have a better time. But I have to consciously remember to do that. So I think writing it on a to do list that way would be amazing.
Megan: How about this? Adding other things that you love to your quote to do items. I’m thinking of music, or if you have a favorite podcast or something that you listen to. Turning that on, or even writing it near to-do list notes. Play whatever your favorite music is while listening and then that kind of brings up some positive emotion too. So whatever you enjoy, adding that to your list so that you’re reminded that yes, this is fun. We all started food blogging because it’s fun. We enjoy the photographs and the food and the cooking and baking. So just to remind ourselves of that, that it’s not always work. We should be enjoying this as well. So anything we can do to do that.
Chelsea: I think that’s a good way to lean into prioritizing things that are good for you and that make you happy. That was something during my final push of the cookbook, I did not do any of that. It would’ve been a lot better if I had. For example, I’ve been weightlifting for I don’t know, seven years. I feel better when I’m doing that at least two to three times a week. I don’t have crazy goals for myself. I’m not doing it four or five times a week. But at least two or three times makes me feel like a more productive person. It makes me feel proud of myself because that’s important to me, because I understand the long term value of it. When I drop that ball in favor of work, that feels bad. Even though I can easily talk myself into it and easily tell myself why I should quote unquote do that.
But I think making it part of your list and routine is so great. I’ve been experimenting with a habit tracking app which has been really fun. I really like it because I work from home and now my husband is back at school. So I’m home alone for a lot of the day. If he’s bored and in our house, he’ll putter around and clean. So in the summers and stuff, our house is pretty clean. I love when I’m spending so much time in our home, if it’s really clean most of the time, I’m happier. I noticed that about myself. So I’m trying to prioritize 15 minutes every day where I just tidy. Just make that a thing every single day. It’s been an interesting experiment, but I can get myself into weird places where if I have a ton of work to do, doing something like that makes me feel guilty. Which is very silly. So I think making it actually part of my list of things to do, really helps me mentally.
Megan: I think a lot of us can relate to that because we all know those things that we should continue doing. We all know the balls that we should not be dropping, but yet when we do them, I do have that guilt because work creeps in, we start thinking about the projects we need to get done. Our to-do list is growing, et cetera, et cetera. But I love what you just said because it is a good reminder that we need to figure out what those balls are that we should never drop and to just put them on our to-do list, maybe like first thing, right? You can’t get to your list until you cross off weightlifting or whatever it is. Tidying up for the day.
Chelsea: Yep. That’s funny that you say that because that’s literally what I tried to do with stuff like weightlifting and cleaning up the house because I know myself well enough. If I sit down at my laptop, I’ll get lost for two hours and then look up and be like, oh, what happened? What time is it now? Then I can get in such a flow that it’s really hard for me to pull myself out and go do those things. So it just has to be those that have to be the first things I do. Otherwise I know myself well enough to know that it’s probably not going to happen. With the only exception being, if a walk is on my list for that day, I can do that as a break in the afternoon, but that’s it.
Megan: Yeah. Oh, I’m the same way Chelsea. I totally get absorbed and lost. Then before I know it I’m like, why would I have to go pick my boys up from school? How did that happen? So that is the reason that I never ever push working out aside because I used to do that. Then it would be like five o’clock at night. I didn’t want to work out. I would stress about it. I would debate with myself, like, why didn’t you just do it earlier? So now I just do it like, that is my number one first thing I do every morning is go to the basement and work out, no matter what. I don’t want to feel the guilt later. I don’t want to get to two o’clock and be like, what just happened? So you need to figure out what that is for you. What makes you feel good and prioritize it? You used that word earlier; make it a priority. I think the more you do it, the more likely it will become a habit. Then you don’t even think about it. Working out, I do not give conscious thought to, I just put on my shoes, walk to the basement.
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Hey, we’re back from the break. So before the break, we were talking about taking those things that are really important and that should be prioritized. Doing them over and over in order to make them habits so that you stick to them and you do them every day or regularly anyway. So Chelsea, what do you think about that? If you do things enough, repeatedly, they are going to turn into habits and this can only be a good thing.
Chelsea: Absolutely. Then it’s just it’s so baked into your routine that you don’t feel like you’re trying to squish it in anymore. I think too, one of the annoying things that people always say that it turns out that it’s true, is I have never regretted prioritizing a workout first thing in the morning, or prioritizing a 20 minute tidy up. I always regret it if I don’t do it. But I’ve never been like, oh crap, I should have worked first. That’s never happened.
Megan: Oh my gosh. Absolutely. Not one time. I should write that on my wall actually. You will not regret this. Not that I need that anymore, but in the early days when I was first getting into the routine of it, I could have definitely used that because I’d be like, no, I’ll just do it later. I’ll work for two hours and then yeah, that never happens.
Chelsea: I don’t know if this is going to be true for everyone, but one thing that’s true for me is I always think all or nothing is like dangerous in most things. So even with those important self carry things or routine things, not falling into an all or nothing mentality. Usually I weight lift on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This week, yesterday I had an obligation from noon to five and I actually did have a bunch of stuff I needed to get done in the morning.
So I’m like, okay, I’m just going to shift my week this week. It’s going to be Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. That’s fine. Then also knowing even if those shake ups somehow shake my routine enough where I miss one of those workouts, it doesn’t mean I’m going to not work out next week. I’m just going to pick up where I left off and I’m going to move on from it and it’s fine. So I think, not holding yourself too hard to a standard and just knowing it’s part of your life and not something you’re trying to accomplish all the time. I don’t know if that’s a helpful way for me to be thinking about it. But I am definitely a person who in general, lives by a rule of moderation because I’ve just found that works for me. I admire people so much who can do for example, dry September, dry January or something like that. Which I think is awesome and so cool if you want to participate in one of those challenges. I just don’t like all or nothing type challenges. So for me, it would instead be like, I’m only going to have a drink two nights this week. That’s a system that works better for me. So I think learning about that kind of thing for yourself is nice.
Megan: Totally. Giving yourself permission and grace too. There are mornings, when I am just tired, for whatever reason. I got to bed late, I was up in the middle of the night or whatever. I just make the decision on those mornings. I am going to sleep in and skip my workout and not do my workout at all today. I have to be okay with that. Otherwise I’m not going to do it. I just have to situate my own self and my own attitude. Then I’m okay. To give yourself permission, like you said, just to be a little bit flexible. I’m the same way. I do not like people telling me, oh, we should not eat this all month. No, I like eating and I enjoy wine. Yeah, I’m the same way. So moderation is good in my opinion. But some people really thrive on that, like a challenge mentality where they try to do something or not do something for a period of time. I’m all for that if that works for you as well.
Chelsea: Same. Yes, exactly. I think the same thing can be applied to work. Again, if you have a goal of doing a blog post three times a week or whatever for the whole year or something like that. That’s a great goal. That’s awesome. But if there is a week where you only get one post up or you maybe don’t post at all, that doesn’t mean you should throw or give up. It just means you start again the next week. Just not beating ourselves up about that. I still do that sometimes. I don’t think we can help it. But I try really hard not to.
Yeah. That’s the point I got to this summer too. So for different reasons, I stopped working on my blog very consistently. I’ve always been one of those bloggers who’s been extremely consistent. If I set a schedule, like I’m going to do three a week, then no matter what, I do three a week. But then the summer, my husband had some medical issues on vacation that were super traumatic and stressful. Because of that, I just stopped. I was like, I can’t do this anymore. So for the first time in my 11 year blogging career, I actually just stopped blogging, like you Chelsea. I was like, that is my decision. We’re going to just see what happens and see how it plays out. I didn’t see any change either and nothing happened. In fact, my traffic went up a little bit.
Yeah, it’s pretty much the same doing that and seeing what happens is almost good for us.
Megan: Yes, I do. I agree. I think it’s good to experiment. If you’re feeling it. Not oh, Chelsea and Megan are saying, I should. No. If for whatever reason in your life, you’re busy or something is going on and you just feel like something needs to be put on the back burner, experiment and just see. Maybe cut down to one a week or one every two weeks and see what happens. Because most likely, unless you’re like a brand new blogger, most likely nothing is going to change. If anything, it might even improve because we’re not obsessively staring at our analytics. I am such a strong believer in, when we cling it to anything, including numbers and analytics, they’re going to run from us. So when you step away for a period of time, you might come back and actually see that things have gotten better. So it’s worth experimenting with.
Chelsea: I couldn’t agree more. But that’s always been the case for me too. If I’m obsessive, really trying to accomplish something, and obsessively looking at numbers and things like that. I’m always dissatisfied. But if I like to walk away for a little bit and then come back and take a look, it’s oh, that’s interesting I just saw a quote the other day. Oh gosh. I wish I could remember what it was exactly. But it was like, it was something along the lines of creative people needing time to do nothing. Related to that and even though I wasn’t posting new blog posts for those six weeks, I was thinking about my blog a lot. I was reflecting on things that I knew or things that I had seen over the past year that had worked well for me. In the back of my head, knowing what I was going to be doing once my cookbook was done and getting excited to do those things. So I think it’s sometimes taking up a little bit of space, allowing us more time to think. What’s that other phrase – time apart makes you…
Megan: The heart grows fonder?
Chelsea: Yeah. I feel like that could be applied to aspects of our work as well. Even taking that short little break, got me super excited to try some new things on my blog that I’m in the middle of now and re-energize me and rehyped me. Even though I was still working my butt off, it was just on other things. Which, again, is something that only works for me. But it was something that worked well.
Megan: I love that. So I just started reading this book. I talked about it on Instagram stories yesterday and oh my gosh, Chelsea, it is like the best book. It might just be like my perspective based on where I’m at in my life right now. I don’t know. But it’s called Psycho-Cybernetics. Have you heard of this book? It’s really old.
Chelsea: I have not.
Megan: Okay. It is so good. It just hit me in this way that I was like, oh my gosh. But basically, so Psycho-Cybernetics is another way to say, mind mechanics. So this doctor in the 1960s, he was a plastic surgeon. I’m going down a rabbit hole, but I’ll come back around. He was a plastic surgeon and he was changing people’s appearance. He started noticing over time that when he changed their appearance, he was also changing their inner self. So he was like, that’s interesting. So then he started really diving into psychology and found all of it, all of these like scientific findings about why we do what we do. It’s so interesting, but one of the concepts he talks about is what you were just saying. Sometimes we think too much through a project and we think so much that we actually do the opposite of what we’re aiming to do. We get done and we’re like, oh my gosh, that is not what I wanted to do at all.
So he suggests that you think about all the angles. So if it’s blogging, you think about it, I want to focus on photography. I really want to make some instant pot recipes. I really love proteins. I might do some meat. Then you just think as much as you can and then you stop thinking and you sit on it for a period of time. You can determine that. I don’t know, a week, two weeks, a month. When you come back, you’re like inner workings have figured out this creative way to deliver this information that you gave it, when you decided to stop. He did all of these experiments with people who this really works with. I started thinking like, how could this work for our businesses?
It could work so well because we’re always thinking. So you and I, Chelsea, inadvertently, both stopped blogging for different reasons. When we came back, we were refreshed. We were filled with ideas and new creative ways to present our material. It’s the same thing. So first of all, I recommend that book to everyone listening. It is so good. Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. Second, yeah, stopping what you’re doing for a period of time could actually be a blessing and could produce amazing creative content. That was a really long winded way to tell you I liked that book.
Chelsea: I have to read this book now because I love it. I tend to be, I think people call it a quick start. I’ll have an idea and then just want to pursue it. But it’s funny because every time I’ve sat on an idea for a while, it’s been brewing in the back of my head, it’s always better. Even this past winter I created, what do I call it? A beginners interactive guide to sous vide cooking. It’s called sous vide school. It’s really an online beginners course for sous vide. It’s something I had been thinking about for years because part of my passion with sous vide cooking is helping home cooks understand how awesome it can be for them and to not be afraid of it. For some reason last winter, even though I had been thinking about this for a long time, it totally crystallized for me. I think just allowing myself to not try to make that project happen until the idea was fully formed in my head and not really rushing that process either, made it better and more clear. So anyways, that’s a long way of saying I love that and I totally agree. This conversation is a good reminder that I need to be more intentional about that because I think sometimes it just happens. Which is great. I want to be more intentional.
Megan: I think we can all look back on our blogging journeys and just journeys as an entrepreneur and pinpoint those times when this sort of thing that we’re talking about actually happened, but totally unintentionally. We’re like, wow, that kind of unfolded like magic and we can see why now in retrospect, but if we actually put intention into that and deliberately put this in our businesses. I am going to think about this project and then I’m going to be done for a period of time. Then I feel like we would all see an increase in creativity and even productivity and just all the good things.
So I love that our conversation has come here. I didn’t expect that, but I love this because it’s such an important message that we don’t always need to be doing, thinking, on all the things all the time. Which is the message that you’re bringing to the table. There are other ways to do it. Actually those downtimes might be really fruitful for you.
Chelsea: Yes. Yes. I think anybody who’s starting a food blog and maintaining a food blog is probably the type of person who’s a little bit of a go getter and pushes themselves. I think that this type of person often doesn’t give themselves a lot of grace. I hope that people do that more and just allow themselves to really lean into what works for them personally. Not what other people are telling them should work for them.
Megan: Agreed. Do you have recommendations for let’s say people are listening and they’re like, but I don’t know what works for me. I think I could make anything work. Do you have recommendations for how to figure out what methods and what strategies work and which ones are a definite no?
Chelsea: I think it’s hard to say. I will say what I feel like worked for me was just trying lots of different things. I think that there’s a balance between really giving something a shot and knowing when to quit because it’s not working for you. So get to a point where you feel like you are really given this method. It could be to do software. It could be the time of day you’re waking up. It could be a morning routine, make sure you give it a shot. Then if it’s truly just like not working for you, maybe there were aspects of it that were working for you. How can you adapt that? Just truly testing and learning over and over. Mine is constantly changing. You said earlier, your routine changes too. For example, I just started using that app called Productive. That’s more of a habit tracker and habit builder, and I’m really liking it. But I’m going to be playing with stuff like that all the time. However, I think that there can be a little bit of danger in switching, for example to do software. Like Asana or click up or whatever, switching those constantly. Because I think it’s so tempting for us. I’m always tempted to switch and do something. I’ve dropped off on Asana a little bit, and I’m leaning more into Air Table exclusively. But before I try a new software, for example, I think that this can be applied to some different things too, but I ask myself, what am I not getting out of the system that I’m using now? What do I hope this new system will provide for me? If I can’t really answer that question, then I don’t try the new thing. I try to lean more heavily into what I’ve already got. But that’s something I try to ask even when I’m making a big purchase, I just think about things that way. I find that to be really helpful.
Megan: Shiny object syndrome. We get so Ooh, there’s a new fun thing that Chelsea likes. I might try that. But really do I need to try that? Is it going to make a huge difference in my life? Probably not. So thinking through that I think is really smart. This has been so fun. Okay. Is there anything just last takeaways that you can think of? If people are feeling overwhelmed by their schedules and all the things that have to get done in blogging and life and morning routines. Oh my gosh. What is a final takeaway that you have?
Chelsea: Let’s see, I think largely just be nice to yourself and know that you can always come back to something. Give yourself the room to adapt and figure out what works for you and what you truly enjoy. That might mean again, dropping something for a while and then coming back to it. But knowing you’re not necessarily giving up on that thing forever. Just give yourself a little bit more grace.
Megan: It feels so good to give yourself grace, doesn’t it? It’s life-changing when you can just say to yourself, you know what? It’s okay to not work out today or it’s okay not to create three new blog posts this week. It feels so good. When you’re sincere about it, not just forcing it, like you have to feel good, but when you actually feel that, it’s so relieving. So I think that’s such a great reminder. Chelsea, thank you so much. This was a very fun conversation as my to-do list predicted. I had an amazing fun conversation with you. So thank you for being here today.
Chelsea: Yay. Thank you so much for having me
Megan: Yes, this will be a great resource. So now if you get those questions, how do you do it all? You can send them here and hopefully this helps all food bloggers listen. At least giving you some ideas about how to manage the chaos. So I know I’ve already asked you for so much wisdom, but do you have an additional quote to share or words of inspiration for food bloggers?
Chelsea: Actually thinking about the fact that creative people need quiet time and need space. How can you make that happen for yourself?
Megan: Awesome, perfect way to end. Thank you so much, Chelsea. We will put together a show notes page for you. If anyone wants to go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/aducksoven2. Tell everyone where they can find you online, Chelsea.
Chelsea: Yes, you can find me at A Duck’s Oven on Instagram. My blog is aducksoven.com and that’s largely where I’m at. You can also email me if you have questions or want to talk about this more. I’m always down to chat. My email is [email protected]
Megan: The cookbook lab. Do you want to just give a few sentences about that? If people are wondering about publishing? How does that help them? Where can they find it? And all of that?
Chelsea: Yes, you can go to a Duck’s oven.com/cookbooklab. Again, this is a course that teaches you how to self publish a cookbook from start to finish. I have a free webinar available on that page as well. So if you just want to hear a little bit more about it and are curious about the process, you can watch that and get an idea. I’ve got lots of other resources available too. If you go to aducksoven.com/selfpublishing. There’s lots of blog posts. Lots of videos of me talking about the process, things like that. I’m always down to chat about self publishing as well.
Megan: Awesome. You are the queen of self publishing and sous vide, so everyone go check Chelsea out. Thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.
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