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EPISODE 015: Kill It With Productivity with Megan Porta

In episode 015 Megan talks about the importance of productivity as entrepreneurs and how setting up systems to keep you on task will help you be more efficient and more quickly grow your business.

We cover information about how to push yourself to accomplish more because it is possible, how to plan and schedule as much as you can and the importance of daily, weekly and monthly self-care!

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.


Takeaways

  • Megan defines productivity = not just about getting things done, but about getting the right things done. Efficiently and effectively.

  • Be laser focused. It can take awhile to get into a groove, but once you do, you’ll get a lot accomplished.

  • Implement the “little” things that will make a big impact!

  • Consider your environment. What helps you feel the most productive?

  • Work CONCENTRATED. By working concentrated, you can focus on accomplishing your goals.

  • Eliminate distractions and interruptions to avoid getting off track.

  • Plan and schedule as much as you possibly can.

  • Schedule in breaks so you know they’re coming.

  • Create a back up task list: things I can do that don’t take a lot of brain power. Just keep doing the next thing so you do get something done. It might not be what you have scheduled for that day, but you are still accomplishing something.

  • Push yourself to accomplish more because it is POSSIBLE.

Took A Break From Blogging?

Siri Puppala shares about how she rekindled her passion for blogging after taking an extended break in episode 158.

Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro:

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta:

Hey, food bloggers. The episode you are listening to today is a replay of an episode published way back in 2019. It was one of the very first episodes that I ever published. And it’s on the topic of being the most productive you that you can possibly be. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. I love this topic. I could talk endlessly about it. First, though, if you would head over to iTunes to subscribe, rate, and review Eat Blog Talk, we would be so grateful for that. It takes two minutes and those two minutes are so appreciated. They add value to Eat Blog Talk, and we just really appreciate it. Also, are you thinking about diversifying your revenue streams in 2021? There are so many ways for food bloggers to make money in their businesses. And we don’t often see that. We have a 100% free email course that will help you sort through some of the possibilities waiting for you. This email course will take you through five lessons. They’re all so awesome, that take a deep dive into monetization strategies that will help you boost your revenue quickly. Let’s get some extra cash flowing into your bank account in 2021. What do you say? Go to eatblogtalk.com to get started. Now onto the replay, enjoy friends.

In today’s episode, I will be doing something a little bit different. We are going to switch things up a bit today. My amazing smart and beautiful friend, Heather will be interviewing me and we will be discussing the topic of productivity. I know I say this a lot, but this topic is one of my absolute favorite topics ever. I am super excited to dive in, but first welcome the lovely Heather Eberle.

Heather Eberle:

Hello, Megan. And thank you for having me on today. I have to say you are the most productive person I know. So I’m excited to dive into this topic with you. I am not the most productive person, so I’m excited also to kind of get some tips and ideas from you about how I can become more productive, along with your listeners. So, first of all, how do you define productivity?

Megan:

That is a great question. And I think it’s really important to point out that productivity is not just about getting things done. A lot of people think that. It’s more about getting the right things done, efficiently and effectively. And as everyone listening knows, food blogging is filled with things to do, so it is more important than ever in this job to find an optimal level of productivity.

Heather:

I agree. I talked to you on an almost daily basis and when you tell me all the different things you are juggling, I am just amazed at how much you’re able to accomplish in a day, because it seems like switching tasks all the time maybe slows us down, but you seem to do that effortlessly. When did you first realize the power of productivity?

Megan:

The first time I realized the power of productivity was when I was an intern for a big corporation, just out of college. It was one of my first big jobs. I was super eager to please, and to make money and to just be really good at what I was doing. I remember my supervisor gave me this project. It was the first project she ever gave me and she was having me recreate PowerPoint presentations based on printed copies of slides. So she handed me these two massive binders that were full of printed slides, and she asked me to recreate them and to turn them into digital files. I at the time knew very little about PowerPoint, but I had a strong desire to learn. So I just totally dived into this project. She gave me no timeline for getting this project done, but I remember looking through the binder and thinking, I can do this way quicker than she thinks I can.

So the first thing I did was I grabbed the printed sheet sheet for keyboard shortcuts that I had seen tacked to the wall and I just made myself learn them. Then I dove into PowerPoint and I recreated those slides the best and fastest I could. I whipped through the binders and just a couple of days. I remember my boss was completely blown away by that. She told me that she thought the project would take me weeks to complete and she didn’t have anything else lined up for me. So she said, can you slow down please? So I learned a ton from that crash course in productivity, and I have spent the last 20ish years diving even further into this topic and I’ve kind of done so unintentionally. When I look back, I see that I have constantly been honing my productivity skills in each different job that I’ve had over the years, but that’s never necessarily been a goal I’ve set out for.

So today in my current job as a food blogger, I am creating and putting out into the world more content than ever before in my life. In addition to that, I have two boys, one with special medical and other needs and a home to take care of and a husband and all of the other things that keep us all so busy in life. So I thought it might benefit food bloggers to hear the productivity tips that I have used over the years and that I currently use and have spent so many years kind of finessing. So that’s kind of how I got into it and became interested in it. It was a little bit unintentional, but I just saw that there was so much potential for increased productivity. I just made myself learn every aspect of it. I have a ton of tips to share.

Heather:

That’s an awesome story, Megan. I think it just kind of sheds a light on how over these last years you have seen productivity work for you and just continually add different tips and tricks that keep you very, very productive. So what are some of the other things that you do maybe on a daily or weekly basis to stay productive?

Megan:

I guess I would start with the basics that I employed way back in those days that I was talking about earlier, when I just kind of dove into productivity. So a few of those would be just being laser focused. So for any project that I’m working on as a food blogger, whether it is writing or editing photos or doing SEO research, I just know before I dig in on any particular day, that I am going to be the best fill in the blank that I can possibly be. I found recently, in recent years that batching my work really helps with this because with some tasks, it takes a while for me to get into the groove. Once I’m in a groove, almost magical flow has been created and things become so much easier. That has really helped me to be laser focused. Later I can talk about different things that helped me to be laser-focused.

But another thing I think I mentioned earlier was learning my keyboard shortcuts. If that job out of college helped me so much, and this might seem like a ridiculously simple suggestion, but forcing myself to learn those keyboard shortcuts early in my career, made me so much faster than my coworkers. Those little mouse clicks that we do searching around our screen for the file tab. They add up! It doesn’t seem like they would, but they seriously do. I tested this. If you don’t know your keyboard shortcuts, food bloggers, I really recommend learning them and just forcing yourself to use them consistently until it’s a habit. Another one that I taught myself early on was just considering my environment really carefully. The environment that we work in and thrive in will differ greatly from others. That’s okay. We’re all going to have our own individual needs as far as the environment goes, but we do need to figure out what kind of makes us feel the most productive.

Do you thrive on having background noise? Do you enjoy working in total quiet? Are you most productive when you’re working from your couch or from a quiet desk in the basement or outside on the deck in a busy coffee shop? Do you work best in a cool room or a hot deck? Figure that out and put yourself there. That might vary from day to day. For me, it does, or season to season, totally true for me. In the winter, I work best from my couch alone in my living room. In the summer I worked best sitting out on my front porch on the swing. You just kind of have to be in tune with that and really learn where you’re most productive and kind of go from there. So those are the basics that I started with. I’ve just built on those.

I’ve just learned so much more about productivity since that first taste of the corporate world. One thing I say to myself a lot is, my personal revised version of the phrase that goes “work smarter, not harder.” I have never liked that phrase because I believe that especially as food bloggers, we need to definitely work smart, but we also need to work hard. I will take that phrase one step further and say that we need to work concentrated. When I’m in the flow and really getting a bunch of stuff done, that is the word that comes to my head. You are working concentrated right now. That’s what I aim for. I don’t want to just work smart or just work hard. I want to put them together and create this magic concentrated work that I’m producing. Working smart and on the right things is super important. But I also believe that we need to work super hard to achieve success. I don’t know why anyone dropped the not harder from that phrase because I just don’t think that’s true. When you combine these two words, your work becomes concentrated like I said. This is absolutely vital to food blogging success.

Heather:

You’ve got all the good information. What I think is interesting that you touched on a little bit ago, was how seconds add up in a big way. You were talking about your keyboard shortcuts. It might not seem like a big deal, but it is seconds. And every second you can shave off doing something quicker means that you can get more done. That part of it is not necessarily harder when you say the work smarter, not harder, that’s the part of it that is work smarter for sure. Keyboard shortcuts, they’re easier, they’re smarter and you’re going to save a lot of time just doing things like that. The other thing I was going to ask you about, when you’re talking about batching, would you recommend people thinking about how they work and what times of the day they are most productive when they’re doing their batching? For example, if you have a task that you don’t like as much, do you find it’s better to do it in a certain part of the day than others?

Megan:

That is such a great question. I have given this much thought actually. Here’s what I do with batching. So I batch different types of work on different days of the week, typically like as a general template. So I do one thing on Mondays, another thing Tuesdays and so on. However, that is subject to change, but I plan that in advance. So if I know that my boys are going to be home on Tuesday and normally I do writing on Tuesday, that doesn’t work together because I need to be super concentrated with my writing. So then I change it and I put my writing on a separate day that I know that I’m going to have that concentrated time. So first of all, you need to figure out which tasks you really need full concentration with. You need to dedicate total alone days or set up your environment so that it is the most conducive to your productivity on those days.

So also, taking that a step further. I do schedule my most difficult or most not as eagerly anticipated tasks that I don’t necessarily love doing in early mornings. Currently I am doing this podcast, right. One of the things that is not my favorite thing in the world, is editing the audio interviews. So every day that I have that particular task scheduled, I schedule it for the first thing in the day so that I get it done and then I can use the rest of the day to get everything else done. So that’s kind of how I set up my weeks. I do set things up in advance. I don’t ever just let my week unfold. That does happen in unusual circumstances, but most weeks I plan ahead and I stick to my schedule.

Heather:

Along those lines, how do you deal with interruptions? Because if you have kids, even if you don’t have kids, just in the course of a normal day, I feel like there are so many interruptions that get me off track. How do you deal with those interruptions? Do you just turn your phone off? Do you go to whatever is most needed at the time, if there is an interruption you have to deal with and then regroup after that?

Megan:

Like I said, I just, I plan kind of around that as much as I can. So I plan to do work when my boys are at home that I can do when I’m interrupted, my mindless tasks are editing photos and I have a few other mindless tasks that I do. So I try to plan that as much as I can. But if there is an interruption that interrupts something that I really need focus with, I ignore it honestly, unless someone is calling me, telling me that an emergency has happened, I do not pay attention to interruptions. So I don’t look at Facebook. I don’t look at social media. I have set times for that. I don’t even look at my phone. I leave my phone on during the school year, just because my boys are at school and I want to know that they’re safe, but if it’s not the school calling, I ignore it.

So I ignore as much as I can. To kind of go along with that, something that I’ve learned in recent years is to say no a lot. It used to be where I would meet friends for coffee during the day, things like that. Once I started taking my business really seriously, I had to treat it like I was actually going to an office job, like a nine to five office job. I would think, okay, if I were an office job, would I leave at 10:00 AM to go meet my friend for coffee? Probably not. So that kind of framed my mind in a new way and made me just really take my business seriously. Then I mentioned this before too, but the notifications thing on my phone has been huge because we all get distracted by Facebook and Instagram. I’ve actually just recently taken Facebook completely off my phone because it’s such an easy thing for me to get sucked into. So, it’s just gone. When I’m working, when I’m really concentrated and working, I don’t even have a tab open on my computer. Just taking those distractions away that you know will pull you in, I think is really a really smart thing to do

Heather:

I love that. First of all, I’ve taken Facebook off my phone before. It’s so easy to just hit the app button and go in there. It’s a little bit tougher and you think a little more about it when you’re logging in on your computer. So along those lines, one more question about this. What do you do if you need a break? What do you do when you take a break that doesn’t take you so far away from your work that it’s hard to get back into it, but if you just need to get up and stretch for a while, are there certain things that you do during that time?

Megan:

So first of all, I try to schedule breaks, so that I know they’re coming and I do these little rewards for myself throughout the day. So one of my things is naps. I love naps so much. The best reward I could ever get is a nap. So what I’ll do is I will set up a schedule for myself and say, if you get to a certain time and you have everything done, you can take a 30 minute nap before you pick your boys up from school. It doesn’t happen every day. But when it does, it’s like, Oh my gosh. So just kind of setting the stage for things like that so that you can, A, get things done, but then B, get a self-care reward. So I use self-care as a reward. I also schedule times, usually in the evenings to just take care of myself, whether it’s sitting down with a book outside or playing a game with my boys or going to the park or whatever it is, I just set that time aside.

I’ve actually started putting it into my calendar so that when I see it, `that is off limits. I can not do work during that time because if I don’t do that, I will work around the clock. Food bloggers have a lot to do. The list never goes away. Literally, there is never a time when I’m like, Oh, good, I’m caught up. No, that doesn’t happen. So if we don’t set those times aside for ourselves, then I get into big trouble. So I don’t even know if I answered your question. Does that answer what you’re asking?

Heather:

Totally did. I think we could do a whole podcast on the self-care side of things, because it is hard when you work at home. I know I work at home and I find myself during my breaks, I find myself doing things like laundry or just other household tasks that need to be done. So I like the self-care thing that you do, because what happens, I think in a lot of instances, is that it goes away and it’s really non-existent.

Megan:

So that leads me to another thing that I have employed years ago and that I still live by. I never ever do housework during my working hours. I set my working hours every single day. When my boys are in school, it’s from nine o’clock until three o’clock or four o’clock. During that time, doing laundry or dishes or anything relating to housework is completely off limits. So it’s not even an option for me. I have other times when I can get that done, I can get up early. I do it before bed or in the evenings after I’ve done my scheduled self-care time. But housework during the day is not allowed for me.

Heather:

I love that. I think it is just getting into that habit. What do your routines and habits look like on a daily basis? I know you talked about not doing housework and I know every day is going to be a little different depending on if your kids are in school or not in school, but what are some types of routines that you do pretty consistently throughout the year?

Megan:

My work changes from day to day, but I guess the thing I’m really consistent with is buckling down and working as much as I can on whatever given task is on my agenda that day. I guess that’s really the only way I know how to answer that because I just make sure that I make the most of every single minute that I have. I kind of take that to the extreme. I have to go to the bathroom, but I’m like, I have got to get this done. I know that’s probably ridiculous. For lunches, I try to streamline my lunches because I don’t want to be in the kitchen for very long. I try to make things that I can eat while I’m working. I just literally try to streamline every single thing that I do during my working times. I try to absolutely maximize every minute.

When I leave my house to go get my boys from school, I always ask myself this one question, could you have gotten more done today? On the days when I say, Nope, I could not have, then I feel like, yes, that was awesome. But then of course there are days when I’m not feeling well or I got distracted or I just wasn’t doing the right work for my mindset that day. Then I note that, and then I make changes for the next day and the next week. So I’m always learning and always improving my processes, but it is a journey. I couldn’t have sat down with this list that I have in front of me, 20 or even 10 years ago and done all of this. It is such a journey and just learning about myself, what works for me and just kind of going from there.

Heather:

That’s so important and it changes over time. I’m sure what works for you now may not have worked for you 10 years ago. It may not work 10 years in the future. So that’s always evolving. We talked about self-care a little bit already, but are there other certain things as far as healthy eating, getting enough sleep, I’m sure all of those factors in too. I know when I don’t sleep, my productivity just goes out the window. If I’m tired or if I’m not getting exercise or eating right. So how do you deal with all of that?

Megan:

You are totally 100% right on that on days when I did not sleep all the night before, it is so hard for me to stay on task and to stay focused. So it is really important that I get a good night of sleep, but that doesn’t always happen. I’m a mom, I have a million things to do everyday. So of course I have those occasional nights where you wake up at 3:00 AM thinking about my list. I just do the best I can, but I do have one trick that I use for those days when I’m either really tired or sick or just something throws me off. I have what I call my backup task list. On days when I’m tired, I pull out that list and I start chipping away at it. My backup list is for things photo editing, things that I can do that just don’t take me a whole lot of brain power.

I like to think of it as, just keep doing the next thing. Here’s what I do. I just reach for something, anything that’s in front of me that I know needs to get done, even though it’s not a part of my whole master plan. It’s not on the schedule for today. I just, in these times, try not to think too far in advance and accomplish one thing, because I know that one thing eventually needs to get done. Even if it’s not necessarily at the top of my priority list, it’s better than accomplishing nothing. So I just do one more thing on those days.

Heather:

I love that because there are times even when I just get overwhelmed. My list can be a hundred items long. I think, how am I going to accomplish all this? So it is kind of along those lines of just pick one thing and do it. I know we’ve talked about backup tasks versus mindless tasks. Is there a difference for you in those two things? Is there a distinction? Are they kind of the same?

Megan:

Really great question? And I’ve never actually thought about that. Okay. So mindless tasks, I definitely have a category in my brain. They are a little bit different from backup, but they overlap a little too. So I have backup tasks set for days that I’m off or tired or sick, but also I have backup tasks that are ready for times that I’m waiting. So I do a lot of waiting. I wait for my boys to get out of school. My oldest son, Elijah as you know, he has a lot of medical appointments. So we are in doctor’s offices quite a bit in certain seasons of the year. Then there are those times when we’re waiting. So I keep certain tasks aside for those times because I know they’re coming. I know these tasks are easy to do on my phone. A lot of it has to do with Instagram and stories and posting IGTV videos and things that can easily be done on my phone. Sending emails is another one or replying to emails. So they are kind of different, but they do overlap.

Heather:

Okay. I like that. Something else we have talked about before, is kind of doubling up on productivity in a way. If you were doing a mindless task, adding in another task, overlapping that. So if you’re doing something, say like photo editing or cooking that type of thing, what are other things that you kind of do to fill your mind while you’re doing it?

Megan:

I love this question. Okay. So there’s never a time that I’m not filling my mind with something. I had talked about, like writing for me requires super focus, right? So when I’m writing, I need to be focused. I can’t be doing anything else. But when I am doing those more mindless tasks, I always always have a podcast playing or a book, an audio book playing, something that is filling my mind with constructive quality information. That’s helping me with my business or myself. I absolutely maximize every moment. When I’m cooking or baking, that’s a great time to turn on a podcast. And I have favorite entrepreneur podcasts that I listen to that just get me pumped up and motivated. And there are a lot of great audiobooks out there too. I think it is really beneficial to double up on productivity because if I tried to make time for an audio book or a podcast, that would just never happen. So I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I put it in my schedule, but I do take note every time I know that I can be listening to something and filling myself up and then I just make sure that happens.

Heather:

Oh, I’m exhausted just listening to you, but this is great information.

Megan:

Oh my gosh. You’re funny. Do you need a nap, Heather?

Heather:

Okay. So something else I wanted to ask you about, what about your products or your hardware and software that you use? What kinds of things do you do there to be more productive as far as computers and calendars and that sort of stuff?

Megan:

Well, this kind of goes along with my keyboard shortcuts thing. Every single little thing adds up. One of the things I absolutely make sure that I have, all the time, is good WiFi. Fast internet makes a massive difference in my productivity. I don’t go to coffee shops anymore because of this, because we’ve all been in that situation where, when we’re at a coffee shop, and you say, are you kidding me? It’s taking me an hour to do something that at home takes me 10 minutes. It’s so frustrating and so unproductive. So I don’t even put myself in those situations anymore. We have changed our WiFi to get the fastest possible. We have screaming WiFi now. It makes such a huge difference because I can click at the rate that my brain is going and type and keep up with it.

That’s how I kind of know if I have good WiFi or not. If I have to sit and think that I’m, okay, this could be faster. This impacts productivity hugely. Again, a little thing, but it makes a huge difference. Also to go along with that computer speed, if you’re having to wait on a slow computer in order to get your work done, there is a big problem there because computers these days are made to work really quickly. If you’re having this issue, figure out a way to clear up space from your hard drive or take your computer to an Apple store, do whatever you have to do to be able to use your computer again at the speed your brain is working. Computers are meant to work fast. Another little thing, but it really, really makes a difference. Calendars, I mentioned this before, but I am a huge scheduler.

I schedule the littlest of things and the biggest of things. I think it is really important to sit down weekly and daily and also monthly and also six months in advance, thinking that far ahead. Because I strongly believe that if you do not plan, you will never succeed. Sticking with planning every single night, your next day, every Sunday, plan your entire week, schedule time toward the beginning of the month to plan out that month and the next few months. Then also sit down occasionally and plan out your bigger goals and work backward from those goals. This is something I love. So I will look toward mid winter, and I will say, what do I want to be doing food blogging wise, midwinter? I will set specific goals. Then I work backwards from them. So if I want to achieve that, working like one month closer to me, what do I have to have done then?

Then I just keep working backward until I’m at where I’m at now. So I think setting those smaller guideposts really help us reach big goals. So it’s super important to look at both planning right in front of you and planning way far in advance and using calendars to help you with that and to keep you on track. So I use Google calendar just for myself, day to day, week to week planning. But I use Trello with my team as more of an editorial calendar and something that they can always reference too. So just finding what works for you and sticking with it.

Heather:

Okay. I love that you use those calendars and along those lines. Are there any other tasks that you automate that help you be more productive?

Megan:

I utilize every automation I possibly can because it’s another one of those little things that just gets in my way and opens up time for me to do other things when they are taking care of my work. I use an application called Zapier. I really don’t know how to say that, but it’s Z A P I E R. It automates tasks across platforms and apps. It is amazing. When I first found it, I was like, how does this thing even work? Because you name it and it can automate it. I mean, seriously. So it saves me literally hours of work every single week. A couple of examples that it does for me, if I get an interview completed for Eat Blog Talk, it automatically sends out an email to that person and gives them followup details. There are so many things that you can automate and it takes a little bit of legwork upfront to figure out what and how, but it’s so worth the upfront time that you spent. Like I said, it’ll save you hours.

Heather:

How do you find out about these different apps or programs that you use? Is it just kind of knowing your need and looking into it, trying to figure out what you could do, or do you hear about these things somewhere else and give them a try?

Megan:

We found out about the one I use through Trello because Trello is huge and automating and it just popped up one day and it was like, Hey, want to automate even further? So I clicked on it and I started reading and I thought wow, that is insane. I’m going to check it out. So I did. Then, like I said, I was just totally blown away. It’s almost scary. How can you get information from one entirely different program and communicate with another, but it works well. I’m sure there are other ones out there very similar to that. If I were a food blogger interested in doing more automating, I would just type that in Google. Work automation programs and just see what pops up. I’m sure there are more than the one I use.

Heather:

Well, that’s a great idea. I think a lot of the times we get in the groove and we just do the tasks that we’ve always done. We don’t step out of the box a little bit and realize there’s faster ways to do them. So along those lines, what about getting faster at things that maybe you can’t automate; writing, photo editing, are there certain tricks you use to become quicker at those things?

Megan:

So again, this is definitely a sub theme here, but the little things add up and being a quicker writer and photo editor and video editor and everything else involved in food blogging, is so important because if you’re slow, it’s just going to drag you down. We need to constantly be working to get faster at the things we’re doing and obviously keeping the quality intact, but getting faster is so important. Especially as you grow as a food blogger and more tasks fall in your lap, you have got to be quick. So in order to be a faster writer, you write more, you type more, right? The more you type the faster you’re going to be. In order to be a quicker photo editor, you edit more photos. So just practicing times a million and do not underestimate the power of these little things because they totally add up.

Heather:

So as you know, when you work for yourself and you don’t have a boss kind of monitoring the quality of your work, how do you decide when it’s done, when it’s good enough? Because there are people like me who can be too much of a perfectionist. It’s really hard to let go sometimes. So how do you find that line between doing it quickly, but also having the quality and just knowing when it’s good enough?

Megan:

That is another really great question. I guess for me, having a really strict schedule for myself really helps because if I have a mango salsa that has to be posted, it’s on my calendar and it says it has to be posted on Tuesday, then it has to be posted on Tuesday. Because if it’s not, then everything else that follows is going to be messed up. I just have those hard deadlines for myself, barring like unforeseen issues. I just do not let myself change those deadlines. So that really helps me to not be too perfectionistic. It keeps me on track. I just get to a point where I know this is good enough to put out into the world. I just give it my blessing and press publish. There are times when it’s not. I know if I am rushing too much and my work isn’t super quality.

I know that I need to take a step back, maybe go take a breather and come back to it. It’s just like one of those things you learn as a food blogger. You have standards and it’s having a good zone, a great zone and a perfect zone, which doesn’t exist because nothing’s perfect. Knowing when it falls into the great zone and being okay with it. Here’s the great thing about food blogging. Later, you can go back and you can change it, but you’ve got to get it published first. So the key is knowing when it’s great, getting it into the world and then being okay with knowing, if it’s not to the exact standard that you want it to be, you can go back and change it later.

Heather:

Well that kind of ties in. You probably answered the question that I was going to ask next, which is because you are very disciplined and committed, I was just curious to see, so you had a post or a video or anything scheduled for today. It’s the end of the day, you’ve worked on it all day or for several days and you just don’t feel great about it, but yet your calendar says publish today. What do you do?

Megan:

Tricky questions. See, I never let myself get to that point because I plan ahead. But if I didn’t plan ahead and that happened to me, I would not publish it because I’ve done that before. In my early days of food blogging, there were a few posts that I put out that I knew were terrible. I knew the recipe was terrible. I knew the photos were terrible. Once I put it out, I felt like garbage. So I pretty quickly went and retrieved the post and just deleted it or redid it. So if that did happen, I would definitely not press publish. It’s okay to give yourself some grace days on either end. So I would just either redo it and publish it, knowing it was better. Or I would find another piece of content and do that. Something else that is great for food bloggers to do in that situation would be to find really old content and just update it. We all have those posts and photos that are so bad from five, six, seven, eight years ago that need some love. In situations like that, I think it would be a great idea to look back on some of those and maybe retain the copy and the recipe, but just take new photos and just give something else an update.

Heather:

I like that. I like that idea. The other kind of theme I’m hearing is, to me, it sounds like you have pretty much kicked the procrastination habit.

Megan:

Oh my gosh. I used to be like the worst procrastinator as you know, Heather, do you remember my college days when my senior art show, when I waited until the day before to paint a painting, like a six foot painting? Oh my gosh, that was terrible. I was the worst procrastinator. Lately, I have seemed to kick that in the realm of food blogging, which I love because nothing good comes from procrastinating and it feels awful. So yeah, I think it’s really important if you are a procrastinator to confront that head-on and deal with it and demolish it because you cannot plan, being a procrastinator, you cannot be productive. Do anything you can to get rid of that.

Heather:

How do you stay productive on vacation? What do you do about vacations? Do you set work aside? Do you work part of the time? Does it depend on the time of year and the length of the vacation? Kind of walk us through that.

Megan:

Oh, this is so tough for me to answer because I’m terrible at putting my work down. There are certain vacations that I take with my family where work is just completely off limits. There are also vacations where I have the opportunity to do a little bit of work, so I do. Thankfully I have a super understanding husband who said, totally do what you got to do. But I can see a situation where a spouse might not be so understanding. So you would just need to set it down. Again, planning and scheduling is a huge part of that because if you don’t plan and schedule, you will never have a true vacation where you can just walk away from work. With food blogging it gets a little gray because there are daily tasks that we do that need love, like commenting on people’s Instagram feeds and putting a story up on Instagram.

Just those little things that we kind of get in the habit of doing day to day, that makes vacation really tricky. So it’s kind of a hard one to answer. I guess I’m just like, I try to be really smart about how much work to do on vacation. When I do work on vacation, it’s really minimal. So I try to plan ahead as much as I can, get my posts scheduled so that I don’t have to worry about posting on vacation and just take care of those little tasks that are fairly mindless and I can do while I’m sitting by a pool or whatever, and it’s not a huge deal. So that’s typically how I deal with vacation, but they all really do vary. This summer. As you know, I launched this podcast while on vacation, which was not the super smartest thing to do looking back. Our vacation wasn’t truly a vacation. And I have regrets about that and I’ve definitely learned a lesson from it, but I don’t know, when you’re your own boss and when you are in charge, can you ever really totally set your work down completely? I guess the answer to that is yes. If you thoroughly plan ahead. Absolutely. I went to Africa in March, totally across the world. I had no idea if I would have WiFi over there, which I did not. So I planned a couple of months in advance and just had everything planned out. I had my VA updating all of the little tasks that I knew I would normally do on a vacation. Then I scheduled as much as I could and I made it work. I was gone for two weeks and I didn’t do an ounce of work. So what is possible, but you’ve got to sit down, months in advance and get all the details sorted out first.

Heather:

So along those lines, do you ever feel like you’re too productive? When I say that, I mean, do you feel like you get burned out? Probably not because you love what you do, but do you ever feel that it is hard to shut off? Obviously if you’re in Africa, that’s a little bit different because you don’t have access to WiFi, but if you’re home and you do have access to everything you use on a daily basis, do you ever find it’s just hard to walk away from work?

Megan:

Yes. I mean, food blogging is one of those jobs where you are in it all the time. If you’re not, you’re thinking about it. It is really hard to walk away and that’s why I’ve had to start scheduling out free time so that I can just lock out my mind and not do anything for a period. It is so important to do that because this job can cause massive amounts of burnout because we are doing so many things, all the time, wearing a million different hats. So burnout happens to all of us unfortunately. I actually go through periods a couple times a year, at least, when I have reached that stage of just, I am burnt out, I haven’t slept well, I’ve done way too much work. I feel it. I feel it coming. Then I either get sick or I’m just in mental distress.

But I mean, I do get there. It’s bound to happen. It’s just a matter of doing as much as I can to prevent it. Then if it does happen, knowing what to do. When it does happen, I have to set everything down for a few days. I have to take care of myself in a huge way. I have to sleep. I have to employ all of those self-care tactics that I know work for me. I have to spend time with my family. My goal obviously is not to get to that point, but it does happen.

Heather:

So I think what is important in this situation is as much as you talk about being committed to being productive and getting the work done, you also have to make that commitment to yourself and to self care. You have to figure out how that works on a daily basis. It’s not going to be the same every day or every week. It’s going to vary. Just knowing that when you need to stop, you need to commit to that and take care of yourself. Then you’ll have more energy to get right back into work when you’ve taken that time.

Megan:

For sure. For me, it’s been a matter of just getting to know myself really well and learning what my triggers are and seeing the symptoms basically. So I know there’s little signs that pop up for me that tell me, Hey, you’ve got to slow down. So just listening to those and slowing down a little bit is so important. It can save me an entire full-blown sickness if I just listen to what my body and my mind are telling me. But that also kind of goes into something else that I really strongly believe in, which is having grace periods for yourself. So, occasionally on your calendar, just scheduling a day that has nothing on it because you’re probably going to need it. If it means switching tasks around for your personal and work time on your calendar, then fine do that. But you do need to give yourself a lot of grace in this job, because you never know when it’s going to sneak up on you and just bite you and you can get really bogged down with just being burnt out. It is a lot, and it takes a lot of focus and energy to get this job done and the million things that are involved in this job. You absolutely have got to take care of yourself and we should be doing self care every day, every week, every month, small things every day, bigger things every week and even bigger things monthly. If we don’t do that, we’re just going to let that stress and the demands of the job just totally pull us under.

Heather:

I think the really interesting thing about what you do is that you obviously love it. So it almost makes it harder for self care in a way, because it is hard to pull yourself away because you love it so much. It’s just something that you want to do and you enjoy doing, and you kind of get yourself in that little rabbit hole and keep working away. Then once you pull yourself out, you kind of realize, Oh yeah, I’ve been neglecting other parts of myself, even though I’m really fulfilled in this one part, you still need all those other parts to be more rounded and function the way they should.

Megan:

That is totally true. That is the exact reason why I started scheduling self-care on my calendar because otherwise I can make excuses for myself and say, I need to get this done and I’m, I’m enjoying it and I’m liking what I’m doing, but taking a step back, I’m neglecting my family, or I am neglecting myself. Scheduling is the brains instead of the heart, because I put so much heart into my job. I just want to keep going and going and doing better and doing more and accomplishing. So it’s good to have a perspective that kind of reaches out to me, which is my calendar and saying, you put this here for a reason, you know in your mind that you need this. So just listening to that and trusting myself is huge. If I didn’t have that, I for sure would just keep on going and going and never stop. Cause I do love my job. It’s my ideal job. I would not want to be doing anything else in this whole world, which is great. But it’s kind of like a catch 22. I love it so much, but it can sink me too if I’m not careful.

Heather:

What I love too about what you just said is essentially the more scheduled you are, the more freedom you have, because if you’re scheduled, you just can look at your day or your week and you know what needs to be done. It’s all right there. The self care is scheduled in. Then you just follow the schedule. It makes it really easy.

Megan:

I tend to schedule aggressively as far as work goes, but we do need to have that grace. Like you said, Heather, the more we schedule, the more freedom we are going to have. There is so much power in looking ahead and planning and granted like plans are not always going to stick together. Sometimes plans fall apart, but having something set in place, a structure that you can at least let guide you is so important. It makes a huge difference in how you treat yourself and how much you get done and how much grace you can have with yourself too.

Heather:

Well, you have totally inspired me. I’m going to use a lot of these little hacks that you talked about to improve my productivity, hopefully. But what else is there anything else we didn’t touch on that you want to talk about?

Megan:

I guess just like a finishing comment is committed to finishing every single thing that you start. This is something that I started employing in my life a couple of years ago, and it has transformed everything for me. Whether it’s my morning routine or my workout, or publishing a post for the day or doing something bigger, like launching a course or you know, whatever it is, big or small, every single thing I start, I always finish. So when I start a workout in the morning and I know it’s going to be a rough one, well, I’m in. There’s 0% chance unless my house falls on me, that I am stopping this workout. So this mindset, when it becomes ingrained in your brain, it will become a habit for you. Which is why it is so important to start those projects and habits that you want to start. Because once you start, you will not stop. Committing to finishing everything you start is so huge.

Heather:

What are they saying? How many well there’s different theories about how many days it takes to form a habit. But I guess the moral of the story is just patient. You know, you’re not going to form a habit overnight, give it time, but keep at it, keep at it every day and after, I don’t know, 90 days, maybe it’ll be a habit and it’ll be routine and you won’t even have to think about it, right?

Megan:

Wasn’t it like 21 days a while ago. Now it’s like 90. Then I heard a podcast the other day that said you need 300 days. I’m like, what? That is a good point. Habits are really hard to form, especially if it’s something that’s not ingrained in you, but it’s so important just to stick with it. If you know it’s good for you, whether it’s eating healthy or working out, whatever it is, stick with it, do it day in and day out. Even when you don’t want to, make yourself do it. Then it becomes a habit. That applies to just like committing to not quitting, ever.

Heather:

Those little tasks, those little daily things that you commit to, build up over time. Then you commit to doing something every day for a month. Then pretty soon you have 30 days and it compounds.

Megan:

It does. You look back and you’re like, Oh my gosh, I did that for 30 days. That’s amazing. That kind of helps to motivate you to keep going and then kind of gains momentum from there. I recommend just writing things down too, that you want to commit to. Whether it’s in a journal or somewhere on your fridge or somewhere where you can see it every day and putting Xs on a calendar or something like that. So that you have a visual; I’ve done this for 10 days, forming those good habits. I think that’s a really good place to start.

Heather:

That’s a good point. The visual part, because I sometimes write things down and then it’s out of sight out of mind, if I’m not looking right at it. So putting it somewhere where you do see it every day, all day long, if possible. That’s a great idea. Well thank you, Megan. This has been awesome and such good ideas, such good advice. I think everything you talked about is great and I am so excited to put some of these things into practice in my own life. I’m sure everyone is listening as well.

Megan:

You so much for talking to me, Heather and patiently listening to me talk obsessively about productivity because it can be kind of a boring topic, but I hope I didn’t put you to sleep. I hope that food bloggers find value in some of this. I just want to say to food bloggers, that you are capable of producing way more content than you think you are. I encourage you to really strive to reach your optimal level of productivity. I hope that some of these tips really helped you today. Please let me know how I can help you to reach your productivity goals. Heather, I’m going to say goodbye. So thank you again for talking to me and maybe we can do another episode on self care or something in the near future.

Heather:

That would be great. Thank you, Megan.

Megan:

Awesome. Well, I will see you next time, Food bloggers.

Intro:

We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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