In episode 386, Megan chats to Erin Gierhart about getting clarity on what is essential in order to grow your blog and how to let go of everything else so that you can get more done by doing less.
We cover information on how to be sure you’re getting the right things done for your business, determine which skills you need to develop most to work on increasing your traffic, create a list of things you’re not going to do for this season and put things in place to help you be disciplined in staying on task.
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Bio Erin founded her blog, State of Dinner, in 2020, after almost 20 years in the food and beverage industry. She enjoys developing mostly from scratch recipes that bring comfort to her family, without spending all day in the kitchen. She quadrupled her blog traffic year over year by getting clear on what was essential and letting go of everything else.
- What are you going to focus on? What’s critical?
- What are you going to say no to?
- What is essential to grow your business? This is unique to each blogger.
- Determine what is going to be a “no” for your business and what’s “not right now”.
- Be open to outsourcing to grow even before your ready.
- Write down your list of what your goal and purpose is to have as a reference.
- You need discipline and self-control to stick to your plan and hit goals.
- Know your WHY so you stick to your goals and are making sacrifices.
- Make sure your week’s to-do list is set to focus on achieving your overarching goal.
- Assign time limits to tasks for the day to try and stay on track and achieve goals.
- Set yourself up for success by removing distractions, intentionally clearing your space and closing out things that can distract you.
The Pomodoro Technique
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Click for full script.
EBT386 – Erin Gierhart
Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom; whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta, and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported.
Every single thing about this episode is right up my alley, speaking my language. It is so good and so packed full of just valuable nuggets. Erin Gierhart from State of Dinner is my guest. She’s a friend of mine. She’s so amazing and she has this method dialed in where she leverages the power of focus to increase everything in her business that matters; traffic, revenue, et cetera. She does this by really doing less. She just makes her time really efficient and she’s really intentional about everything she does. You guys are gonna love this episode. It is episode number 386 and it is sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast. It adds value, and I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now onto the episode.
Megan Porta: Erin founded her blog State of Dinner in 2020 after almost 20 years in the food and beverage industry. She enjoys developing mostly from scratch recipes that bring comfort to her family without spending all day in the kitchen. She quadrupled her blog traffic year over year by getting clear on what was essential and letting go of everything else. Erin, thank you so much for joining me today. I am so happy that you are on the podcast.
Erin Gierhart: Thank you, Megan. I am so excited to be here.
Megan Porta: Yay. Okay, before we get into this amazing topic, I would love to hear what fun fact you have to share with us.
Erin Gierhart: All right. I love tradition and building different traditions in my family. I think it’s a really great way to ground ourselves in the midst of a crazy life. One tradition that we have had since my kids were itty bitty is Sunday night pizza night. So every Sunday we get together, we order pizza, turn on a movie, and just relax and hang out and enjoy that space together. I love it because no matter what craziness we have, or if we haven’t, my husband travels for work. I used to travel for work. So if we hadn’t seen each other a ton that week, we know that we’ve got that space and that time to just get together and relax together.
Megan Porta: Aw, I love that. I think traditions are so important in families.
Erin Gierhart: They are. I think that it really helps to define the family and create that identity. I just love it.
Megan Porta: And set good habits in motion. Like your kids will know oh, Sunday’s reserved for my family.
Erin Gierhart: Pizza night’s not really a great habit, but it’s the family time aspect of it.
Megan Porta: Spending time together. Yes. Pizza is always delicious though. All right. I love that. Okay, Erin, I was reading your bio before we started recording and I always forget that you have a really young blog. I feel like you’ve been around for so long because you’re crushing it. You have such an amazing website and just your photos. Everything is so dialed in. So when I read that you started in 2020, I was like, what? I always forget that. So you have a young blog and you’ve just decided that you need to leverage your focus, the power of focus, so that you can increase all those good things like traffic and revenue and everything else. You’ve figured out this method of like really doing less. So I would love for you to talk us through that. How did you identify the need to do less and to really focus in on certain things?
Erin Gierhart: Running a food blog, there is so much that you can do. I know that everybody listening to this, all of the food bloggers out there have gone through different times where they’re overwhelmed because there is just so much to do. I still do that today. But the first year and a half of my business, I was trying to do it all in. So I was posting every single day on Instagram, on my feed and in stories and doing lives, which were the thing back then. Posting on Facebook groups, posting on Pinterest, just really trying to do it all and keep learning as well. From my first year and a half of blogging was really spent learning about the blogging business. I don’t have any background in blogging. I have never had a blog before or done photography before. Cooking, yes, I have a background in that and that is it. So that first year and a half was really overwhelming and fortunately I had the ability, thanks to Covid, to be able to focus just on my blog. I used to oversee a group of restaurants in the US and that job ended in the middle of Covid. So I was able to just focus on figuring this out. Sitting last year, evaluating the year and a half that I had spent in the business, I realized that this just isn’t working. So I was trying to do it all, and my Instagram was still pretty pathetic. I had less than a thousand followers on Instagram. I had traffic at 17,000 monthly sessions, and I realized trying to do it all, nothing is working. I’m not able to move that needle forward. So I discovered a book called Essentialism. Greg McEwen is the author of that book, and he says something that really resonated and stuck with me. That is that essentialism is not about how to get more things done. It’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of doing less either. It’s about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at your highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential. That really opened my eyes to, instead of trying to do it all and keep up with everything, I need to really get clarity around what those biggest needle movers are, those areas of highest contribution that I can do towards my blog, and really also identifying that my blog is where I wanted to focus. So really taking a look at what are those things that are gonna be that needle mover. I decided that two things would be where I would focus for 2022. That was in continuing to refine my photography skills. I had spent a lot of time investing in photography through the Pretty Focused photography course and was doing some work in recipe development and photography for others and just really wanted to continue to refine that and build, because I truly believe that the way we are moving in this industry is that high quality, clickable, like yummy photos are the way to go. So it’s not about what is the most beautiful photo, but about what is gonna make somebody go, oh, I want to eat that, or I wanna make that, or I can make that, something that’s approachable. So taking those enticing photos was one. Then writing SEO optimized posts and really dialing in my skillset there around recipes would be my second. That meant that I had to let some things go. One of the really critical pieces also is not just around, what are you gonna focus on, but what are you not gonna focus on? What are you gonna say no to? So that meant for me, saying no to Instagram in a great deal. I still have some things that get scheduled out occasionally. When I have some spare time, I will throw up a reel every once in a while, but drastically reduce my Instagram posting. I didn’t do very much video at all the whole year, and I also didn’t crank out a crazy amount of posts. So my strategy and my focus was really around making really as wise as I could, decisions around what I was posting, making those posts the best that I could do. Looking back on that, I started to see really great traction just a few months into this experiment. So around April is when my traffic really started growing and I moved from that 17,000 monthly sessions, four months later to 150 monthly sessions. So it really did pay off to just lighten up and let go and make sure that what I was doing was really good.
Megan Porta: Okay. You figured everything out way faster than most of us, myself included, by a decade. So good job Erin. I am so impressed that you just got to the point so quickly where you were like, okay, dude, I cannot do this all. One human is not meant to do all this work. Because I feel like a lot of us go on for a really long time trying to keep up with all of it until we’re either quitting or burnt out or something terrible. So nice work. Huge pat on the back for you for that. The theme that I took away from what you just said is like quality. You just decided you were gonna focus on producing quality work in a few areas that mattered. I just think that’s so smart. So photography and SEO, those things both mattered. Now, do you think that those are the two things that matter to everyone, or does that vary for every individual?
Erin Gierhart: I think that those are the two things that matter to someone who really wants to grow their blog. I think that food bloggers, as a whole, depending on where you’re at in your business, what you want that priority, what you want that big thing that you’re focusing on to be, is going to be different. So if you want to grow your blog traffic, I believe that you need to have enticing photos. They don’t have to be like magazine quality, but they need to be yummy photos and you need to have SEO optimized posts, but you may be in a point in your business where you do want to grow sponsored posts and grow your Instagram. So that is your goal, and you’ll have a different track to get there. Or you may need to add on a different revenue stream because your blog is stable and you’ve got something else that is your priority, and so of course that is gonna have a different track to get there as well.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I love that. I also love your decision to just create a mental list of what not to focus on. I started doing that just, I think it was last year or the year before, and oh my gosh. It was so helpful. I just wrote out, I am not doing video. I am not doing this. I’m not doing this. So that if a project ever came into my realm and I was actually considering it, I would go to my not do list and it would just be my boss and remind me that I’m like, no, you can’t. You’re not doing this. Because we don’t have bosses. We are the boss. So we have to hold yourself accountable in those ways. You know what I mean?
Erin Gierhart: Yes, a hundred percent. I think that it is really important to have that clarity around what you’re not gonna do, and you can decide at that point what that means for you. So does it mean I am gonna let this go completely and I am not going to do video period, that’s not gonna be a part of my business. Or is that gonna be something that you’re gonna outsource and that was a really helpful and really a pivotal time in my business as well. After the Tastemaker conference in March, I realized one of the areas that I needed to open up in my business was outsourcing. I needed some help. And at that point in time, I had not even been accepted into Mediavine yet. I was barely making any income and part of my brain was saying, I can’t afford to outsource yet. I am not at that point in my business to be able to do this. But in going to Tastemakers and being around people who were treating their business as a business, I realized I need to invest. The amount of hours that I’m spending right now on some projects that can be outsourced, that actually will pay off in getting somebody else to help. So that’s another option that you can do if you’re not gonna do something, is I knew that I wanted Pinterest to be a part of my business from a traffic driving perspective, but it’s not something that I felt was worth my time because I really needed to focus on photography and posts. So I hired a VA to be able to create those pins and do that work for me, and I’ve been able to see some traffic lift and my Pinterest income is paying for her. That is something also, if this isn’t a part of your world that you can do, that you can also outsource and bring somebody else in. But going back to that value of saying no, I do see, I think that’s something that even to your point of writing it down and having it somewhere that you can reference as a reminder to yourself when you start, because we will start to get off track.
Megan Porta: Yes.
Erin Gierhart: All of these opportunities that come our way, it is hard to say no to them. I still to this day, will see some of my blogger friends on Instagram who are just crushing it on Instagram and I see their accounts growing and I want that. They’re doing all of these sponsor posts with companies that I wanna work for. So it is really tempting to go, oh, I do need to focus on that. I do need to go over there and do more reels and such. To have that concrete list of, no, this is what my goal is, this is what my purpose is. That doesn’t mean it will always be, I may next year start adding in video and doing more reels when my business is at a different point, but for now, this is my no list and this is why. Being able to have that discipline, or self-control, that is what is gonna allow you to really make traction on what you have determined to be your one big goal.
Megan Porta: I think that this conversation that we’re having right now is really hard. This is not easy to do. It’s really important. But I just want to pull back the curtain. It is not easy.
Erin Gierhart: No.
Megan Porta: I think that discipline is at the forefront of this whole topic because without discipline, you will be pulled in different directions every day. I feel that every day. There’s something else that comes out or like you were saying, when you see other Instagram accounts that are just crushing it, I still feel that pull of oh my gosh, I need to be doing, I should be doing reels on my food blog. I feel that all the time. So this is no joke. Massive discipline is required to do this.
Erin Gierhart: It is, but it also, you don’t have to be a naturally disciplined person in order to do this. You just have to know. It goes back to the why. You have to know why that thing is your goal that you’ve decided as your goal and why you’re saying no to these other things, and remind yourself of that, gain that clarity because otherwise, nobody is gonna have the discipline to do that. You have to know, why am I making these sacrifices? Because it is a sacrifice in one end, but it’s a sacrifice for this greater gain in the thing that you’ve determined really matters.
Megan Porta: That is so powerful. Just the other day in my mastermind group, I was talking about doing a project. It was like, one of your two things that you were talking about. One of my projects has to do with just creating a lot of content from now until April. Someone in the group was like, why are you, they were looking at me like I was crazy cause I have this really astronomical goal. They’re like, why are you gonna do that? I was like why. My reason is I don’t have to work most of my summer and I wanna spend that time with my family. That in my mind is oh my gosh, that’s the best thing ever. All I have to do is touch base with why and think of my summer with my family. I will do anything for that. So I think that is such a great point that you brought up that you need to be in. And if you don’t have a why, figure it out. How do you recommend doing that?
Erin Gierhart: Because I think that really listing everything out is the first place to go. What are all of your options that you could do? What are all of the things that you could focus on? Then thinking about what is the impact of that? So if I go and I focus a hundred percent on Instagram and I put everything in there and I achieve all of the goals and dreams that I ever could possibly want to do, what would that mean for me? If I grow my blog and I achieve that, and I hit all of my goals there, what would that mean for me? Then doing that with all of your possibilities. Then narrowing down to, okay, what of that is the most important to me? What if that would make me, for the rest of my life, achieve the goals and the dreams that I have? What looks like the life that I wanna live, then that is the area to go forward in. I saw for myself just the sustainability factor of being able to focus on my blog and also the foundation. I think that once I have a really strong, high traffic blog that then can be the stepping stone for all of these other opportunities. If I were to have focused on Instagram first, for example, I would’ve felt a lot less security there and also a lot more daily work. So Instagram and sponsor posts is work that I have to do ongoing in order to get that payout. Similarly, I have photography that I do as side income and that’s a part of my business, but it is not my priority business because I don’t wanna have to always be doing photography all of the time for the rest of my life. But a plug, there is so much that you can do that hard work upfront. Then, yes, I’m like, it always requires maintenance. There’s always things that are changing. There’s always tweaking or additional things that need to be done, but it is a lighter load later. Similar to your situation if you’re doing all of these posts in April and then you can take that time off. So that’s why I chose the blog but really thinking about, what are all of the opportunities and possibilities that I can do? What would that impact be? What would that look like? Then what part of that is the life that I wanna live?
Megan Porta: So well said. That’s super inspiring. Thank you, Erin. Okay, let’s back up just a little bit. Once people are like, okay, I’m so inspired, I’m gonna go make my list of what to do and what not to do. So once they do that and they have a little bit of clarity around what to focus on and what not to focus on, where do they go from there?
Erin Gierhart: So that comes down to what you’re doing day-to-day. So we’ve got this big overarching goal, this is my goal, this is my priority, this is my one or my two things. Then you have to align your day-to-day to line up with that. So just like you captured everything in regards to the possibilities that you could do to clarify that goal, you’re gonna do that also for your week. So I start out each week by writing out all of the things going on that week and everything that I wanna accomplish on one page. So my planning system or my to-do for the week is front loaded where I sit down and I look at my whole week and everything that I could possibly do or want to accomplish, I put on that list. I think it’s really important to have that, or for me, it’s important to have that on one page where I can see it, because then I can take a look at what are those key priorities for that week? I actually will write out, okay, this is everything I could do. What is my top priority for this week? It could be writing blog posts, or it could be getting some recipes photographed. This week I am trying to get over a sickness and virus, and so my priority this week is get well, get rest. So it can change from week to week. That then helps me to filter through what I am doing that week and make sure that I am focused on needle moving activities. So I am not spending a whole lot of time that week posting on Instagram if my priority is to write four blog posts. I am focused first on writing those posts. So then each morning I take a look at that weekly list and I say, okay, what are the things that are essential for this day? What are the biggest needle moving activities that I can do today? That is an area where I think a lot of people when it comes to goal setting, they don’t have the success that they could have because they set that goal and then they walk away from it. So I think it’s important every week to make your to-do list based on that goal. To have that fresh in your mind, this is my priority, so that you can then be deliberate about choosing the things that are gonna actually get you traction towards that goal as the top of priorities that you’re focused on for that week.
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Megan Porta: You and I plan very similarly, Erin, I didn’t realize this, but I do the same thing with my week. I love sitting down on a Sunday, usually it’s like Sunday night and I just write out everything. I’ll write little boxes and then I’ll write everything and it’s usually one solid page then as I move through my days, I start checking off those things and I reevaluate and move things around. So I have a question for you. How do you deal with tasks taking too long. So I know for some people, writing a blog post takes hours and hours. How do you deal with just setting boundaries around your time for each task? Does that make sense?
Erin Gierhart: Yes, and I love that question because I think It is something that we can get lost in really easily. There is Parkinson’s law, which says that the work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. So if I just have this limitless time or I don’t give a time boundary for that work, it can take all day to do that post. So I actually will go into that list and write next to each task item, the amount of time that I think that will take me. So a blog post, these are just spitballing numbers, but three hours or photographing this recipe, 45 minutes or whatever. Writing down the amount of time that I think that would do. 30 minutes to do a web story and then when I am actually sitting down to do that task, I will set a timer for a little bit less than that time. So if I am working on a web story and I think it’s gonna take 30 minutes, I will set the timer for 25 minutes. Then I try to finish that work before the timer goes off. Just being able to have that focus and know that I do have, I’ve created my own time boundary, it helps me to get that work done faster and not allow other things to creep in. I think it’s something that is really a struggle, can be a struggle for those of us who are working at this as their full-time job. I think that a lot of people who are working outside in a different capacity, in a different job and are doing this on the side, they have to have some of those time boundaries. So it’s a lot easier for them to get things done. I see people who are working full-time and have kids and run a blog and they’re still able to do two posts a week. I wonder how on earth? It’s because they have those restrictions. They have to be focused when they’re doing that work. So those of us who are doing this and we’ve got all day, we have to self-impose those time boundaries in order to be focused and to be as productive as we can be.
Megan Porta: That is good. I agree with that. I see people all the time who are full-time and they’re like, I can’t get anything done because they don’t do those self restricting boundaries like you were talking about. Erin, I love your idea about setting a time that you think it should take and then setting your timer for less. I have never thought to do that. I love that so much.
Erin Gierhart: It works so well for me.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I’m totally gonna do that. Something I do occasionally, I’ll use blog posts as an example. So I’ll time how long it takes me to write a blog post from start to finish. The next time I do it, I will shave time off. So I’ll say if it took me three hours, I’d be like, I’m gonna go aggressive. I’m gonna say it’s gonna take me an hour and a half, just to see if I can do it with such an extreme boundary. Usually I do. Having the time you would think, no way. There’s no way you could do that in an hour and a half, but it works like giving yourself less and less time. Then I’ve even gone further okay, maybe an hour. So just to experiment with that. I would love to encourage people to try it and because you can really do a lot more than you think in less time.
Erin Gierhart: It really is a process of self discovery. So if you don’t have any idea how long something typically takes you, or maybe you are doing other tasks in the middle, so you don’t even have it might take you eight hours, but that’s because you’re doing that and laundry and running an errand and all of these things. But when you actually write it down and check yourself against that, you start to learn about yourself and about your habits and patterns and it allows you then to make better decisions when it comes to what you’re putting on your to-do list. I have gone, I don’t do this right now, but I used to take the amount of time that I wanted to work for that day and then go and select, okay, I’ve got this thing that I say is three hours and this thing that’s an hour, and pick my to-do list based on that time as well and put that into that day. So it allows you to just know, be more realistic with what you’re putting on your to-do list and then to also be more productive with that time.
Megan Porta: This is so good. How do you deal with laundry and other household stuff? How do you deal with those sorts of things or being distracted in any way?
Erin Gierhart: So much of our day can be occupied by distraction, and so reducing those distractions, you are freeing up your time to get more things done. So I have found, and I know I’ve heard you talk about this some too, I just need to check this one email, or I just need to look at this one thing or post this one thing on Instagram and then an hour later, what in the world? I have just completely wasted that time, and so I have tried to eliminate those distractions as much as possible. I think that timer really helps me to be conscious about that distraction because I’m trying to beat the clock. But then close out your browser tabs. If I am working on my site and I have the internet up closing out all of the other browser tabs so that no notifications can pop up there, but in addition to notifications sometimes if I’ve got a post I’m working on and I have Keysearch up, or I’ve got another tab open, something will go into my mind of, oh, I just wanna go and check this one keyword. I’m gonna just hop over here real quick. So by closing out your browser tabs, you’re eliminating those triggers to your brain that could be distraction. Then another thing that I had to really focus myself on and make myself do was controlling my phone. I have my phone in silent mode now, but that’s not for everybody. It took me a long time to get to where I was comfortable with that. But put your phone in another room, even turning it over on your desk if you need to have it close by where you’re not having notifications popping up. If you have an iPhone the focus settings that they have now work great. But I like to actually put it in a completely different room so that I have to decide that I’m going to get up and go take care of that. It’s not something that just mindlessly, I pick it up and look at it because if I do mindlessly pick it up and look at it, I am going to be on that phone for 15 minutes and have that distraction. So if I have to actually get up and walk into another room, that helps me to eliminate that distraction quite a bit.
Megan Porta: The phone one is huge for a lot of us. Phones are like, I feel like they’re more addicting than any drug ever. Don’t you feel like when you go out in public that’s all people are doing is looking at their phones.
Erin Gierhart: It is.
Megan Porta: I’m always wondering what are they looking at right now?
Erin Gierhart: Nothing.
Megan Porta: What’s super important there?
Erin Gierhart: There is so much. I think hours upon hours. When I am not disciplined and focused, I can waste hours. Just looking at random things on my phone.
Megan Porta: I know, it’s maddening. When I pick up my phone mindlessly, I think my go-to is Instagram. I just tap mindlessly into Instagram and start scrolling and I get so mad at myself. I’m like, what am I doing? I’m not even consciously paying attention to what I’m looking at, and I’ll set it down. Ugh. That’s so frustrating that we’re just, I don’t know, these mindless phone addicts or something.
Erin Gierhart: It is. If you think about it, even if you are really rare and you only waste an hour a day on your phone, that is still almost 2000 minutes a month that you, oh my gosh, could have done on activities that are gonna move your business forward. So if you can just take that phone and get a little bit of control over it, cut out that one hour a month, then you have so much more time to move the needle in your business.
Megan Porta: I actually love that, Erin, how you broke it down into minutes. Because when I hear it like that, I’m like, oh, that’s a challenge for me.
Erin Gierhart: What can you do with those two minutes?
Megan Porta: Exactly. I’m gonna take those minutes and make them actually useful. I’m constantly trying to be intentional with my phone and I feel like I’ve weaned myself off of so much. I don’t have email on my phone, I don’t have any notifications, but I do mindless Instagram. Ugh, I need to work on that.
Erin Gierhart: I think that part of that is human rights. We are never gonna be perfect when it comes to this, but any minutes that you can shave off and put towards meaningful activities is a win.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Yep. Being productive. I know, and it’s about being aware, right? So when I do get on there mindlessly, just being aware of that. Okay, I’m gonna spend five minutes here, that’s okay. Or maybe okay, I did this. I don’t wanna be doing this. Just making sure you know what you’re doing.
Erin Gierhart: Yeah, I completely agree. I think that it really comes down to being intentional with your decisions and knowing that the decisions that you’re making, if you are intentional with them, then you, like we all need some time, some downtime. That’s fine. But I am intentional with this. I am owning it. I’m in control of it. Instead of that controlling me.
Megan Porta: Exactly. This is such an important conversation. I love this. Okay. How do you feel about batching? Because I think you probably know my thoughts on batching. I love it. I think it’s so powerful, underutilized by so many people and it can take you so much time. What are your thoughts?
Erin Gierhart: I resisted batch work for a really long time because I felt like I have too short of an attention span and I couldn’t see myself sitting down in front of my computer for a whole day and doing nothing but writing blog posts cuz that was my definition of batching. I now have been able to incorporate some batching that has been really transformative in my business and I love it. I still don’t spend all day writing 15 blog posts, but I do try to move my posts along in production as a group. So what I do is I use Airtable for managing my blog posts and I use the CanBan view. And so it works similar to Trello where you’ve got the stacks of posts and I will have a stack that is for each stage of production. So maybe it is photographing the recipe. Editing the photos is one stack. So the different blog posts that are in that stage will fall under that stack. Writing the post, editing the post, and so on. So I try to move at least three of those recipes along together. So maybe there’s a day that I am photographing, I’m gonna try to photograph three recipes that day. Or maybe it’s over the course of two days that I am doing those photos and then I’ll edit them all in one day, create the Canva pins all at the same time, so that I can leverage that value of batching. I have come to really love the focus of my mind being on one type of work and being able to accomplish more in a shorter period of time because my mind is honed in on that.
So the other thing that I love about Airtable in this view is when I get too heavy on one task, it’s an alert to me. So if I’ve got eight posts that need to be edited, I know I can’t take any more photos until I move those on down the line. So there’s different pieces of work that I love more than others. So writing, like sitting down and actually starting to write that post is really difficult for me. I like the editing part of it. I like the creation part of it, but sitting down to write the post is tough. So if I find myself with too many posts needing to be edited, I can see that clearly and go, oh, I really need to prioritize sitting down and writing some of these posts. So wrapping up that framework is the back and forth time, I think really gets reduced when you are batching. So having to get my brain restarted to think about, okay, where do I go in Canva to open this up? Where’s that template for this type of post that I wanna do? All of that brain work is eliminated or reduced when you’re doing those things as a whole. Another thing that I love about batch work is trying to get more than one blog post out of a recipe. So maybe you’re doing a french bread recipe and you photographed this French bread, it looks gorgeous. You’re ready to write that French bread recipe. Instead of just writing that french bread recipe, let’s also photograph and do a recipe for breadcrumbs or what to do with leftover bread or how to keep french bread fresh or French toast casserole. Yes. There’s so many different things that you can do with one recipe, and so I try to do that as well. instead of just seeing my recipe as one and done, how can I repurpose this and get more bang for my buck by batching.
Megan Porta: Oh, you’re speaking my language, Erin. Also, as you were talking, I was thinking that batching could also be your household stuff that you maybe wanna take care of. So that laundry that you keep thinking about while you’re writing your blog post, batch your laundry later while you’re doing the dishes and while you’re cleaning up the kids toys, whatever. You can batch home stuff too and that also helps you to be more efficient, I believe.
Erin Gierhart: Absolutely. With laundry as an example, instead of trying to do multiple loads of separating everything out and doing towels and whites and all of this, I now just do a load of laundry a day. I do everything, all in that one load.
Megan Porta: I do the same.
Erin Gierhart: It doesn’t make that big of a difference. My towels may wear slightly faster, it saves so much time. So I love all of the little tip tricks that you can do to really streamline your home.
Megan Porta: Then when you do one load a day, it never piles up. So you’re never like, oh my gosh, I have to do laundry. It’s there. That stress is never there for me.
Erin Gierhart: Yep.
Megan Porta: So awesome. Okay. How do you deal with weeks when you’re sick right now and you probably have a long to-do list, so how do you deal with weeks when you have to take care of yourself or you just need to pivot in some way to adjust to something like that.
Erin Gierhart: I think that is really the beauty of having everything for that week written down on one list, is that I can then look at what I need to do and I can select things for that day that really fit my energy for that day. So it allows me to have more flexibility because I can pick things that work with that energy. There is a really great book by Daniel H. Pink called “When”. It talks about how you are more productive when you hone into the energy of that moment and you don’t try to push against that. So I could fight through not feeling well, really low energy. I am going to really push through and try to get this recipe photographed. Reality is if I try to push through on something like photographing a recipe, when I am not feeling that energy, I’m gonna have to re-photograph it. I’m gonna have to do it again cause I’m gonna forget something, or I’m gonna just take terrible photos. So instead of trying to push through, there’s a time for pushing yourself. But as a whole, instead of trying to push through, find something that matches the energy of that time. My mind is most clear and able to focus on things like writing, in like the nine to 12 timeframe. But I found myself running errands right after I dropped my kids off of school and then coming home and taking a shower, and by the time I was ready to sit down and work, I’m halfway through that timeframe. So by knowing my energy and really discovering, oh, hey this is the time when I find it’s best to write, and then blocking that timeout, I can get more done and be more productive around that window. Really protecting now my writing time for that nine to 12 window helps me to do more with less effort and then also having that flexibility to, okay, now I’m not feeling well. I’ve got this nine to 12 time slot blocked out for writing, but I am feeling like I need to take a nap. Great. Then I just look at that list, what is the right thing that I could do? Maybe editing photos is really mindless. I can actually get those photos edited, and then when I’m more clear-headed, then readjust that and move on to that task that is better for that energy of that moment.
Megan Porta: This requires just being aware of how you’re feeling and yeah, like you mentioned times of day when you’re typically more productive. There are some times when I sit down to work and I know that I am not gonna get anything done, but I try to push it. I’m like, I just wanna get this done. So just knowing okay, like you said, I’m gonna have to redo these photos. It’s gonna take me double the time. Just being aware and just talking sternly to yourself. Listen, you’re gonna save time in the end if you just go take a nap and then do this later, right?
Erin Gierhart: Absolutely. I can be very black and white and very rigid in my plan and this is what I want to do. So it’s really hard for me to allow myself that time to adapt, but I am learning that exactly as you say, that it’s gonna take me twice as long to do that. I heard something from Kendra Dachi. She’s the Lazy Genius and she’s got some great principles around doing what matters, but she says it’s more important for you to learn how to pivot than to learn how to plan. That really hit me because I am really good at planning and I’m not quite as good at pivoting, and so I’ve really tried to be more conscious around, what is the right thing for today? Making sure that I am not just letting things, I’m not feeling well, so I’m not going to do anything, but I’m not feeling well, and so I’m going to pivot my plan and I’m going to say, okay, these are the things that still move the needle towards my goal, but that fit my need for today.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Fit your energy level for the given moment. That’s part of our jobs I feel is to just determine that, like what is our energy? Because it’s never the same. Our energy is never going to be full and bubbly and wide open every day. We have to learn to pivot, like you say, Erin. Yeah, this, oh my gosh, this conversation is so important and so good. Like you used this word earlier, the foundation for really everything that we do because we don’t have a boss telling us what to do every day. We have to do this ourselves.
Erin Gierhart: We have to be good bosses to ourselves. You may have a boss who tells you, come in even though you’re sick. But it would not be somebody that you would wanna go and work for. You wanna go and work for somebody who understands that you need to take a sick day today, or is encouraging you to do work when you’re at your best and you need to be that boss to yourself.
Megan Porta: That’s hard. This is a hard part of our jobs, I will say. But it’s really important as well. Is there anything we forgot that you’d like to mention before we start saying goodbye, Erin?
Erin Gierhart: I think we covered everything.
Megan Porta: Ugh, this was amazing. Thank you so much for being here. Even though you’re sick, we appreciate you and everything you’ve shared.
Erin Gierhart: Oh, thank you.
Megan Porta: Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?
Erin Gierhart: I do. I wanna share with you the quote that is on my phone because I love to look at it every day. That is, do not measure success by today’s harvest. Measure success by the seeds you plant today. That’s Robert Lewis Davidson.
Megan Porta: Oh, love that so much. The planting seeds. Yes. We’ll put together a show notes page for you, Erin. So if you want to go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/stateofdinner, tell everyone where they can find you, Erin?
Erin Gierhart: I am at the State of Dinner everywhere. So stateofdinner.com or at state of dinner on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, everywhere.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Go check Erin out. She has amazing content. Thank you so much for being here again, Erin, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. If you enjoyed this episode, I’d be so grateful if you posted it to your social media feed and stories. I will see you next time.
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