“I’m a little high-strung.”
Recently, on a way-too-long roadtrip from Pennsylvania to Alabama, I found myself saying this to my boyfriend and co-pilot as we were navigating through heavy traffic on a four-lane highway. I thought he was going to swerve off the road trying to stifle laughter.
“A little? Ya think?”
Okay, I admit it. I’m a planner to the point of obsession at times. I get anxious when I don’t know what’s going on. I like things my way or the highway. I’m easily stressed.
Blogging as a career hasn’t helped with my stress levels. This isn’t exactly a walk-in-the-park-type of job (though few are…we all have our work problems!). Over the years, I’ve learned that only through managing my stress am I able to publish the highest quality content. So today, I wanted to share a few tips on how I personally keep stress about my blogs and work in general as low as possible. I hope you’ll share your own tips in the comments sections!
1. I create a schedule – and stick to it.
One of the turning points in my career was when I began to schedule out my days so I could use my time more wisely. Deadlines (even self-imposed ones) aren’t a big deal if you understand they’re coming and schedule your work accordingly.
Scheduling all of my blogging tasks has also shaved time off of my work day and has allowed me to have a better work-life balance, which is always great for relieving stress. And of course, if you’re hopping a plane to Paris or boarding a cruise ship tomorrow, it’s good to have your time scheduled so that when you do have Internet access, you get your work done instead of wasting time on Facebook. (Also, here are 4 more tips on keeping your travel blog going while traveling.)
2. I work with people who are reliable and drama-free.
It’s amazing how one person can make your stress level jump from one to ten. When you’re working with others on guest posts, interviews, etc. always remember that you can say no. Part of the reason why people travel (and blog) is to get out of the office environment. What’s the point if your virtual “coworkers” are creating just as much drama?
3. I give myself permission to fail.
Listen, no one is perfect. I always shoot for perfection, but when I do fail, I’ve learned that it’s okay. Sometimes there are typos in my tweets. Sometimes one of the links in my post is broken. Sometimes I make a mistake about a fact. I used to get very stressed out about the thought of making a mistake until I realized that they are inevitable. As careful as I am, they will happen. Why stress about something you can’t change? Instead, I focus on being as near to perfect as possible and I brush it off when I fall short of this goal. I don’t dwell, I just try to do better next time.
4. I change my environment.
I talked about how great a change of scenery can be in a previous post on the NMX blog about being more creative, but I think doing this can also help your stress levels. I bought myself some notepads and regularly get writing work done at the beach near my house. As travel bloggers, do you find yourself stuck in your hotel room way too often? Get out there and do work from a more inspiring location!
5. I surround myself with people who “get it.”
One of the major mistakes I’ve made is having people in my life (especially significant others) who do not understand blogging at all. One guy even used to call it pointless. Hearing that is not only hard on the soul, but it is also very stressful because you can’t turn to the people in your life to vent. My current significant other is not a blogger, but he has taken time to learn about it and understand it, and that has made all the difference.
I also surround myself with awesome bloggers through attending NMX and TBEX. Get involved with the community so you have a support system!
6. I keep a few almost-finished posts on standby.
Like most bloggers, there are moments when I’m feeling extremely inspired. I take advantage of it whenever this happens and crank out 5-10 posts, rapid-fire style. They aren’t perfect, but they’re 75% of the way there. Then, instead of publishing, I stick them away for a rainy day. No more stressing about what to write when I’m feeling uninspired. I pull a post from my file, I do some clean up, and I’m good to go. This is an especially good tip if you have a 9-to-5 job and there are times when you’re too overwhelmed with other work to blog.
7. I think before I commit.
I stress about lack of time and over-committing more than anything else in life, so I’ve learned that with work especially, I need to think about things before I say yes. People don’t take it personally when you need to reschedule or have to say no (at least most of the time – if they do, that’s probably not a person you want in your life anyway!). I always felt like if I said no I would miss out on an amazing opportunity, but what I’ve learned is this: being stressed also causes you to miss out on amazing opportunities.
8. I ask for help.
Who here has a hard time admitting it when you need help? I bet everyone’s hands are raised right now. It’s humbling to ask for help, but don’t stress out for the sake of pride. Reach out. Your coworkers, blogging friends, and social followers will jump at the chance to pay it forward.
9. I hire people to do tasks I hate.
What is your state of mind worth? If you hate a certain task that takes an hour per day, can you hire a virtual assistant to do that task? For a few hundred bucks a month, all that stress could be gone. It’s totally worth it.
10. I take time off.
Lastly, I make time for me. Work-life balance is SO important. I really can’t stress that enough. I absolutely love blogging, so I’ve found myself thinking, “It’s okay it I work 100 hours per week because I love what I do!” But that’s not a good way to live. It doesn’t matter if you love it, because you still need time away from blogging and work. When’s the last time you traveled just to travel, not on a press trip or other blog-related trip?
If you can’t afford a vacation, you don’t even need to go that far. For example, I’ve now made it a priority to read fiction (or nonfiction if it is not related to work) for at least 30 minutes every night before bedtime. We all need some time away from the blog. Make this a priority in your life.
What do you do to keep blogging (or other content creation work) as stress-free as possible?
Photo credit: SXC