The Speckled Palate
June 30, 2016

Behind the Blog: Organization, Planning and Balance

Learn a little more about Erin Parker, the blogger behind The Speckled Palate, as well as more about her blog in this year-long Behind The Blog Series!

Happy Thursday, everyone! I’m excited to be sharing some more behind the scenes information with y’all today as we continue this year-long Behind the Blog series!

For the month of June, my fellow bloggers and I are talking about planning and organization. And I’ve been hyperventilating over this post a little bit this past month because planning and organization? Well, they’re not really my strong points even though I try really hard at them.

That said, I’ve got some tips and tricks, as well as other information, to share with y’all this month, so buckle up, and let’s get to talking!

Please note that some of the links listed below are affiliate links, meaning if you were to make a purchase through one of these links, I would receive a small commission.  Thanks for your support of The Speckled Palate!

Learn a little more about The Speckled Palate in this year-long Behind The Blog Series! For the month of June, we are discussing organization, planning and balancing blogging and life. I am talking about how I stay organized, my struggles in finding a good work/life balance, and what tips and tools I use to plan long-term for The Speckled Palate and its content calendar. Want to know more? Come check it out!

Organization and The Speckled Palate

I straddle the line between a Type A and Type B personality, meaning I’m really laid back about some things while I’m super intense about others. Organization is something I long to have in my life, and I do my best to keep things orderly… but since I can only do so much, it falls by the wayside occasionally.

Here are some ways that I stay organized while working on TSP:

How do you stay organized?

I have a paper calendar and a weekly planner. I also use the Editorial Calendar widget for WordPress. Between these three things and a constant running list of things to do, whether written out or on Trello, I stay afloat.

How do you make time for blogging?

We have a nanny who watches our daughter in our house two days a week. During these days, I squeeze all of my blogging responsibilities in. Writing posts? Yup. Taking photographs? Occasionally. All the social media? Yes.

These days are computer-heavy days, which are harder than days spent in the kitchen, cooking and creating. That said, these days are also my only ones to spend any significant amount of time blogging. Because at night, I want to spend quality time our little family. And because the other three days every week, Lady Baby and I go out and have fun and spent quality time together that does not involve either of us being tied to a computer.

I’ve found that I am now making new recipes at night after Lady Baby goes to bed for my husband and I to enjoy as dinner. He occasionally helps me arrange them, then we eat after the dishes have been shot. And even though it’s tiring to do this at night, it’s fun to have him involved in the process, even if it’s him simply sticking his head into my office and asking if I’m OK balancing on top of the table like that.

Finding time is a precarious balance for me, but I’m fortunate that I have help and can prioritize this little blog on the days where I have it.

Do you have any time management tips?

The Pomodoro Technique is my jam. I love to set a timer and essentially race it for 20-30 minute increments to see how much I can get done, then take a short break. Unsurprisingly, this works well in blogging, too.

Here’s how I do it:

I set a timer for 20 minutes, and I’ll edit all my photos. When the timer goes off, I’ll take a 5 minute break. Then I’ll set another timer and write the full blog post. When the timer goes off, I take another short break. Then I come back for a final 20 minute set where I proofread the post, as well as schedule out all the social media through CoSchedule.

So basically, I spend 60 minutes total on every blog post, from start to finish and not including breaks. And it works beautifully, especially since I cannot afford distractions when I only have a few hours every week to blog.

How do you find balance?

Balance is a hard thing to negotiate when you’re a small business owner and a stay-at-home-mama. Finding balance is a daily struggle, and some days, I do well, while I feel like I could do better other days.

The best thing I’ve learned is to give myself some grace. I can’t do everything. (And y’all? This was a really freakin’ hard lesson to learn, especially in the first few months of Lady Baby’s life when I thought I could balance staying home, nursing our daughter every few hours, taking care of her every want and need… and continue working part-time from home AND working part-time on this here blog without going crazy. I ended up stressing myself out so much over it that I took a step back from both the blog and the job.)

What balance comes down to for me is spending time with my family. And THAT is more important to me than spending time on this blog, even though I adore what I do here. So even though the control freak who lives inside me rankles at the thought of dropping a post on a given week, the reasonable me knows the world isn’t going to end if I don’t have three posts scheduled for every week. Heck, very few people will even notice, and it will be OK. And there’s always the next week.

How do I balance my home life and blogging?

Setting boundaries is a must-have for a healthy balance… because if given the opportunity, I’d tinker away and work, work, work on the blog as life passes me by.

I know. It’s horrible. This is why I set boundaries — because I want to be active and present and involved in my husband and daughter’s lives.

The computer is put up whenever our daughter is awake, and we’re together. And when my husband is home and not working, I don’t have the computer out, either. If he brings work home, I’ll sit next to him and do some of my own work, but if we can help it, we like to spend time together computer-free.

 

Planning and The Speckled Palate

Do you have a fun blog planner?

I used to have a blog planner, but I found that I had too many other planners and places to write down my ideas, so I stopped doing this because it was overwhelming me.

When and where do you plan?

I’ve spent time planning for The Speckled Palate in big brainstorming sessions, and I love it when I have the opportunity to just sit down and plan. I love to have the big picture in mind whenever I’m planning anything, and I love being able to draw upon this at various times because it’s super helpful for someone who aspires to be super organized but still occasionally rides the struggle bus.

That said, this doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like.

More often than not, I look at the monthly overview and plan out my month’s worth of posts based on holidays, sponsored opportunities, what dishes I’ve already made and photographed, what dishes I really want to make, and so on and so forth, and that works just fine. Looking at the month’s big picture gives me the time to test and create recipes without being rushed, and it also gives me the flexibility to change up my calendar if I receive a last-minute sponsored opp or simply want to make something different than originally planned.

Do you have big brainstorming sessions to plan in advance? Do you just create content as something inspires you?

I do a combination of both of these. At the beginning of 2016, my mom and I sat on the guest bed in my house while Lady Baby played between us and talked about the year as a whole. We talked holidays. We talked parties. We talked specific recipes. And I freaking love that kind of brainstorming.

More often than not, recipe inspiration for me comes in the form of randomness. Sometimes, I’ll wake up at night thinking about a dish I want to try. Other times, I’ll be watching a foodie TV show and see something that sounds intriguing. Occasionally, recipes are born from another recipe I started working on that didn’t work and took a lefthand turn.

Do you plan with other bloggers?

Not as much as I’d like! Susannah and I organized The Great Blogger BBQ last month, and I loved bringing together with so many other bloggers to each bring something delicious to a virtual cookout. I hope we can do more collaborations like this one later in the year.

Be sure to check out my other posts in the Behind the Blog Series!

The Speckled Palate’s Beginning | Blogs I LoveBehind the Photographs | The Workspace | Social Media Tips | Organization, Planning and Balance

Be sure to visit my friends who are sharing their thoughts on organization, planning and balance!

 

Behind the Blog: Planning & Organization | Twin Stripe

Planning & Organizing Fun Blog Posts | The Natural Homeschool

Printable Blog Planner | The Life of Jennifer Dawn

How do you stay organized?

How do you plan, long-term, for your blog?

How do you prioritize work/life balance?

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