Friend Friday ~ Balance & Blogging

From a snowshoeing trip in the mountains
*Winner of Brideblu giveaway = Ashley from Smile Steady!

This weeks Friend Friday topic is one that I've seen being discussed in the blog world lately (can someone please come up with another name for a blog besides "blog"??).  Blogging is easy to love, it feels good to get feedback, validation and encouragement. It's good to exercise our voices. And the best part is - we make good friends.  But, what happens when we feel frustration that we can't balance it all? There are comments to respond to, post ideas to come up with, layout issues, blogs to visit, tweets to tweet, a FB page to update, followers to follow, networking to do, guest posts to write, pictures to take and the "next best thing" to think up! Did that not just make your head spin? And it never ends. There seems to always be something that you could be doing. Oh yes, and then our real lives to live. NBD!

When I started this blog a little over a year ago (i've been blogging for awhile), I never thought that I'd gain so much satisfaction from it. When one moves to a new country and is not working it makes for a great filler and a great way to stay sane - and a taste of what its like to run your own little business.  But things can easily start to feel off balance when it starts taking up more time than you are comfortable with. I know that a lot of us can relate to this topic which is why I thought I'd share my two cents in this weeks Friend Friday.

1. When it comes to prioritizing your life, in what place does blogging fall? 
Blogging is probably up there in my top 5 as it has quickly become one of my favorite hobbies. Instead of relaxing with magazines, it's easy to relax while reading your blogs and learning different design programs so I can change my header ever. day. (jk).  But - it doesn't prevail over spontaneous day trips with friends, nights out, watching Scrubs with Mark, and most importantly...exercise. 

2. We all wish we had more free time to dedicate to blogging and all it entails. What are your tricks for taking advantage of the time you do have to be as productive as possible? 
Ok, so I don't always follow this, but in an ideal world my idea of productive is not checking my FB or Twitter a million times per day. I try to keep my excitement about those platforms down because I think they can be a huge time waster - so I tend to pop in only when I have something to say or tweet a post I think people might like. (And seriously...you do NOT want to hear every thought that runs through my head) Also, I have certain steps that I complete each day that ensures that I stay on top of things like for example - check out new followers, respond to emails, etc. 

3. Have you discovered any short-cuts that makes blogging easier or more time efficient?
Yes! Google Reader folders are my best friends forever, I want to marry them.  I have all kinds of folders that ensure I'm not wasting time. For example, loyal readers and friends are in a folder and I'm sure to visit their blogs first and I know that I will be commenting/supporting them whereas those bloggers that don't return comments or care about connecting...get scanned in reader and I don't have to worry about visiting them =) And there's more to ensure that the blogs I spend my time on are worth it.
OH...and it's my personal mission to abolish word verification, thus making blogging easier and more time efficient for everyone. I don't even want to think about how much time you or I have spent entering letters in to word verifications, getting them wrong..repeating. It's the bane of my existence and mostly unnecessary. FACT: I find blogs I like and want to visit again, however, if they have word ver - I'm like...50% likely to not return - depends on my mood! (I do keep it on for posts over 4 days old as those are the ones that get spam comments)

4. Do you have an editorial calendar or something similar that helps you plan ahead?
I kind of informally write down in my calendar posts I definitely want to get to in a month- mostly regarding sponsors.  Other than that I'm super spontaneous because it's hard for me to plan even 2 days ahead - I might not be feeling the item/art, etc then so it wouldn't feel right posting it! So no, I don't really plan ahead.
5. If time wasn’t an issue what you would be doing on your blog/for your blog that you aren’t doing now? 
If time weren't an issue I would personally email my loyal "readers"/blog friends to thank them more often. I know who they are! I think that's why sending a newsletter appeals to me - I can write more candidly than I usually do on the blog and maybe start new conversations that way with people who want to be connected in that way. (Sign up to the left!) I think I'd also be more active in networking sites like IFB, 20sb, BlogHer...but, dude, I couldn't begin to fit anymore user names in my brain.  
I think that the one most important thing, though, that I use to maintain balance - is time away from the blog and blog world. I think I learned this when I was in the US for Christmas and was unable to read blogs and respond to comments - I put up a few posts but ultimately, it was a 3 week break. And guess what, the blog didn't crumble, I didn't lose readers and the time away put blogging and it's importance in a new perspective.  Each week I'm sure to take days away from the self-imposed pressure to respond to every single comment and visit every single blog that I follow.  I hope you do too!