Do you ever feel like a juggler with just a few too many balls in the air? Maybe it’s just me. No … I can’t believe that. I believe that you are struggling to keep track of All The Things just as much as I am. Not only do I have to keep track of things with my business, and when the furnace filter needs cleaning, but I also need to remember that today is day 3 at school and “Day 3 means I need my gym pants and sneakers, Mom.”
And apparently they need to be clean, too!
It’s a juggling act.
No matter where I turn my attention, there are three other areas where I should be looking. Sometimes I worry that I’m dropping the ball somewhere.
Okay, scratch that, I know I’m dropping the ball somewhere.
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Parenting, housework and a business – all of those are full-time jobs if done well. I’ve been at this for about twenty years and I’ve never figured out yet how to be Supermom.
We’re usually capable of doing ONE full-time job and one part-time job. I read that once a long time ago, and my experience over the years has shown it to be true. So clearly something is going to fall through the cracks if you are trying to do three full-time jobs, especially if you are trying to fit in non-parental relationships (like your spouse!), self-care and volunteering. Oh, my.
Anyway, I’m going to share one rule I have had, which helps keep me sane.
If it’s not written down, it’s not going to happen.
Seems simple, right?
Whiteboards are my friend. I have a big one on my kitchen wall. All notes go on it. Anything we need to remember.
Index cards record our household chores.
A huge wipe-off calendar records everything that we’re supposed to attend.
“What time is band practice, Maman?” Check the calendar.
“Why didn’t we go to that thing I told you about?” It didn’t go on the calendar.
When it comes to my blog, I rely on an editorial calendar. In theory. In practice, I haven’t had a lot of success with the various editorial calendars and blog planners.
Until recently, I’ve tried using paper planners, Excel spreadsheets, Trello cards, anything that might make it easier to keep track of what I had done, needed to do and had scheduled. Because I have to admit right here – running a blog that gets thousands of viewers a day requires a lot of juggling and balancing and organization all by itself. And since I’m not going away to an office all day, the daily activities of the household must be integrated into all of that.
While I love paper planners, they tend to get stuck on a shelf, lost under a bed or otherwise forgotten. Even great online stuff like Trello – it was just one more thing to remember to go check. And it didn’t happen. (So when I went to check Trello yesterday, I found seven draft posts that I had forgotten to edit and post. Yea, me.)
What I really needed was something that integrated right into my blog dashboard.
I needed something that would let me plan out all of my social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, etc) right along with the post I was writing, preferably with the ability to add a pre-written “Must do” checklist exactly where I would see it every day. And no limits – I hate seeing that I’ve filled up my queue of post slots and that I need to fill them up again later (hello, Buffer), because I tend to batch schedule a zillion things while sitting at band practice listening to my son murder a trumpet.
I needed something that could be changed easily and would update in real time. And of course it had to let me easily schedule in posts from other people, comments and social posts that I needed to plan ahead.
No, really, I’m not actually posting “Happy New Year” at 12:01 am. I’m scheduling that, thanks. Because I’m old, have little children and I need my sleep.
And it would need to work with all of my social media platforms. Facebook page, profile and groups. Twitter. Instagram (which I don’t use nearly as much as I should). Because what good is the perfect Scheduler-For-All-The-Things if it doesn’t work with all the things.
It would have to do a lot of this stuff automatically, seamlessly, without a lot of extra work or thinking on my part because I don’t have enough hours in my day for three full-time jobs. (And neither do you!)
And ideally, it would also help me find my keys. But I’d settle for it reminding me that the children have a dentist appointment Friday morning so that I don’t double book that with the very important post I need to write before Friday afternoon.
If you’re going to dream about the perfect system, why not dream big, right?
Well, I found it. Watch this little intro video and then I’ll tell you more.
So how does this help me balance all of those balls I’ve been juggling?
Coschedule lets me keep ALL the blog-related stuff in one place. All of it. Scheduling posts, social media updates, my to do list, post and social media analytics, everything. All in one place.
When I log into my Coschedule Dashboard, I see this:
Without even wondering what’s next, I know what I need to do for my latest post.
If I had a team that I worked with on the blog, different tasks could be assigned to different people. But here at Just Plain Living, I wear all the hats.
And yes, Coschedule has a complete training program, which I need to complete.
Perfect scheduler and editorial calendar, right? You haven’t seen it all yet.
The next thing I look at is my at-a-glance calendar. EVERYTHING is there, and it’s color-coded so that I can see quickly if I’m promoting too much of my own stuff (which I assign as pink), or if I have a question-of-the-day scheduled (yellow).
But that is insanely busy, so what I usually do is focus on just one social media platform at a time. Facebook is where you’ll most often find me, and it’s where I put most of my time and energy. So I can very easily switch off all the rest and just see what’s happening on my Facebook page (or my Facebook group or even my profile).
I can click on a post and bring up a whole section dedicated to that post. It may not look like much, but it’s packed with power – all right there, organized, and so easy to access. From there I can access all of the stuff that’s related to that post because, let’s face it, as a blogger, everything I do is usually connected to a blog post.
Inside that section, I can even create a list of tasks that need to be done before and after publishing a post – those pesky things like “Share the post on Flipboard” that I’m unlikely to remember when I hit publish and then realize my toddler peed on the couch. By the time the mess is cleaned up, Flipboard is long forgotten.
Probably the best part is that I can set up a promotion template – mine goes for 28 days at a time – that makes sure I don’t miss anything. And then I prewrite all of the social media updates while I have that post freshly written and at the front of my mind. If I am inclined, I can write up ten different tweets for each posts and save them in Coschedule.
Those updates aren’t deleted when the template runs through, and I can easily set the entire schedule to run again. Easy. Do it once. Use it forever. Or … change it before running it again. It’s totally flexible.
I can’t cover it all. Coschedule has a massive training section on their website, covering all of the things that it does.
But what about all of those tasks and jobs that I want to remind myself about, but I don’t want them to post online? Where do I put “Get your little old self to the airport because Build Your Blog Conference is happening” or “Children at dentist” or “Start thinking about what’s for dinner”? Well, CoSchedule calls these Events, and an Event can be anything that I need to schedule and remember.
I start by going to that date in my calendar. Feb 1, here we come – and yes, I have some really great posts scheduled for the time I’ll be away.
Actually … I have most of 2017 roughed out and planned, and you’re all going to love what’s coming this year. 2017 is the year that Marie gets it all together AND remembers where she put it – because of Coschedule.
I click on the pencil (which shows up when I hover on the post, select Create Event and …
That was easy. It’s now right in my calendar. I can add anything to this calendar – product launch dates, deadlines, doctor’s appointments, events with the children, holidays, anything at all that is relevant to my blogging life. And just like everything in Coschedule, I can easily drag and drop to reschedule.
No, I’m not showing you everything in my calendar because even bloggers need a little privacy. But if I need to remember it, do it, share it or write it … it goes in my Coschedule calendar. If you’re the type who suddenly realized you haven’t eaten or showered in three days, put it in.
Because my blogging friend, you open your blog dashboard every day and you will see this!
It won’t get lost under the bed.
It won’t get scribbled on when your toddler finds the Sharpies.
It won’t get put in that Safe Place that you never find when you need the object.
And did I mention that it connects with all of the social media platforms I use? Connect to one or all of them and it’s the same price. (Instagram is still in beta, but it’s coming.) They all connect to Buffer, but you really only need Buffer’s free service.
If you are blogging and are interested in organizing EVERYTHING that relates to your blog, you want to check out Coschedule’s fourteen day trial. I’ll give you fair warning – it took me less than 24 hours to realize that Coschedule was the answer to all of my blog organizational problems, and a week more for me to realize that it could organize and manage even more.
And I haven’t even explored everything that it can do. There are no hidden secrets, special hacks that let you get more out of it, or Easter eggs that are undocumented but give a pleasant surprise when you find them. It’s all there – but it’s huge and powerful.
Since I signed up last month, they’ve already added Automation, which lets me select certain posts and updates to repeat, and there seems to be many other things on the drafting board. They’re working on adding Instagram.
Coschedule has basically taken an unorganized blogger’s wishlist – that’s me, in case you were wondering, although of course they weren’t asking me – and made it into the most amazing service imaginable that helps me organize everything I need to remember or do.
And they keep improving on it.
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