Welcome to another week of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This episode, Bjork and Lindsay talk with Amy Lynn Andrews about time management.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork interviewed Andrew Wilder from Blog Tutor. They talked about all the sexiest things in blogging, such as passwords and blog backups. 😉 To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free
If I were to guess, I would say that the most common question we get from our members is, “How do I manage my time when there are so many things to do?!?” And yes, it usually comes with two question marks and at least one exclamation point – this question is usually posed by those feeling overwhelmed and at a point of desperation.
Finding the time to do all of the things you want to do can be really tough, especially when everybody and their mother is telling you about the next coolest thing you just HAVE to do to make your blog readership grow.
Fortunately, Amy Lynn Andrews has been doing this blogging stuff for quite a while now, and she has some great tips to share with all of us who are struggling to prioritize and fit it all in.
In this really helpful interview, Amy Lynn shares:
- Her “getting started” tips for blogging as a business
- How she sets a purpose, plan, place, and plot for her business and her life
- How she uses her quadrant method to prioritize activities
- How to clarify what your most important goal is and use that to set priorities
- How to be flexible with your time management
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If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
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Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number 21 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Hey, everybody. This is Bjork Ostrom and yes indeed you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Hey, I’m really excited today because today’s podcast episode is focused on something that I think is so, so important and we hear from bloggers all the time that they really want to figure this out and it’s time management. How do you manage your time? It’s a lot easier said than done but it’s so, so important to be able to do this. I’m really excited to jump into the content but before we do, speaking of time I wanted to mention this.
As you know or maybe know if you listened to the podcast last week, we’re closing down enrollment for the year for Food Blogger Pro. At the very most you have three days left to sign up but it depends on when you’re listening to this. The last day to sign up is November 19th 2015. We’re changing to an enrollment that’s similar to a college or university where we’ll do a really big public enrollment and then we’ll close registration down so you can no longer sign up. We’re really excited about that because that will allow us to have a member focus time where we’re really focusing on the members and then a marketing focus time like right now where we have public open enrollment.
Now, two things about that. There’s really two types of people that will really benefit from Food Blogger Pro. The first is somebody that’s just getting started. If you’re just in the early stages of your blog, Food Blogger Pro really help you take those initial steps and make sure that you are getting everything you need in place so you’re not missing big pieces of the puzzle as you build your blog. We’ve heard from a ton of people that have really thought about taking their blog to the next level or just starting one and they’ve used Food Blogger Pro to do that. The second group of people and this is probably a smaller number of people but we do have members like this that we hear from quite often would be the bloggers that have been doing it for a really long time.
They are looking to multiply or amplify what they are doing and really take their blog to the next level. The exciting thing about blogs like this is that often times with a few small tweaks you can have a really big impact on your blog because maybe you already have that foundation and you have some traffic and you have some visitors to your site. With some small tweaks you can really take your blog to the next level. How does that happen with Food Blogger Pro? There’s really three ways. One is the community forum. We have area where members interact online.
They ask questions, they give answers, they connect, they share what’s working and a lot of times all that it takes is seeing how somebody else is doing something to realize how you can do that on your site. The community forum is a great place for that to happen. The second, and this is probably the most obvious. We have over 300 training videos so tutorials that walk you through different things like SEO which means search engine optimization. Getting your blog to show up higher in Google or Pinterest or WordPress. All of that stuff that comes along with blogging we have courses with videos 3 to 5 minutes long.
Anywhere from 10 to 20 different videos in each course that walk you through the process of really understanding these important concepts. Then, the third is the tools area. Tools, it’s a generic term. What does that mean? There’s two things specifically that we offer in that area right now. One is the nutrition label generator and if you have a food blog or food related site it’s a really easy way to add value to your site by including nutrition label within the recipe itself. That’s something that we wanted so we actually just built it out and we have that available within Food Blogger Pro. Super easy to use.
This, just recently launched, the path tool. What this does is it walks you through not only the course content on Food Blogger Pro so you have a really clear path but it also walks you through the path and the different goals that you can have for your blog as you build traffic and start to learn how to create an income from that traffic. We’re really excited about that. We just launched that last week. That’s the quick overview of Food Blogger Pro. Who is it not for? I’d say this, if you have time in your day and you’re able to search out those solutions on your own and investigate on your own and you don’t really worry about maybe spending some time doing that then Food Blogger Pro probably isn’t a good fit for you.
If you’re more on the side of not having enough time and really wanting a place where you can go to get those answers quickly either from the videos or the community forum, as well as having that really clear path so you know what you should be working on. This is going to be a perfect fit for you as you grow your blog. Again, if you want to check that out it’s foodbloggerpro.com. We’d love to have you as part of the community. I know that you would find it really valuable. What about today? What is the podcast all about? Who are we talking to?
We’re going to be talking with Amy Lynn Andrews of amylynnandrews.com. We actually have Lindsay coming on as a guest as well and we’re going to be talking all about time. Amy is actually going to throw in some general blogging tips as well. Amy has a really rich background in blogging. If you haven’t signed up for her Useletter, U-S-E letter, Useletter, you really should. You can go to amylynnandrews.com and check that out. It’s a really, really great resource. Without further adieu let’s go ahead and jump in. Amy, welcome to the podcast.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I’m really excited to chat with you today and we have our other guest Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. My wife, Lindsay. Lindsay, welcome to the podcast.
Lindsay Ostrom: Hi, thanks.
Bjork Ostrom: Are you considered a guest, Lindsay?
Lindsay Ostrom: I don’t know. I think I am because I’m not on really regularly here.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, sounds good. Two guest.
Lindsay Ostrom: I’ll accept my status of guest.
Bjork Ostrom: All right, sounds good. The plan here for the podcast is we’re going to be talking to Amy about the business of blogging. She’s been blogging for 11 years. Amy, I’ll let you tell your story in a little bit. I won’t tell it for you but we’re also going to be talking about something that we hear from people all the time which is time management. We’re going to bury the lead on that and we’re going to talk a little bit about your story. Before we get into it, Amy, can you just tell us a little bit about what your story is and how you operate online? Where can you be found? What are those different places? What are you talking about in those different places?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Sure. Anybody can find me at amylynnandrews.com. It’s my home-based online and any projects that I do are there.
Bjork Ostrom: Great.
Amy Lynn Andrews: That’s probably the best way to find me online. Let’s see, it must have been 2003 or 4. I can’t remember now. Maybe late 2003 I remember getting an email from my cousin one day and he had just started a non-profit. He was like, “Hey, check out my new site,” for his non-profit. I had been on the internet before then but I don’t know, there was something in that moment that flipped for me because I was a consumer of the internet before that but as soon as I got his email I was like, “Wait a second. He has his own website.” Now, he didn’t built it himself but he had somebody do it for him. I’m thinking to myself, “Wait a second. You mean you don’t have to be some computer guru person to have a website?”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, you can create a website on your own.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Exactly. That was a new idea completely to me but I don’t know what it was but I was hooked. I Googled until my eyeballs nearly fell out, “How do you create your own website.” Along the way somebody in a forum somewhere mentioned, “Hey, the best way to start a website really the easiest way to start a website if you want is to start a WordPress site.”
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Amy Lynn Andrews: That’s how I started. I got the thing up and running. It took me forever to figure out how to do it. Got the site up and running and then I had this moment of, “Oh my goodness, now I have to write something.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure there has to be content on it now.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: I didn’t think of this.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Exactly. At the time I was a pastor’s wife and everybody else seemed to be writing about their lives so I thought I’ll just write about being a pastor’s wife I suppose. That’s what I did for six years I call myself a closet blogger, let’s say because I was doing it on my free time. Really not doing much in the way of social media or networking. There wasn’t a whole lot back then but just blogging when I have the chance but then in 2010 my littles were a little bit older and I had a little bit more time and I got on Twitter and happened to get involved in this community of mom bloggers who were asking all kinds of questions about the technical aspect of blogging. I find myself answering the same questions over and over and finally I was like, “Wait a second. Why don’t I just start a blog about blogging and then I could put all of these tips and tutorials up and then I don’t have to answer all the questions all the time.” That’s really how I started. It wasn’t called amylynnandrews.com back then but that’s what it is morphed into being.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great. You had two sites at the time. One was more of a personal site. You had started this other site that was more of a support site for other bloggers and now you’ve not necessarily merged those but you’re focusing on amylynnandrews.com focusing on helping bloggers essentially, is that right?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Right. More than bloggers now because I feel like blogging is really expanding. We’re so much more than bloggers now, right? I’m trying to figure out how going forward I can really be of help to anybody who’s interested in having a site or a business or making money online.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. All things online essentially not just bloggers so it would be anybody that would be focusing on something, building something online.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Okay, I have a few questions because I think the people that are listening would find this really valuable. Now we’re going to switch into talking about some of the time management stuff because I’m really excited to hear what you have to say about that. Then, to loop Lindsay back in at that point to talk about some of the time management stuff from a food blogging perspective. We’ll go at it from both angles. I think it would be super beneficial. Before we do that there’s a few things I wanted to bring up because I know that we hear some of these questions around blogging as a business or building a website online is a business that I wanted to bring up. One of those was a post that you wrote.
It was about the essential things that you need to do before setting up your blog or before starting to blog as a business. There are some really important things that you had mentioned in there. The post is for those that are listening amylynnandrews.com/make-money-online-setup and we can put that in the show notes. Do you off hand you know what some of those are? Some of those recommendations that you had made? If not, I have it pulled up here. I would love to hear what those are because I think it could be really helpful for people that are listening.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Sure. I probably should preface it by saying I’m not an accountant or lawyer.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Expert in any way so I suppose it’s not financial or legal advice but my own experience. The first thing I would say is keep records of everything. Everything that has to do with your online business, your blog, or anything related because at some point you’re going to need those records. You’re going to need to be able to track them for taxes or whatever it is. Make sure that you keep track of everything and even as if that’s just a simple spreadsheet. Not only dime that comes in but every gift you get, all the swag you get at conferences or anything like that. You just want to keep track of all of that. Then, make sure that you’re allowed to run a home business from your home. There are some zoning requirements and stuff that might not allow you to do it. The small business administration is a good place to find that type of information.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Sales taxes and other thing that some people need to get established and set up before they sell any digital products for example. Other things that you might want to do that I would recommend doing is getting a P.O. Box or some other address where you can receive physical mail like for example if you’re going to set up a useletter … I’m sorry. Excuse. I call it the useletter because that’s what I call mine.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure.
Amy Lynn Andrews: A newsletter of any sort. You have to have valid address physical address and put that in all of your newsletter so that is super important. A lot of times I hear people say, “Just make one up,” because they don’t want to use their personal address and I’m like, “No. Don’t do that because you can get charged.” I think the fine is $10,000 per email or something. If the FTC ever wanted to or whoever is in charge ever wanted to make an example out of you that would not be good.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. Can we pause in that real quick?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: To explain for those that don’t know. Can you talk a little bit about what you mean and where that would show up? I’m imagining you’re talking about if you have an email list, is that right?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Exactly. If you have an email list and you’re planning on sending out a newsletter which if you’re spending any time online it’s probably one of the biggest recommendations as of late. Start your list. Start your list. Make sure that you’re emailing people and building that email list. Yes, when you sign up with an email service provider, a service that’s going to allow you to manage all those email addresses and send out your newsletters on a regular basis and that sort of thing. They are going to ask you if they are a reputable company, they are going to ask you for your address.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. To be sure to include one of those but it doesn’t have to be your home address. It can actually be your P.O. Box. I’ve had an email newsletters on both end. One where it just says a city and a state. I don’t think this is quite legal here. Then, I’ve also had ones where it’s the person’s personal address and it was a friend that had sent it out so it’s just like I copied it and then I paste it in and then I go Google Street View and it’s like you can take a screenshot and send it to them. It’s like, “Hey, lawn looks good.” Right?
I think you’re really right in saying that and recommending that because you have to have it but you don’t have to use your personal address. It can be a P.O. Box or a business address that you use. In our case we have a little office that we have so we use a business address but a P.O. Box before that. Related to that, there’s a couple more things on this post that I wanted to point out to people just because I think it’s so valuable. These maybe tie together, an EIN and then a business bank account. Can you talk about what those are?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Yeah, an EIN is an employee … What does it stand for? Identification number. Employer Identification Number, that’s what it stands for. It’s basically a social security number but for the business. It just identifies your business and even if you don’t have employees it’s still a good idea to get an EIN which separates your personal social security number from your business. There’s a chart I linked to it in a post too. A chart that you can use to see whether or not you definitely need one. It’s just helpful.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. That was something that we realize we needed that because this next point that you make on the post but we try to set up a business bank account so we could keep our finances separate. We have Food Blogger Pro that’s technically one business. Pinch of Yum is technically one business. Then we have obviously our personal finances and for a long time we just had those jumbled together and it was so confusing. We’re like, “Hey, we just got to separate this.” They are like, “You need an EIN.” Essentially the social security number for your business. We went through that process in order to get a business bank account which is another thing that you recommend which I think is so wise. Anything else that you’d want to point out for those that are just getting started? Things that they should be assured to set up or to take time to think about.
Amy Lynn Andrews: I think probably the only other thing I would recommend is just to be deliberate about all of the stuff that’s coming in and going out. Be regular about checking for what I call money leaks. It is so easy when people are recommending things all the time, “Hey, buy this. Hey, this is a great product. Wait, check this service out.” It get sometimes to the point where you’re just paying for stuff right and left and after a while you’re not even keeping track. Right? I like to regularly go back and look at my finances and try to say, “Okay, is there any way …” Any services I’m not using anymore, anything that I can cut out just to keep a tight reign on things.
Bjork Ostrom: I love that. It’s so easy to have those things start to become a part of your norm or you start to not see them anymore. Then you have $20 here and $30 there and $50 there and that can add up to thousands of dollars a year so I think that’s great advice. How about this for transition? We have this great recommendations that I wanted to lead off with. Just some general business tips for blogging that I think are so smart. Here’s the thing. We have so many things that are demanding our time and it’s really hard to say, “I’m going to do this today,” when you feel like you need to write a post or create a recipe, that you need to put together a video.
We have all of these demands on time and that’s really what we wanted to focus on today and I’m excited to talk to you about that. Lindsay is going to be bringing the food blog perspective so she’s going to talk about different areas and time that it takes her for different things that she does for the Pinch of Yum. Then we’re going to be talking through an eBook that I read of yours a while ago before I was even familiar with what you’re doing called, “Tell Your Time.” I think it’s just a super simple way to outline how you can start to capture your time back and really create a plan and stick to it. Before we do that, before we jump in to the nitty-gritty of that, can you give me the example that you lead off within the book where you talk about taking a trip to Switzerland? Can you tell that short story quick?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Right. Imagine you’re in an airport and you’re on a trip to Switzerland so you’ve got all your bags, you’ve got all your stuff and you’re heading towards the gate. As you’re walking, you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, I’ve got a lot of stuff. It’s a long way over there.” That’s your goal, right? To get to Switzerland because won’t it be great? As you’re working your way towards the gate you’re just feeling overloaded by all of the stuff. As you’re passing a different gate you look and you’re thinking, “Wow, that plane is about to leave. Why don’t I just slip on that one instead. It will save me all the hassle trying to get over there to that other gate.” You get on the plane and you take off and then you realize that plane is not going to Switzerland, that plane is going to Siberia.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s a short cut but it’s to the wrong place.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Exactly. It’s easy in the moment but you’ve got to really keep your eye on your ultimate goal and I know it’s a little bit of a simplistic example but I think that that happens to a lot of us on sometimes a daily basis. It’s just too much work and so we take the short cut.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup, I think that’s huge and something that we talk about all the time is the long term mindset to make sure that you don’t try and cut corners in order to get somewhere quicker because a lot of times you realize it’s the wrong spot. How can you focus on the long term? In your book you outline, I’m going to say this. Let me know if I’m off with any of these but purpose, plan, place and plot. Is that right? Does that sound right in terms of the different steps?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Yup, I would say that’s pretty right.
Bjork Ostrom: Great, cool. Can you talk first about this idea of purpose? You’re saying in your book it’s really important that before we start plotting on our time, before we put our calendar together we have to figure out our purpose. What do you mean by that?
Amy Lynn Andrews: I just mean what are you really going after in the long run, in the long term what are your thoughts about your different roles in your life? You might be a spouse. You might be a student. You might be a corporate worker. Whatever you are. A blogger. A homeschooler. It could be all kinds of things but what are those main roles that you play in life and then what are the main goals of each of your roles? The idea behind this is to really get you to stop and think hard about what it is you are trying to achieve in your life so that five years, ten years down the road you can look back and go, “Wait, was I the best,” fill in the blank. Was I the best blogger? Was I the best spouse? Was I the best whatever. Sometimes we just have to go through those goals for each one of those roles in order to spell out where we’re going.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, absolutely. I’m going to put you on the spot if that’s okay. Then, I’m going to virtually press on Lindsay’s mic as well. Lindsay, are you still there?
Lindsay Ostrom: I am.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great. Mic was on all the time but it just seems cooler to me if I imagine turning it on. Amy, I’d love for you to walk through and talk about maybe on a high level what you view your purposes as knowing that you’ve gone through this exercise. Then, Lindsay I want to put you on the spot as well and have you talk about what you view your purposes as. We won’t have to get into any of the planning or any of that stuff quite yet but I would love to hear what those are for you. Amy to start with.
Amy Lynn Andrews: I would say for me it’s I’m an online publisher let’s say / blogger. I am also a spouse and the mother of four kids. We do homeschooling. My husband and I do homeschooling together. I am a huge introvert so I consider my self-care as a really big role for myself.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. You’re coming on a podcast as an introvert that’s also … I just want to say thanks for doing that.
Amy Lynn Andrews: I can play an extrovert really well.
Bjork Ostrom: You could have fooled me.
Lindsay Ostrom: Bjork too.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, exactly. With those, Amy do you recommend putting those in order?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Yes, I would put them in order because you want to make sure that your most important goals are at the top of the list.
Bjork Ostrom: To put you on the spot again, what would your order be?
Amy Lynn Andrews: I think self-care which for me as somebody of faith who is a believer and a Christian I would put my relationship with God it’s certainly up there at the top. That’s what I include in self-care. My relationship with my husband would be next and then my kids.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Then, after that would be some of the more business related ones that you mentioned like online publisher and blogger, things like that.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. All right, Lindsay I’m going to pass it off to you and put you on the spot. What would you say when you think about purpose in terms of defining the things that you really view as essential?
Lindsay Ostrom: Let’s see, if I were to think about it in terms of roles one of the things that I really like about how you have that laid out and how you talked about that in your book, Amy is like naming self as a role. I think that’s cool. I would say self. I would say spouse.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes.
Lindsay Ostrom: Right now … Just reading off Amy’s list right now and basically just trying to be everything that Amy is. No, self and spouse I feel like would definitely be high in the list and then however we would want to categorize like Pinch of Yum so blogger, business owner, online publisher, all of that rolled into one. I feel like I would like to have a role. I don’t know if I currently do but would like to have a role that’s something in the category of like difference maker or somebody I don’t know if that make sense. It’s a little too generic but somebody who’s thinking about not only what I’m doing and continuing to do but how can I make a change and make things better for other people in whatever way that might be. It’s a little vague but those would be some roles I would … Maybe just friend, sister. I don’t know, we don’t have kids. Dog mom. We have a dog.
Bjork Ostrom: In five, number one.
Amy Lynn Andrews: I was going to say we’re staging all of these.
Lindsay Ostrom: I know, CG.
Bjork Ostrom: Actually we’ve rearranged the entire list.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, right.
Bjork Ostrom: At the top. It’s interesting, Amy you had actually talked about this that and it’s one thing I really appreciate is that classic case end of your life when you look back what is it that you want to be known for and I think that purpose evaluation and putting those as priority is so important. Just to start off with any of the time management stuff and I think sometimes in a weird way we can get into things and we can work really, really hard on stuff that maybe it doesn’t matter. That we don’t enjoy or that we don’t want to become more of.
Maybe we just see other people doing it so we feel like we need to do it and it’s not a good fit for us. I’ve encouraged people that go through this practice even if you’re just listening in the podcast right now and thinking about it. To really be authentic with yourself and say, “What is it truly that I want my purpose to be?” Okay, that’s step number one. Purpose. Then we go into this plan phase. Can you talk a little bit about the planning phase and what’s involved with that?
Amy Lynn Andrews: In the plan phase it’s looking at your roles and your goals and then thinking of activities that can help you meet the goals. For example, let’s say I’m going to look at my role as a spouse, right? What’s important to me is not just to have a tolerable marriage I guess let’s say but a marriage that’s really growing and thriving. Then, what can I do that causes my marriage to grow and thrive? In our marriage, one of the activities related to that role for me is to every morning my husband and I from six to seven we have uninterrupted … Because the kids are not up yet, uninterrupted face to face time. It just gives us the opportunity to really check in with one another and make sure that we’re on the same page about what’s going on in life. That for us has been completely transforming I think in our marriage. Knowing that that will happen every single morning and it gives us just time to connect.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. When you say plan what is it specifically that you’re planning?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Okay, I’m sorry. The activity then is to say, all right I’m going to spend an hour a day with my husband in connection time. I’m going to put on my calendar I’m going to block out on my calendar make sure that there’s an hour free every morning in my case six to seven am I can plan on that every morning in my calendar.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it, okay. We’ve defined our purposes. We’ve said, “Here are the things that we want to focus on.” Then in this next step we say, “What is it that we want to do in order to fulfill that purpose that we feel like is so important?” An example that you gave was you have a strong purpose or priority that you want to place on your relationship with your husband and so you say, “I want to spend an hour of uninterrupted time every day.” You know that you want to do that. Can you give some examples of what your activity would be or the thing that you’re planning to do for the business side of things with amylynnandrews.com? The blogging side of things, what would be an example of something that you might plan to do there?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Sure, for me my top priority at this point in time is the useletter which is my weekly newsletter to my email list and so that always gets put at the very top of my list. Monday afternoon when I have my first block of work time in the week, the useletter it get stuck right there in the top hour. If I don’t do anything else if I’ve at least worked on it in the first two hours, hour or two then I’m good to go.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. You’re essentially in this step you’re taking a look at your purposes and you’re saying, “What do I need to do in order to fulfill those?” Lindsay, do you have some examples of things that you place a high priority on that you plan in everyday in order to fulfill some of those purposes.
Lindsay Ostrom: I don’t know if I have anything that I have planned in on a daily basis that comes to my mind right away but like one thing, maybe I do. One thing that I read in your book Amy was as an example was something about what kind of person do I want to be. Do I want to be frazzled all the time and stressed out? Do I want to be calm and clear headed and able to make decisions that I need to make and I feel like that really resonated for me and so one thing that I’m trying to do is in the morning just take 30 minutes to go through this journal-ling process and just look ahead at the day and do some things that are inspiring to me and that really get me off on the right foot. I feel like that would be an example of that on a daily basis but another thing that I was actually thinking of that’s really relevant right now …
In thinking about being a business owner and having Pinch of Yum and all of that and being able to make decisions with a clear head and not just getting overwhelmed and being stuck doing email all day. It’s like, “What kind of business owner do I want to be?” I want to be somebody who’s making a difference, who’s doing big thinking rather than tasky things. I’ve just been feeling super overwhelmed with email lately, and comments and all these little things that don’t align with the kind of business owner that I want to be and just have made me overwhelmed and so we’ve recently made this switch to hiring, having more people on our team take on some of those roles. I feel that’s potentially a way that we’re trying to move in that direction in looking at what kind of business owner, what kind of blogger, online publisher do I want to be. That’s in line with the goal of keeping my head clear, being able to focus on what I need to focus on and thinking big and making those decisions that need to be made I guess.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. I’m looking at the overview of the book here. One thing that I really appreciate is this step through that you do and the question that you first ask is you said, “What kind of blank do I want to be?” To ask yourself the question, “What kind of parent do I want to be?” Then from that you fill it in and take it a step further and you say, “So, fill in the blanks here. What can I do as a blank, a parent, on a daily basis that will move me towards being,” and then you have another blank there which could be something like compassionate or generous or fully attentive.
I think those are really good clarifying questions to ask. Because if our number one priority and our number one purpose is to be kind and caring and present parent that’s really going to shape the emphasis that we have in our day and where we’re deciding what we work on and what we spend our time on. I think for some people that’s a real struggle, I know a lot of people that listen to the podcast they have kids and they have a family. A lot of people have a full time job and they’re trying to put these pieces together and saying, “You know, my focus is in different places, how do I clarify some of these things?” I think these type of questions really help to clarify.
We’ve gone through the planning phase and then there’s this third P, that’s Place, and I love this because it’s a visual and I’m going to try and describe it and then you can fill in the picture. You have four essentially quadrants, right, it’s the classic top quadrant two and then two bottom quadrants. It’s fix time and flexible time and then on top it’s non-negotiable activity and negotiable activity. That might be terrible for people that are listening but, Amy, can you talk a little bit more about what this next step looks like when you’re placing these different activities.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Sure. You’re right, in the previous step you’ve asked yourself, “How do I become the parent that I want to be?” right? Then working through you’ve now landed on, “I can be that type of parent by doing this one thing.” Let’s say for example in my case reading allowed to my kids each evening, all right. Then I would take that task, that’s the task or activity that I have worked my way to and I’m going to plot it on the or place it on the grid, what I call the grid which is the four quadrant thing that you’ve just described.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup.
Amy Lynn Andrews: All right, it’s a little bit tricky but if you can think about this as a way to schedule your week out, you want to make sure that you’re hitting all of these important activities. You don’t want to just if someone says, “Hey, can you do XY and Z on such and such a day,” you look at the calendar, “Oh, I’m free. There’s nothing else going on so sure I can do it.”
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Amy Lynn Andrews: The idea is to say, “Wait a second I’ve got to put even these things, reading allowed to my kids every night on the calendar first before anything extra comes on.” All right, basically you start with those things in life that happen at a fixed time and by fixed time I mean you can’t change the time. My daughter plays volleyball, I can’t determine when her practices are going to be, they are going to be at a certain time that the coach decides. That’s a fixed time because I don’t have control. However, if I think about reading allowed to my kids, that’s flexible time because I can … That could happen at 7:30, that could happen at 9:00 in the morning if I wanted, right? For each activity that you’ve come up with you’re going to say, “Okay, is this fixed time or a flexible time?”
Then you’re going to say, “Is this a negotiable activity or a non-negotiable activity?” For me reading to my kids that’s a non-negotiable, that’s super important to me, that’s going to go in the non-negotiable column. Same thing with hanging out with my husband for an hour every morning, non-negotiable activity. Negotiable activity might be my daughter’s volleyball, “Do we really want to do volleyball?” Considering all of the commitments that come along with it. Look at each of the activities that you have and then you’ve stuck them in one of those quadrants according to whether or not they’re negotiable, non-negotiable or fixed and flexible. Once you’ve got all your activities in then that’s when you can move on to the next step.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and I think this is another really important step just because it helps us to think about what are the things that are actually negotiable and what are the things that are flexible where sometimes we might not think about volleyball being something that is a negotiable activity. When it comes down to it, it is and as we’ll look at in the next step it might have to be some of those activities not necessarily daughter’s volleyball but maybe it would be for me if I had a weekly … I have a friend that just got a PlayStation 4 and we’re talking about scheduling a time where we could play Maden Football against each other.
That’s a pretty negotiable activity but if you don’t take time to really separate those and look at it you might get in a routine where you start to think of things that are negotiable as non-negotiable. I think it’s an important process. Lin, just at a quick pass, when you think about the things related to your purposes whether personal or business, do you have some examples of some things that you would consider pretty non-negotiable and then do you have other ones that you’d consider negotiable that you’d maybe move around on your schedule a little bit depending on what comes up in a day?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, for me right now I think the biggest constraints on what I’m doing in terms of fixed time or flexible and non-negotiable versus a negotiable comes down to work that I’m doing for someone else which is generally brand work like sponsored post or sponsored content or freelance, anything like that. That’s specifically tied into work, just so much of what I’m doing at this point is flexible. Because now I’m doing the blog full time and for us I feel we’re in the season of life Bjork, you and I where we don’t have kids and we have a lot of flexibility with what we’re doing during the day. I do feel like that brand piece would apply to this conversation now and then also I think this is really a pertinent way to, I just use the word pertinent, that was really weird. I don’t normally use that word relevant. I don’t know.
Bjork Ostrom: You used it twice.
Lindsay Ostrom: Wow. Okay. Relevant like way of scheduling or structuring your tasks especially if you are in a place and I know this is true for me where you’re working a full time job and trying to build a business on the side. Obviously there’s the family on it like you were saying Amy where a lot of that the elements that are going to come in that are going to be fixed are probably fixed in their time, in terms of their time are going to be tied to family. I know for me like I would have to be at work by 8:30 and that’s fixed like you cannot change that and I wasn’t able to come home until 3:00 or whatever. Putting those things into those categories was always a helpful thing for me where then I could look at the flexible, what’s flexible but still non-negotiable related to the blog and then plug that into the other areas around that fixed time.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, for sure and that brings us to step number four which I think is … I think they’re all very important. In step four the rubber really meets the road here and all this information becomes even more pertinent, just kidding. I don’t know whether that really worked there.
Lindsay Ostrom: No, not again.
Bjork Ostrom: Too soon. This idea of plotting, can you talk about what that means, Amy?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Right, in your grid you’re going to see really quickly the things that you have time for realistically. Basically you’re just going to work yourself right through, what you were just saying Lindsay that’s such a perfect example. Somebody who is blogging and working let’s say a day job at the same time, that day job is fixed and non-negotiable at least at the beginning. That’s one of the first things you’ve got to put in your calendar like, “This block of time everyday happens whether I like it or not.” Then you’re just going to move your way down to the non-negotiables but have flexible time to them and fit those around the fixed ones.
Then you’re going to move to the negotiable activities and you’re going to decide, “Is this something that I want to keep or not keep? Do I have time in my schedule?” Because by this time you’re going to have a really good visual if you’re working in let’s say Google Calendar or something, you’re plotting them in there. You’re going to have a really good idea, “Wow, I don’t have a whole lot of time.” Another that I recommend putting in there is sleep because a lot of times calendars get planned without the sleep or the sleep chunk in there. It’s just a way of visually seeing how much time you have left.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and I think this when I was reading through the book, this was one that it’s a really simple concept and to some people might even seem like, “Well, aren’t you just plotting things out on your calendar?” That’s what it is but you’ve done so in a way that’s very attentive and intentional towards your purposes and what you can do and you actually can’t do. Can you guys hear that? There’s this …
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m okay. Just so you guys know everything is okay. We’re going to continue the podcast unless the fireman drag me out. All right, we’ll just going to keep rolling. The idea is that everything is really intentional and I think that is really, really important. The other thing that I think is so important with this idea of plotting things out is that for a lot of people in this I think will be true for a lot of people that are listening. When it comes down to it you don’t have enough time in the day to do the things that you want to do. I think that this type of process helps us to realistically look at that and reevaluate and say, “What is my true purpose and what am I really focusing on?” Let’s say somebody has gone through this process Amy, they get to the end of their week or their month and they look at it and they say, “I can’t do it all.” How do you suggest people relook at things and where do they cut things from first?
Amy Lynn Andrews: That’s such a hard question, right? I think if you can eliminate the negotiable activities that you’ve already work towards, you can start there. I think each person has to decide for themselves but this is for me the hardest part of all. Because especially online there is so much to do when you’re thinking about running an online business and everybody is telling you that you really need to do this and you really need to do that and you really need to do this and “Be everywhere.” It’s like you’re saying completely impossible. You just have to think about what is your goal and think about where your readers, your target audience is hanging out and focus your efforts there first. The things on your site let’s say as a blogger that are most important, what is your one thing on your site? What is the one thing you want people to do? Is it you want them to click on your ads? Is it that you want them to sign up for your email list? Is it that you want them to book you for a speaking gig? Is it that you want them to buy your product? What is the one thing on your site that if they didn’t do anything else, you would want them to do this one other thing? You’ve got to work backwards from there and figure out, “Now, how do I funnel them to that one goal?” Just eliminate all of the extraneous stuff because there’s so much of it and it’s so true, you won’t be able to do it all.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. One of the things that as we’re coming to the end of this, I think it’s interesting is that you get in and you to repeat, you do purpose, plan, place and then plot. You know that you have maybe family, you have self, you have these things that are number one in terms of importance, number two importance. Then maybe as you get further down you have your business or your blog, obviously that’s different for other people, that might be higher for some people, it might be lower for some people. You’re saying with that limited amount of time, knowing that it’s a limited amount of time for most people. You need to really clarify within that chunk of time what is your most important thing to focus on. Lindsay, I want to go back to when you were first building Pinch of Yum. When you have that limited amount of time, you are working a full time job, you’re trying to squeeze in time at the gym and you’re also doing sometimes three recipes a week. What did that look like for you in terms of what you placed your emphasis on when you finally got down to that piece that was blog, business, all things online?
Lindsay Ostrom: I feel it’s a hard question for me specifically because at the time I guess maybe I should fast forward not from the beginning because from the beginning I just did it because I like to do it. I wasn’t necessarily approaching it from a business standpoint and maybe didn’t even really know all the other things I should be doing and or maybe didn’t care. That wasn’t as much as of a struggle but I would say where it really started to become a struggle is when the business had already started to build and we knew that it could become something with Pinch of Yum and then I was still working full time at school. I think the number one thing that I kept coming back to was just the core content of recipes because that’s the core of the site, that’s what it’s built on in publishing high quality new recipes on a regular basis. There are all these other things and still are and is only growing, social media and stuff with email and all the other affiliate stuff that can happen. For me it was I just need to bring it back down to the post level and anything else that I would do in that social media or those other categories to me would fall in that, I can’t remember the quadrant now. The one that’s flexible and negotiable and it would be the first to go thing and the one that stayed non-negotiable and at the core of it was just the content and continuing to produce the content that was really the core of the site.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, the negotiables for you would be the things to support the content.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yes, right.
Bjork Ostrom: The non-negotiable would be the content itself.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yup, yup.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I think that’s such a great device and a lot of times I think we can get caught up in these outside pieces like, “How do I build my Pinterest account or get more Twitter followers.” and things like that and start to forget about really the very core of what we do which is the content itself. I think that’s a good reminder. Amy, I think this outline is super helpful and I think that people will get a lot out of it. If nothing else there might be some people that are listening today that have realized that they’re trying to do too much when they analyze their schedule, when they plot those different priorities in they can start to see, “Man, you know, if I’m going to sleep seven hours a night and still try and do all this stuff it’s going to be really tough.” I appreciate you sharing that. One of the things that I wanted to to just out of curiosity, talk a little bit about that has to do with time in the sense that you said this is your focus, is the useletter. Can you talk a little bit about that and can you talk about why in some ways you’ve shifted to that being your priority versus just the blog itself?
Amy Lynn Andrews: Sure. Now, for me the whole niche, blogging about blogging. About two years ago I realized, “This is getting a little bit too huge for one person to cover in one blog.” Things were moving way too fast, social media was exploding, you’ve got all these different platforms to keep track of and there was just no way that I could continue to produce content at the level that I was producing and try to cover it all. Not only that but I realize, “Wow, there’s a lot of people who are now specializing in certain areas that know a whole lot more than I do.” When I started a blog about blogging it really was just pretty much about blogging and then as time went on you can throw in a couple of Twitter tips and Facebook tips and call it good. It really changed not only that but I realize on my own blog that a lot of the content that I had written previously was just getting outdated so quickly that to me it was becoming a burden to go back in, to update it all and to keep on top of it. The joy for me in writing about blogging and keeping up with social media is really following what’s going on sort of on a big level. What are people doing? What are the tools that they’re using? How are they making money online? What are all the different ways that people are making money? That sort of thing is really interesting to me not so much the nitty-gritty writing, the step by step tutorials and stuff. I made this switch and I thought, “You know what, I’m going to start building a list,” again this is something that I own. I don’t have to worry about my site going down. I think it all happened, do you guys remember Pat Flynn when his site went down for a week and I forget when that happened. It was gone. Smart Passive Income was just disappeared and I remember him talking about how nerve wrecking that was. I think he even gave stats about how much money he was losing everyday and stuff. Then he was talking about … He was so glad he had his list because he could keep people updated even though his site wasn’t there. I think it was about that same time I thought, “You know what I think that’s a good idea. I think I’m going to move in that direction.” I did make the switch and I knew it was going to be a risk because at that point people weren’t so used to getting most of their content in email form. They were used to going to the blog. It just suites me better, I’ve been doing the useletter now every week faithfully for two years and more than two years and I think I’ve missed two weeks and both of those weeks were planned to be missed. You know what I’m saying? Whereas a blog post for me, writing blog posts consistently had always been a struggle. The format is just a better fit for me personally and I really like the idea of having this list that could go with me anywhere. It turns out that people … It’s really resonated with people on a lot of levels I think because they are able to … I think what I hear from people is this idea of, “Now I don’t have to be worried about keeping on top of all of it myself because I’ve figure that you’ll tell me in the useletter if I need to know it.” It’s just worked out really well for me just in general overall and I have really enjoyed the shift.
Bjork Ostrom: I think what’s so inspiring about that is you not feeling pinned down to doing things a certain way and I think there’s occasionally times that we mention that on the podcast. I think it’s so important anytime that there is that opening to have that discussion that there is many different avenues that you can drive down when you’re building something online. It doesn’t have to be that and we always poke fun to ourselves because we’re called Food Blogger Pro but it doesn’t have to be a blog, right? It could be a podcast, it could be a YouTube channel, it could be a newsletter that you have. There’s so many different options for how you can build things and you can build the following and I think you’re a great example of that, Amy. As we’re coming to the end here I want to make sure that people the opportunity to follow along with what you’re doing. You had mentioned at the beginning …
Lindsay Ostrom: Hey, Bjork.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, go ahead.
Lindsay Ostrom: Can I interrupt? Can I just ask a question?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.
Lindsay Ostrom: I know this isn’t scheduled but sorry to throw off …
Bjork Ostrom: No, it’s good. This is a reward for the people that listen all the way to the end of the podcast.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, right, right. Amy, this is something and maybe you’ll get into this when you tell people where to find you and everything. In looking at your book and I’m actually looking at it on a computer through the Kindle app or whatever, on a computer. I clicked over to your website where you have the PDFs that go along with each of those planning and the roles, the activities, the grid and all of that and the schedule. In your book you have … I’m sorry. Because this going back to the schedule piece but just on a personal level and really practical level maybe to end unplanned question. I’m really interested to know because I’ve done a schedule like that before where it’s really gridded and it’s beautiful, you have it color coded and you have all those different pieces in there. Your work time, your family time, your time with your husband, your morning routine, it’s pretty detailed. My question for you is as a person like myself who has done this and really struggled because I felt like I couldn’t stick to that and felt like I was constantly straying from that. How closely do you actually stick to that in your day to day and what would you say to someone who has the best intentions and tries to make something like that and maybe has a hard time sticking to that?
Amy Lynn Andrews: That is such a great question. I would say the calendar that you’re looking at, the weekly schedule that you’re looking for the printables, my life looks totally different now. I wrote the eBook in 2010.
Lindsay Ostrom: Okay.
Amy Lynn Andrews: At the time that I wrote it it was really accurate but overtime as seasons have changed one of the things and I’m pretty sure I mentioned it in the book too. Every season will bring new activities and new things and so I try to revisit, I think is the word, revisit my schedule once or twice a year at least and rearrange things to fit the season. I think another thing that I’ve learned since writing the book is it kind of exactly what you’re saying to. It’s difficult because I’ve see those schedules where every half hour is blocked out, right? You are right, on this one that I did there are a lot of half hour time slots as well but there are also some big chunks of time, an hour, two hours, sometimes more at a time as well. I think what I have started doing recently that has really helped me is instead of looking at chunks of time, breaking up the day with chunks of time. I have now started doing day long chunks at a time. That has really helped me a lot because not only does it eliminate the stress of, “Oh my goodness it’s 8:30 I’ve got to move on to the next thing.” It also allows me to really, really get into the zone. My husband and I for a long time we were doing the tag team, half of the day I would work and then half of the day he would work. While the other one was working, the other one would be homeschooling the kids for example. That worked for awhile but now we have just recently switched so that he takes one full day of work a week and I take one full day of work a week where the other person is at home that whole day with the kids. That is actually working a lot better. I think to somebody like you I would say definitely experiment, try new things, figure out what works for you. If you can get big chunks of time at one time that would be perfect. Let say somebody is working like you were working as a teacher, all day long you’re at work and you have these evenings at home. If you do like tasks together as much as you can do, you might do all film, all of your videos let’s say in one night or write all of your show notes and blog post in one night. Source all of your images or create all of your images in one night and do it assembly line. I think that helps as well. If you don’t want to break it up in such small chunks.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, it’s so interesting to hear you say that because honestly it’s just been within the last two weeks with Bjork since we got back from vacation that I put up this calendar in my office and I’ve seriously, I really resonated within your book the Shiny New Thing like, “Oh, I need this app and I need now the schedule and I’m going to try this organizational system.” Finally I’m like, “Okay, I’m not sticking to these schedules like I’m working really hard to make these super detailed hour by hour schedule but I’m not very good at … I get stressed out … The timing isn’t right or whatever and so I’ve recently switched over to this kind of what you’re talking about which is encouraging for me to hear that like, “Hey, this is a good thing,” and I should keep doing it. To put on and for me it’s either to put on the calendar for that day, office if that’s an office day or if that’s a cooking day. For doing work that we and food do it’s like so weird because so much of it is on a computer but also you’re in the kitchen and you’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes and you’d taking pictures. I was just finding it really difficult to like you said to chunk the time and go back and forth between those activities and it’s been so helpful for me to batch that. I think you said group, how did you say that, group like tasks.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Like tasks together.
Lindsay Ostrom: It’s only been two weeks so I guess we’ll have to give it sometime to see if it actually sticks but I feel like for me it’s been this revelation of like, “Oh my gosh this is how I need to be working. I need to either have a day be a computer day or have a day be like a kitchen and cooking and photography day.” I’m encouraged to hear you say that because when I look at your account I’m like, “Okay, you know, maybe I should get back to this.” Definitely I don’t know if you would say it this is true, probably depends too on the on the season that a person is in and also personality and all that stuff but that’s really awesome for me to hear that because it makes me feel like I’m on the right track.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Yeah, I think it works much better for me too and you get on a roll and then you get on a roll and after awhile you’re like, “Okay, next one, next one, next one.”
Lindsay Ostrom: Yes.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Yeah, it fuels itself on us.
Lindsay Ostrom: Yes, exactly. Okay, Bjork, my hijacking of interviewing is done.
Bjork Ostrom: No, that’s all right.
Lindsay Ostrom: I would let you get back to it.
Bjork Ostrom: Anytime.
Lindsay Ostrom: I’m sorry. I just was super curious about.
Bjork Ostrom: Anytime. Even if you’re not on a podcast, if I’m recording you can come in the room.
Lindsay Ostrom: I can just jump in.
Bjork Ostrom: You have all permission to ask questions anytime. What I was going to ask though Amy is where people can find you? You had mentioned that at the beginning just real quick but I want to give you another chance to give a plug for your website and then also maybe mention where people can follow along with the newsletter.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Sure, AmyLynnAndrews.com is where everything is. They can sign up for the newsletter there or if you just go to theuseletter.com, that’s U-S-E Letter, theuseletter.com it’ll take you there too.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, cool and the book that we’re referred to obviously you’d said that you written a while ago and it kind of dug it out of the Amazon archives but I appreciate you’re going back to that in reviewing it and I think people will get a lot out of it. We’ll also get a lot out of following along with what you’re doing and the information that you share. Amy, thanks so much for coming on the podcast today.
Amy Lynn Andrews: Thanks you guys. It was fun.
Bjork Ostrom: All right.
Lindsay Ostrom: Thanks, Amy.
Bjork Ostrom: Appreciate it. Thanks, bye. Hey, that’s a wrap for episode number 21. Another big thank you to Amy for coming on the podcast today. Be sure to check out her site and all of the valuable resources that she has at AmyLynnAndrews.com. Thanks, Amy. One last reminder here on the podcast that things are going to be closing down for new sign ups on Food Blogger Pro November 19th. Be sure to hop on over to FoodBloggerPro.com and secure your spot before we close down on November 19th. We won’t have another public enrollment until spring of 2016. Be sure to head on over there and grab your spot if you’re interested in being a member and a part of the community. We’ll be back here next week same time, same place. Make it a great week guys. Thanks.