Batch Processing + My Blogging Routine

There was a time I was wildly fascinated with the lifestyle of the French. I wanted to know everything about their lifestyle: how they dress, how they live, how they raise children, what they eat…everything. So, I started following a few bloggers who write about the “Parisian Chic” life. In one of the posts, the writer mentioned how French women build exercise into their daily routines. They walk everywhere. They take the stairs. They grocery shop several times a week. Wait, what?! Call me lazy but I don’t want to step out of the house multiple times a day. When I am out, I better finish all (or most) of the errands, return home, and kick off my shoes. I grocery shop weekly. I go to the gym directly after dropping my son to the school, I visit in in-laws on the way to or back from somewhere else. That’s me, batch processing my life!

And I follow the same principles in my blogging life too. I batch process my blog production.

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What is Batch Processing?

Batch processing, as the name suggests, is a technique to process tasks in batches. It’s based on one and only one principle: single tasking. In today’s day and age, everyone multitasks. When I was still part of the corporate world until five years ago, I was even evaluated on how well I could multitask (can I just say I rocked multitasking?). But let’s be honest: I used to slip up every now and then. Recently, I have seen a lot more articles urging people to adopt a single-tasking mindset.

Remember, batch processing is not a process, it is a technique. It simply helps you group similar tasks that can be processed together. For example, you may choose to write your SEO even before writing your post, or you may choose to create your images before writing the SEO. These tasks are not necessarily linear (it helps me though to keep it linear but that’s the “process” that I follow—more on this later).

Benefits of Batch Processing

Once you start batch processing, you will see the benefits within a very short time. Batch processing:

  • Helps focus: Working on a single task at a time helps bring focus to the task. When you are switching between tasks that require the use of different faculties/abilities, it messes up your concentration. Conversely, while batch processing, you are using only one set of faculties and your brain can supply all the juice to the required faculties.
  • Improves productivity: When you batch similar tasks, it builds rhythm and improves your productivity. On the other hand, if you are constantly switching between dissimilar tasks, your brain has to reorient itself to the current task.
  • Saves time: When your brain doesn’t need to switch modes constantly, it helps save time. Your brain knows the requirements and parameters within which you are working and it’s already optimized to deliver at those levels.

How to Batch Process Your Blogging Business

Quite simply you break down your blogging tasks to the last detail and group them for similarity. Let’s say on the 1st of every month (ideally before), you research all the topics you want to write about during that month. Spend 1 hour coming up with as many topic ideas as you can. Note that you are NOT focusing on ONE topic idea but several topic ideas at a time. That’s batch processing.

Similarly, identify other tasks that you can group but need not necessarily relate to a single blog post or project. Here are some ideas:

  • Populate the content calendar for a month
  • Edit and proofread multiple blog posts for the month
  • Record multiple YouTube videos in one sitting (ok, you can change your shirt for every video if you want!)
  • Schedule social media posts for the week
  • Write invoices
  • Respond to emails OR comments

The options are aplenty.

Once you have identified the task groups, you want to schedule them on your calendar and build a routine around it. For example, I group tasks and then schedule them by days. Here’s a screenshot of my “sample” Trello board:

Trello Screenshot Momchakra Batch Processing Productivity Blogging

  • On Sundays, I come up with several topic ideas. Yes, my work week begins on a Sunday. It takes me about 1 hour and it’s nothing more than a brain dump.
  • On Mondays, I select 2-3 topics and begin researching. I note down the key points and build a wire frame for each post. I also decide if a post warrants a content upgrade. I spend 4 hours doing this.
  • On Tuesdays, I write the first draft of the posts. I do not worry about the formatting or grammar. It’s a free-form writing day. I spend 4-5 hours on this task.
  • On Wednesdays, I go in with a hawk’s eye and edit my content. I have been trying to write the long-form content of late so it takes a lot of time and patience to edit.
  • On Thursdays, I create content upgrades, if applicable. If not, I use the time for self-education or administrative tasks.
  • On Fridays, I create the images, fill in the SEO details, and schedule publish. Another thing: social media. Right now, I am very bad at it but I am trying to become more visible on social media. So, with whatever time I save on Fridays, I plan to schedule social media posts for the week going forward.
  • On Saturdays, I spend about 1 hour to draft the week’s newsletter (no subscribers to read them though :-P)

I am only three-months into the whole blogging system, and I am still learning. In addition, I am a stay-at-home mother with only about 4 hours to spare in a day. Additionally, I like to keep my weekends as open as possible. I know that is the opposite of a hard hustle, but if I cannot spend time with the ones for whom I am doing this, what is the point of doing it at all? I wrote about my new blogger frustrations in an earlier post. Depending on your unique life situation, you may do more or less and take more or less time doing each task.

So, there you have it: how I use batch processing in my blogging routine.

What your blogging routine? What processes and techniques do you use to work on your amazing blog?

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5 Tips to Have an Amazing Morning Routine…Every Day!

Enough has been said about the importance of having a good morning routine. Routines are something I seek and test out very frequently. Mommy routine, morning routine, evening routine, cleaning routine, fitness routine…the list goes on and on. The reason I am so interested in routines is I want to learn how to simplify and/or better my life. Some of these “hacks” work for me, some don’t. But try I will.

So today, my friends, I bring to you my current morning routine and why you should consider adopting it too.

Now, first things first: this post is purely focussed on incorporating “health” in your morning routine. And for that reason, it will not tell you to make your bed, throw a load of laundry, make your To-Do list, or plan your dinner. That will be a post for another day. So are you ready to learn about my morning routine? Here goes!

1. Rehydrate Your Muscles and Cells

The first thing you should do after waking up is to rehydrate your body. If you find it difficult to remember to consume water, keep a glass or bottle of water on your nightstand. This way when you wake up in the morning, all you need to do is reach out for the glass or bottle and gulp down the water. I wrote about the importance of hydration and tips to consume more water in an earlier post. Have you read that yet? It’s also beneficial to eat a small fruit (preferably one that is “in-season” and fresh), or a few almonds soaked overnight within 15 minutes of waking up. This helps kick-start your metabolism and will also act as a before-workout snack (Yes! You need to work out!).

2. Include 30-45 Minutes of Physical Exercise

If you are feeling rushed by this time, perhaps you should consider waking up a little earlier. Here are some tips to become a morning person. Equally important is to sleep early and deep. How will you wake up early if you don’t sleep well, right? I got you covered.  But coming to the point, enough studies have been published highlighting the benefits of including 30-45 minutes of physical exercise every day. Incorporate a good workout routine into your mornings. Consider it like eating the Frog. Let’s face it–of all the things listed in this morning routine post–this point about physical activity is going to be the most difficult to accomplish. But if push yourself to get this done in the morning, you won’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. If you are still on the fence about putting aside 30-45 minutes of your morning, you surely can put aside 7 minutes, yes? And while you are at it, gain the immense health benefits. Just remember to start and end with stretches 🙂

3. Practice 15 Minutes of Deep Breathing and Meditation

Alright, it’s time to cool down and nourish your mind. And during this time, do one and only one thing–meditate or bring your mind to focus. Practice deep breathing exercises for about 10 and taper off with 5 minutes of guided or unguided meditation. But how is it beneficial? Breathing is the very basis of life…and no, I am not talking spiritually. Plain, simple biology. Several researchers have put forth the benefits of deep breathing. Here are just a few of those: reduces anxiety and depression, increases energy levels, relaxes muscles, and reduces stress response and overwhelm. The ROI of deep breathing is simple, in my opinion. Coupled with meditation, you will not only bring awareness of your breathing technique but also to every part of your mind and body.

4. Eat a Nourishing Breakfast

It’s time to eat! You may say, “but I just ate,” and I would say “sure…four almonds and a glass of water!” That, my friend, was not your breakfast. I am sure you have heard a thousand times how breakfast in the more important meal of the day. What if they are right? Trust me, I used to be you. I would skip breakfast almost every day–no wait, my breakfast was two cups of coffee–because you see, I was busy and I’d rather get “work” done in the time I’d instead spend eating breakfast. But here’s the thing: the reason they say breakfast is the most important meal of your day is that your blood glucose is at its lowest in the morning after the 8-12 hour gap since your last meal. Low blood glucose means you are low on energy (grogginess, anyone?) given that glucose is what your body uses to provide you energy. A word of tip: try to include both carbohydrates and proteins in your breakfast. One without the other will not serve any purpose. If you, like me, struggle in the kitchen, try searching for easy breakfast ideas (that are also healthy) on Pinterest.

Now, remember, the sequence of routine I have outlined above is what I recommend. If you feel like you need to meditate before your physical exercise, go for it. The idea is to get done with all the tasks BEFORE you go about the rest of your day.

And now *drumroll* it’s time for the fifth and most important tip. TADATADA

5. DO NOT GET SUCKED INTO THE DIGITAL WORLD YET

You heard me. Don’t check your email, don’t check your social media, don’t play games on your phone, don’t read news on your tablet…just don’t. Everything you have done so far to have a healthy start to your day will hold no water. Come on, you have the entire day to spend time with your digital companion, just not the first thing in the morning. You don’t need me to tell you how the digital world is like a quicksand, a whirlpool. In today’s day and age, there is no escaping the digital world, but it need not take up your time from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Remember my earlier post on how to get a good night’s sleep and how you need to practice digital shut down at least one hour before your bedtime? The same is true for when you wake up.

Listen, depending on your personal family situation, you may need to do only this much or a lot more every morning. But let the first one hour be only about you. You deserve this time to yourself. Your daily tasks will get done no matter what, but if you lose your sense of balance, picking up the pieces of the day will be a more difficult than it should be.

So, if you are not already following this routine, will you at least give this a try? For your sake?

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How you start your day can either make it or break it. Here are five tips to start every day with a killer morning routine.

Sleep Faster and Better: Top 5 Tips for Get a Restful Night’s Sleep

Hello, sleepyhead! What’s keeping you awake? A newborn baby, too much coffee, a high-profile impending presentation, a thousand emotions bottled up inside of you? Or perhaps, you lay awake reflecting on the past, or worrying about the future. No matter what your reason is, we need to address it. Because you know, sleep deprivation is not only a hindrance to your daily productivity but it can also affect your health and wellness in an adverse manner. Studies reveal that not getting enough sleep over an extended period of time can lead to serious health issues, including high blood pressure and heart attack.

Top 5 Tips to Sleep Faster and Better

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So, what should you do? I have listed five tips you should try for faster and better sleep.

Tip 1: Add Physical Exercise to Your Daily Routine

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But you already knew that, did you not, my dear reader? Physical exercise tires you out thereby increasing your body’s need to rest. If you have not done anything even moderately physical during the day, your body is left with unspent energy, which in turn does not allow for a deep sleep. But, remember to leave at least a two-hour gap between the end of your exercise session and the start of your bedtime ritual. Why? Because physical exercise gets your blood flowing and energizes you–something you want to avoid if you want to get a better quality of sleep.

Tip 2: Avoid Daytime Naps

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All of us have different sleep requirements. While some of us can function well with just five or six hours of sleep, some others (*cough*) may find even 10 hours not enough. But hey, you know, we can not spend all our life sleeping. We need to get out of the bed, no matter how tired we feel, and get on with the day. If you are not well-rested, then the exhaustion will deter you from completing necessary tasks during the day. And we all know the result of unfinished tasks piling up.

Now, to combat this exhaustion from sleep depravity, some of us take day time naps. But hear me out. Unless you are a sleep-deprived parent of a newborn, an infant or a toddler, or an elderly or sick person, you should avoid day time naps. Instead, adjust your night time sleep routine.

Now, I know there are many gurus who advise taking day time naps, but remember, those naps are called power naps and typically last between 15 to 20 minutes. So, if you must, please go ahead and grab a short nap during the day time. But remember the time limit of power naps to ensure you are not turning your nap into a deep sleep. This is because when you take long naps during the day, it reduces your sleep requirements at night, and you are back to square one.

Tip 3: Develop a Healthy Bedtime Routine

So, let’s assume you exercised and avoided the day nap successfully. You now need to prepare for the night time sleep. Develop a routine comprising of the following three habits to ensure you can fall asleep easily.

Limit Alcohol and/or Caffeine Intake

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This isn’t rocket science, my friend! There’s a reason why many of us start our day with coffee. It stimulates the brain in a way that takes away the feeling of tiredness. I won’t get into the science behind this, but if you are interested, you can read about it here. So, coming back to coffee, you need to limit your daily caffeine intake (caffeine also includes aerated drinks) to no more than 2-3 cups, and definitely not within 6 hours of your scheduled sleep time. So, for example, if you go to bed at 10 PM, make sure you consume your last cup of coffee no later than 4 PM.

Monitor Your Food Intake

While you may already ensure not going to bed while you are still hungry, you need to take care of the opposite end of the spectrum too–do not go to bed stuffed. Have you noticed how uncomfortable you get when you overeat? Yeah, you will neither be able to do chores nor sleep. What good is that? So make sure you are eating healthy but also monitor your portion sizes. While you are at it, cut out those snacks upon which your day is built. Reduce your salt, sugar, and processed food intake. Hydrate yourself by getting enough fluids in your body. Here’s a post I wrote to help you stay hydrated.

Practice Digital Shutdown

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The digital world is as addictive as coffee. It is also a necessary inconvenience. It keeps us connected to the rest of the world and apprises us of the world happenings. But it also limits human relationships within the confines of the digital world. So, let’s all agree it is necessary for us to engage with the digital platforms. But for the sake of your health and wellness, limit your usage, especially late evenings. Here’s why: we all know the lights emitted from the gadgets interferes with your sleep cycle. That’s why manufacturers are designing their phones and websites to function on a “night mode” but I am not sure how effective that is. Additionally, let’s assume the “night mode” works and you settle into your bed and switch on your phone. Remember this: digital platforms are created in a way that will keep you bouncing from one event to another, never really allowing you to switch off. Suppose you decided to catch up on the current affairs of the country at bedtime. You read one article, and then you find the “You may also like…” bait. Then, you may want to check your email one last time. Uh oh, an important email from that important client. Your response can wait until tomorrow, but since you are anyway awake, why not reply now. Next, let’s check Facebook, Twitter, and oh yes, Snapchat and YouTube. Before you know, you would be 1.5 hours past your scheduled bedtime. So do yourself a favor and disengage from all gadgets at least 1 hour before your bedtime. Allow your body to wind down.

Tip 4: Prepare for the Next Day

Before you head for the bed, you need to prepare for the next day in whatever little ways you can. If it means writing down your To Do list for the next day or packing the lunch bag, just do it. It will be one less thing to worry about in bed and the next morning. Developing this habit not only help you sleep better at night, but also save you a lot of time when you wake up the next morning.

 Tip 5: Write Down Your Thoughts

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How often have you found yourself unable to fall asleep because your mind is racing, worrying about an impending presentation the next day? Grab a pen and paper and write down what’s causing you to toss and turn. What are you thinking? What are you worried about? Writing it down is proven to mimic the act of sharing worries with a friend. It’s a great way to release the bottled up emotions that are a cause for your sleeplessness. Writing it down will also allow you to “see your thoughts” and help you analyze them.

So, there you have it. My top 5 ways to help you sleep faster and better. But you know what, there is another added benefit: sleeping faster and better will make it easier for you to become a morning person. Now that’s what I call a win-win situation.

Let me know in the comments your tips to sleep faster and better.

Until next time,

Sleep well, my friend.

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