I wrote my first blog post ever just over a year ago. Since then, blogging has become a major part of my life. In the past year I have met many amazing bloggers, connected with readers via email, shared my financial journey through monthly updates, and have even had some of my work featured on major news outlets.
I felt the first excitement of blogging in November of last year when Yahoo, CNBC, Business Insider, LifeHacker, and Rockstar Finance all featured my Early Retirement Grid on their sites in the same week, driving tens of thousands of eyes over to my site in only a few days.
And perhaps most exciting of all is that I have started earning some money through advertising and affiliate links on the blog, helping me net $644 this past month.
I spend quite a lot of time working on this blog, but it hasn’t always been this way. When I first started blogging, I would write sporadically, whenever I could find time, and I was often unhappy with the quality of the articles. I had no writing routine, which meant I spent too much time trying to motivate myself to write.
This all changed when I made two crucial decisions that have allowed me to write more.
1. I write at the exact same time each morning.
Each morning I get up at 6 A.M. I no longer debate when I should write during my day. I eliminate that decision-making process. 6 AM. Every morning. No questions asked.
2. I write at the exact same place each morning.
This habit might be unique to me, but I find that it helps to write at the same location each morning. Each morning I drive to Panera Bread before work, sit at the same table in the corner, listen to Noisli, and write for about two hours.
These two habits have helped me produce 185 articles in about a year.
The Art of Schedule Shifting
I have always enjoyed writing, which made starting a blog feel natural. But this is something I delayed for a long time. I constantly told myself I don’t have time to write, I should wait for a better time in life.
But I did have time in my day, I just wasn’t using it optimally.
My day used to look like this:
Each weekday I would get home from work around 5 and I had a whopping six hours of free time. I could easily carve out two of those hours for blogging, but I rarely did.
I wasn’t struggling with finding the time to blog, but rather finding the willpower. During this six hour stretch I would spend most of it aimlessly scrolling through my phone, watching a TV show I didn’t even care about, or just lounging around the house.
An important lesson I have learned in recent years is that humans only have so much willpower, motivation, and energy in any given day. Once that storehouse of energy has been depleted, it’s incredibly difficult to find motivation to do work or practice a craft.
So I made a decision: I’ll just grab two of those evening hours and throw them at the earliest point in my day. I’ll go to bed two hours earlier and wake up two hours earlier. This way, all of my fresh energy, ideas, and motivation I had in the morning could be put towards blogging. I shifted my schedule.
My schedule now looks like this:
I go to bed around 9 – 9:30 most nights and wake up at 6 AM each morning before I head to my 9-5 job. This has made a huge difference in how much time I can spend working on the blog.
Shift Your Schedule
Most people don’t like waking up early to crank out work, and that’s fine. Earlier this summer I posed a question on Twitter, asking other bloggers what time of day they prefer to write:
Clearly not everyone operates best in the morning. Some people do their best work in the evenings or even late at night. The key is being self-aware of when you do your best work and making time for it each day.
Maybe you’re not interested in blogging in particular, but what is it that you wish you had more time for? Whether it’s learning an instrument, picking up a new professional skill, building something in your garage, or starting a side-hustle, I bet you have more free time than you think. The trick is figuring out how to optimize that time.
Find out when your energy and willpower is highest throughout the day and block off that time to start doing that thing you’ve been putting off. This might require some experimentation. Try waking up earlier. Or maybe later. Trying working less, on different days, or at different times. Notice when you have free time throughout the day and try to chunk together a block at the same time each day to practice your craft, build that thing, or start that side-hustle.
Use the art of Schedule Shifting to help you find the time to pursue your true interests.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
His favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, a site that allows him to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free, has no trading or maintenance fees, and even allows him to set up automated target-allocated investments.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.