Post Vacation Productivity

In a followup to the article about vacation proofing your blog, here is the list of the things I actually accomplished prior to leaving on my fabulous honeymoon, what needed to be done when I returned, and what is on my immediate to do list.

Vacation Proofing

No matter how well thought out the plan, unexpected things can arise and thwart your otherwise well conceived ideas. Instead of having a full week to prepare everything for the wedding, honeymoon, and subsequent week off, I lost two days at the beginning of the week to a stomach virus. Interestingly enough, I think they suspected I had the swine flu, but I had not been anywhere near Mexico, although one of my co-workers had traveled there the week before.

After the virus passed, I was well behind in the wedding prep work, so needless to say, my blog and social networks didn’t get the time I had planned to work with them either. Because let’s face it, in terms of priorities, the wedding definitely took precedence. And it turned out beautifully in the end!

So before leaving, I managed to get one scheduled post in with the butterflies at Desert Botanical Gardens photos, a few status updates and profile notes on StumbleUpon, Facebook, and Twitter that I would be gone all week, and an update to the comments page saying I’d be gone as well, just so people knew I wasn’t ignoring their comments, or not planning on approving them anytime soon.

The Results

Traffic to the site took a bit of a hit, likely because I only had the one article while I was away and missed out on having the one or two articles early on in the week that gain a significant amount of social promotion traffic. But overall, it stayed pretty steady daily, which means I must have been doing good SEO and promotion work with older articles that were still bringing in new visitors. I also received a lot of new comments – so thank you for those, and to everyone who congratulated me on my wedding and wished the best for the honeymoon!

The social networks seemed to keep a steady rhythm. I received at least 100 new followers on Twitter, whom thanks to TweetLater, were followed back and received a thank you DM, and 5 new friend requests on Facebook.

My StumbleUpon inbox was probably the scariest thing when I arrived back. 99 shares must be the limit, because that was the number I saw in my toolbar when I brought up Firefox. After a while of going through and thumbing up the good articles (sorry for the lack of reviews), I would get the number down some, but then it would spike back up to 99 again. I assume there was a queue waiting to deliver more shares every time I whittled them down. But I’m not complaining. There were some awesome articles which provided loads of content for my Fetching Friday post the day after I returned from California.

What Helped the Most

Amusingly, something I didn’t even mention in my vacation proofing post was the thing that kept me from being overwhelmed when I returned – Gmail filters. For the past few weeks before I left, I had been meticulously creating new labels/folders and filters for all of my incoming newsletters, social network notifications, etc. So instead of returning to a inbox with hundreds of new emails to sort through, I came back to about 20 in my main inbox, and the rest were appropriately filtered into labels by social network or topic of newsletter. Messages sent from my contact form, comments in need of moderation and already approved comments had their own labels. So I was able to tackle one thing at a time, starting with approving and moderating comments, replies, and then going through one social network at a time to do the things that needed the most attention, like approving friend requests and so forth.

Post Vacation Productivity

I find that the time offline has given me a more productive mindset. Although I lost a good bit of time on the weekend due to some spyware issues on my laptop, I have managed to reply to most of the comments on my site and clean up some spam ones that still made it through. I am still catching up on all of the blogs I normally visit and comment on, one at a time.

Probably the biggest accomplishment I have made since returning is the dreaded WordPress 2.7.1 upgrade. I have read mixed reviews, some people who went through it like a breeze, and others who have had some serious issues. With the official WordPress 3 step guide and another more in-depth one on upgrading WordPress manually on hand, I came through without a lot of major problems. The only thing I have noticed so far that is odd is my posts have duplicate keywords. My latest article on social promotion, for example, shows the following: social promotion, social networking, social bookmarking, social media, blogging,blogging,social bookmarking,social media,social networking. None of the fields in my post editor show duplicates though – I think what is happening is my tags are coming through as keywords on top of those that I put in Platinum SEO. I upgraded the Platinum SEO plug-in, but that did not help the problem. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I’m going to have to go through my articles one by one and remove keywords.

I have also updated my 101 Things to do in 1001 Days site with a new post and new goals, and written my first article on eHow – How to Break Free of Your Comfort Zone. That network is very social – after I signed up, and before I wrote any articles, I received 100 friendship requests from other helpful writers.

What’s Next

So what’s next? Aside from catching up on all my blog subscriptions and returning comments, I have three guest posts to write. I also have a lot of work to do on the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project, especially considering today is the final day. I have read the posts via subscription, and there are lots of useful ideas that I want to apply to this site.

I am also putting together a website for all of the wedding and honeymoon photos, video, and stories. Needless to say, there is a lot of photos to sort through, videos to be edited, slideshows to be created (a new found obsession for my husband), and so on. Before our wedding, I knew I wanted to create a special site dedicated to us, because telling the love story and having one or two photo posts on this site just isn’t enough. I want something dedicated to our wonderful, modern fairytale romance.

And finally, I want to update this site’s theme again. I’m playing around with different ideas, but the first is getting a theme that is still clean, but also more artistic. A few have suggested the Thesis theme, which I have looked at on and off for a while now, but I’m looking for something more artsy. Since I am not a graphic designer, I cannot really add a snazzy graphics to a theme, so I need it to come with that already built in. Suggestions are welcome on this!

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  1. says

    If you’re an active blogger, you know what’s like to go on vacation only to come back with a ton of catch up!

    I been through it twice and it’s not fun until your all caught up.

    Frank Js last blog post..The NoScript Controversy

  2. says

    I am amazed at how well you planned and executed everything. Normally my planning for vacation generally consists of scheduling a few posts. But you too care of each aspect.

  3. says

    You’re teaching me so much about what it really takes to be a serious blogger. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. says

    I really admire you doing a follow on your vacation proofing post. So often, we read about good intentions, but I appreciate finding out what really helped. Your suggestion regarding the Email folders is right on. I’ve done this to some extent, but I need to be more purposeful. Right now, I get at least 50 Emails a day in my main inbox, and that multiplies quickly when I’m away from the computer. As a result, I never really clear the backlog.

  5. says

    Hi Kristi!

    Wow where do I begin! First of all I have been swamped with work over April, so I am just catching up on my reading and so I give you my belated CONGRATULATIONS on your marriage celebration!!!!

    I cannot wait to see the photos and the love story!!!!

    This post was so full of energy I have to tell you, it transmitted to me and now my head is spinning with ideas and comments that I want to write here :)

    That is fantastic that you are able to manage the blogging and social aspect of the internet soooo well! I have to tell you, between a job, a course, and the basics of life, I do find it a bit challenging at times!

    But this was very inspirational indeed – so thank you!!!!

    Evitas last blog post..Fullness of Life

  6. says

    Great to hear the Honeymoon went well considering you had a stomach virus a few days before you left. I don’t know how you manage to keep up with so many social networking sites and include fresh content on the site all the time, I wouldn’t find it possible to get it all done there are just not enough hours in the day. When you do upgrade the blog theme why don’t you ask the readers to create an artistic graphic for the new site based on a brief or images you provide, I’m sure some of the readers are very artistic and its a way of giving something back to your blog.

  7. says

    All that preparation was only for one week? I didn’t think being away for just one week would hurt much, even without having an agenda…. but then again, my blogs aren’t near this size.

  8. says

    @Frank: I know what you mean. I’m still working on it, along with working on all of those new ideas.

    @Dainis: I’m glad you enjoy them, and you’re welcome.

    @Jonathan: Sometimes it does feel a bit like a second job, but that’s when you have to take a break and remember the things you enjoy about blogging before you start again.

    @Madhur: I definitely did my best with the time allotted.

    @Peter: You’re welcome. :)

    @Sandra: I have managed to keep my inbox down to about maybe 20 new ones a day, and even those I can find ways to sort now. Something about tackling a 100+ new emails, one folder at a time makes it more manageable.

    @Evita: Thanks for the congratulations! And you’re welcome… I’m glad you found it inspirational. And a booster for ideas!

    @Kim: Thanks. It’s getting better, but there’s still lots more I can get organized and planned out, which I am working on.

    @Chris: I think it’s a combination of SEO and having regular readers/subscribers. But SEO has to help, as a lot of my visits that week were newbies.

    @Khaled: That’s a good idea. I’m still toying around with themes, because each one would require a different type/size background. Once I get that settled, I’ll have to give that a shot.

    @Alex: I took a much longer break near the end of last year, and it killed my rankings, so I didn’t want to mess around and lose visitors on this site or my other networks for any amount of time.

  9. says

    I know how that can be, coming back online. Catching up can be a real pain. I have gone through it 2 times so far. At least you got more twitter followers and facebook friends.

  10. says

    It is just great to see how well you have planned the vacation. When i am busy on some days or go on a short vacation. I schedule the posts. just like madhur mentioned.

    Regd the theme, How much does this theme cost? and is it configurable or require lot of code changes to fit our needs?

    Nihars last blog post..I Want to Change My Blog Theme. Any Suggestions?

  11. says

    @KushMoney: Yes, everything seemed to stay steady or improve, which was a plus with exception to the catching up with it all bit, something I’m not complaining about in the least.

    @Nihar: My previous theme, Arthemia, was free. It took a lot of coding to get it configured. The one I have now, Thesis, is $87 for a single blog, and once you figure out the hooks/function system, it requires less messing around with.

  12. says

    I agree with the commenter above that you provide quality blog posts and I appreciate that. I know somethings must be planned, but for the most part I plan nothing. In my life when I plan things 99.9% of the time people end up flaking.

    Christina Bledsoes last blog post..Mrs. Eva Longoria-Parker