digital detox

The Digital Detox Agenda: A Follow Up

Sometimes the perfect way to research a topic for a blog post is to conduct an experiment on said topic and then fail so that you can learn from your failure. This is what happened this weekend. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the digital detox and how productive it made me. This weekend I planned on adding a new element to it: the digital detox agenda. The goal of the digital detox agenda was to not only make me productive but to make sure I was productive where I needed to be.

I had a regularly-scheduled digital detox on my calendar for Saturday and Sunday. I knew this would be the perfect time to not only architect the digital detox agenda but also blog about it. I quickly put together an agenda (basically a to-do list). Done.

Here’s where I failed: I didn’t review the rules of the digital detox prior to starting. I didn’t put together a plan of action to stick to the rules and avoid being distracted. Instead I halfheartedly participated in my own digital detox. I didn’t stay off Facebook the entire time and even though a lot of my tasks were supposed to be completed on the computer, I didn’t stay on task. By Sunday night, I barely accomplished 1 item on my list.

Lessons Learned

First of all, the digital detox agenda is just your to-do list for the weekend. When you construct it, you have to take into consideration the amount of available time you have to devote to it.

For example, if you have prior commitments like an 8 hour family gathering on a Saturday, more than likely you’ll really only have Sunday to devote to completing things on your list.

Simply stated: don’t overcommit yourself.

Second, review your digital detox rules and stick to them. Hell, print them out and make them visible at your work space. But always be aware of what the rules of the game are.

Third, check yourself. Always check your progress. Learn from your mistakes. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. We’ll never get better if we don’t fail every once in awhile.

Free Content Schedule and URL Builder for Google Sheets

For bloggers and content publishers, you already know by now that maintaining a regular content schedule is the key to having a successful blog. I should know. I’ve never been able to maintain a consistent schedule, which is why my blog traffic really sucks right now. This is where the content schedule becomes essential.

Download It

When you click on the download link, the content schedule template will open in a new window.

Download the Free Content Schedule for Google Sheets

You’ll have to make a copy of it into your own Google Drive account in order to start using it. To do that, you’ll need to sign into your Google account as indicated by the red arrow in the screenshot. Once you’ve logged in, you should be able to fully access the File menu on the left. Make a Copy of the template into your own Google Drive and you’re ready to start working!

Free Content Schedule for Google Sheets

What Is a Content Schedule?

A content schedule, or sometimes also known as a content calendar or publishing calendar, is a calendar that helps you manage your publishing efforts in a timely manner.

There are multiple ways to develop a content schedule. Content schedules can live in spreadsheets, some in databases. Sometimes just a simple paper calendar with a few notes jotted down on it can be effective. It all depends on your needs and how you like to work.

Me? I like to work in spreadsheets because I’m a spreadsheet nerd. Plus spreadsheets can do a lot of cool things like calculate numbers and concatenate (one of my favorite words) stuff to automatically generate a desired output.

Why I Use Google Docs for a Content Schedule?

For me it was a personal preference. I’m an avid Gmail and Google Docs user. I also use iCloud and Dropbox as well. However, because I wanted something that a larger audience could use, I figured Google Docs would be better just because I assume almost everyone has a Google account.

So making this accessible to a wider audience was one goal. Making this accessible from any device with an Internet connection was another goal.

You can typically edit any Word or Spreadsheet doc from any device. Google has apps for both Android and iOS. And although one wouldn’t really want to copy and paste URLs into spreadsheets on their smartphones, this setup at least makes it possible in a pinch.

How do I use it?

Here’s an overview of how the content schedule is laid out. The Dashboard tab is basically where all your blog ideas get tracked and turned into content. As you get an idea for a blog post, you log it into this tab and fill in as much information as you can.

Below is a table with a description for each column of information.

Column NameDescription
Publish DeadlineDate that the post is set to be published.
Link*The live link or at least the permalink once it goes live.
StatusThis helps you identify what phase the post is in. I’ve setup default statuses in the Status Description tab, but feel free to modify them.
NotesThis is typically Google Doc link where I keep my draft and research notes. I have a template for this document as well, which I may share at a later date. For now you can link this to your own Google Doc, or ignore this column for now.
TopicA short memorable name by which you can call your post.
Campaign*Each post should belong to a campaign. If you don’t want to get too granular with your campaigns, just use the default newPost campaign here. I’ve already built that into the template.
TitleThe optimized title for the post.
Focus KeywordThe keyword you plan on optimizing your post for. This is especially useful if your blog is built in WordPress and you use the WordPress SEO plugin.
CategoryThe blog category that your post gets assigned to.
VideoWill there be a video for this post? Yes or No
Shoot DateDate
Edit DeadlineThis is the deadline for video editing.
YouTube DescriptionThe description that you can copy and paste into the YouTube info page.
Publish LinkThe live link for the video once it’s been published.

(*) = Column names are required.

In my own workflow, I have 5 stages that a post goes through: Concept, Draft, Schedule, Publish, and Re-write. Not all posts have to go through the Re-write stage. That stage is for old posts that need to be refreshed and re-promoted.

Once your post has gone through the various workflow stages and is already published, it’s ready to be promoted. This is where tagging will track your promotion efforts.

To create your tagged URLs, copy and paste your published permalink into the Link column of the Dashboard. Make sure you have the appropriate campaign chosen in the Campaign column. Now click on the Link Tagger tab.

You’ll see some of the information carried over from the Dashboard already: Topic, Link, and Campaign.

You’ll need to fill out the remaining information such as Source, Medium, Content, and Term–basically the columns with a “-” (hyphen) in the cell.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty Google Analytics beginners lesson on campaign tracking (if you’re already a pro, you can skip to the next paragraph). Your Campaign, which we’ve already defined, is basically an overall marketing objective you’re working to achieve – from organic Instagram growth to increase in sales. The Source identifies where the traffic is coming from. The Medium is most often the marketing medium such as “banner”, “email”, or “cpc.” The Content helps you to differentiate between various ads (however, because I don’t do any paid advertising, I use this to identify the post content). The Term column is the paid keyword, but again if you’re only using this to track your organic social media efforts, you can skip this column.

Now you filled out all the proper columns, you can already see the generated URLs on the right. So to use a tagged url on Facebook for example, all you have to do is copy the generated URL under the Facebook column and go to another tab where you’re logged into your Facebook account. Then paste the URL in your status update. After a few seconds, the post will auto populate (as long as you’ve got all the proper open graph data implemented of course–but that’s another lesson).

I think at some point I’ll create a demo video on how to use this, but for now I’ll just leave as is. If you have any questions, post them here. Thanks!