It might seem strange for me to write an organization post – after all, I’ve confessed on multiple occasions that I’m NOT an organized person. But that just means that I need to be extra careful about organizing when it counts! The only way that reading and blogging challenges really work is if you’ve got them organized.
Now that the end of the year is coming up (hard to believe, right?), it’s time to start thinking challenges again. And this time I want to be ready!
Two years ago, I signed up for about a bajillion reading challenges – I was easily reading over 200 books a year at that point (this year I’ll be down closer to 150), and I figured why not apply all those books to challenges? Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that reading the books for the challenges and actually keeping track of them were two very different things. I drove myself so crazy that this year I said forget it, and I ONLY participated in the Goodreads reading challenge and the Book Blog Discussion Challenge (which I host along with Shannon, so that one was a given).
This year, I’d like to find a happy medium. I want to participate in a few challenges that will be fun and keep me motivated. Even though my challenge participation two years ago was dismal, it did teach me some valuable lessons. And I want to share them with you!
- Don’t overwhelm yourself. This is key. If you sign up for twenty challenges, the chances that you’ll keep up with ANY of them is slimmer. I know it’s hard not to join in on everything that sounds fun, but try to limit yourself to a reasonable number that you can keep up with.
- Go for variety. Sure, you could sign up for ten challenges where you try to get that NetGalley score up to 80%, but what’s the point? If every time you write a NetGalley review you feel the need to link it up to ten different places, it will start to feel like work instead of fun. And adding challenges for the same book doesn’t really help to motivate you more. (If you’re the type of person who likes to enter a lot of giveaways, and you’re willing to put in the work, entering multiple challenges for the same types of books might be worth it to you, but otherwise I’d skip it.)
- Fully participate. Don’t just link up and leave. Check out some other posts that are linked up as well. Not only will you expand your horizons and meet some new bloggers you might not otherwise have met, but you’ll also feel more connected to the challenge, which will make you more likely to keep up with it! Participating on social media is a great idea too. I have to confess that I’m not great with social media, but I always retweet people’s discussion posts when they use the discussion hashtag – I love to spread the word about great discussions!
- Bookmark the challenge post. Hopefully whoever is running the challenge you’ve signed up for has a good system for letting you know when the newest link-up is available. I learned this the hard way after being really frustrated with a few challenges – that’s why when I created the Discussion Challenge, I vowed to keep the original sign-up post always updated with the newest link-up. It makes life SO much easier! If you’re signing up for an established challenge, check out older link-up posts and make sure that the host makes it obvious when and how to link up. If not, find another challenge – it won’t be worth your time and effort to keep up with this one. Then, bookmark the challenge page (or keep a list somewhere where you’ll be able to find it and access it often). You’d be amazed how many people have the best of intentions to follow through with a challenge and then just forget all about it. (This is something I’m going to try to amend next year for the Discussion Challenge – maybe with quarterly emails? What do you think of that idea? I don’t want to spam people, but quarterly probably wouldn’t be too frustrating.)
- Give a monthly update. This is something I did do the year that I overwhelmed myself with challenges, but I just had too many to keep track of and eventually gave up. Monthly, go through your challenges and share where you’re at – if you do a month end wrap-up post, that’s a great place to share the info. This will help keep you organized and updated. It will also remind you to go link up all the posts you may have forgotten about during the month. 🙂
- Make it fun! This is the most important part. Look for challenges that really speak to you because they’re fun and interesting. You’ll be more motivated to keep up with challenges that have some level of excitement to them – a great giveaway or an enthusiastic host who keeps you motivated or even just a goal that’s really important to you (like that NetGalley score). Don’t sign up for a challenge just because your blogger friends are doing it – find ones that really speak to you! And then go for it!!
I haven’t decided exactly which challenges I’m going to participate in next year (besides the Discussion Challenge, of course), but I think I’ll be looking for a series challenge (since I’m terrible at finishing series – I need some motivation!!) and probably one review book challenge. If you know of any great ones, let me know!
What challenges are you planning to participate in during 2016? Do you have any hints on how best to keep them organized? I want to know!