last week, I'm on a mission to become more productive. Like you, my time is precious and I want to get the most out of it. I've come up with a way to handle the chaos.
The first thing I did was make a five day schedule. I like to leave the weekend free - not that I don't go on-line on the weekend, but I think it's good to have at least one day when 'anything goes'. Otherwise, burn out is not far behind. Also, I try my best to keep my Sunday on-line activity to a bare minimum, even boycotting the computer all together on Sundays. For my reasons, you can visit a previous post called 'A Radical New Idea: Take a Sabbath Rest!'.
I start my on-line activity by opening the following tabs all at once: email, my blog, twitter, and facebook. I always start by checking my emails. All of my notifications, and any new discussions from all of my on-line groups go directly to my email. I do not open each and every one, but skim through the list eliminating a good 75% before I even start. I can easily see from the title or the source whether it is something I am interested in or want to follow up on. Some people might think it is useless to bother getting all these notifications in the first place, but sometimes something pops out at me which I otherwise would have missed.
Next, I go through the ones that are left, starting with the ones I think might be a 'quick check' and going from there. If it is something I know will take a little longer, I mark it as unread and go to it later. This way I eliminate as much as possible, and since my major tabs are already open, it is easy to go back and forth.
Once I've gone through all my emails, I've basically visited all the major sites such as FB, twitter, and LinkedIn; I've touched base with all my 'loops' and groups; I've followed up on discussions at various networks; and I've responded to any comments left on my blog.
My next stop is my blog (right here at Expression Express!). I have my blog set up so that new posts automatically show up on facebook, twitter and through an RSS feed to all my 'ning' networks. However, I also go through the motions of 'sharing' the current post using the 'Add this' app that you see at the right. You can create as many profiles on as many sites as you wish, but I have about 10 that I regularly link to. (Stumbleupon, Digg, google buzz, myspace, linkedin ...) I often also 'ping' that days post at either http://www.pingmyblog.com// or http://www.feedshark.brainbliss.com// (or both). Finally, depending on the post, I often alert readers about it through email or on my various other social networking sites. For a list of the sites that I frequent the most, go to the Resources page. I have profiles at many more places, but rarely go to all of them. Of the ones listed on the resources page, there are some that I frequent more than others.
If I'm efficient, all of this should take about an hour. While I was on holidays, I had it down to a much shorter time. It all depends on how much time you spend on 'discussions', which depends on how involved you are in each group etc. Once I've done my 'sharing' for the day, I visit my blog dashboard and check my 'reading list' from the blogs that I follow. This is one of the main things I love about blogger over some of the other blog locations. The reading list is a quick way to scroll through all the blogs I follow that have new content. I can read and comment on those that I wish, again, spending as little or as much time as I wish.
My final step in my 'on-line 'activity is to check the weekly schedule I referred to earlier. As you can see from my resources page, it would be impossible to spend much time at each and every site. My favorites are: Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers and Christianwriters.com for discussions and help, and goodreads for reviews and general book discussion. However, I don't want to totally neglect some of the other sites, since they also have some good things to offer. I've created a rotating schedule where I visit two or three of these sites at least once a week. This is 'do-able' for me and keeps me somewhat current with what is happening without spending my entire life on-line.
All together, my summer on-line schedule allows for 3 hours per day from 9 till noon. Sometimes I finish early (or start late) but when noon rolls around, I GO OFFLINE. This is so that I make sure I do some actual WRITING each day, too. For more on this, you'll have to stay tuned for next weeks installment of 'The Writing Life'.
So far this is working for me, although once I head back to school in September, this will have to change. Right now, I try to keep my evenings free, and - yes - I do go on-line sometimes in the evening, too, if I feel like it. I find that more people are free to 'chat' in the evenings, and since I did all my 'business' in the morning, I indulge myself once in awhile.
I hope you found this post helpful. I would love to hear your thoughts and perhaps even some suggestions on how you make your on-line activity even more efficient. Leave a comment. I'll get back to you!
Link to last weeks post: Writing Is Work