Chasing Rabbits Prohibited

June 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm 1 comment

How does the saying go?  “Failure to plan is a plan to fail.”  If it weren’t for my planning, I’d spend the day spinning my wheels, bouncing off walls, and pulling my hair out.  It’s a rare day that I don’t have a checklist of some sort close at hand.  Here’s one I put together to help me develop discipline and resist the addictions of social media.

  1. Turn on computer
  2. Turn on coffee maker
  3. Launch Outlook: open Calendar, check Task List, scan new e-mails
  4. Launch Desktop Apps: TweetDeck/Digsby, scan for urgent or important information (I said “scan,” not “stay.”)
  5. Open browser – Launch: Facebook (FB), Twitter, LinkedIn (I said “launch,” not “linger.”)
  6. If coffee is ready yet, fix myself a cup

And that’s it!  Now that I have this routine, I don’t get sucked in by what seems like an unrelenting urge to converse with “the community.”  It is key for me to review my priorities before being tempted by anything else. You’ll notice that early in the routine I open my calendar and check my task list.  That sets the pace for the rest of the day.  That doesn’t mean I still won’t end up chasing rabbits, but I’ll only allow myself to do that if I know I’m not neglecting some other commitment.

Steps 1, 2 & 3, have been a way of life for me for a long time.  But now that social media has had such a huge impact on how I do business, steps 1, 2 & 3 are more important than ever.  Step 4 – using a Desktop App – was what took some getting used to, but ultimately is what helps me keep things under control.  Having updates and new posts from Facebook and Twitter listed in one convenient place helps me to know what’s waiting for me (greatly easing my curiosity), without actually having to get into those accounts — and get distracted while I’m there.  The reason I even launch FB, Twitter and LinkedIn in Step 5 is because I use all three for research and monitoring my business. Being logged in on them and having them ready to access is simply a matter of convenience.  Because I’ve already previewed the new information via the Desktop App, I’m not tempted to start perusing without purpose and a plan.

You can find more great advice in this article that was run by Mashable on How to Simplify your Social Media Routine.

More detail about each of the tools I use can be found here . . .

Outlook – Because I’m an avid user of the Task List and reminders feature, this helps me stay on schedule with commitments and deadlines.  I also track my billable time on my Calendar, so I want to keep it handy all day. A quick look at the Task List and Calendar help me decide how I will spend my time each day.

I take a quick look at e-mail – the volume seems to have dropped off substantially.  I theorize that that’s due to my shift to social media for much of my communication these days.

Many e-mail messages are from my social networks:  I get two weekly e-mail notices from LinkedIn.  They contain status updates on my connections and a list of postings, discussions, articles, etc. for each of the groups I belong to.  These weekly notices not only give me a quick overview of new LinkedIn activity, but also serve as a reminder for me to update my status and keep my page fresh and current.

I also get e-mails related to activity on my Facebook account – alerts if someone has commented on my wall, on my photos, or in response to a comment I’ve made on someone else’s FB.

I have recently started using two different desktop apps – TweetDeck and Digsby – both of which can send me notifications of activity on all of these accounts.  Once I get used to using these apps, and decide which of the two I will rely on exclusively (I’m in the testing stage right now), I may discontinue notifications to my e-mail, which will reduce the volume of my e-mail even more!!

Next, I handle e-mails by responding, updating my task list or deleting.  I keep Outlook open in the background with the e-mail alert “on” so I can respond quickly to important or urgent requests and inquiries. (If I choose to keep using Digsby, I won’t need to continue using e-mail alerts from Outlook.)

TweetDeck – A quick scan down the list of Tweets that came in overnight lets me know if there is anything of particular interest.  I bookmark accordingly or add a note to my Task List if I want to get back to something.  I review FB status updates.

Digsby – I am brand-new at using this app.  I set it up to monitor my social networks (FB and LinkedIn) and Twitter account.  I didn’t set it up to monitor my e-mail yet, but will do that if I decide to keep using Digsby.  I’m still very much in the learning stages with this app.

Facebook – I don’t need to review my Wall or Profile, because I’ve already done that with the Desktop App.  But, because I keep a daily running journal in the Notes section of FB to document my work and research, I open “My Notes” and start a new page for the day.  If my head is swimming with ideas, I quickly summarize them here so I can free up my brain to concentrate on other things for the next 30 minutes.

Twitter – Although I’ve already reviewed incoming Tweets via the Desktop App, I open Twitter because I use it frequently throughout the day to listen, search and get inspiration.

LinkedIn – I use this for the same purpose I use Twitter: to listen, search and get inspiration, but in a different way, and with different results.  E.g., through the use of Groups and Apps, asking and answering questions, checking professional connections.


Entry filed under: Productivity, Social Media.

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