Ah, yes! The internet… The most powerful time-suck ever invented. Most of my work is internet-based, so I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to be abundantly disciplined when it comes to managing my time online.
Today I struggled a bit with this issue. Luckily, I reeled myself back to reality but I had to do it more times than I care to admit to. The good news is I am going to share my trick with you on what I do when the internet sucks me in and won’t let go.
The best way to get myself back on track is to step away from the computer for about 15 minutes or so. There’s just too many shiny things vying for my attention when I’m staring at the screen: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, emails, comments…let alone other interesting blogs! The list goes on and on. I find myself jumping from one thing to the next and before I know it, an hour (or more) is gone. Just like that.
4 things I do to regroup
So what do I do during that 15 minute break? Four important things:
- I review my daily schedule. In it I have dedicated time for everything I need to do in a day. This includes enough time for sleep, meals, projects, self education, writing, housework, social media activities, and even free time. If I am not within those blocks of dedicated time when the internet sucks me in, I need to save whatever tab I have open for when those dedicated blocks come up again. The best way to do this is to save it in my “Pocket” add-on. This way I can read everything I put in it during batched sessions later.
- Regardless of what I am doing (internet or otherwise) I review my daily to-do list. Did I complete everything on there?
- I look ahead. What’s coming up? What can I get ahead on?
- I choose the most productive thing that offers the best payoff*. There is always something good to do online. Always. It never ends. But just because it’s good, doesn’t mean it’s the best. The best is not always clear or apparent, but I want to develop the skill of being able to choose the things that offer the best payoff.
*”Payoff” is a relative thing and varies from person to person. It may or may not mean financially profitable. It could mean value in other ways.
It all boils down to this one question: What is your goal?
Sometimes I have to ask myself, “Why are you blogging? What are you trying to accomplish through your blog?” Some days I am not sure of the answer to this question. All I know is I want to help others, promote things I believe in, highlight worthy causes, connect with others …and sometimes my focus is a combination of all of the above. To help me stay on track with my blog, I started an editorial calendar. This way, when I think of a great topic I want to write about but can’t (or shouldn’t) do it right then, I put it on the list.
The last thing I need to do in managing my time and my life is to make my focus fuzzier by chasing squirrels and shiny things.
Quick tip: Write your goals down and post it in front of you if necessary, but always know what you are trying to accomplish.
The best way to spend your time is to define your goal (blogging or otherwise) and work backwards from there. What tasks today “fit” with that goal? Concentrate on those things.
What about you? Any tips that help you get back on track?