There was a growing trend in my life a few months ago to sit down at my computer with all of the motivation and intention in the world to get stuff done like write a blog post or edit those pictures or respond to that email or contact that company… and then the next thing I knew I would be looking at shoes on piperlime.com that would be so. perfect. with that dress I just got to wear to that one conference, which O, by the way I should check the weather forecast in that city and see how I should pack and hey, has Heather figured out how she’s getting to the hotel from the airport yet? I should email her.
Or, stop me if you’ve heard this one, I’m in the middle of writing a blog post and I stop to peek at twitter right as someone posts a teaser of a tweet with a link to a blog post about how they were accosted for breastfeeding in public. I go to the post and read it, and she mentions in there that her local news did a story on it, so I click through to the news story and scroll down to read the comments left on the channel’s article and one of the commentators had left a link to their blog, which of course I click on and spend the next 25 minutes reading about a woman’s adorable life with her husband, 2 kids and 3 dogs in Greensboro, AR.
Far, far too often I open up my laptop and *poof* 278 quadrillion distractions later I have zero to show for the last 45 minutes of my life and I really can’t even remember what I meant to do when I sat down in front of the screen in the first place.
I’m not the only one with this problem, (Please. Tell me I’m not the only one with this problem.) and while I am not going to claim that every second I spend on the internet these days is filled with purpose and intentionality, I have gotten a lot better thanks to a list I made for myself.
It’s a list of priorities, if you will.
First of all I should say that from time to time, a girl’s gotta veg and for me that often involves hopping from site to site and enjoying myself. This list is not for those vegging times. This list is for those times when I know I need to get stuff done and be productive online and I want to keep myself from turning it into a veg session.
Number 1: Create Content
I guess to some this could feel too disciplined. ‘Wow, Allison, if you have to TELL yourself to write a post, isn’t that forcing it?‘
No, not really. I always want to write, I really do, but sometimes I get distracted. The simple act of having this list and stating that my first objective is to write focuses me so that I can do what I really want to do with my time. Often I will find myself clicking through a link labyrinth (O My, have you seen the adorable party dresses on ModCloth?!) instead of writing and I will repeat to myself “Create content!!!” to get back on track.
Yes, I’m that creepy lady in the coffee shop mumbling to herself behind her macbook.
Number 2: Respond to Emails
This one is tricky. I don’t get to it everyday. If it’s nap time and I sit down to write, OBaby may wake up before I’m done and I never even get close to number 2 on the list. I have to give myself grace in this area (and I hope you will, too?) or else I would go absolutely crazy trying to keep up with it all.
Number 3: Connect/Collaborate
These things come with being part of the blogging community and I love them. In fact, I would probably do them first sometimes instead of creating content. There are just so many friends and blogs I love to connect with that I have to set a time limit for myself (on non-veg-sessions only of course). That is just something I know about myself. It’s not that I only want to invest 45 minutes at a pass in reading friends’ blogs, it’s just that I would get so incredibly overwhelmed if I didn’t have that stopping point. I often click through comments to blogs and hop around and comment there, and I want it to continue to be about community and connection, not obligation and duty. This time limit helps my focus to be “Here’s the window of time I can afford to use in this way instead of doing something around the house” instead of “Ok, quick go to 15 commentators blogs and leave a comment on each as fast as I can.” That feels forced and unnatural to my personality and would be stressful.
That list up there is written on the very first page of my blog notebook (O yes, I have one) and I reference it often.
For a while now I have had a small notebook dedicated to writing. If I’m on the go and think of something I want to write about (or a way I want to describe something) I jot it down. This has helped tremendously with writer’s block – I often have at least a few post ideas I want to write about and this way they don’t get lost in the dusty corners of my mommy brain. Sitting down at my computer and opening up my idea book means that I have something to dive right into. I filled my last one up In June and now I’m using this loverly one that Melissa gave me at the Casual Blogger Conference.
Besides constantly jotting down incoherent segments of text that would only make sense to me, I also use this notebook to (roughly, very very roughly) schedule out the week of blog posts. Out of the 6 or so that I usually plan out, typically 3 happen as I schedule. There’s always something that comes up (O Look! My baby is walking!!) that bumps another post, or sometimes I’m just not feeling writing about a certain topic so that post gets put on the ‘For later’ list that I reference as I start scheduling each week.
Mapping out the week and upcoming posts is something I can do to be productive online that only takes 2 or 3 minutes at a time (while waiting for oatmeal to cool etc.) and it doesn’t require my face to be behind a screen when it should be available to my son.
I want to emphasize here that while I have created a structure and ‘regiment’ to my blogging and online time, this is all very flexible. It has to be. This is me, my personality as written out and shared via the interwebs, not a brand I am building or a business I am running. I do these things to help me accomplish what I want to do and spend time exploring my passion, not to force myself to achieve something greater, bigger, better.
I love this blogging gig and having a list of priorities and a fluid weekly concept board helps me love it more and be less overwhelmed by it.
Prioritize your time online to keep yourself from wasting it. What things do you want to get done first? Write it down and keep it in mind, but give yourself room to breathe.
Keep something with you for the quick jotting down of inspiration you don’t want to forget, whether you’re a writer, a crafter, or a cook. Don’t loose those passion sparks before you have time come back and accomplish them.
Since yesterday went so swimmingly well, I would be absolutely remiss not to ask for your input (read: I’m actually very dumb and often don’t do things the right way):
What works for you with your blogging or online time? Do you schedule? Intentionally not schedule? Talk to me, Goose.
Update: As Johanna just so nicely reminded me (seriously, where would I be without y’all?!), I am doing an O My Organization link up on Friday where we can all put our heads together and share our organization tips/failures/aspirations/success stories. Consider yourself reminded. (Now go write that down before you forget!!)