O My Organization: how to waste (less) time online

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.IMG_1659.jpg

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.

Organization Tips:

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!!)

32 Responses to “O My Organization: how to waste (less) time online”

  1. LoveFeast Table

    Love it!! I just had a reality check on this yesterday as a matter a fact. By putting the first things first…I know I will be less stressed!! Your post just confirmed…I am on the right path!! We’re suppose to enjoy this journey of sharing stories!!
    ~Chris Ann

  2. Jenn

    Is that a Psych reference?! I’ll feel very dumb if it’s not. Thanks for sharing this! I just started scheduling my blog posts, as well as auto-posting, since when I write is not always the best time to post. Also, when I’m in Canada next week with no access to the internet, I will be set! Thanks for the idea to carry the notebook around. I’m all the time losing blog ideas I conjure on my commute home!

  3. Blair@HeirtoBlair

    Absolutely love it.

    I keep something very, very similar & without it, I’d be a jumbled mess.

    & honestly, running a list keeps me more genuine – when I was doing everything slap-happy without goals & time limits, my blogging versus “work” became unbalanced, then I felt & seemed unbalanced on the blog. Things became forced because I would spend far too much time doing A versus B, then I was scrambling through B and ignoring C. Or I’d flop right into C and run through B and then speed through A, maybe, just maybe, but not hit all of them. Emails were backing up, blogs were not visited, & I was failing to connect on every level.

    Being more strict with myself & purposeful in my time helps me be a better blogger, for serious.

  4. Amanda

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one… I get so distracted by links and reading comments and entering contests… o my. Thanks for the good tips.

  5. mama23bears

    O.My.Word! why didn’t i think of that? honestly? i am so disorganized when it comes to blogging. i am forever experiencing writer’s block because my best ideas don’t often come to me when i am at the computer. this is honestly a great help to someone like me & O how i appreciate it!!

    is it silly that i comment back with O’s? because i just love OMyFamily that much!!

  6. Nicole Drysdale-Rickman

    I jump on blogger and start a post with my thoughts before I forget…then save it..so it’s right there when I need to remember.

    And o my word….I am so glad to hear there are more people in the world that could spend HOURS upon HOURS click-click-clicking….

    I give myself chunks of free veg time as well as scheduled time to get stuff done. Thanks for the great post, Allison. :)

  7. shelley

    Love the notebook/journal idea. Whenever I look on to blogger, I try to start a bunch of drafts for any idea I’ve had that day. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a whole perfect post in my head, while in the shower or driving to preschool, only to have zero recollection of it later. A notebook is WAY more handy.

  8. LCW

    I have a notebook that I keep lists in for EVERYTHING. Traveling, make a list. Blog topics, make a list. Momma’s Munchies ideas, make a list. Goals for the blog, make a list. And like you my lists and priorities are fluid and family time trumps blogging. I often find the blog posts that happen in the moment are the one that’s receive the most feedback and stick with me longer. I posts I write, re-write, draft, set to publish often don’t get the same type of feedback, even if I think it’s one of my best. I’d love to have you stop by the blog once in a while, I’ve never had the pleasure of a comment from you. I am loving your organization week, says the self proclaimed OCD crazed mommy.

  9. annemarie

    Lists & scheduling are totally the way to go – on the internet, at home, at work… The better I keep track of my thoughts, the more fun I can have because the things I need to do are getting done. Awesome tips.

  10. Julie

    I am totally that girl that sits down at the computer with best of intentions and then 30 minutes later, has nothing to show for it. Great idea! I thrive on lists- and I can’t believe I didn’t start doing this a long time ago!

  11. Savannah

    One thing I do is try to save my online “vegging” time for later when I’ll be watching tv. I’m not good at sitting still and just watching a tv show, or sitting still and just veggiing on the computer. I like to veg out with the tv and computer at the same time! So I’ll check facebook status, what’s selling on woot.com etc. while watching a tv show that doesn’t require a lot of attention, like SYTYCD. I’ll watch the dancers dance, and then while they’re getting comments I don’t actually need to look at the screen and I’ll return to the laptop screen for the comments and the commercial, then back to the show. I know it sounds silly, but that way all my vegging is concentrated, plus I avoid those pesky commercials since I’m not in the new age of DVR yet! :)

  12. Katie

    I have slowly started doing this too. This summer was sort of my springboard into the world that is the blogger, and I am loving it! However, I do teach fulltime and I need to be more organized if I am going to keep up (or at least SORT of keep up) once the school year starts. On my list? I little Idea Book. I always had one before for other writing, but I want one just for blogging! And I use the sticky notes feature via Windows to keep a list of Blog Post schedule stuff and what my To Do’s are. I can color code! O my! :)

  13. Kristen

    Oh, girl. those first three paragraphs describe my life EVERY DAY. It is incredible the amount of time I can spend reading blogs and bantering on twitter and then not returning relevant emails or calls from, say, REAL LIFE FRIENDS or MY KID’S TEACHER or whatever. I need to get organized in this area. I am loving your lists and the way you schedule. I think that could really help me. Usually I just sit down and think, gee what should I write? And then two hours later, nada. I’m going to try your method.

  14. Jo @ Outta Jo, Onto You

    How do you think I ended up at this post tonight? I logged on to write myself and clicked here and clicked there and “ooh, a new tweet!” and here I am. Um, whoops.

    You’re far from alone.

  15. Sarah

    I know exactly where you’re coming from. The simple desire -that’s not necessarily wrong- to check email somehow turns into email+blog+Facebook+blog+another blog+Twitter+precious moments of our lives= maybe missing out on something or someone important in our lives that we don’t want to miss out on. Sometimes I think we try so hard to stay connected with others that we miss the very real and very important connections that need to be made on *our* side on the computer screen.

    As for the post writing part of this post,I started that notebook method a while ago and found it really helpful…when I remembered to use it. This just reminded me to get it out again! You do a great job of blogging and putting up so many great posts. I can barely squeak out a post 5 days a week and you have a husband,son and house to care for! I have to try hard not to compare myself too much with other bloggers. After all, I was talking as much to myself as to you up there when I said it’s more important to connect with my people! :)

    • The Mom Venture Blog

      Well, for some reason anything longer than a couple sentences won’t post through. It may be my browser, not sure, but here is a substantially shortened version…

      Thanks for the post and the kick in the pants! (-:

  16. Kelsey

    My sister, Whitney Souza, told me about your blog and O do I love it! :) I started mine in November and am still getting the hang of things.

    Going to flip through more of your posts soon. Good stuff!

  17. metta1313

    I try my hardest with lists, but I’m not purposeful about them with time and such. Especially since with all my distractions, I’m teaching online summer school to teenagers. So most of my time is spent on the computer, but I never seem to finish one thing b/c I’m always peaking over at the next window. I need lists to organize my lists, really. So you’ve got me on a more purposeful kick. Like now, I will go to bed b/c I’ve been on the computer way too long tonight.

  18. Erin

    I set my laptop power so that it’ll only run for an hour without a battery, then I use that hour to respond to emails and comment on blogs. When the low battery starts flashing, then I’m done!

  19. april

    being so new to blogging i feel like i have just dove into the deep end of the interweb and forgot my floaties…. but why start something if you don’t go full-fledged all out?! i have emailed so many companies to get sponsors for giveaways or to offer my etsy shop as a sponsor for THEIR giveaways just to network…. i can’t even remember who i’ve emailed, and i’m sure they have all been emailed three times each.

    funny thing is, i just started my “blog notebook” last night. great minds think alike O Great One! it’s not necessarily what blogs will be posted on what days, but who i need to contact, what i need to fix HTML wise, what i need to do to start up my own .com….. the like.

  20. Cole

    Mommy gets hypnotized in front of the computer all. the. time. Also? Your handwriting is so pretty!

  21. Ashley

    I fell into the “distraction pool” this morning, and it was WAY past noon by the time I finally sat down and wrote my post for today. I like to have my posts scheduled out a few days in advance, but this week it has just not been happening – the blog world and twitter have been pulling me in this week.

    Even while writing this comment, the distractions have pulled me away multiple times. I really need to work on that!

  22. Susan

    I am so not the one to give advice here. Seriously, my blogging time has been a crazy version of “If you give a Mouse a Cookie”. “If you let Susan sit down to blog, first she’s going to want to check her email. When she sees…” (Hey, I think I’m going to post that!) Funny, but true. :) However, I have been trying to map out my posts on a blank calendar, so I’m taking steps to get help. Your post here is phenomenal and I’m going to use it offline as a guide for my own organization. Thanks, Allison!

  23. Jane

    As I read through your post, I thought I was going through my head. Well, I am also guilty of the same thing. There are so many things that I want to get done, but the net is just full of distractions. Blame it on the net, huh? Lol! Well, to address my wandering thoughts, I have created an hourly schedule so that I can avoid being in front of the screen for too long. I serioiusly need to address my weight problems, and for my doctor to allow me some PC time, I also need to devote time for exercise. Lol! I am happy that I am not alone. Thanks!

  24. Jen

    I like Erin’s idea of using battery power.

    I really struggle with prioritizing online and it probably shows on my blog. Some weeks I post 5 times, sometimes none. Same with visiting others. Sometimes I read a lot and leave a lot of comments. Some weeks I read nothing anyone else has read. I’ve been looking for a way to find balance.

    I like your tips about keeping a blog notebook with a focusing to-do list in the front.

    I forgot about your linkup and I’m going out of town soon. urgh. Wonder if the hubs would notice me quickly writing a post instead of packing. :P

  25. Mungee's Ma

    Coming upon this post rather late. Because there are 429 unread items in my Google Reader. Yeah. I could have written the first part of the post myself. In fact, I did blog about this very phenomenon a while back. I started a notebook, but it’s buried under all the other clutter on my breakfast table (because I don’t use the computer in my office, like some people :) I’m enjoying your organization series!


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