For anyone that wants to take this blogging or freelancing thing seriously, you’ll have to realize that it’s not all fun and games. Lorelle Van Fossen does an excellent job explaining how easy it is to be overcome with emails, chat messages, and requests for just two seconds of time that ends up becoming five minutes or more.
My Side Of The Story:
While Lorelle explains what she does in an average day of work, I’ll explain what I do. I wake up, check my inbox, and discover which emails need my immediate attention. The bulk of the emails I receive pertain to mailing lists for WordPress as well as comment moderation or new comment notifications. After getting my inbox down to 0, I login to Twitter to check and see if anyone sent me a reply message overnight. Once I straighten out my Twitter situation, I’ll open up the FeedReader to see if there is anything that pops out at me worth writing about.
After writing a post or two, I’ll browse to the various forums I participate in and either respond to private messages I have received or check on all of the new posts. Once I take care of my forum business, I’ll look at the show notes for each podcast that I produce to see if I can take care of some things ahead of time. Once I do that, I email a few folks with regards to BloggerTalks.com to schedule interviews. I could go on and on but the point is, being a blogger or a freelancer is not just about writing content. It’s about everything else that goes along with it. On top of that, the employer generally expects you to take care of those other aspects of the job even if it takes up time you may not have.
Here are some tips to help avoid social/blogger overload:
Get Your Priorities Straight – Take everything you do that is part of your job and give it a priority level. Ensure that you give more attention and focus to those tasks that have a higher priority than others.
Outsource Those Mundane Tasks – Instead of doing everything yourself, think about hiring an assistant to manage appointments, emails, schedules, etc. This assistant can trim the fat away providing you with the meat of the matter. How do you think Timothy Ferris gets away with having a four hour work week?
Charge For Your Time – This one is somewhat difficult to accomplish when you factor in friends or colleagues. However, charging people for your time is a good way to not only filter out those requests for two seconds of your time, but could possibly provide a good source of income depending on your authority within a niche.
Schedule Your Life – Schedules do wonders as they can turn a chaotic set of tasks into a linear set of goals that are easier to accomplish. Within an online world that has no rhyme or reason, editorial calendars can be a bloggers saving grace. Markus Merz actually does a great job explaining how to create one of these editorial calendars.
Learn To Say No – This tip may be difficult to master, especially if you have a big heart. But big heart or not, your time is valuable and at some point, you have to put your feet down and say no.
Delete All – Ever wake up one day with so many emails you just didn’t know where to begin? Why not just delete them all? Sure, there might be an important one or two within the list but perhaps they’ll resend them once they don’t hear a response. Be careful though, having an empty inbox feels so good, you may want to delete all emails all the time!
Mark All Items Read – This falls in line with my tip regarding email. If you subscribe to tens or hundreds of RSS feeds, there will come a time when you have over 1,000 unread items. Lets face it, you probably don’t have time to catch up so do the next best thing. Mark them all as read. Not only will you feel like you caught up within a few seconds, you’ll be able to start over from scratch. If marking all items as read doesn’t sound like a good idea, read James Mowery’s advice on how to set up a strict schedule for reading RSS feeds.
Step Away From The Electronics – Ok, so time may be of the essence but if you ever have the opportunity to step away from the PC or all electronics in general, do it. This will allow you to reset your mind and to come back to work with a renewed focus on whats important. I’ve discovered that if I keep a journal nearby during these time periods, I come up with some really great ideas. I also write down which items I need to prioritize or a set of tasks that need to be accomplished once I return. However, reading a book or a magazine is a great idea as well as it may provide you with blogging material for when you return to your keyboard.
As for myself, taking things one step at a time has proved to be successful. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I can’t be everywhere at once and I can’t read every email or read everything that comes through Twitter or my RSS reader. However, the beauty of these information streams is that I can stick my head in them for a little while and then go right back to work. Although at times I feel like I am going to miss out on something, thats just the way the web works. I only know a fraction of what has been published or has taken place on the web each day. The sooner you realize you’re going to miss out on things, the better.
What about you? Have you suffered from information, blogging or social media overload? What steps have you taken to avoid being in this type of situation? Do you have any tips, tricks or methods? If so, publish them in the comments.