Flickr Photo by Mission Control
I've been doing research for an article I'm writing for TechSoup about social networking tips, tricks, and tools -- once you've made the decision that it is right for your organization, how maintain a socnet presence without it being a huge black hole? I've been interviewing colleagues via socnets to find out.
Don't Forget Your Time Management Skills
Now that our kids are getting older, the timeout timer has gone back into the kitchen. Years ago, I was suffering from repetitive strain injury (too much hand HTML coding) and saw a hand therapist. In instituted many changes, one was a change in my habit. I used a timer like the one above to make sure I took a break every 10 ten minutes from the keyboard and stretched.
The timer is also a useful time management tool, particularly for add inducing social media site work. I have a work flow/to do list for my socnet stuff, I set the timer. I do the tasks. If I don't procrastinate, I usually have a little time left over, so I give myself a treat -- time to explore. I try to do this for blogging, RSS reading, twittering, flickr, email, etc. If I don't, I get into bouncing too much and not accomplishing anything.
Sometimes though, particularly at times when I'm not at peak, I give myself a set amount of time to "discover" or rather engage in Productive rapid attention shifting ... but I treat that time as "dessert" after I finish my vegetables (my to-do list). There is a fine line between rapid attention shifting and useless bouncing. And I have to also note that digital natives probably have a different approach here ..
Another more fun way to do this ... Since I tend to listen to music while I work, I know the timings of various pieces. So, I might say, I will finish my tasks before the end of the third movement of the Shostakovich 8th String Quartet. (Thanks Andy Carvin for the link via Twitter)
Know When You Are Procrastinating
As one veteran nonprofit social networker shared, "If am not careful when I go to a social networking site, I can easily get distracted. And I know I'm not at all unique." If you don't organize your time well, establish a disciplined work routine, and have some specific goals in mind when you go online to a social networking site, particularly if you are you managing more than one, you waste time "bouncing." Sus Nyrop recommends knowing when to stop and avoid procrastination by pointless wall posts that are good for nothing but noise.
Set a Schedule
Chris Heuer advise,"Don't feel like you need to keep your profile updated every minute or have to approve friend requests the moment they ask. Unless your job responsibility is as a 'online community manager' you don't need spend your entire work day on MySpace." Most nonprofit online networkers agree. They set a regular schedule for updating content, friending people, or finding new people with similar interests. Those who work on multiple networking sites may designate a particular day to particular sites, "Wednesday is MySpace day." Notes Nick Booth, "One good practice is to set aside a regular housekeeping date to clear out clutter from your profile."
But be Flexible
It is important to be flexible. As Carie Lewis, HSUS, wrote in the comments of a recent blog post, "When something big hits, like the Michael Vick case for instance, I'll go immediately to MySpace and blog about it, because that's where our biggest network is. Next, I'll tweak the content for Facebook and post there. Then I'll go to Care2 and onto Gather."
UPDATE: For giggles, I posted this as note and asked for feedback on Facebook. Here's the notes and I've integrated the points above.
Right on, Beth. And with such keen attention to detail when you're paying attention to time, it's much easier to compute ROI for your efforts once you're tallying up results. Social networks are really engaging and it's so easy to become lost in low-value efforts when you're marketing to/on them that keeping to a rigorous schedule and measuring your results is the way to go... esp. if part of your goal is to justify future investment to your management.
Avoiding distraction is SO hard with social networking sites. When I first started out, I was getting every friend request and message notification into my email box, and checking it right away. It became unmanageable. Now I set a specific time everyday to approve friend requests and comments, and message back those that write us. By having a set time every day, I don't allow it to consume my time and I get ALOT more done.
I also have a production calendar in outlook that maps out the week's social networking blogs. That has helped tremendously not only with time management, but looking at the bigger picture. Integrating my activities with everything else my department does (email, website, and print) is SO important and helpful. I'll take an hour a day to execute what's in the calendar, and the rest of my day is tackling more strategic projects.
What are you tips for using your time well on social networking sites? How do you avoid distraction? How do you balance multi-tasking, procrastination, getting tasks done, and leaving time for discovery and learning?
Update: Carie shares a screenshot of her outlook production schedule!
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