We live in a crazy age… we simplify living until it is fairly complicated. We schedule all the fun-times away and leave ourselves filled with days-of-productivity. We make endless lists of things to be done now, things to be done then and things to never be done at all. We are spending so much time on getting organised that we never have time to get anything done. And yet we are always trying to catch up, always behind… and always floundering. Now one question I get asked a lot is when on earth do I find the time to blog, let alone find time for other social media. Well, time management is one of those things: Either you are spending your time learning about it or you are actually just getting on with things…
There are so many things that must or mustn’t be done, so many helpful hints when it comes to social media that you feel like you are wandering through a maze of should and shouldn’ts. There is a lot to be said about the when, the where, the how and even the why of “Social Media” and this post is really for those friends who would love to be busy online, but have no idea when they would ever get round to it…
Se7en + 1 Tips for Getting Social Media “Done.”
- Know Your Readers as Well as Your Readers Knows You: One of the key components of blogging is knowing who your readers are and writing for them. As a blogger, I am constantly amazed at our readers genuine care for the writer behind the blog. I have never mentioned on our blog that I need the weekend off or even unlimited time off, without understanding pouring forth. Our blog is not the daily news that people expect to land in their inbox at breakfast time, every single day. Our readers are real people, reading a blog written by real people and it shows. If you need a night off, or a week off, or a month off… trust me your blog will be there and so will the readers that count, just as soon as you get back.
- Know Exactly Who You Are: In a world that loves comparative studies you need to know who you are as a writer. For instance I am not a corporate blogger or a media house blogger. I am one blogger, writing about our life and times. To be sure, I don’t have a corporate group of writers behind me or thirty days worth of prewritten posts, our readers know that (I hope!!!).I cannot spin out “multiple thousand word” posts, day after day, and I am sure our readers wouldn’t want them either… there is nothing like mixing it up, and a couple of different types of posts are good for everyone. With eight kids… my time and attention are not actually focused online, my kids take up time and attention and I want them too. Sometimes I have to hold a sick kid all night, sometimes I have to sit and chat with my teens. Our readers have to know I would rather be doing that than blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I am passionate about blogging… but our kids and our family just have a higher priority.
- Know All Your Options: I was that kid that wanted to try every single extra mural in school, and it worked quite well in primary school. In high school, not so much, either you were on the tennis team or the swimming squad. You would think this was a no brainer, but I signed up for everything and would try and get to both practices every time. It took a good coach to look me in the eye and say: “Pick one.” Similarly on the internet… I have a few platforms that I am on, but not tons of them. One has to pick the one or two that work well for you and leave the rest. Chances are that your readers will have a similar mindset to you and if you love instagram or pinterest then so will they. Your readers may love other social media as well, for instance tons of our readers love Facebook, but they know they won’t find us over there… that’s okay. I think it is better to be active in a couple of spaces than spread so thin over every space that you are actually never present anywhere.
- Know When you are Working and When You are Not: Not all screen time is work time and it is important to know the difference. In the olden days when a person had a particular job and they went to the office, their work was contained between clocking in and clocking out, anything over-time was constrained to the contents of your briefcase. Not so anymore. If you are relaxing online and an email pops up: “Urgent, it’s work” it would take only the most disciplined of us not to take a peek. It is really essential to know the difference between your work and play, and I block off times when pinterest, twitter, email etc can quite happily continue on their merry way without me. I can still be on a screen: reading a book, playing a game with a child, looking up a new recipe to try… but it isn’t work time. I switch off all my notifications and relax.
- Know What Times Are good for Working: I block off times when I am online and offline, at a screen and off a screen. I cannot possibly expect my kids to think that they cannot be online for large chunks of the day, if I have my eyes directed at a screen. I very rarely sit at my computer during the day… that doesn’t mean I am not online at all. But, I couldn’t possibly be online during school time – we would never get anything done. If I am not actually doing school with our kids, alongside them, then I am probably doing laundry or meal preparation. I try to get all the household chores done and any blog related work that can be done away from a screen during the day when our kids are about. A lot of our blogging is generating materials, going on outings, creating lists of se7en+1 things in a notebook, reading books for review… A lot of our actual blogging happens well away from a screen.
- Know What Times Are Good For Work: I know directly after lunch, in the lull of the day… there is no chance of me doing anything productive. It is a good time for me to fly through my twitter feed and find a couple of things that I would want to share with our followers. The problem is that it is the perfect time for me to get led astray… and wander down my flickr feed for hours, luckily I have small children that would like a story read to them, so I have a built in time limit. I probably spend about twenty minutes a day on twitter… you are right I could be missing stuff. In fact, I am… but that’s the point: the internet is there all the time, I can stop by anytime, but I needn’t stay. Directly after dinner and getting the kids to bed I am not the best worker either… that’s a pretty good time for me to sort photographs, sorting them and sending the ones that I will need up to our flickr feed later. Turns out, “not galactically productive” times can be good for some types of work too.
- Know When to Just Do Something: One thing folk do say about blogging is be consistent… blog daily or weekly or monthly… your readers are expecting you to rise to the occasion and mostly bloggers do. But there are times when after dinner I would like to just take the night off, read a book and head for bed like a regular person. Once or twice a week is fine… but you can very quickly find yourself not blogging at all. I have found that on those nights when I can’t bring myself to blog whatever I had planned, and there is always a plan (but that is another blog post) just settling in and doing some background maintenance is a good idea too. It is very rare that I do nothing on our blog in an evening… just fifteen minutes of behind-the-scenes tidying up before deciding to call it a night can be just enough to get me into gear and get a blog post out.
- Know When to Call it a Day:
And the Se7en + 1th…
When you have had your fill move away, we are very tempted to take on more than we can… In a culture where more is always touted as better it is important to know when enough is enough. In the days before internet, you would read the morning paper with your coffee, when you had been through the headlines and read a few favourite columns. At the end of it, you had the news and your coffee mug was empty. Nowadays, the headlines just keep on coming and we can amble over to the coffee machine and get a refill. There has to be a limit and decide what yours is and be done. In the rising tide that is the internet, where one hundred hours of video are added to youtube every minute… the world is no longer your oyster, it is pretty much a raging monster (!!!) of time sapping energy. Not all of it is good and not all of it is bad… a lot of stuff out there is inspiring and a lot of what is out there is simply terrible. The point is, it is up to us to set limits on our time online and eventually you have to say: Stop… call it a day. Spending time with online friends is one thing, spending time living real life is quite another. In order to be a lifestyle blogger I have to be living real life and a lot of it.
So that’s the theory behind getting to grips with your time spent on social media… turns out I had a practical post just waiting to be written at the same time as this one and I’ll follow up and post it later on in the week.