Many of us struggle to make wise use of our online time.
When I wrote my last post, Are You a Social Media Junkie?, I suspected that I’m not alone in my desire to manage this aspect of my writing life.
Social networking is not only fun, but it’s an important part of a writer’s marketing and promotion efforts. We know our web presence will come into play when we’ve sold a book. Even those who might shy away from social networking are strongly encouraged to incorporate it into their day. Some publishers expect it. I’ve had published friends tell me that they’re contractually required to be active on Facebook and Twitter.
As I admitted in my last post, I didn’t have a surefire plan for managing my social networking time, so I went in search of one. There are a plethora of blog posts on this topic, and the same tips come up repeatedly. I’ve put my spin on them in tips 1 and 2. Tip 3 comes from personal experience.
Many bloggers advocate finding out where we’ve been spending our time by keeping a log for one week. In order to gain the most from this exercise, we have to be truthful and specific. Instead of lumping all online time as “social networking,” break it down.
Include categories for writing your blog posts and for reading others’. Make separate entries for the time you spend on Twitter, on Facebook, on Linked In, and other sites you visit. For those who are members of Yahoo! groups, note the time you spend reading your digests and responding to group members.
At the end of the week, take an honest look at your log. Avoid the tendency to judge yourself harshly. The goal here is to use this information to make informed choices in the future and, thereby, gain control over this aspect of your writing life.
Armed with the results of your log, decide how much time you want to spend on each of your social media sites based on how much discretionary time you have in your day. Would half an hour at the beginning of the day and another at the end fit into your plan? Perhaps using social networking as a reward for meeting your word count or writing time goals would work for you.
Once you’ve decided when social networking best fits into your schedule and how long you’ll spend online, set a timer. There are a number of online timers available, or you can use a kitchen timer. The important thing is to stop when the buzzer goes off.
3) Let Go
If you’re like me, you set up a plan and launch into it determined to make it work. In my case, things don’t always work out as planned. I might do great for a few days, and then I’ll blow it, lose momentum, and be tempted to give up.
In order to make my plan work, I have to let go of unrealistic expectations. Sure, I have a plan, but things are going to happen. Rather than viewing my attempt to follow through as a failure and calling it quits, recovering perfectionist me needs to cut myself slack and forge ahead with the plan.
Sometimes, nixing the plan for a day or so is a wise decision. For example, I might write a better-than-average blog post, for which my awesome agent tweets a link, and have a flood of new visitors leaving comments. In that case, I’d want to respond to each person, which would require more than my allotted social networking time. In that case, I’d make a conscious decision to take the time to respond to each new visitor in a private email.
Coming up with a plan for making the most of our social networking time is wise. That’s how we’ll gain mastery over this aspect of our writing life, so it’s a step we need to take.
As Carl W. Buechner said, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”
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Do you know how much time you spend on social networking?
Have you set up a plan for visiting your social media sites?
Does perfectionism cause you to forego your plans?