Bloggers are freelancers. They are also publishers, marketers, and sometimes even designers. If they are successful, they master most of these skills. That’s why I’m not the least reluctant to drop the link to Smashing Magazine’s excellent post about six simple ways for freelancers to increase productivity. If you’re serious about your blogging it is a must read, and even if you’re not, you might pick something up.
I saw a link to 15 Ways to Hack Your Brain For A Better Life, and since I’m a productivity maniac I gobbled down the article. It is basically some advice on how to get happier, smarter, and more balanced thanks to things you do to keep a balanced and fresh mind.
The advice is sound, and it also applies to bloggers, especially us full-time ones. Our profession is a mental one rather than physical, which means that the only part of our bodies that get exercised, and again, are our fingers tapping away at the keyboard. Sure, one might say that we’re using our brains all day long as well, but personally I think that is a load of crap, and the fact that we’re staring at monitors for prolonged periods of time probably hurts us more than we’re gaining by wrapping our minds around this and that. [Read more…]
“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), American writer
Have you lost your common sense with all the information attacking your head every day? While the normal person going about their daily work and life is bombarded by information, bloggers actually seek even more – making their brains resemble overstuffed furniture with wadding leaking out through the cracks in the Naugahyde.
I have over 350 feeds in my feed reader. I have 97 tabs open in my FireFox web browser. I have the radio tuned to National Public Radio, and podcasts are downloading onto my Zune right now as I work so I can listen to them when I work out tomorrow morning. I get hundreds of emails a day. Tons of blog comments across numerous blogs – I’m overwhelmed with information and input and I’m losing control.
How are you managing all the input a blogger needs to stay in touch, keep up with the news in your blogging industry, tracking down story ideas, researching stories and articles, reading through comments, researching the answers, and responding back…and all the things we do every day to keep our blog life alive? How do you do it?
What are the tricks of the trade you’ve learned along your blogging path? Want to share? Share your time saving, information overload prevention tips with your blogging pals and I’ll write up a summary, and maybe even honor the best offerings with my book, Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.
Which begs the question. What is it that bloggers won’t tell you about blogging that we need to know in order to prevent blog burn-out?
It’s a common challenge we all encounter at some point or another. We are so busy getting through the basic tasks of publishing, that we become less organized – and thus less productive. The time we’d dedicate to marketing our blog and building relationships with readers vaporizes as we try to dig out from under.
If you’d like to find more time to share your ideas with others and attract a greater number of readers, you need to become more productive. You can start with five easy steps.
1. Put your bookmarks on de.licio.us. In fact, dump everything you might need later into de.licio.us. Not only can you search your links much faster than using your browser’s built in tools, your bookmarks will be available anywhere you go.
2. Find an RSS reader or web-based service you like, load the sites you visit regularly, and get familiar with the interface. This is the single most effective think you can do to optimize your online productivity. You’ll spend less time loading sites and hunting for data — and more sorting what you need. Hint: Google Reader.
3. Unsubscribe. It’s easy to get caught up in the noise of Web 2.0. Do you really need pokes and superpokes on Facebook? Did you just blow an hour of daylight on Twitter? Dump it. Decide what’s important, and stick with it.
4. Get your projects organized. One great way is Basecamp — a no-nonsense planning and management system suitable for personal or group use. Set goals, share files and information, whiteboard — in short, make it happen. There’s a free version suitable for single projects. The Basic plan is $24/month, and is as much project management as most small businesses will ever need.
5. Many hands make the job easier — or at least give you a living knowledge-base. So network — but be smart about which one you choose. Facebook has a huge user base, but may offer more distractions that your personal productivity allows. If you’re building a professional network, consider LinkedIn. It is more focused on business and you will find that members are open to helping you with marketing questions.
These are just five tools. What are some of your favorites?
Sunday’s New York Times is carrying a story discussing TechCrunch as their primary “victim” of email overload.
And there’s the usual talk of email bankruptcy, folks who go out and delete all of their email, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Yes, we’ve heard all of this before – and we’ve heard it alot recently.
In fact, earlier this week I wrote a post outlining how Darren Rowse went from 10,000+ emails down to ‘Inbox Zero’ in a single weekend.
Now, I understand email. I get anywhere from 300 – 400 emails daily to my various mailboxes – and I’m currently engaged with a client that singlehandedly produces another 150-200 emails a day (Welcome to the world of Program Management at a Fortune 100 Company.. anyways) – so I’m having to dig through alot of email each day.
According to the NY Times though, Arrington’s situation might be just a tad bit more difficult:
E-MAIL has become the bane of some people’s professional lives. Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, a blog covering new Internet companies, last month stared balefully at his inbox, with 2,433 unread e-mail messages, not counting 721 messages awaiting his attention in Facebook.
Mr. Arrington might be tempted to purge his inbox and start afresh — the phrase “e-mail bankruptcy” has been with us since at least 2002. But he declares e-mail bankruptcy regularly, to no avail. New messages swiftly replace those that are deleted unread.
The Times article goes on to discuss technological inventions, secretaries, and then eventually lands on the example of H. L. Mencken and his approach to dealing with postal mail. Which is really not the metaphor that I think we’re all looking for.
There have been enough articles in the blogosphere on effective ways to manage email that I’m surprised that this is the approach that the New York Times chose to take. Let’s take a look at some articles outlining effective ways to handle this much email:
- Darren Rowse: From 10,000 to 0 emails in an inbox in 24 hours – Darren talks about using G-Mail and some other aggressive measures to get control of his inbox quickly.
- Tim Ferris/Four Hour Work Week: The Holy Grail, How to outsource the inbox and never check email again: Tim Ferris outlines how he utilizes his staff of virtual assistants and some strict guidelines so that he never (ok, well, rarely) has to check email.
- Merlin Mann/43 Folders: Inbox Zero – The original approach to having an empty inbox every day.
These are just some examples of individual’s personal experiences implementing tools & methods to get control of their email.
In the end, it’s down to how you discipline yourself and use the tools that are at your disposal in order to make yourself productive. And that’s the point that I believe the New York Times really missed.
What are your email productivity tools?
Update: Ross Mayfield makes some great points about this issue on his blog..