by Susan Murphy
It’s a problem that most of us have. There are so many things to see, so much to learn, but only so much time in your day to do it. We want to keep on top of the trends, but with our daily work, family commitments and the need to have a break from communication once in a while, it’s hard to know where to focus when we do finally sit down to see what’s up on the Web.
I spend a good portion of my work day online – no, not surfing Facebook – but creating content for myself, for Jester Creative, or for clients, doing research, connecting with people about business ideas or sharing interesting things. Almost everything I do online has a business purpose of some sort, or is related to my work. So it’s imperative that I find ways to maximize the productivity of my online time, so that I can actually accomplish the things I need to accomplish without getting distracted by too many shiny things.
Here are a few tips that you might find helpful if you want to be more focused with the time you spend online.
Every good plan starts with a solid goal. What do you want to accomplish with your online time? Are you looking to improve your network, or expand your business leads? Are you looking for work, or trying to find out more about how to further your education in your chosen field? Are you simply looking to meet more people, and make new friends? Having a good sense of what you want to achieve will really help you to find the areas to focus on so you can make the most of every minute you have online.
Spend a bit of time coming up with one or two ideas on what you’d like to achieve with your online time. Write them down and post them up so you can refer to them often.
I don’t know about you, but if it’s not in my calendar, it doesn’t happen. Get into the habit of blocking out time to achieve your online goals. Maybe it’s 30 minutes in the morning before the kids wake up to write a new blog post, or say hi to folks on Twitter. Maybe it’s an hour a few times a week to read some new blog posts. Maybe it’s a half day to spend some focused time really beefing up your LinkedIN profile and seeking out new people to connect with. Whatever your goal, actually block out time to focus on the steps you need to take to achieve it. If you don’t do this critical step, you might tend to put it off till you “have time”. If it’s staring at you in your calendar, you’ll be more inclined to take at least some action.
Don’t Be a Lurker
I know SO many people who consider themselves “lurkers” on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. While sometimes it’s fun to just sit back and watch the stream go by, eventually, if you want to bring in new business, or learn, or make friends, you have to do some fishing. I challenge you, if you consider yourself the lurking type, to find three new people to talk to this week. Maybe write a thoughtful comment on a blog post (write a comment on this post, that counts as one!). Reply to someone’s question on Twitter (or ask a question). Share a link to something interesting on your Facebook profile. Find ways to regularly jump into the 24/7 conversation that is going on around you, and I promise, your online experience will become richer and more productive, and, you just might connect to the people that can help you move closer to your goals!.
Have a Little Fun
Even if you’re using the Web and social networks primarily as a business tool, you don’t have to be all business, all the time. It’s okay to have a little fun! Share a funny photo, or an entertaining video to your feeds. It’s an absolute fact that I’ve generated more business leads and new connections by posting photos of my lunch and my cats than just about anything else.
What’s great about the Web is that it’s an opportunity to put a human face on your business. And humans like to have a good time! So show your personality every now and again, it will pay off!
There you have it – 4 easy ways to make better use of your time online. It starts with goals, making the time, being an active participant and most of all, not being afraid to have fun.
How do you make use of your time online? Please feel free to share your online productivity tips in the comments!