by Loren A. Roberts (guru of multi-hyphenate media)
My online experience has shifted significantly over the past few months because of family and work necessities, and I thought some of the lessons I have learned might be helpful to you:
STOP HAVING INFORMATION "PUSHED" TO YOU.
This sounds counterintuitive, but you should be the "instigator" of hunting for information -- it will save time. Unfortunately, our iPhones and e-mail boxes have become filled with messages from this company and that company, all trying to get us to click and buy, or click and subscribe, or click and...you get the idea. Ignore the "push" of information. Instead, use the internet like a scalpel -- cutting away until you get to exactly the information you want, on your terms.
"BATCH-READ" YOUR E-MAIL.
Even though I leave my e-mail browser open all the time at the office, I only jump over to Outlook and read a bunch of e-mails about once an hour. Why? Because reading e-mail more often breaks my concentration. I have found that I'm way more productive when I have no distractions, and e-mail is "distraction number one." Delete as many as you can immediately, and then figure out which ones can be addressed quickly. Respond to those, and then, for ones that require a longer response, shoot off a quick message to the sender stating that you will get back to them within 24 hours.
I now have an iPhone. While it hasn't helped as much as I was expecting in cutting down the craziness of life, it has helped in one major way: I "do social" away from the office. On the iPhone. In batches. I'll scroll through screens and screens of your posts all in one (or two) binges, usually after dinner, and away from a computer. That's one less distraction while I am working at the office.
NEWS AGGREGATORS AND SOCIAL AGGREGATORS ARE GOOD FOR YOU.
I will mourn the impending death of Google Reader next month, because I have found the benefit of getting all of my blogs and all of my social in one batch. I still haven't settled on a Google Reader replacement, but for social I am all about Hootsuite. Between that and bit.ly (link shortener) I can move pretty quickly through posts from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Too bad I can't get my Snapchat, Tumblr, and Instagram posts fed through Hootsuite as well -- that would be fantastic. But it all has to do with limiting the number of URLs I have to enter, and my ability to scan quickly through lots of information.
WALK...AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.
I know many of you are New Yorkers, and therefore have the opportunity (even joy, sometimes) of walking through town. Us West Coast people don't do that as much. But we need to walk. So my office is strategically placed right in the heart of downtown Pasadena, so that I'm a 5- to 10-minute walk from the library, a few of my clients, all of the restaurants in Old Town Pasadena, and the Pasadena Playhouse. This has been a good thing -- both for my health, and for my ability to rest my eyes from squinting at the computer. You should do it too. (I have also switched my office's desk to a standing desk -- with a stool for when I get tired -- but that will have to be for another post.)
BALANCE AND LEVITY
Life is about more than our online world, even though much of our time is spent here. Get out. Move quickly through what is needed online, and then make straight for the door and find some sun, and some friends, and plenty of wonder. Take your camera with you if you must, because there will be fun things to see.
LOREN A. ROBERTS produces films, videos and music, designs magazines and logos, plays and sings in a Doobie Brothers tribute band, and is a student of what happens when science and technology and the arts and culture collide. www.hearkencreative.com
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