Balancing work, social media and, yes, writing

August 16, 2010 · 12 comments

We all know how distracting social media can be. Sometimes I’ll sit down to work on a chapter of my book, turn to Twitter or Facebook or my blog just for a minute, and when I finally look up, it’s two hours later.

It’s not that I’m wasting time on these networks. I’m not playing Farmville or poking friends or throwing pigs at tweeps (if only that were possible). There’s simply so much information out there that I want to click on and read and share. So many interesting people to talk to. So much to learn.

I’ve been pretty good at balancing writing and social media for the last couple of years. I multitask efficiently and use tools like Hootsuite and Google Reader to make my online time as productive as possible.

You know you're not working on your manuscript enough when... your dog sleeps on it. Thank you, Cooper.

But ever since I made social media my job, balancing has become a problem. I’m spending more and more time on social networks, and less time writing. This makes sense in some ways, since helping small businesses with social media is how I’m now making money. I’m starting a business. Of course it’s filling more of my time.

But I’ve been neglecting my revisions, and those are important to me, too. A big part of the reason why I think it’s a good idea to work for myself is because it gives me the flexibility and the time to write. I can build up Socialexis and work on my book. Allegedly.

Here’s my problem. With social media, work is never done. There’s always more I can do. Know how you always want to push out one last tweet or connect with one more interesting person on She Writes? How you’re sure you can improve your online community and influence if you just put in one more hour? I’m now feeling that pressure not only for my personal networks, but also for my clients’ accounts. I want to do the best job I can for each client, and I’m always thinking of one more person to follow or a cool way to reach out on Facebook or a new networking tool we should use.

I’ve been putting in that extra effort because I want my clients and my business to succeed. And it’s working! I’m so excited about that. But at some point, I need to draw the line. Because when I don’t, guess what doesn’t get done? My book.

After several weeks of minimal progress on revisions, I’m about to try a different approach. This week, rather than multitasking all day, I’ll dedicate the mornings to Socialexis. By 1 p.m., I’ll be at the (distraction-free) library, revising my book. And during those afternoon hours, I will not look at my e-mail or blog or any client’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. I will devote the afternoon to revising.

I’ll let you know at the end of the week how it went. (Because that will keep me from cheating.)

I’d love to hear how you all deal with this. How do you balance writing with social media or other responsibilities? Do you set aside blocks of time for writing? Or does multitasking work better for you? Got any tips to share with the rest of us?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd August 16, 2010 at 7:25 am

Good luck Alexis! I’m feeling the time crunch as well. Now that I’m back working finding time to blog (everything that entails not just writing) and work on book has been difficult.

Your post was nicely timed as I too decided over the weekend on a new schedule. I will dedicate a solid one hour of each day to writing my book. With longer periods over the weekends when I can. It’s my chipping away strategy.

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Alexis Grant August 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Chipping away works! Good strategy.

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Suwannee Refugee August 16, 2010 at 7:54 am

I’m for putting my energy into what I need to do first thing in the morning. The later the day gets the more my mind wanders and can’t get focused.

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Caitlin August 16, 2010 at 8:11 am

I read that Jonathan Franzen put something on his computer that disabled his internet access while he was working on his book. It was the only way he could stay focused.

Sometimes I am good about keeping on task, but sometimes I think I should just yank my cable modem out of my wall.

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Karen Walker August 16, 2010 at 8:45 am

I’ve found that if I do my book first, then the social media stuff, I get more writing done. But I can’t always manage that. It feels like an addiction.
Karen

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Peggy Frezon August 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

I’ve been trying to do the social networking, which is so important for marketing, first thing in the morning. I always tell myself I’ll spend one hour on it, but it usually ends up three or more hours and I’m still at it…because as you say, it could never end. I, too, need to find a way to balance things and spend more time on the writing.
But first, I’m going to Twitter to throw a pig at you.

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Carol Ann Hoel August 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

I am struggling with the same issue. All of our good intentions will come to nothing if we are unable to balance. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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Jessica August 16, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I can only imagine the struggle you’re having. At work, I keep Hootsuite up since I tweet for work and even that distracts me, even though its for work! You can seriously spend so much time doing social media. Good for you with the business success though.

Currently, I’m trying to balance working 8-5 and then coming home and trying to have energy to blog/write…it’s not going so hot right now.

I’ll be interested to see how your week goes. Good luck!

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Patricia Stoltey August 17, 2010 at 11:11 am

I have a running battle with time management. I even subscribe to “Time Management Ninja,” pop the posts into a folder, and never find time to read them.

And with all the stuff on my schedule, I turned right around yesterday and said, “Sure, I’ll teach two classes at a mini-conference on Sept. 18th.” I think I may have finally lost my mind.

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Alexis Grant August 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Ha! I can’t say no either! We’ve both lost it. :)

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SoVeryVienna August 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Ideally I’d have a block of time to write, but being a new mom, that’s unrealistic. What I’ve been doing is making lots of notes throughout the day when I can, so when I sit down to write I already know the outline of what I want to write and I can do so more efficiently.

Cooper seems like a good office assistant.

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Andi August 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm

This balance is sooooooo hard. Good luck!!!

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