Having no Internet access is good because it helps me focus on my book; I get so much more done when I can’t click over to e-mail or Twitter or Google Reader. But it’s also a thorn in my side, because I recently started my own social media business and I need Internet access to keep up with my clients’ accounts.
Lucky for me, this artist’s colony has WiFi in a common area called The Rock House, which is about a half mile away from my studio. Residents — there are usually eight or nine of us here at once — meet there four nights a week for a dinner prepared by Hambidge’s vegetarian chef. While I’m at the Rock House, I can spend some time connected to the online world.
But I want to minimize my online time as much as possible while I’m here so I can focus on my manuscript. My goal is to complete both my personal and professional online business in less than an hour a day. So I devised a plan to make that happen. I’m sharing it with you because I think a lot of of writers want to disconnect once in a while, and being efficient with our Internet can help us do that.
How I’m minimizing my Internet time over these two weeks:
Before leaving for Hambidge, I worked extra hours to complete any work that could be done ahead of time, both for this blog and for my clients’ accounts.
- I scheduled a ton of tweets with Hootsuite, my preferred social-media management tool.
- I wrote and scheduled blog posts, including this one. Both WordPress and Blogger have a scheduling option.
As much as possible, I cleared my plate so I could focus on writing during my residency.
I also made a list of everything that absolutely has to get done at Hambidge. When I go to The Rock House for my daily Internet check (which I’m hoping to do only only weekdays), I’ll keep this list next to me so I can quickly check off items and feel confident that I didn’t forget anything. I’m juggling a lot of balls right now, and it helps to be organized.
Here’s what my Internet to-do list looks like:
- Check e-mail. I’ll respond to my clients and maybe shoot a note off to my family, but everything else will have to wait. My main form of communication is e-mail, so I’m expecting my inbox to fill up pretty fast. I’m usually super attentive to e-mail, deleting and archiving messages all day to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed, so I don’t even know how many e-mails I get each day. This will be a chance to find out.
- Deal with my clients’ accounts. This includes everything that couldn’t be scheduled ahead of time, like tweeting and responding to @replies and Direct Messages on Twitter, responding to fans’ comments on Facebook pages and generally making sure everything’s running smoothly.
- Blog. I’ve scheduled several blog posts, but I want to keep you up-to-date on how my writer’s residency is going, and hopefully post a few photos. I’ll also want to respond to comments and tweet my posts (I prefer to do it by hand rather than through an automated service).
Online responsibilities I plan to neglect while I’m at Hambidge:
- E-mails that aren’t urgent. Most anything that’s not from clients or family.
- Google Reader. About 180 new posts pop up in my feed each day. I’ll probably look at my top three favorite blogs when I get back home, but I certainly won’t try to read all of the posts I missed. Instead, I’ll mark everything as read and start from scratch. Can’t keep up with everything.
- Twitter. I’ll tweet my blog posts and an occasional photo, but other than that I’m on Twitter break.
- Facebook & LinkedIn. I use these two networks on an if-I-have-time basis, so they’re both off my plate for these two weeks.
As the days pass, I’m sure I’ll think of more forms of online communication that I’m neglecting, since I never realize just how much I use the Internet until I’m away from it. But while it seems inconvenient to be disconnected, having Internet-free time also helps me re-evaluate, helps me think about how much of the time I spend online is really necessary.
Your turn: How do you organize your Internet life? What would you do if you didn’t have access for an extended period of time?