This stellar explosion is what my own universe has been like over the past several years. No real shape and lots of time and task fragmentation.
I’m not actually ADD, but still more distractible than some folks, thanks to generalized anxiety and my extroverted personality (gaining fulfillment from human connections). So, social media and email have turned into monsters for me. I found myself scattered all over the virtual universe with multiple accounts (thinking this structure would make it easier to seed what’s up) and belonging to many social media groups and communities. I was waking up and turning on the computer first and feeling compelled to go to email in particular, and then getting caught up in answering things, finding myself working before breakfast (ugh!).
I do tend to over-accommodate other humans, feeling a little satisfaction from taking care of their needs, often at the expense of my own self-care, so this pattern was an extension of my tendency to jump to take care of everyone else. Now after 57 years on the planet, I’m finally building a structure that takes care of me and my responsibilities for others.
With the following, keep in mind that I am a self-employed publishing services professional, so I don’t have to get up and get on the road to an office an hour after I wake up. But I think the principles can still apply, even for folks with employee status.
Catalysts for this change on the Web:
1) Chris Brogan—”Your inbox is the perfect delivery system for other people’s priorities . Commit to checking mail only 2x a day for 30 minutes each. Tops. If someone’s important enough to need you more often, give them your cell and have them text you.” OK, so I haven’t gotten down to two times a day and texting for important people (I really think there may be a “too old for texting” category).
But, when I wake up, I pick up my MacBook and take it out to my improvised stand-up desk (something creative for old entertainment centers), I turn it on, and…I don’t check email! I do a quick check of news headlines and turn on my yoga program (a larger monitor sits over the left) instead. Yay, me! Then I eat breakfast, and finally sit down to do my morning stuff as per this really cool program that Chris has called OMFG. My morning Daily Actions: yoga, daily draws (Tarot cards), social media, writing. Look, no email yet!
After all that, then I open my email program (I also have no notifications set up, so I have to go check myself; no interruptions). Remember my bit in the first paragraph about multiple accounts and such? I’ve consolidated all that into one account with just four folders to keep my stuff in. I thought maybe it would take more time to go through if I had one account with more folders, but no. It’s actually faster.
Important: Now time is my tool, not my slave-driver. I still have the same number of hours in a day, but I feel like I have more “me” time and am sacrificing myself much less. I even had time to work in the garden yesterday!
2) Brian Gardner: This site designer and writer is getting wonderfully unfiltered and minimalist in all sorts of cool ways. One of the reasons I had multiple social media accounts was because I was concerned about professional reputation (editing business) being compromised by personal interests (there’s that Tarot and other New Age woo-woo stuff). But, hey, if you Google my name, you get everything anyway. And if you’re really close-minded, we’re probably not a good match for my business, so let’s take ownership of me and consolidate.
So, I still have three websites. It would be a bit much from a practical perspective to put all my editorial biz and Tarot reading content on one site. I’m not concerned about consolidation where it works anymore, though, so I’ve now got one Twitter account, and one Goggle+ account. It’s so much faster and easier to maintain good quality connections on social media without so many “places to go.” And now that social media checking is part of my morning routine, I get those connections taken care of early (I use Hootsuite to schedule some retweets, etc. so I have presence throughout the day without being annoying) and don’t feel compelled to check in many times a day. And when I get started on billable projects (by noon or 1 pm), I can focus just on those and be done early enough in the evening (7 or 8 pm) to have an evening.
I am so relieved to have found some mental systems to make my connections flow through my life instead of fragmenting it. And I find myself blogging more and better as I feel the freedom to write about whatever works for me in that moment, rather than thinking only in terms of what other people might want to hear. I assume that someone will benefit from what I’ve learned, and hopefully they’ll leave a comment to let me know, but it’s not necessary.