They say that if you do what you like, you’ll never work a day in your life. That statement might be truer than you think – especially if the “where” is online. Online Community Managers, aside for creating excitement around their brands, spend quite a lot of their free time online, too. After a while, many of us find that our work time either eclipses our play time, or that they just bleed into each other and you end up trying to do both at once. And that’s never a good idea. So here are some simple ideas I’ve put into practice over the past few months on how to be productive even if you work and play online! They’re all stuff I picked up from regularly-read blogs like Mashable and TechCrunch – you know, those “How to Be Productive…” type articles. Just a disclaimer: I am an unorganized mess if I don’t give myself rules. So if I can do it – anyone can!
Set Aside Some Play Time
This might sound intuitive, but we all need to be reminded once in a while that we need to set aside play time for ourselves. Many of us have a schedule that’s packed enough that it doesn’t include any down time. Down time needs to be built in to our schedule just like any other activity. Whether it’s spending time with friends and family, or just checking email and writing a blog post, time needs to be set aside if you want to get those things done without having them interfere with your work. Speaking of work…
Have Two Checklists For Work
According to Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance, two checklists need to be written up just to organize your work. These two checklists are both work-related but in different ways. One Checklist simply states “To Do: Urgent,” and the other “To Do: Long Term.” This is extremely important. As I mentioned, I’m a mess when it comes to organizing myself on my own terms. SO when I read those tips from Scott Belsky on the Mashable blog, I decided to give them a go. “What’s the harm?” I thought. And not only was there no harm – I became more productive, and didn’t have to remember everything all at once as equally important in my mind!
Here’s a great example: Over this past week, I’ve been swamped with work. I needed to get several Marketing written up, a proposal, and a launch plan for a newly-launching website (launching over the weekend). On top of that, I had to organize a parade appearance on 5th ave during the summer, order supplies for a conference booth for a different company, and arrange for another company to have a spot at the Tribeca Film Festival. This was all on my to-do list in my mind. Apparently, my mind is two-dementional, so I couldn’t just do the things that needed to be done now. I had to work on it all at once and subsequently overwhelm myself!as
After putting everything into lists, I realized that the Tribeca Film Festival can be done next week, the conference stuff had to wait ’till Monday anyway, and the parade arrangements were due Tuesday of next week. So those three went straight to my “Long Term” list, and on Monday, I was going to rearrange my lists to fit the new week! The marketing plans and launch plans all moved over to the “Urgent” list, as we’re going to run our PR campaign on Monday! And that’s it – it became immediately apparent that I should work on the Urgent list first, and then, if there was time, I would move on to the Long Term list!
Have One Checklist For Other Stuff
Now that you have your work priorities in order, and you’ve done all of the work – or all of the Urgent work, and some of the Long Term work. Now you finally have downtime. You can breathe a huge sigh of relief and relax. But wait – you have errands to run, emails to send, phone calls to make. What now? Where to start?
Well since it’s definitely more relaxing to do your leisure obligations than your work obligations, the Urgent/Long Term stuff isn’t really necessary. In stead, just make a list of things you need to do when you’re not working, and when you have a free moment/hour. Call your wife/hubby! Reply to that email you saw earlier today and jotted down on the list! Check and use Twitter/Facebook for exactly 10 minutes. Whatever’s on your list will more likely get done if it’s on a list than if it’s floating in your head. Feel free to cross it off after you’ve done every single one of them.
Do Not Rely on Separate Tabs/Windows to Separate Work/Play
I don’t know about you, but I am a tab man. I walk in to work and I have at least 8 tabs open before I make my first cup of coffee. Here’s how it used to go: Gmail > Work Email > Twitter > Facebook > Work related website > Digg > Work related site > Joke someone sent me by email. Good luck trying to keep only to your work when your tabs are interwoven, and mostly just play-stuff. Leave the tabs alone. As a matter of fact, leave the separate windows alone. You’re really fooling yourself if you think you’re going to keep organized that way. Instead, think of the windows of time as the organizing units in your day. Once you’re done with the “To Do: Urgent” and “To Do: Long Term” tabs, you can close your “Work” window and open a “Fun” window!
So it ain’t rocket science. All I’ve done to get myself organized is not give myself any credit for remembering/multitasking/organizing. That gave me an airtight action plan to get myself out of the check-Twitter-every-few-minutes, work-on-my-actual-work-sporadically rut!
There’s nothing worse that going home at the end of the day feeling like you did half of the work you could have done, and wondering where the rest of it went. On the flip-side, there’s no better feeling than “I did a ridiculous amount of work today, and I deserve a good chunk of downtime tonight. I think I’ll take my significant other out on a date!”
Bottom line is – you’ll feel accomplished. Try it!
Itamar Kestenbaum is a blogger and Community Manager. He is currently Community Manager for Moishe’s Moving & Storage in NYC as well as Blogworld Expo. You can follow Itamar on Twitter @tweetamar or read his blog: ItamarKestenbaum.com.