Looking for Something?
Posts Tagged for

Building Community

Review: Online Community Management for Dummies (Plus a Giveaway!)

Author:

What’s the difference between an online community manager and a moderator? More cowbell.

At least, that’s the answer BlogWorld’s very own community manager Deb Ng gives in her new book Online Community Management for Dummies. Deb was nice enough to send me a copy to review, and at the end of this post, she even has a special giveaway for the BlogWorld community!

Online Community Management for Dummies is part of the best-selling Dummies guide series from Wiley. On the cover, Deb promises to teach readers how to:

  • Identify core tasks for community managers
  • Build and maintain positive relationships within your online community
  • Establish policies and transparency
  • Manager comments, respond to criticism, and evaluate ROI

I whole-heartedly think she fulfills these promises.

If you have blog, podcaster, business Facebook page, forum, video series, or any kind of other online content, you have a community – people who enjoy what you do and feel a sense of camaraderie about your online presence. A lot of people make the mistake of never engaging their community or even acknowledging their existence, but without these loyal people supporting your work online, you’re dead in the water. Deb’s book is all about how to interact online in a way that thanks your community for their support, builds your network of fans, and helps them thrive.

Online Community Management for Dummies is 314 pages split into the following parts:

  • Part I: The Basics of  Online Community Management
  • Part II: Embracing the Community Manager’s Role
  • Part III: Building a Productive Online Community
  • Part IV: Growing Your Community
  • Part V: Assessing the Health of Your Community
  • Part VI: Taking Your Community Offline
  • Part VII: The Part of Tens (Ten Essential Community Manager Tasks, Ten Must-Have Skills for Community Managers, and Ten Best Practices of a Community Manager)

I like that this book is so encompassing and even covers the complexities surrounding specific types of communities, such as communities for children. The biggest negative, in my opinion, is that this is a Dummies book. I think Deb does a great job making the content interesting, but I personally tend to enjoy books that have less of a rigid structure and more personal stories about failures and successes. That said, if you’re new to community management, the structure of a Dummies book makes it easy to follow along and learn step-by-step, so don’t let this observation of mine deter you from picking up a copy.

I found the most helpful section of this book to be Chapter 7: Listening to Your Community. Writes Deb,

It’s one thing to watch and a whole other things to listen. During your rounds on the social networks, blogs, and community pages, pay attention to what people are saying. How many members are saying the same things? Members won’t come to you with every concern or request, but they may share ideas with one another. Pay attention to what they’re saying an take notes.

I think that’s where a lot of community managers fall short – they monitor, but don’t actually listen. Of course, this is not the only point of good advice in the book. Deb also makes a lot of stellar suggestions and observations such as:

  • Adding a community calender so members know what’s coming up
  • Rewarding loyalty with prizes and perks
  • Encouraging members to share rather than making it all about you
  • Using Google alerts to make sure you know what people are saying about you
  • Consider planning real-world meetups/tweetups
  • Avoiding the negativity trap

I could continue, but in all honestly, you should just pick up a copy yourself! 😉

Or you could win a copy! That’s right, Deb has agreed to give away a copy of Online Community Management for Dummies to one lucky winner. To enter, simply leave a comment below responding to the following community challenge:

You write a blog post that goes viral and starts bringing in hundreds of comments. As readers weigh in with their opinion and reply to one another in the comments section of your blog post, you notice that one commenter continually makes negative remarks and calls other people names. He’s not just trolling, because he actually has insightful things to say about the topic, but his comments are increasingly rude and hurtful not just to you, but to other commenters. What do you do?

Leave a comment below by Friday, May 11, 2012 at 5 PM EST and one lucky winner will be drawn to receive a copy of Deb’s book!

(Fine print: Winner will be drawn using Random.org and notified via email. Winner must respond within five business days to claim this prize. You may comment as often as you like, but only one comment per person will count as an entry. Commenting from multiple accounts and other attempts to cheat the system will result in disqualification. Only comments answering the above question will count as entries, though other comments are welcome. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. All decisions made by BlogWorld are final. Void where prohibited.)

The 12 New Media Days of Christmas 2011: 7 Community Managers a-Managing

Author:

During the 12 New Media Days of Christmas, we’re counting down the days until Santa comes by featuring some of the best blog posts of 2011 from awesome writers within the BlogWorld community! Skip to the end to read more posts in this holiday series and don’t forget to leave a comment if you’ve written a post about today’s topic!

Okay, so today’s title doesn’t necessarily roll of the tongue…but I think we need to give it up for the topic: Community Management. Community managers have one of the most difficult jobs in the new media world, in my opinion, and they often go unrecognized for the long hours they put in. If your blog or business is a one-man (or woman) show, you’ll need to wear the community management hat from time to time, and trust me; it isn’t an easy job to do. So today, I’ve collected some posts some helpful posts to get you started.

Oh, and by the way – she’s super modest about it, but our own Deb Ng recently published Online Community Management for Dummies, which you should totally check out!

Post too long? Head to the Quick Links section for just a list of the links included in this post without all the analysis and quotes!

1. What’s a Community Worth? by Ilana Rabinowitz at Social Media Explorer

Before we even start talking about community management, we have to first understand community. Ilana’s post is a great place to start, because she writes about why community is a vital part of your success online. Think your blog/business will be fine without a community? Think again – the community is the powerful, strong backbone of your brand, and when you need them, they’ll be there for you – if you’ve build something worthy of their support. Writes Ilana,

As business people, we tend to think about our connections as an audience, but if we want to be social, that won’t be enough. We need to build a community to assure the long-term health of our business. Businesses, like people, need to nurture relationships in the context of a community. It can make the difference between success and failure when you need it most.

You can find Ilana on Twitter @ilana221. She also blogs about social media at Marketing Without A Net and is the vice president of marketing for Lion Brand Yarn.


 

2. The Anatomy of a Community Manager by Adi Gaskell at AdiGaskell.com

This post goes over all of the important qualities you need to successfully manage a community. Some are common sense (for example, you have to be a good listener, of course), but others might surprise you. Are you able to focus on output over input? Do you have “political” influence? Do you challenge the status quo? These, and other skills Adi lists, are all important to be a successful community manager, whether you’re managing the community of your blog or the community of a multi-million dollar international business. From the post:

Community managers often have to be all things to all people.  They’re required to have good technical skills, strong emotional capabilities with an encyclopedic knowledge of their subject area.

After reading the rest of Adi’s post, you can find him on Twitter @adigaskell. He writes for a number of other social media related blogs, including Social Media Today, Technorati, and Social Business News.


 

3. Engaged Community is a Healthy Community – Best Practices in Internal Social Networking by Maria Ogneva at Social Media Today

Maria is the head of community at Yammer, and her experience in this area shows in this post! If you’re considering building a community from the ground up, this is a great resource of tips to help you get started. I especially love Maria’s WIIFM tip. People always want to know, “What’s In It For Me?” and if you want them to continue being a member of your community, you have to make that question easy to answer. Otherwise, your community runs the risk of simply dying before it even begins. In this post, Maria writes,

“How do I ensure continued engagement in this network? How do I get people to come back and participate?” I think this is a key question to ask yourself, and if you can formulate a plan of action prior to rolling out the community, you will certainly be setting yourself up for success.

In addition to working with Yammer, Maria also runs her own blog at Social Silk. You can find her on Twitter @themaria.


 

4. The Discomfort of Becoming a “Public Person” by Emilie Wapnick at Puttylike

Before we go a step farther talking about community, I think this is an important post to review. Although it’s not about a traditional community management topic, it is a topic that community managers need to consider. When you take on this role, you become a very public online personality, and that’s not something easy to handle, even if you’re an outgoing person. Community managers need to always do what is best for their communities, even if that means being a bit uncomfortable at times. Writes Emilie,

When you’re faced with a choice between preserving your ego and doing what’s best for your cause, choose the latter. Don’t let fear be the thing that decides your actions. Put yourself out there, allow yourself to be momentarily embarrassed, and then move on.

You can find Emilie on Twitter @emiliewapnick and like her blog on Facebook to stay connected. She recently launched Renaissance Business, a book about combining your interests to create a viable business, rather than choosing just one niche.


 

5. Are You Really Talking To Your Prospect? by Francisco Rosales at Social Mouths

Do you know the members of your community? I don’t necessarily mean individually, but do you know the average type of person who is a member of your community? Or, more importantly, do you know the type of person you want to be a member of your community? Until you define your community, it’s hard to connect with them through blog posts, social media, or any other means of communication. In this post, Fransisco talks about how to focus on reaching your community members, why you should ignore some people, and more. He writes,

Put all your knowledge, talent and experience together and deliver it to the people that needs it. If somebody says “I already knew that” then that person is not your target.

Producing content for the wrong audience is very time consuming and leads you to no sales.

You can find Francisco on Twitter @socialmouths and add him to your Google+ circles to read more from him.


 

6. 5 New Year’s Resolutions for the Community Manager by Dave Cayem at Cayem.com

Reading this clever year-end post is a great way to ensure that you start 2012 off on the right foot as a community manager. I especially like Dave’s tip about measurement. Yes, your community efforts can be measured. A lot of community managers avoid measurement tools like the plague, but I think those who do strive to keep track of community data are the best in the business. Dave also gives some other great tips on community management as well. He writes,

2012 is nearly here, and lots of people are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. It’s also a great time for community managers to think about what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve.

You can find Dave on Twitter @DaveCayem, as well as connect with him on Facebook and Google+.


 

7. How to Select Moderators and Staff Members on an Established Online Community by Patrick O’Keefe from Managing Communities

You’ll be hard pressed to find a post on Managing Communities that isn’t worth reading if you’re interested in learning more about online community management. I’m picking this post to highlight because it covers an important topic that isn’t touched on by the other community posts on this list – you’re likely going to need help. As your community grows, it is important to hire the right people to help you manage it, and often these people come from the community itself. This post gives you the step-by-step process to ensure that the people you choose to help you are going to keep the happy community ball rolling. Writes Patrick,

Your staff can be a vital part of your community, can help you to cover more and do a better job of maintaining the standards that you set for your community. The members of your staff will change, just like your friends in high school, your coworkers at an office or the neighbors on your block. From time to time, you will look to bring new members on board.

After checking out Patrick’s tips, you can follow him on Twitter @ifroggy or follow the blog’s Twitter stream @managecommunity. Patrick is the founder of the iFroggy Network and co-hosts the SitePoint Podcast.


BONUS: Free Online Community Management Resources On The Web by Richard Millington at FeverBee

Holy. Cannoli. If you’re looking for online community management advice, this is a one-stop shop. Not only does Richard run a great community management blog with tons of advice to check out, but this post links to dozens of great resources for community managers, including other community management blogs, published papers about community, and ebooks/reports about community management. Oh yeah, and it’s all free. Seriously, check out this blog post now.

(Richard is the founder of The Pillar Summit, an exclusive course in Professional Community Management and the the author of the Online Community Manifesto. You can find him on Twitter @richmillington.)


Quick Links

For those of you short on time, here’s a list of the links covered in this post:

  1. What’s a Community Worth? by Ilana Rabinowitz (@ilana221)
  2. The Anatomy of a Community Manager by Adi Gaskell (@adigaskell)
  3. Engaged Community is a Healthy Community – Best Practices in Internal Social Networking by Maria Ogneva (@themaria)
  4. The Discomfort of Becoming a “Public Person” by Emilie Wapnick (@emiliewapnick)
  5. Are You Really Talking To Your Prospect? by Francisco Rosales (@socialmouths)
  6. 5 New Year’s Resolutions for the Community Manager by Dave Cayem (@DaveCayem)
  7. How to Select Moderators and Staff Members on an Established Online Community by Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy)

BONUS: Free Online Community Management Resources On The Web by Richard Millington (@richmillington)

Other posts in the 12 New Media Days of Christmas series will be linked here as they go live:

12 Bloggers Monetizing
11 Emailers List Building
10 Google+ Users a-Sharing
9 Vloggers Recording
8 Links a-Baiting
7 Community Managers a-Managing (this post)
6 Publishers a-Publishing
5 Traffic Tips
4 New Media Case Studies
3 Must-Read New Media Interviews
2 Top New Media News Stories of 2011
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

You can also check out the all the posts from 2010 and 2011 here , and don’t forget: If you wrote a post in 2011 about today’s topic (community management), PLEASE leave the link in a comment below to share with the community!

Keeping Your Veterans Happy

Author:

Every community has veteran members – those who have been around since the very beginning. Your veterans are often the backbone of the community. They were there through the rough times, when you were just getting started, and they’ll often be some of your biggest supporters, even when others are disgruntled. A good group of veteran community members can actually be the biggest asset to your community. They’ll answer questions, help newbies, and promote your site.

But sometimes, veteran members lose their sh*t. I’ve seen it happen. You’ve seen it happen. Occasionally, someone blows up out of anger or frustration, and when it’s a veteran member, you’re in a pickle.

“The most challenging situations I deal with are not spammers. They’re not new people. The most challenging situation I deal with is when a veteran member loses it.” – Patrick O’Keefe

At BlogWorld 2010, Patrick O’Keefe, Chris Garrett, Lara Kulpa, and moderator Jeremy Wright presented “Building An Irresistible Private Membership Community,” and one of the topics they discussed was the problem of the veteran member who goes rogue.

There are two things to consider when dealing with this type of situation:

  1. You need to deal with all members equally and fairly.
  2. You don’t want to offend your biggest fans.

The first consideration is extremely important if you want your community to grow. Whether you have a paid membership community or a free community, if you allow certain members to break community rules with no consequences, other members won’t have a lot of faith in the community as a whole. It’s like when we were kids and a sibling got away with doing something bad but we got punished. It makes your community members feel like there’s a top-level clique that they aren’t a part of…and no one likes feeling like they aren’t cool enough to be included in someone’s little circle.

Applying the rules fairly includes ensuring that you are following the rules along with anyone else. Chris said something spot-on, in my opinion, regarding application of rules: “A key thing is to lead from the front.” If you have a no-cursing comment policy, don’t start dropping the f-bomb every two words. If you have a no-self-promotion policy on your forums, don’t create a thread specifically to pimp out your new ebook. The rules of your community apply to everyone, including you.

The second point though? Veteran members feel a sense of entitlement, and although it can get out hand, some of those feelings are justified. At the end of the day, they are the people who helped you build your community. They feel almost as possessive of the community as you do. Often, they’re just trying to protect what they think they have, whether that means rebelling against a new policy/feature or going off on a member they consider to be undesirable. Very rarely does a veteran member do something that is malicious, in my opinion.

So, when dealing with a rogue veteran, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Give them the benefit of the doubt. Allow your members to explain themselves and voice concerns to you privately before some kind of public ban or smack-down.
  • Approach them in an understanding way to avoid them feeling like they need to be on the defense. You want to be on their side!
  • Wait before you reply when the situation is emotional. Write your comment, email, etc. but wait an hour or two before you send it. Sometimes, when we have a moment to calm down, we realize that our emotions were running high. If you send an attacking message because you’re emotional, you may regret it later.
  • Listen! Veteran members aren’t stupid, and if they’re upset about something, there’s a good chance that they represent how others are feeling as well. One vocally upset member doesn’t justify suddenly changing how things are done with your community, but try to listen to your members’ concerns and address them.

When you do have to deal with a situation where a member isn’t following your rules, make sure you document the situation carefully. Take screenshots, save messages, and otherwise ensure that you have proof that someone was breaking your community rules. That way, if comments/posts get edited, deleted, or otherwise changed, you have a back-up of what really happened.

Thanks to Patrick, Chris, Lara, and Jeremy for a great BlogWorld panel!

Your Content is Not Your Reader’s Responsibility

Author:

Earlier this week, Boing Boing picked up a story about The North Country Gazette, a little newspaper from upstate New York. The paper, I suppose upset that local subscription sales were declining, decided to take a really classy approach to making more money: threatening website readers.

Right now, the website is asking for an administrator’s password, so I’m guessing they’re either going offline or making some updates, but prior to this, a notice in red lettering was found on the sidebar of every post:

We allow you to read one article for free – this one that you’re on. Thereafter, to read more or to return later, a subscription is needed. Please don’t abuse the privilege. To subscribe, see the ad to the right. We provide a service to you, we deserve to be paid for it.

Let’s not even talk about the comma splice in the last paragraph. Let’s focus on the actual message they’re sending to readers. It would be like giving someone a book and saying, “But only read the introduction! After that, if you want to keep reading, send us money. We deserve to get paid for it, and we’re counting on you to do the right thing.”

It’s laughable. The content on your website/blog is never the reader’s responsibility. This isn’t a matter of wanting to get paid for your work. I fully support writers who decide they want to only offer their content to premium members who pay for access.

But if that’s the choice you make, you have to set up a premium access section of your website.

It’s not difficult. Frankly, if your webmaster can’t do it fairly easily, he or she should be fired. Requiring your readers to work on the honor system is just silly though. Actually, it’s downright rude.

Worse still is the subscription message following the previous message:

Subscription Required

Posted on Monday, 18 October, 2010 at 6:59 am

A subscription is required at North Country Gazette. We allow only one free read per visitor. We are currently gathering IPs and computer info on persistent intruders who refuse to buy subscription and areengaging in a theft of services. We have engaged an attorney who will be doing a bulk subpoena demand on each ISP involved, particularly Verizon Droids, Frontier and Road Runner, and will then pursue individual legal actions.

Again with the grammatical errors!

This message clearly tells me that either 1) they in no way hired a lawyer and are lying to readers or 2) they have possibly the worst lawyer in the history of lawyers. Their argument basically boils down to:

“Judge! We put information on the Internet and people read it! We warned them not to read our site, but they still did! WE DESERVE MONEY!”

What a joke.

I mean, let me get this straight. Rather than spending a hundred bucks or so, tops, to set up a private membership site, they’re going to hire a lawyer to collect IP address information via a court order to ISPs and then individually sue all those people for…what? A $30 subscription fee to their newspaper?

I think there’s an important lesson for bloggers here in that we can’t expect content we provide for free to earn money for us. You can put up ads, encourage readers to make affiliate purchases, or even create your own products for sale, but at the end of the day, if you’re making information available for free, as most of us are, you need to be at peace with the fact that some people simply want the free content. You don’t deserve to get paid for it. You’re only entitled to money when you make something available as premium content. Anything else you earn is a happy bonus, so remember to say thank you to your readers.

If this newspaper had an sort of community before, it likely doesn’t anymore. This is a problem I’m seeing with many print publications and businesses in general – not understanding how publishing online, social media, and community building works. The world is changing. It’s no longer about talking at a reader. There needs to be a conversation.

I’m hoping that the current take-down of the North Country Gazette website means that they’ve hired a community manager or someone else with online public relations experience to help them update their policies and understand the Internet community. It’s something every business should consider.

(Hat top to Amber Avines for tweeting about this story, which brought it to my attention!)

Acting as Your Community’s Referee

Author:

No matter what your niche, you’re always going to have community members who don’t agree with one another. Sometimes, it can get personal and nasty. I see this most often in forums, but if you don’t have forums on your website, you may see disputes popping up in your comments section, or even on social networking sites. Too often, bloggers are asked to serve as a community referee.

The trick is that you want to make all readers feel welcome and able to express their opinions while still diffusing a volatile situation. When two members (or groups) of a community are hashing it out, other members, especially new people who are coming to your site for the first time, may feel like outsiders. They don’t comment because they don’t want to be attacked or take sides in any way. Being a community ref is essential to building readership. Otherwise, you’re fostering a really negative atmosphere on your blog.

At the same time, too much moderation can also be a problem. If you delete comments or forum posts from your more vocal members, you run the risk of killing your community fairly quickly. No one wants to be part of a website where they can’t speak their mind. That’s part of what blogging is all about – interaction and opinion.

Keeping all of that in mind, here are a few tips you can use to successfully ref your community:

  • Have a clear comment/forum policy. Readers should be aware if you’re going to delete or edit their comments because they’re inappropriate. Your policy could include things like “no name calling” and “no using the f-word.” Make sure your policy fits in the spirit of the site.
  • Talk to community members before a ban. Banning someone from commenting or posting in the forums might be for the best if they’re disrupting the entire community. Before you do so, however, reach out to that individual with your concerns. Make sure you explain what they’re doing that you don’t like (for example, calling another member an idiot), and ask them to clean up their act. Give them a chance to do so.
  • Close comments if the debate gets too heated. Sometimes, two sides just talk in circles, which just wastes everyone’s time. Consider closing comments if things start to get nasty, but make sure you update your post with a note about why you’ve done so. This should be a last resort!
  • Invite the two members to a debate. When the whole Thesis vs. WordPress crap was going on a few months ago, the leaders of both sides were invited to a one-on-one debate. It definitely diffused the situation a little and allowed both sides to give clear statements on their opinions without name-calling.
  • Avoid taking sides. It’s your blog, so you should make your opinion known, but avoid taking sides in an us-vs-them type of way. Make every effort so understand and acknowledge the other person’s point of view, even if you don’t agree. Don’t lose readers because you get caught up in the drama of having to be right.
  • Be consistent with your policies. If you’re going to delete/edit comments, posts, etc. or go as far as to ban people, make sure you’re doing it to everyone who breaks the rules. Be fair, not playing favorites because you agree with someone’s position or they are a long-time reader.

Luckily, most communities are pretty self-regulated. In the vast majority of niches, you don’t often have to act as a ref simply because communities won’t engage sometime who is antagonizing everyone else. If you need to, though, don’t back own. You’ll build a strong community by serving as a ref, not by ignoring the problem.

How To Follow Through on Your "How Can I Help You?"

Author:

At Blogworld 2009, Social Media Marketing was still a concept in development. A few weeks later, Mashable declared that there were 15,740 “Social Media Experts” on Twitter – a number indicating that many people were claiming to be experts, and that few were. At Blogworld 2009 itself – the motto seemed to be “How can I help you?” The motto was touted by all of the big names as a means, I guess, of getting would-be social media enthusiasts into giving mode rather than receiving mode. The problem was – the phrase was too vague. “How can I help you?” became “let me show you how to retweet,” “here’s how you post a message on your friend’s wall,” and “follow me and I’ll follow you.” It’s no exaggeration – after Blogworld 2009, Twitter account’s bios all over the place started reading “how can I help you?” and no real concrete help was being given. So I propose an alternative: “What can I do for you?”

“What can I do for you” commits you to action. The word “do” implies that you’re willing to work with the person – not just tell them that about tools and very general concepts. It implies that you’re willing to sit with the person face-to-face, show them how to set up a Hootsuite account, and then show them what the best possible way to garner a following for their niche industry is. And then – show them how you maintain a schedule for that routine. It implies you’re willing to put some skin in the game.

Here are some things you can do to break the ice for yourself and really truly do something for someone:
Continue Reading

How To Follow Through on Your “How Can I Help You?”

Author:

At Blogworld 2009, Social Media Marketing was still a concept in development. A few weeks later, Mashable declared that there were 15,740 “Social Media Experts” on Twitter – a number indicating that many people were claiming to be experts, and that few were. At Blogworld 2009 itself – the motto seemed to be “How can I help you?” The motto was touted by all of the big names as a means, I guess, of getting would-be social media enthusiasts into giving mode rather than receiving mode. The problem was – the phrase was too vague. “How can I help you?” became “let me show you how to retweet,” “here’s how you post a message on your friend’s wall,” and “follow me and I’ll follow you.” It’s no exaggeration – after Blogworld 2009, Twitter account’s bios all over the place started reading “how can I help you?” and no real concrete help was being given. So I propose an alternative: “What can I do for you?”

“What can I do for you” commits you to action. The word “do” implies that you’re willing to work with the person – not just tell them that about tools and very general concepts. It implies that you’re willing to sit with the person face-to-face, show them how to set up a Hootsuite account, and then show them what the best possible way to garner a following for their niche industry is. And then – show them how you maintain a schedule for that routine. It implies you’re willing to put some skin in the game.

Here are some things you can do to break the ice for yourself and really truly do something for someone:
Continue Reading

Online Productivity: How To Work Where You Play

Author:

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!

Conclusion

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.

Learn About NMX

NEW TWITTER HASHTAG: #NMX

Recent Comments

Categories

Archives