Time Management in the Virtual World!

I’ve always naturally tended to organize and sort my day so time management has always been fairly easy for me.  However, in this new virtual world that so many of us are finding ourselves in, I’ve had to learn some new tricks to stay productive.  On the computer and on-line, we have a wide variety of tools to help us be successful but the number of tools can be overpowering when we step back and take a comprehensive look.  In my case for instance, I have a couple of websites, a new blog, an email newsletter, and profile pages such as LinkedIn and Facebook.  I still type my own documents, manage the network in-house, and mostly troubleshoot the software and hardware myself.

All of this can be time consuming and stressful especially now that I am taking on new social media and networking opportunities.  Here are a couple of things I’ve started to do or do differently:

1) Organize (and use) my computer desktop.  I used to keep a clean desktop with very few shortcuts.  Now I keep shortcuts for key websites, programs and files.  I sort by type including administrative, programs, websites, and frequently used files.  The trick is keeping it current by taking a few minutes once in a while to delete unnecessary items, which means no more icons that you can’t even remember what they were for.

2) Integrate Outlook with LinkedIn.  There is a downloadable LinkedIn application that allows users to access LinkedIn profile information directly through their MS Outlook program.  You can easily check profile information and stay current with your contacts and build your network at the same time.

3) Budget and block time for the necessities.  Each morning, I schedule about one hour to access profiles, websites, and blogs as well as check and answer email.  That way, even if the rest of my day is crazy, I will still be somewhat current and provide decent response times and service.  Larger projects such as a long blog post may need to be blocked and completed separately.  I also have started to block time to actually learn more about social media tools and their use and there is a lot to learn!

4) Update and replace.  Evaluate all you are doing and look for ways to be more efficient and effective.   In that vein…if you have a blog, does the email newsletter become outdated?  How does Twittering fit in? Can they be integrated?  There are many possibilities in this virtual world so keep asking questions.  I know I am!

5) Stop procrastinating.  An old school time management must that should be etched in stone, or for some of us on our forehead.  Procrastinating in the virtual world not only slows us down personally but it potentially reduces our virtual footprint or even worse causes it to age and that’s not good because it’s all visible to the masses.

6) And finally, find some balance and some downtime.  Staying connected 24/7 can be draining.  Once in a while try to disconnect by turning off the cell phone, setting aside the laptop, and going for a walk or a run in the park.  Connecting with nature and some decompression does a body and a mind good.

That’s a little about how I am “saving” some time to get more done and I know I have a lot more to learn.  Let me know how you manage your time in the virtual world!

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