A Much Needed Break
Debriefing Yourself

Web 2.0 Wednesday: How Do You Manage Your Online Time?

Web20wednesday300x79One of the beauties of Web 2.0 is that it gives you opportunities for online interaction on a 24/7 basis. That's also one of its curses. The combination of broadband and interactive tools like Facebook, Twitter and blogs means that many of us are spending a LOT of time socializing and doing things online.

For this week's Web 2.0 Wednesday activity, I'd like to us do some reflecting. Here's the assignment:

Either in a blog post or in comments here, tell us how you manage your time online.

  • Are you a multi-tasker or do you try to stay focused on one activity at a time?
  • Do you use particular tools or techniques to keep yourself focused and on task? What are they?
  • What kinds of challenges are you facing in managing all of your Web 2.0 tools and toys? Have you found that you're sacrificing other parts of your life for your Web 2.0 fun? Is this a good or a bad thing?

As always, tag your post with "web2.0wednesday."

For myself, I can tell you that right now I'm looking for some ways to get out of my multi-tasking mode. This just doesn't work that well for me, but being online somehow draws me into it. It's like when my kids were little and they couldn't go to sleep because they were always afraid they'd miss something. But you know what, sometimes you need the rest. So one of my goals is to do a better job of managing that. I may have to go on the low information diet. I'm also considering disabling my wireless connection for periods of time so that I can't go online so easily.

I'm curious to hear what you have to say about all of this. How are you managing your time online?  Am I the only one who is going into overload lately?


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I've been considering this topic ... and writing and talking about it ... for a while now. I know multitasking is a misnomer in terms of productivity, but I tend to excuse my peeking into this, that, and the other thing that pops up online as part of my research and practice. Uh huh ...

I've heard of lots of good tips: setting a timer to work for a decent stretch of time on task ... you can get lots done in 50 mins; turning off sound notification of email, Twitter, Jaiku or whatever your social networking tool of choice is, and of course not even launching FriendFeed or Seesmic whilst you work. You might also go for a plain desktop ... only the app you're working on shows.

I see you're planning to go cold turkey by pulling the wireless plug. Good woman!

Lots of good tips on this very thing right now at Merlin Mann's http://www.43folders.com

Must be in the air eh?

I posted your questions and my responses to my blog, Fresh Fowlers, at http://lauriefowler.blogspot.com/. Thanks for the inspiration to post!

Laurie Fowler
Tuscaloosa, AL

One exercise I like to do for time management is calendaring what learners do (rather than using a calendar for planning). I have them use Google Calendar to track their activities for a week. They then embed the calendar on their class blog and discuss the value of the ways they spend their time.

I like this activity because it ties one tool in to the one place where students can go to track all their personal growth activities (blog). Centralizing results rather than scattering them all over the web really helps me grade and students reflect/comment.

For my own part, I am huge on to do lists made from 3x5 cards. I can shuffle my priorities any time I have a curve ball coming my way or get something small done when I have a few extra minutes. It helps me feel in control in chaos and allows me to enjoy play time because I know that I don't have to worry about what I am missing at my desk. Also, if my laptop crashes, I know what I need to go to FedEx Kinkos to get done!

Susan Burroughs

How do I manage my online time? Not well!

Thanks, everyone for sharing your own experiences and suggestions for managing online time.

Kate, for the past few days I've been keeping my browser closed while I work on other things, which has most definitely helped, although I think I may still need to actually block the wireless as when I start to get a little bored with what I'm working on, it's REALLY tempting to fire up Firefox. :-)

Laurie, it sounds like you're the Queen of multi-tasking, which is how I've been operating for a few years, but lately I think it's started to catch up with me a little.

Susan, I like your Google calendar idea for tracking how we use time. I've also downloaded Slife to help me keep track of things, although that can be a little depressing. :-)

And Andy--at least I know that I'm not alone!

I like this questioning out loud, so much so that while I might post about it on my own blog, I wanted to chime in here.

I'm not especially good at time management. Most of the time, I do better if I have only one or two projects at a time to work on. Better than just one project for me; switching between A and B shifts the mental gears.

You've seen the spreadsheet I created to help track my time (online and otherwise). Like a diet or exercise plan, having it open helps keep me focused. I would no more share what it tracks with others than I would my bank statements, though. I have no desire to be that connected.

I find almost no value in Twitter; it's clear no one finds value in my tweets, which have averaged one per week over six months but are on a downward trend.

I agree with the ideas like not opening applications you don't need to use. I have Outlook set to check email only every 30 minutes.

Of course, I think multitasking is essentially a myth, if the tasks require more focus than walking and chewing gum. Anyone who's ever tried talking face-to-face with a person checking email knows what I mean. I think the persistence of multitasking is essentially magical thinking by the overburdened.

As I fight to get on the computer (thank goodness school started again today), I have a natural check (my kids) that limits online time. I am the first to admit that I tend, like Michele, to go online when I am bored. Sometimes this is good because sometimes I get "stuck" and I need the change to clear my mind.

However, sometimes, like now when I should be transcribing tapes from interviews, it is just a delay (procrastination) tool to get out of what I have to do, but really don't want to do. So I set up breaks and time limits. For example, in 5 minutes, I will go start transcribing tapes. In two hours, I will break for lunch, then allow myself an hour on the internet.

I then prioritize jobs (reading e-mails first, doing stuff for my class tomorrow). I actually do better with a hand written list that I can cross off. I look at blogs when I have a few minutes here and there, such as when I'm cooking dinner (the computer is in the kitchen) or when I'm exercising (I print out the blog and read while I exercise. It makes the time go by quicker). I spend more time on blogs and the internet (youtube, searches, etc...) in the afternoon, when I know I am going to "physically" be interrupted (kids coming home from school, needing to go out of the hourse) or first thing in the morning (again, I will be interrupted). I think choosing the time of day to be on the internet is helpful (do it when you tend to be tired as you might have more incentive to get off it or it will rejuvenate you intellectually).

Hi Michele!
Thank you for the inspiration, I surely would like to write a post about this subject!
I'll let you know when I have.
Meanwhile, I wrote a post about having made a halt during Summer holidays in order to rest and win some time to read.
The funny thing is that most of my readings, in one way or another, are related to the web!
I wish you may find your pace and enjoy your halt.

Hi Michele!

It's funny I have been thinking about this very issue today! I took up twittering about two months ago and slowly it is finding a nice little role in my general networking and collaborating. Unfortunately I also noticed that it was taking my time away from my RSS reader and my blog. Since starting twittering I have noticed a distinct drop off in my blogging and commenting.

Yesterday I decided that I didn't like that very much, as I think twitter is pretty superficial and blogs and comments tend to be a little deeper.

I've decided to reduce the time checking twitter and move that time back to reading and responding to blogs, and occasionally checking / updating twitter.

As far as managing my online time, as a general rule online stuff is a Monday to Friday only task, I like to disconnect from the interweb on the weekend and focus on the world through my eyes rather than through a computer screen. :-)

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