“What do you do when your main work tool and your greatest distraction are the same machine?” That’s the question Nadja Sayej sought to answer in her workshop during Social Media Week Berlin. Wasting time on the internet is the main reason that creative freelancers and employees find their working hours are not as effective as they could be. How to better structure one’s online hours? Say goodbye to multi-tasking, set goals, and turn your computer off regularly.
The first step is to set some goals. “You can not achieve great things when you are constantly distracted by little things,” Nadja said during her workshop.
Dedicate your full attention to a goal, rather than multitasking. Figure out what your biggest distractions are. Write down your work schedule, and scratch out anything that is a waste of time. You don’t have to accept every call immediately, and be constantly tweeting from three different Twitter accounts.
Nadja’s working week starts with a to-do list for the week, and an online to-do list for each day that is processed one-by-one. This helps her win back control over her projects. The proper timing of tasks is of the greatest importance. After getting up, she doesn’t open any e-mails, but first goes jogging and makes a healthy breakfast. Before she turns on her laptop, Nadja writes down her online projects for the day. This helps her avoid sinking four hours into Facebook. When things to do are listed down, the mountain of tasks also usually appear much more managable.
Focus on big and small goals
Besides the small goals for each day and week, Nadja also recommends setting five major goals over the year and constantly reminding oneself of them. The smaller goals should work toward supporting and achieving the bigger ones, providing motivation. Both sets of goals help to drive you toward them, and help you limit your distractions from little things that are not important to the goals.
Stay focused on the bigger objectives. Nadja makes audio recordings to remind her of her goals, as well as post-it notes on her desk, where she lists her desires. The physical presence of goals helps her to stay focused, when she is distracted by the holiday photos of an ex-boyfriend on Facebook, for example. One look at her notes reminds her of her own aims.
Effective use of online and offline time.
Figure out which social media tools you use most often and why. If you find that playing around on Twitter, for example, for two hours a day brings you good marketing results, then limit your time to two hours and log off for the rest of the day.
Take breaks, go for a walk. Breaks are not a waste of time, according to Nadja. On the contrary, they help you to balance, give you perspective about life, and help you think about productive work.
Mix it up
Add a bit of variety to your weeks. For lunches, Nadja meets with different people, but no more than three people from her area of interest each week. If you work interdisciplinarily, you might find new inspiration from unforseen perspectives.
When it comes to meeting with friends, Nadja suggests organizing a big meeting of all your friends once a month, rather than catching up with each of them individually for long coffee chats daily.
Simplicity gives perspective
Do not be afraid of simplicity. Especially in stressful moments, it helps to keep you on track. Keep it short in emails, write realistic to-do lists, limit yourself to your tools, and for a change answer by telephone. That will probably please even your business partners and strengthen the contact. It's also easy just to leave work when it is done, simply shut down your computer, you still have a life after work.
This is a summary of Nadja Sayej’s workshop. But nothing beats the real thing! Hear her audio version, and also watch out for more videos of workshops and panels about effective use of social media in different industries.
The next Social Media Week Berlin will take place from Sep 24 -28, 2012, presented by Deskwanted.