Monday, September 11, 2006

Online time and other bits...

I'm wondering how the rest of you manage your online time. For months now, I've struggled because I spend hours every day keeping up with my online commitments...more hours than I actually have to write and that's disturbing on more levels than I want to talk about. Not to mention really, really bad for my stress levels. It also means that my time with my family is severly hindered. So, well...I've made some tough decisions, which I'll be sharing with my loops in turn, but here's my new time management plan:

1. Go no mail indefinitely on pretty much all of my discussion loops.

2. Visit my favorite blogs (besides this one) no more than once a week.

3. Visit my favorite discussion boards no more than once a week or every two weeks.

4. Attend no more than two chats per month.

I'm keeping my online class group because mentoring others is uber important to me and making my blog my central point for contact with readers. I'm still available via private email and love hearing from readers about my books, but I can't keep up with online chat groups or daily visits to any discussion board or blog but this one.

Making such drastic changes in my online time is super hard, but it is that or write fewer books, which I have to believe readers would prefer I not do.

Oh, and the other bits? Some VERY cool news...but both Ready (#13) and Willing (#10) were on Fictionwise.com's Bestsellers List last week (they're still on the list, but have dropped a bit this week). So, the eBooks are doing well. Happy day! AND Take Me received a 4.5 Stars, Top Pick from RT!!! I'm totally over the moon on that. :)

Discussion question: What strategies do
you use to manage your online time?

27 comments:

Estella said...

I go on in the morning(around 4 am) and check my email and visit a few websites.
On around midday to visit blogs and check email.
On just before bed to check email and visit any blogs that hadn't posted yet.

Kate Davies said...

Um, let me know if that strategy works for you, because I'm seriously drowning in online stuff. :)

I may have to follow your lead! And speaking of which, I'm off to write now!

Kelley said...

I'm sure it is hard to balance writing, family, and all the online time. I try and limit my time on the internet too. Its hard but important. We'll miss seeing you around as much but totally understand where you are coming from! Good luck and I hope it works out for you :)

Jennifer Y. said...

I go online in the mornings and evenings to check blogs, e-mail, etc. I also check just e-mail throughout the day and some sites when I have time.

lidia said...

Lucy, I hope that this works for you.

I am on line at least 10 hours a day -- part of my job. However, I limit my visits to favorite blogs, website to no more than three times a day. Otherwise, I wouldn't get any work done!

Kathleen said...

I check emails and a few websites each day..about twice a day.

However, it is crazy how much stuff I can get accomplished when I am not around a computer!! 10 minutes turns into 2 hours!!

Brandy said...

I visit everything after most of the household stuff is done and while my Daughter is doing her schoolwork (I homeschool). But, if she meeds help, off it goes. I post my blog late at night, right before bed. But, all in all, I rarely spend more than an hour a day online. UNLESS, I'm researching something needed. Then? Who knows.

Cherie said...

I try to limit my Blog visits to favorites and have cut down my chat and group participation. I am getting toward the end of the eighth month of my pregnancy so I know I have to cut back because once my baby girl is home in October I will be concentrating on just getting enough sleep to get by.

Cherie Japp

KimW said...

I try to manage my time but I'm failing, miserably, so I can't help. lol I love to chat and visit blogs but I almost wish they weren't around so I could read more books. This year my reading has significantly decreased and I'm pretty sure my online time is the cause of that. Not to mention less time spent with my family.

I think you should think of your family first and then your writing.

catslady said...

I seem to go in phases - go to a ton of chats for like a year and slowly give up on them, same for certain sites, and I'm thinking the same may happen with the blogs. They're really addictive at first but I think I get burnt out. Really I should be doing more reading :) I'm glad I didn't get a computer 'til after my children were grown.

Melissa said...

I've always tended to visit and lurk more than participate. I think your blog is the one I've ever been that vocal on. I usually have my favorites bookmarked and check once or twice a day as time permits. I agree that our ever expanding access to information is both wonderful and overwhelming at the same time. There is so much out there that I want to know and learn and participate in, but I think you've got to set limits or information takes over your life.

Lucy Monroe said...

Okay...I'm really impressed with the strategies some of you posted and the fact you can keep your online time down so much.

I'm sort of awful 'cuz I really love the fact that so many of you chat here, but here I am trying to cut back my chatting on other blogs. LOL

Jen in WA said...

I'm a bit of an organization freak. So, after a recent bout of drowning in e-mails (over 400 threads... roughtly 2500 e-mail messages), I decided to take action. Since I didn't want to completely eliminate my e-mail groups, most of them went to Digest form. Then I printed out a monthly calendar and marked on it when discussions that I want to be a part of or chats that I want to go to are happening. Then the day arrives, I change from digest to individual messages and I can survive.

I generally check my e-mail around 10am to see if there is anything that I HAVE to respond to. During my lunch hour I get as much read as I can. If work is slow (and it's not this week), then I can generally get more e-mails read and can visit blogs and such. Otherwise, that all has to wait until I get home. And on most days, I'll check my e-mails one last time before turning off my computer for the night.

Maura said...

I use a strategy I picked up from a friend of mine. I am currently limiting my online (non-email) time to 1 hour per day. I made a list of the blogs I visit regularly and then split them up into days of the week.

So each day I have the list of blogs and websites I want to visit and if it takes more than an hour to do so, I know I have to cut things off.

For (non-work) email, I sort the mail by loop and quickly scan things to see if anything needs my attention then delete it all.

I do loop mail twice to three times a day and it takes me about 15-20 minutes each time.

Mail sent directly to me gets as soon as I see it show up.

Dannyfiredragon said...

I really have to say that I don't have a strategy at the moment.

Stacy~ said...

I get up early in the morning and check my blogs (like I'm doing now) and I also get to work a bit early and catch up on email. At work we can't access certain things, so that means I don't get the chance to take a break and "play". Evenings, it all depends. Sometimes I check, sometimes I don't. I might go out for dinner or shopping or just spend time reading.

The fortunate thing is that I don't really belong to as many groups as some people. 2 yahoo groups that I visit regularly - the other groups are no mail - and throughout the week maybe 15 - 20 blogs, which is probably more than I actually visit, and a lot of them aren't updated everday.

The thing is, once I learn what really interests me, I stop visiting the ones that don't. Sometimes it's tempting to visit all these places but realistically, you just can't. I don't like to be on the computer all day long.

Cryna said...

I have to start limiting my online time, since I am not working and live by myself I can easily spend way to much time on the net. I have got some blogs I go to regularly now, and am trying to get everything done in a set amount of time, so that I have time to catch up on my reading which I had been neglecting lately. But sadly it doesn't work for me most of the time, I seem to lose track of time when I am on the net.

I do need to find a real pattern or strategy that will work and then stick to it.

kim said...

that is great lucy.

Lucy Monroe said...

Thanks, Kim!

Again...uber impressed with everyone's suggestions and definitley will be taking some. :)

Hugs,
Lucy

Cathy said...

I used to be able to keep it down to twice a day, but since kids are back in school, I notice I have been so immersed that hours go by. I am hoping that this is just a mini craze.

Judy F said...

Well at my previous job I could check my email at will but now with my new job that has changed. So I had to get some time of system.

I get up around 5:15 am and check my email and a few blogs before I get ready for work. I may check my email at lunch time at work but it all depends on my work load. I check emails when I get home from work but try to limit the time there. I may check it again before bed it all depends on what else I have going on.

I have two loops I visit regularly I do tend to delete more when its the same topic for days.

I hope this works for you Lucy. I don't want you stressed. Love ya

Lucy Monroe said...

Oh, Cathy...I hear ya. :)

And THANKS, Judy! Smooches to you. :)

Hugs and blessing to all!
Lucy

Cindy said...

It's hard to manage my online time with my job. LOL

I do make it a point though to be off of the computer for a bit when the kids get home, unless it's a big email day and there's a lot of info. I need to post or deal with.

I would love to work out a strategy and be able to manage my time better, but I can't seem to be able to do that. And it doesn't help that when I'm caught up with work, I volunteer for everything under the sun (like re-doing the school's (that my kids go to) website). Ugh. *smacks self*

Cindy
doesn't know when to keep her mouth shut and NOT volunteer and doesn't know how to say NO when asked.

Lori said...

Og goodness! I so needed this post (coming in late to the conversation because I haven't had tome to get to your blog this week!). Most days I am so busy blog hopping and I use it as a great way to avoid posting my own reviews, which I am hopelessly behind on.

You are right. My family time suffers, so I try to catch up at work. So my work time suffers. ACK!! Damn Al Gore for inventing this internet anyway *bg*

So no words of wisdom from here. Just commiseration.

Chantal said...

Sounds like you are starting a good system with your online time. I don;t really manage my time. I just come on when I have a chance.

I'm trying to a write a book, so I have been spending a lot of time on the computer, but not on line.

Debra Parmley said...

Hi, Lucy!

I've missed our chats, but I know you've had a lot going lately.

I went daily digest on all Yahoo groups except for the American Title II Sisters Loop.

It's almost impossible for me to stay off the internet because my day job as a travel agent keeps me online all day. So I tend to jump in and out of the writers online groups pretty quickly. Ten min. here fifteen there and I have to get back to work.

Then there is my commitment to the Make-believe Mondays feature on my blog, and the group blog with my ATII Sisters, Title Wave.

These things all take time from writing. We have to limit ourselves.

I have one laptop that doesn't even have internet on it. (It's an older model and I had everything wiped out except Word.)

I think its always going to be a temptation to get on the internet, no matter what limits we set. So I removed that temptation.

We are writers, communicators, we want to share and be there for our friends. And writing can be very lonely.

Its hard to balance and juggle it all. We understand that. And we understand when you need to take time away... for family, for writing, for yourself.

Hugs,
Debra

Madison Chase said...

Wow, lots of great suggestions on here. What's working for me is being incredibly organized both in how I work, spend time, and interact with others.

I have a folder for each book that I have out or coming out. In it is another folder for covers and one for promo. Covers includes covers in 4 or 5 sizes and various other promotional graphics for that book. Banners, buttons, etc. In Promo I have files for promo. A typical excerpt that I post. An extended excerpt. Information about the characters. A blurb about the book. A teaser (a shorter blurb) and a tag line for the book. I actually have a file that I add to as I'm writing and editing the book and it contains space for various sized blurbs and tag lines. I do all of this stuff up front so that if I'm online and I see a place to post a bio or blurb or cover, I can do it in no time flat.

I keep these files open whenever I'm online to promote (vs. research, etc.). I also have a file with multiple size descriptions of my journal, website, personal bio, favorites, favorite foods, anything blogspot, myspace, etc would ask. This lets me have the answers planned out and I don't waste time trying to think what I should say or writing it all down again. It also lets me focus on key words (which hopefully helps out with search engines.) When I do an interview, I don't use any of the above. My answers are candid, not canned.

I've also started utilizing an online calendar. I've got EVERYTHING planned out on there from what days I can promote what where. Like if one loop has contemporary day on monday and paranormal day on tuesday. I even have a link directly to that loop in the calendar. Those dates repeat each week. I have everything scheduled on a rotating basis. I visit X, Y and Z blog on the 5 of the month. A, B, C blogs on the 6th. Various websites, messages boards, groups, it's all scheduled. If I have an extra moment, then I might drop by outside of the schedule. I use Google Calendar, for those who were wondering.

This lets me stay on top of everything, make appearances and get involved without worrying about it constantly. I've scheduled that time in because I believe as a new (ebook) author, face time is the most important thing. And I love getting to know readers. I have time scheduled to get to know them and chat, not just drop by to say "buy my book."

I also use an online to do list. I keep a to do list for each book, each day, extended, etc. tadalist.com is a lifesaver.

I have a "back pack" at backpackit.com and I use that for everything else. It lets you keep lists, notes, etc. I have a list for goals, a list for people I'm interviewing, a list for people I've sent an interview to, a list for promotional ideas for each book, a list for places to promote each book (sites that may be more paranormal friendly than contemporary and vice versa), books that I'd like to submit, Septembers goals, Octobers goals, and so on.

I have a seperate page for articles I'm writing. I have a list of topics I'd like to write on, articles I'm currently writing, notes about the articles articles, etc.

I have a page for contests, which ones I'm running, future ideas, who won. Blurbs about each contest. Where I've promoted the contest.

I have a page for promotion ideas. Like for how to promote my paranormal romance coming out in October. Places with vampire themed items. Places for promo items. I have a writeboard where I list promo items I come across, what the price is, minimum count, and why I liked it.

Again, I keep these open in my browser (thank God for tabbed browsing. :)) so I can always stay on target.

Basically I plan ahead and schedule as much as I can so that the rest of the time I can relax or write. Speaking of that, I need to get back to it. Hope that helped. :)