If you are a freelancer and work from home, then chances are the internet is your bread and butter. You get new clients, market yourself, network, work on and deliver projects via the internet. If you ask me, I cannot imagine life without it. I just go crazy when I find that the net is not working.
So the web is undoubtedly a boon for us but it also offers a lot of things which can easily distract us from our main tasks, making us less productive. Today I decided to discuss some of these time-wasters and talk about how you can use them in a productive and effective way.
Time Waster # 1- Social Networking Sites
Yes, social networking sites can be a major distraction and you could end up spending hours on sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Facebook etc, just to find later on that you don’t have enough time to complete that very important project.
What To Do
Its not that these sites are bad but they can be addictive and so you should really prioritize. For example if you are a designer, you probably visit the design section on Digg and maybe use StumbleUpon to find design-related content. You maybe use Facebook to network with other designers. So primarily its about selective usage. And if you are doing it too much then track your time while doing it.
Time Waster # 2- Twitter
Twitter has really spread like wild fire in the last few months and there are no two opinions about the fact that it can be really addictive and you can easily lose track of time while you’re ‘Tweeting‘ (or is it ‘Twittering‘?).
How To Use It
Twitter has its merits too and it could also help you find new clients. But again, don’t be on twitter the entire day. Just use it at a particular time during the day and follow those who have the same professional interests.
Time Waster # 3- Instant Messaging Softwares
If you don’t use twitter a lot, then I am sure you are on IM chatting with clients and friends. Like twitter, this could also kill your time like anything. On another note, Skype is great for contacting clients, especially if you work with people from all around the world.
How To Use Them
I can’t really blame IM because personally I have found it to be very useful. However, in order to utilize it effectively, you should be offline when you are working on a project. If someone suddenly pings you then you lose track and it could hurt your project. Common sense really! To communicate with clients, why not use email rather than IM? And if you use IM and twitter frequently, then I’d suggest you be available on them at the same time. And when you go offline, just turn both of them off, not just one.
Time Waster # 4- RSS Feeds
RSS – an amazing technology with which I have fallen in love since the day I started using it. But reading RSS feeds can get really time-consuming if, like me, you follow many blogs and news sites.
What To Do
RSS feeds can help you stay up-to-date with the blogosphere and what the bloggers in your field are saying. Again, it’s all about setting priorities. First, if you are busy with your projects, don’t read feeds everyday. Do it once or twice a week instead. Second, don’t subscribe to too many feeds. Just make sure that you subscribe to the main blogs in your field and some other blogs which interest you. And third, use a feed reader which lets you read feeds quickly using keyboard shortcuts, like Google Reader.
Its all about selective usage and prioritizing. There’s a lot of other time-wasters too but I decided to cover the most common ones. So do you waste time online? If yes, then how? And how would you utilize that productively going forward ? See you in the comments.