Thursday, December 11, 2014
Managing Time Online
LUCY BURDETTE: As you guys heard yesterday, I went seven days without email, phone, texts, and Internet last month. Seven days! Remember when none of us had any email at all? But I was nervous about it. I like staying connected. And once you get connected, you worry about what you're going to miss when you're not. But on this trip, there was no choice. So to get ready, first I unsubscribed from a lot of newsletters and promotional emails. Then I put all my yahoo groups on hold.
Then, goodbye Facebook.
So long Twitter.
I'll miss you Pinterest.
Don't forget me, Gmail.
Oh, what will I miss while I'm gone Jungle Reds?
During the trip, it was interesting to notice the many times when there was a pause in the action. These were times when I would've been thumbing through my email messages, my text messages, my Facebook posts, and so on. And there were plenty of times when questions came up about Cuba that ordinarily we would've Googled, but we had no Wi-Fi. No Google maps to check directions.
The experience was good in some ways: I was forced to do what the yoga teachers are always advising— stay in the moment. And it was good to realize how much time does get eaten up with all my various social media networks. And then to notice how my free time might be better spent unspooling knotty problems in the book that's due next month. Being online is a time sink!
So question for the day red, how do you manage your time online? Are the rewards worth the cost? Just don't say you're going to quit coming to the blog…
HALLIE EPHRON: We went to a nature preserve on Trinidad (the fabulous Asa Wright Center) and I remember sitting in the room, just sitting, and feeling so peaceful and centered once I'd gotten used to being disconnected. On a day to day basis, I do not manage it well at all. Oh, I know HOW to manage it. I just don't because e-mail and messages and facebook... they're like a narcotic. Worst of all, they make you feel like you're doing work when you're not. (Like now...)
RHYS BOWEN: My days have to start with email, the Facebook, then Jungle Reds, then sometimes Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon to check my stats. Only after all that can I have breakfast and start to write. The problem is that social media has been so incredibly good to me and for me. I never dreamed that I could say something and have ten thousand people respond to me instantly. One post recently got 16,000 visits. And I actually love getting feedback from my readers, hearing what their Christmas traditions are, their favorite books.
Earlier this year I was on a cruise and only checked e-mail a couple of times. I can't say I missed it or stood at the Grand Canal in Venice thinking "I wonder what's happening on Facebook now." But I've found that the one day I ignore my emails I find three messages from editor or agent saying "The printers need to know by tomorrow" or "we've had a request for an interview from xxx and they can only do it on xxx."
So I stay connected.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, Rhys, yes, the dreaded missed email. ALWAYS. And I guess I am now accepting the reality for me--that it's a part of my life that I'm not really interested in undoing. Don't get me wrong--getting control of it is a beast! Because i can so easily get lured into Facebook and Twitter and doing "one more thing!" and making one more comment--and it's fun, you know?
I now set a writing timer, for 30 minutes, and I don't allow myself to do anything but write. Then I can check emails. That lets me relax because that I wont miss anything,but my monkey-brain won't swing off to something else until the timer dings.Then I get five minutes, and I set the timer again.
(I know--everything that's important I learned in kindergarten.)
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I got so far behind on email and social media when I was on book tour that I'm still trying to catch up. (Hank, you are amazing. Could you share a little Hank-being-in-a-dozen-places-at-once-ness with the rest of us, please???) Maybe I'm having such a hard time catching up because I find I don't really mind being unconnected--although I miss keeping up with my friends on Facebook and seeing what's happening on Jungle Red... But more and more often I'm taking an unofficial "internet sabbath" on Sundays, and there's a great sense of freedom in not checking my phone all day. The phone for me is a worse time-sink than the computer. Is that true for everyone else that has smart phones, too?
Reds, how do you do it?? Tips? Nightmare stories? We'd love to hear!