This is the practical application counterpart to my time-hunting theory post.
Here are some of the time-managing tools I use to manage my 40+ hour work week, my 10+ hour freelance week, my two cats, my husband, my blog, my real life friends & family, my penchant for live theaters and other such hobbies, and my need to read several books and over a thousand blog posts a day.
… and just because it needs to be said, none of these tool-makers paid me or asked me to endorse them.
Since my email address is the cornerstone of my online-organization, I use a lot of labels and markers. Almost any email program lets you create filters, flags, and folders for the various emails you get. I use this extensively. The first time you email me, it could take me weeks to get back to you. After that, I try to establish filters for you so that I can see your emails right away. I also DE-prioritize things. If your blog post is about baseball, gun control, driving, or other things I can’t contribute to– it goes into a folder that says “READ LATER”. There’s also a folder for marketing stuff that I don’t need to read at all.
TwitterMail provided me a method of posting tweets just by sending an email to a free email address they provide. I have a secret start word, and a secret end word, in order for the Tweet to be considered valid– which at least cuts down on the possibility of hacking. There’s a more popular version out there, with a prettier website, but I like TwitterMail better for a myriad of reasons.
You can also get a Facebook email address to post to Facebook via email.
I also have a WordPress email address set up so I can post via email. I haven’t had to use this yet, but I think of it like a Panic Room. I’m glad it’s there. If I’m ever in a situation where I have access to a smart phone or a hotel computer, but not to WordPress, I don’t want to spend time worrying about how I’m going to post.
LetterMeLater.com is a free program that lets you schedule emails in advance, though I pay for their advanced features at the tune of $20/year.
I can use a small chunk of time to schedule tweets in advance, so I don’t have to worry about it. After all, tweeting isn’t my primary hobby.
When I had a Facebook account, I also used it to post there in advance. Not daily, but every Friday, just to buy me some non-Facebook time without making my page look abandoned.
I also use LetterMeLater to send pre-scheduled birthday emails to friends and family. It says something like, “Happy Birthday! I love you so much I scheduled this email in advance. So my birthday present to you is the glory of Almost-Time-Travel! I promise you’ll be hearing from current-day Rara soon, but until then, stay awesome and have a fabulous day!” This also cuts down on panic.
I also use it to schedule email reminders to myself and other people whose memories for which I am responsible. For example, March is Women’s history month. I know because an email I scheduled in December just reminded me today to write a post and schedule it. When my boss tells me a month in advance to remind him of something, I schedule it at that moment, BCC myself, and then forget about it.
I have a Requirement two-week calendar on my fridge, outlining generally unavoidable chunks of time, like work, weddings, and the season premier of Psych.
I have an Accountability and Overview calendar that I use in real-time. If I get sick on Tuesday, I write it on the calendar so that when I’m still sick on Wednesday, I know it’s only been one day and not a year. If I take my vitamins, I write it down. If Dave takes his, I write it down. This is also where I write down major holidays and birthdays.
Then, I have my Planning Calendar, where I write down the things I’d like to do. This one is small enough to fit in my purse. I put a very discreet line through accomplished items because I still want to be able to read them later. If I don’t accomplish it, I move it to the next blank space on the planner.
Sometimes, I need to get the attention of a lot of people at once. For that, I use the free package at YMLP.com, another free service. It’s an email newsletter service. I update my address book in there– complete with custom fields for blog URL, nickname, birth month, location, and interests. I use their filters in the email, so that each email is at least somewhat customized.
If Dave has an art show, I can easily sort by people with an interest in art, and send the email just to them. So to my friend Joe who loves Dave’s art, but is not a local, and was born in March, his email would say: “Dear Joe — Dave is having an art show! It’s in Huntington Beach on March 23rd. I know you’re not local, but if you happen to be in the area please stop by. We’d love to see you and wish you happy birthday at least in the right month!”.
My friend Sara, who lives here and is married to Mark and has a blog, would get an email that says: “Dear Sara (and Mark)– Dave is having an art show! It’s in Huntington Beach on March 23rd. It’s really just right around the corner so please stop by. We’d love to see you and if you want to spread the word on your blog (no pressure) that’d be awesome!”
Each email would look different, but I’d only be setting up one and hitting the send button. Don’t get me wrong, setting up that first email can take a long time– but not as much time as sending 100′s of individual emails. Then I can track who opens, how many times, and everything else I might need to know.
I also use a ton of notebooks, or variations of such.
In computer land, Notepad is pinned to my start menu task bar (or, in Mac Speak, TextEdit is on my menu bar). I use the Post It program to write down information that I need easy continuous access to.
In the internet, I make heavy use of the draft folders. I save anything to drafts that I might later want to reference.
As far as real notebooks, I use Arc Notebooks, sold only by Staples. I have the custom hole puncher so I can make my own planner (which I recommend because no one has the same life priorities as anyone else.) I even use it for blog planning. I know, blog planning on paper is geeky, but hey… I’m a geek. Plus:
- Making your own custom notebook makes you more likely to use the notebook. I used to be afraid to write in my planners because I didn’t want to ruin a page, or didn’t like the quote that was on the page, or it didn’t have enough space for my thoughts. Now I am fearless!
- You’d be surprised how much time you spend away from a computer, just waiting. Some of my favorite blogs were written while waiting for my sister to finish getting dressed, or when I was too sick to get to a computer, or on my lunch break.
- Physical notebooks solve the relativity issue. Online, it’s hard to see what 300 blog posts looks like, or what you tend to write about, or your list of things you still want to get to– paper is still the best solution gaining that perspective.
What are the time-hunting, time-saving, time-managing tools that you use? Do you have any questions about the above tools? Do you plan your blog posts on paper, too?