Today I’m back with Part 2 of my Alt panels recap, sharing information from Friday’s panels! (Side note: There were roundtables in the morning, but I showed up late and decided to listen rather than take notes. I skipped breakfast to make it to Erin’s panel and was already feeling the ill effects by then — I do NOT recommend skipping meals at Alt. You won’t sleep much, you’ll be running around all day, and you will need every bit of fuel you can get!)
And don’t miss the other recaps:
- A Summary
- Collaborations with Sponsors
- Four Ways to Earn Revenue from Your Blog
- Personal Branding (spoiler alert: this one’s my favorite)
- Work Life Balance
Organizing your online life
Erin Loechner’s panel was another I absolutely loved and felt offered something for everyone — she’s truly an organizational genius. I have already implemented some of her tips and am feeling a lot more organized and productive (in fact, I’m working on another post to share specifically how I have used these tips). While I felt bad for her that her flight was delayed and she wasn’t able to make it to her panel on time (which was supposed to be on Thursday), I was secretly glad she was moved to Friday morning, when I didn’t have to make a choice between her and anyone else (let’s be honest — she would have won regardless).
THE FIVE RULES // Erin shared the following five rules for thinking about organization and figuring out your own system:
- Think customization, not organization. Personalize your own workflow. Not everything works for everyone — you have to figure out what works for you.
- Avoid hoarding. There is no shortage of information on the internet! How much of the things you are saving can be found with a quick internet search? You don’t have to save it for later unless it’s really important.
- No mix and match! Things fall through the cracks when you’re juggling multiple systems.
- Find the missing link. What is the thing that is taking the longest to do? What do you dread doing? It’s probably because of some level of disorganization.
- Get creative. Make things work for you even if they aren’t meant for that specific purpose. For example, instead of keeping information for your posts in a separate place, create drafts instead — then the information is already where it needs to be when you’re ready to write the post.
MANAGING EMAILS // Inbox zero gives you the control and opens possibilities instead of you simply managing a steady stream of responses. It allows you to think about what you want instead of what people want from you. There are several methods for achieving this:
- GTD (Get Things Done) Method. Do, Delegate, Delete, or Archive. If an email takes 2 minutes to respond, do it now and get it out of the way. If it’s something someone else can handle, delegate — but be sure they know they are responsible for it. You can also delegate to your to-do list — make sure your inbox is not a working to-do list. Be ruthless with deleting. Do you really need to keep it? Can you save it elsewhere (transfer to Google Docs, Evernote)? Archive anything you need and haven’t incorporated elsewhere, especially contacts — if you receive a pitch that isn’t the right timing, you should still keep the contact so you can reach out later.
- 4-hour Method. Check email twice a day only, and set up an auto response. You can tell people to send a tweet if it’s important — this forces people to keep the message short and sweet. It’s ok for email not to be important to you, so don’t feel guilty if you are behind.
- SMS Method. Treat emails as text messages and keep them to five sentences or less. Add this policy in your signature so people don’t think you are being rude. More information at five.sentenc.es.
- DMZ Method. If you are totally overwhelmed, move everything in your inbox to a DMZ folder for a fresh start. You can choose to work on those emails later or ignore completely. Send out a tweet and let people know to email you again if it’s important.
SHORTCUTS AND APPS // There are several tools you can use to automate and manage your information to stay organized:
- Gmail Labs. Use Canned Response to direct people to the FAQ page of your site. The Attachment Forget feature will remind you if you’ve mentioned an attachment in your email and forgot to add it. Send + Archive will archive emails as soon as you respond to them. Undo Send is great if you accidentally send emails before you want.
- Gee Tasks. Save emails as tasks and sync with your phone.
- The Swizzle. Bulk unsubscribe to newsletters or send as a daily digest.
- Filters. Set actions to move emails into folders and get them out of your inbox.
- Content Management. Feedly is an RSS reader, read blogs in small chunks of time when you’re waiting for something else. Pocket allows you to save articles for later. Clear out your feed reader and Pocket once a week to avoid hoarding — if you haven’t read it in a week, you probably won’t. Use Pinterest private boards to save visual things. Use WordPress drafts to save information for posts instead of keeping a separate list.
- Social Media. Hootsuite clears the clutter by putting things in columns. Use the rule of thirds: Be actively involved in 3 social media outlets.
- Golden hours. What time do you work best? Do the tasks that have to be done today at that time.
- Put it in writing. One of the downfalls of the internet is that it’s very focused on the now and the future, print allows you to have a written copy of what you’ve accomplished.
- Still disorganized? There may be a bigger issue. Release the guilt and think about your lifestyle. What is a priority in your life right now? It’s ok if you aren’t feeling inspired for a day or two, but not getting stuff done may be a sign you aren’t enjoying what you are doing or something isn’t working for you.
- Be nice to yourself and do things you want to do. If you get something done faster than expected, don’t use it as an excuse to get something else done — take time to relax.
REMEMBER THIS // It’s not what you have to get done, it’s what you have to get done to feel productive today.
See Social Media 101 on page 2