Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Managing Your Online Life, part 1

Now that everyone is on Twitter and realizing how insanely addictive it is, they are starting to have doubts. Bethany posted yesterday about this here. Awhile back, Rebecca posted on Google Reader overload.

How much time is too much time to spend online? There are so many different ways to whittle away the hours while online that it could easily take 24/7 and you'd still not have enough time. (a bit like my TBR pile, really) Since the internet came into the mainstream, internet addiction has been discussed. For as long as I've been blogging, I've seen bloggers who struggle with this issue.

I'm single with no kids. I have slow times at work that enable me to check things out. If either of these situations were different, I'd spend a lot less time on the internet. I have no idea how those of you with small children also maintain active blogs.

Having said that, there are many ways to make your life easier, to enjoy contributing to an online community as well as have a real life. I'd like to share some tips on how this is possible, starting with Google Reader.

1) Use Google Reader. I recommend Google reader, because it's what I know, however, use the feed reader that works best for you. This way you can easily keep track of any blog that interests you at all without manually clicking on the url each day. As soon as I stumble across a blog that interests me, I add it to my reader so I never have to lose it. :)

2) Organize your Google Reader. I have a lot of interests and subscribe to over 350 blogs. I, by no means, read every post on those blogs. And I certainly have my favorites. I have many folders in my Google reader. I have a favorites folder that has less than 15 blogs in it--I always read those posts first because they matter the most to me. I have a Blogging Buddies folder for the blogs I've been reading for as long as I've been blogging. I have a Book Blogs folder, a TV blogs folder, faith blogs folder, political blogs, author blogs, you get the picture. This will help you find the blogs you want to read when you want to read them.

3) Don't feel like you have to read every post. Again, this is what works for me. I hate feeling like I'm missing something, so I'd rather be subscribed and mark all as read or read at leisure than only subscribe to a handful of blogs. Your reader does not have to stay on the zero mark. There's no cookie at the end of the day for clearing out your reader, and if you've organized everything into folders you're going to catch the posts most important to you anyway. Don't put undue pressure on yourself to read everything in your reader. It's not the equivalent of an inbox.

Okay! I think I've covered the Google Reader...if you have any questions about how it works, you should reference this super fabulous post Trish did awhile back. Up next...facebook and twitter!


Marg said...

You have pretty much covered exactly how I have things organised. More often than not I end up skimming through a lot of feeds, but when I have more time I go through and read properly. I know that means I might be missing some great content, but I need to have some kind of controls on the amount of time I spend online. That is the main reason why I will not be going onto Twitter, no matter how tempting it might be!

Marg said...

Meant to add a further thing as well. One of the down sides of reading in a reader is that sometimes you can be guilty of not often commenting at all. One way I get around this is to set myself some kind of mini target - for example today I am going to comment on 5/10/15 blogs. I know that I love getting comments and I am sure others are the same!

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions.

Anna said...

With a full-time job and an 8-year-old, I barely have enough time to blog, let alone keep up with everything else on the Internet. These are great tips. I fall behind sometimes because hey, you have to take some days away from the computer. But I set aside Friday nights to stay up late and catch up on blog reading. Time management is one of the reasons why I'm staying far, far away from Twitter! The exploding number of posts in Google Reader is more than enough for me.

Diary of an Eccentric

Jen said...

Great post and I can definitely use all the tips for better online time mgt. I have been starring posts in Google reader but sometimes I forget to go back and actually read them. I can't imagine blogging when my kids were young and not at school all day. Definitely not enough hours in the day!

Serena said...

I find that google reader saves me a great deal of time. I love it.

Michele said...

I organize my google reader the same way...it definitely helps, doesn't it?

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

How did I miss that I could organize my Google Reader by folders? That will be incredibly helpful!

Kathleen said...

Thanks for bringing my attention to those two posts by others. I would have found the first one through my google reader eventually. I so far do everything you mention with Google Reader. I read very little of most posts. The non-review posts are what I read most, the review posts I only read if the book catches my eye. I'm curious to see what you say about twitter and facebook.

Anonymous said...

Google reader, eh? Sounds like a good idea. I know as a semi-retired empty nester I have much more time to peruse the net and go blog-hopping than a lot of folks. But too much can cut into the writing time which is what I'm SUPPOSED to be doing mainly. Amything to help get things organized and more systematic is worthwhile.

Nice post.

Erica said...

Thank you this was good! GOing to flip my hamburgers and tend to my children LOL! I don't keep up with twitters though!

euphrony said...

For me on-line time is like filler. I'll take a minute here or there where I can.

And I still do not nor do I plan on twittering.

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

I love my Google Reader! I'd be lost without it. Thanks for the tip to create multiple folders to separate the blogs. Why didn't I think of that??!! Thanks Amy!

Anonymous said...

I need to take better advantage of Google Reader...folders huh?
But twitter...Am I the only one that really does not get the appeal?

Amy said...

Meghan...sometimes I think people forget just how much time you have when you're childless. ;)

Marg--excellent point about comments. I generally find that I have about 5-10 blog posts a day that I have something to comment on about. That's how many blogs I read before I used a feed reader....so...I think it evens out. ;)

Jen...I know! I do know that some people really find a connection though, with other moms and that's better than isolation.

Holly..you're going to love it. :)

Marvin...oh friend! You're going to love it!

Euphrony...I resisted for a long time. but I was too nosy to resist forever.

Lisa..it makes things so much easier!

Caite...I resisted for a long time and was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it.

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