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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

 

How to make the most of your time online

70% of the blog posts that I read loose my attention after the first paragraph.
I spend a fair amount of time on the internet on any given day.
Sometimes I am bored looking for something to do, but this is not a usual occurence.
Usually I don't have enough time to look at everything that I want to look at online.

Do you have the same problem that I do?
Too much stuff, not enough time.
If you don't have this problem, perhaps this post might help you understand those of us who do.
If you do have this problem, then read on to find out how you can make the most of your time online.

Darren over at Problogger is running another Group Writing Project and this post is my contribution. (Thanks to Darren for providing ways for us to 'push the envelope' in our blogging.)

1. Understand how much time you have to spend online.
If you don't have a specific end time then you will end up following link after link and end up not getting done what you came online to achieve. If you know that you only have 15 minutes left to find that killer recipe for tonights dinner then you are going to be much more time effective.

2. Prioritise what you want online
Decide what is most important for your internet use, both for a single session and in general.
Some people place Instant Messaging (i.e. MSN) as their most important online activity in general.
However, if you are online tonight researching The Mongolian Horse Fiddle then chatting to your friends will distract you from that purpose. BTW, how many people actually followed that link and proved their need to follow this 'How to..'?

3. Make proper use of Search Engines
Many people think that all they need to do is enter some words into Google and it will spew out what they want.
It isn't that simple. If you are looking for something try entering it into Google. Before following any of the links, read the excerpt from the webpage. Does it sound like what you are looking for?
Before clicking on five of the links and deciding that Google sucks because none of them relate to what you are looking for, try refining your search.
Try adding another couple of words to narrow your search.
If you are looking for an object (i.e. a car) try adding a model, colour or brand.

4. Get an RSS reader
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Imagine if you didn't have to check every single website and blog you like just to see if they had updated. Well before you get visions of being so smart, lots of people have thought it before and someone came up with RSS. RSS is where updates of webpages and blogs are sent to you as headlines rather than you having to go looking for them.
Check out Bloglines or Net News Wire if you have a Mac.

5. You don't have to read every blog post
I love blogs. I subscribe to a heap of them. With RSS I am told whenever they are updated. It is not uncommon for me to get up in the morning and find over 150 headlines have been updated overnight. I could never hope to read them all.
The three things I do to determine whether I am going to read a blog post.
a) Look at who the author is. (I have must reads, Dilbert being one.)
b) Look at the title. This is where the vast majority of readers are won or lost. Crappy title = low readership.
c) Read the first paragraph. If someone doesn't know how to grab a reader in the first paragraph, chances are they don't know how to keep a reader for the rest of their post.

6. Most importantly, you don't have to do it all now!
We live in an age of instant gratification. If you want something now, you get it now.
The Internet is one of the worst feeders of this gratification.
When I am on the internet I come across alot of things I want to read, but I know I don't have the time to read it there and then. So what I do is open the page and then minimize it into my dock (sorry to all you boring Windoze users), allowing me to come back to it at a later stage when I have more time.


I hope that you have persevered past my first paragraph.
I hope that this post has been helpful for you, either to help you with your time management, or to help you understand how best to blog for people with time management issues.
Thanks again to Darren at Problogger for another Group Writing Project.
It has been a fun challenge for me to write.

Please leave some ideas and tips for how you make the most of your time online (and don't foget a quick visit to our sponsors, I promise it won't take too long!)

Comments:
I reckon that it also pays to have a list of "have to do's" that I get out of the way as soon as I get online.
 
Thanks for the ideas! I like Bloglines a lot. del.icio.us is a good tool also, if you want to save pages to read later on or save for future reference.
 
I love bloglines...also, i'm a one paragraph reader...if i'm not interested at that point, i'm outta there!
 
I love Bloglines, also my little stopwatch widget that beeps to remind me how much time I'm actually spending on a certain task on the computer. Our how-to is up as well if you'd like to check it out!!
 
Great how to! I followed the link. Thanks for participating in the Group Writing Project. My How To is up also.
 
Good tips, especially when there are 343 how tos to read!
 
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