There are three things you should know about me before reading this. My primary business offering is written content (I write and manage other writers). Also, I have a cellphone (LG with Telus) and an iPod Touch. I also teach college students every week and offer social media workshops with a business partner. Yes. You read correctly – social media workshops.
This makes for a busy life, but I’ve managed to avoid expensive and restrictive (Canadian) data plans since I started in 2006. Here are four strategies you can adopt as well:
1. Turn off the TV (or have kids)
Okay, maybe what’s in brackets is not exactly a productivity tip, but ever since I turned off the television to save the children from melting their brain cells, I’ve been more productive at home. Although I enjoy the specific show now and then, most of the time I can’t watch what I want to (even on the computer). As a result, I’ve become a power multi-tasker using the wireless and doing projects while they are working on crafts and playing with toys around me. I still interact with them and take breaks frequently. I find that if I’m at the kitchen table with them, they are just happy to play beside me. Of course, this may not be realistic for your situation – but if you can turn off the TV for 30 minutes and work on another project instead, you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually accomplish.
2. Meet people at free wireless cafes or other free wireless locations.
Many places now offer free wireless when you visit and although this does not seem like much of a tip because it’s a second home to many, the key is to meet people. Instead of just doing an offline lunch at an offline restaurant, you get the benefit of three segments of business-focused time: while you wait for someone you need to meet arrive, networking or doing business while they are there, and then time to work after they have gone. Unlike a formal lunch meeting, you can connect with them online right after you’ve met them so you don’t have to do that extra step later. If they are expecting you to walk out with them – just say you need to make a phone call and/or finish up some project work. Stand up, shake their hand and wish them well before they go.
3. Plan your online/offline time.
If I’m at a conference, I usually can’t access a wireless connection for free. I put my email out of office on before I leave for the day and let people know that I will email them back after 3pm. I do not say why I’m not around or where I’m going. Then I email them back after 3pm. I use this quite a bit when I have a lot of marking to do. I always include my cell number in case it is urgent. This way, my clients know that they can still get a hold of me. Many issues are important but they are not URGENT.
4. Stay out of the “back channel” conversations (until later).
Although it’s really cool to tweet at an event and see your comments on the giant Twitterfall projection screen, you may get more out of the presentation if you stay focused. You can always search the hashtag when you get home and connect into the conversation and follow others attending the event. It’s hard to use this tip if you use Twitter like a text messaging service, but it works for me – especially if the conference is two days. This tip will also help you avoid knee-jerk reaction comments that you normally have time to reflect upon before pressing the Tweet button and having it up on a big screen. Sometimes the more thoughtful the tweet, and the less tweeting you do overall, has a bigger impact on your followers.
Susan Varty of Wordtree Consulting has been providing writing services, digital strategy, and technology advice to small businesses and corporate clients since 2006. Managing a team of writers, she uses social media as the primary way to market her business. As a result, she offers LinkedIn strategy workshops with her business partner Marc Roginsky. Susan is also a professor of English and Liberal Studies at Seneca College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.