Friday, June 25, 2010

Time-Bound

So I'm a teacher. We set goals and stuff for the progress of our students. I'm a huge goal-setter. I've blogged about setting goals for your blog, your audience, etc.

Today, we're going to add something to that goal. A time limit.

In teaching, all of our goals are time-bound (it's what the T stands for in S.M.A.R.T. goals). So you should have a time limit on your goals as well -- real-life or writing.

For example, I made a goal to get published. I set a time limit of 5 years. Now I'm not saying that if you've been trying longer than 5 years, you should quit. But you should set a limit and work toward it. Readjust if necessary.

The same goes for blogging and social networking. Set a time frame, and then let go of the guilt.

Let me repeat that: Set a time frame and then let go of the guilt.

For me, I've decided that it's nigh to impossible that I can get to everyone's blog every time they post. It just isn't happening. So what have I done? Spiraled into summering, not reading anything. Then what happens?

Guilt.

So, here's my solution to that. If you're struggling with this, please join me.

I'm setting a time limit. I will devote 1 or 2 hours a day (depending on my schedule) to social networking. This includes reading blogs, commenting on facebook status, and updating twitter.

That's it. Once my time is up, I'm done.

And I refuse to feel guilty about it. If I miss you one day, I'll try to get you the next.

So who's with me? If you feel like you'll never get it done, you're right. You won't. But set a goal to do as much as you can for that one hour. And then let the guilt go.

Are you ready? How much time will you devote to social networking this summer? And how will you push that guilt away? I definitely need some tips for that.

61 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've been social networking 3-4 hours a day (0 on the weekends). But that's going to be cut way down for the summer (and zero for some weeks). It'll be hard. I keep saying just one more blog or just one more tweet. Problem is I enjoy doing it. Plus I'm always looking for something new for my Friday's link post.

Have a great weekend, Elana!

Heather Kelly said...

I have cut down my blogging a ton over the past few weeks, just out of necessity. I'm good at staying with an hour or so, or less, so I can get some actual writing time in this summer. So, I'm with you!! Guiltfree is the key!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks SO much for posting this. I need a limit. Mine's going to be looking at 5-6 blogs before work, the 6-8 I take a break at work to read, and 1.5 hours at night during the week. I'm going to do as you suggest and say that's it.

To get rid of the guilt, I'm going to remind myself that I hardly ever talk to my friends in town or family because I'm too busy. And it takes away from time with my husband and daughter and writing. I can't let supporting the writer community take over my life. Hope thinking about it like this helps me and you get rid of the guilt.

Matthew Rush said...

Can I have permission to set no goals and still let go of the guilt I never felt in the first place? I'm only kidding but you do have such great advice Elana, as usual. I love blogging and my friends are the VERY BEST ever, but as I meet more and more people there is never enough time. Better to visit when I can than to go crazy over it.

Today's guest blogger is Tahereh AKA TH Mafi!

magolla said...

I have a list of places that I blog-hop around. It doesn't usually take that long to read the post since most of the time I don't comment--I know, you prescribe commenting to network, but sometimes there just isn't anything that I can add!

It's summer. Time for a vacation, including blogging . . . especially since I just realize that it's Friday and I forgot to post a blog!

laurapauling said...

I think it's safe to say that we all put our writing first. In some ways summer is easier. I might not have time until night or the kids are watching a movie to really write but I can snatch some time to comment on blogs. On the days I post it takes about an hour or so. But if I'm burnt out on the other days, I check out new blogs.

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Elana. My blogging time jumps up and down like a live-wire that's only live some of the time. Summer only adds to that inconsistency. I like the guilt-free idea and I might experiment with setting a time limit. If I'm not making it to a friend's blog I'll try to connect with them on twitter.

Mary said...

Know what you mean--blogs are addictive!
I do blogs and coffee one hour when I wake up. Blogs and water one hour before bed.
Oops, time's up! Have a great day!

Mary
Giggles and Guns

Kenda said...

Thanks so much for this, Elana. Guilt can be such a drain. I refuse to let it rule me. I want to learn from others, enjoy their stories, hopefully add to the discussion, but I want to enjoy the process, not add burdens!

Jonathon Arntson said...

Awesome E. So, I suppose I can go from sixteen hours a day to, like, ten. If I have to.

Liza said...

You can let go of the guilt by putting yourself first, which we all need to do in order to be successful at whatever the goal. Don't get me wrong...the support network is critical...but at some point, you just have to do what is right (or write?) for you.

WritingNut said...

As usual, you're absolutely right :)

My social networking is...er... well, you know... it takes up SOMe of my time during the day...

Sigh.. who am I kidding? It takes up so much of my time! What can I say? I'm weak!

Okay, I'm setting a time limit, and am honestly going to try to work within it.

Thanks for the great advice Elana!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I'm a teacher too, so this week (my first week of summer vacation) the time I have available has taken an upsurge. During the school year, the best I can do is read and respond to blogs over coffee in the morning.

This week, I have enjoyed taking more time over them and reading some blogs that are *on my list* but I never really had time to read before.

This week, blogs have been a warm-up exercise -- before I get down to business -- as well as a water cooler break in between the writing.

They'll have to drag me kicking and screaming back to the classroom in the fall!

Candyland said...

I don't know if I could do it. Not just because of guilt, but pure obsession!!!

Theresa Milstein said...

I like the idea of being goal-oriented.

Social networking can suck up too much time. I limit it to commenting back to my commenters and checking out a few more blogs. And checking Facebook. I keep putting off getting a Twitter account because I don't want any more distractions.

As far as # of years to write, I'm at 4 without an agent. But I didn't know what I was doing for 2 of of those years. And I've only figured out what I was doing wrong for about 1 year. How many am I up to?

Seriously, goals are ways to push ourselves. Without them, it's easy to languish.

Angela Ackerman said...

I've realized I can't keep up with my research-heavy blog posts, commenting, FB, Twitter, critiques, forum moderation and email. I just can't. I do what I can each week and refuse to feel guilt over it. I love all the people who visit my blog and comment, and all the great people I have met online and thru SN. But the fact is, when I start noticing how little time I have for my own writing, and how much I put into helping others with theirs, I HAVE TO SCALE BACK.

I hope no one ever feels slighted by this, but I can't do it all. I can't even come close. All I can hope for is that what I end up being able to do is helpful enough to others that they will forgive the rest.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Renae said...

I'm so glad you posted about this. I've had to give myself a time limit as well. Social networking is important, but with everything else that has to be accomplished in a day, a goal is good. I don't know about the guilt. I think we have to give ourselves permission to do what we can and not punish ourselves for not being able to do it all.

lynnrush said...

Perfect. You gotta put limits on things, otherwise other things just never get done. I'm at about a couple hours per day already, maybe three. it seems to work.

But then again, I don't have kids or anything. Just a hubby, dog, oh, and a full time day job...but other than that...I'm free to do all things writing. :-)

Guilt? You shouldn't have any, really. You can only do what you can do, right?

Happy FRIDAY! Woot!

Portia said...

That's a SMART (hehe) move. It's easy to get so involved in blogging you don't have time to read and write! I love the advantages of social networking, but a time limit sets a good balance, in my opinion.

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm so in for this idea because I'm definitely one who needs to set a limit - without guilt. I've been trying to find a way to manage my time more efficiently but I do end up feeling guilty if I don't get everything done. Thanks to your post, I'm going to let it go!

Janna Qualman said...

I need to do something like this, too; cut back on my social networking. But I wonder if I'd be more productive if, instead of thinking about taking away from that area, I focus on putting time INTO my writing/editing. The positive perspective may help.

You're a smart, smart cookie, Elana.

Regina said...

There is always way too much to do. Time gets away from you and there are never enough hours in the day to get things done. It is not like pushing them to the next day helps, because they double and then triple.

Yep. I agree. Do what you can, don't feel guilty. You are only human.

Mary Brebner said...

Letting go of the guilt is hard, especially for a recovering Catholic like myself--we're all about the guilt (lol). But goals do help reduce the guilt factor.

I'm all about lists and goals--got a bunch for summer. Must be a teacher thing! :)

Em-Musing said...

I use an egg timer, but some day's schedules are more scrambled than others and it'll be days before I can sit down and social network again. Maybe I need duct tape.

Christine Fonseca said...

my fav part of this Elana - the releasing the guilt part. That is the hardest, and most important part for me!

Dolly said...

I remember the times when sometimes my entire evening would be spent reading and commenting on blogs because I felt I had to read every single blog I followed, every day. Of course I was reading blogs, but that didn't leave me time for actual writing or anything else, so I learned my lesson. Now, like you, I devote limited time to it - depends on the day - and whichever blog I managed to get to, they get comments for that day.

Carol Kilgore said...

I share this problem and I don't have nearly as many followers as you. I spend an hour in the mornings and check 2-3 times a day for new comments.

I'm a listmaker, so I divided favorite blogs and frequent commenters into days of the week. I go to those and comment on that day.

Guilt? I still feel it but I accept it because this is the best way I found to still have a writing and personal life. Otherwise social networking could consume it all.

Lots of us float around in this same boat, I think.

Christina Farley said...

Great ideas! I didn't know you are a teacher. Very cool! I teach too. Right now since I'm coming back from Korea, I'm trying to get a job. Oh the fun.

But I like your idea to really think about how much time we are using on what. It makes everything more manageable.

WindyA said...

Guilt sucks the fun out of things. I have a list of what NEEDS to get done and what I WANT to get done each day and I prioritize accordingly. Needs come first, then I can start pulling from my wants.

salarsenッ said...

E, I'm glad you've taken the plunge. You do a wonderful job interacting with us all and offering amazing insight. A little less of you won't kill any of us, just make us cherish the time we are able to share more.

Enjoy your weekend.

storyqueen said...

I give myself one hour. It's how I start my day. but I also limit to blogs. I am voiding twitter like the plague, because of the time-suck element....for someone like me, even if I wasn't checking it, I'd be thinking about checking it....and no facebook either. (As a mom of teens, I am letting facebook be their playgorund, not mine.)

So, an hour in bloggyland, then off to write.

(But if I am a very good girl, sometimes I'll check stuff out in the evening....)

Shelley

j.m. neeb said...

A great quote I heard somewhere along the line: A goal is a dream with a date on it.

Without putting up that target, you're pretty much shooting aimlessly.

Melody said...

1-2 hours! You are more faithful than I. With the wave of good blogs that I've recently found, I've had to limit my morning blogging/writer-o-sphere time. To just over 30 minutes. I usually come back later in the day and read one or two more. (I RSS Subscribe to everything, so there's this long list of new blogs to read every time I sit down.) I try to read a chosen few, my favorites as well as my own followers, every day. (Yours is one; I can always count on it to be easy and short, unlike mine. *cough*) Anyway, I avoid guilt by knowing that I will eventually read them - and I do have a life.

Corey Schwartz said...

Elana, you are doing far more than most people! No need for you to ever feel guilty :)

Tere Kirkland said...

I honestly don't know how you fit even that much time for networking into your life with everything else you do!

I find it the most difficult to write meaningful comments when I read other blogs, which I swear is what eats up most of my blogging time.

Tahereh said...

i totally agree. in fact, it's exactly what i do. i wouldn't be able to function any other way.

another great post, elana. thank you so much :D

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

That's exactly how I do it. I usually have 1-2 hours in the morning for blogging/social media related things. I sneak into Twitter real quick when I can, and make it a point to respond to @replies before I do my own tweets. And then every evening I set aside an hour for responding to blog comments/emails. Some days life happens and I don't get as much time. But when I set the limits it helps me to stay on top of it, and like you said, helps with the guilt.

Nice to know that even super Elana has her limits! :)

Amanda J. said...

I tend to do this during the school year when I don't have much time at all.

During the summer I spend all day sometimes doing nothing but being on my computer. Though half the time I'm TRYING to write as well, I'm just also being sociable and finding new things to try in my writing.

Great post! :)

Krispy said...

I think Time limits are something a lot of people forget about when setting goals. It's super important because it gives the goal a more concrete shape and adds incentive. Part of the reason my reading binge is still going strong is because I'm reading all library books. I'm pushed to keep reading consistently because I know they're due!

I think I should set some limits on my social networking, but I practically live online. Left to my own devices, I could probably spend ALL DAY online. XP What can I say - I'm a product of my generation. So time limits, YES pls!

Mary Campbell said...

I don't have near the followers you do, but i gave up on trying to read all of them a long time ago. don't feel guilty - we understand. It takes the joy out of blogging if we feel guilty about it. I try to comment on those blogs who comment on mine and then I comment only on those that interested me that day. If you want me to comment on your blog - be interesting. I need to learn how to be interesting myself - we need to earn those comments.

Lisa and Laura said...

Why the guilt? WHY? *Sucking thumb in fetal position* I'm with you. 1-2 hours seems like a lot of time as it is! We're all in the same boat here...and we all understand. I need to remember this!

Jeff King said...

Great ideas...

Carolyn V. said...

I agree with setting a limit or making a goal. It's a great way to get the wip done!

Lisa Gail Green said...

I think that is a GREAT idea. I really do need to limit my social networking time. I have way too much fun and in the end, I find myself out of balance.

BTW thanks for finding my blog! Glad you are a follower.

Sandy Shin said...

This is a fabulous idea. I told myself I will only spend 1-2 hours online each day -- and yet, the guilt sets in when the hours are over and I still have so many blog posts to read. So the one hour lengthens to four five six, etc. I'm giving myself permission not to feel guilty -- it's just impossible to catch up with everybody.

Jan Markley said...

Great idea! I'm going to try to surf my list of blogs regularly!

Jemi Fraser said...

I know the guilt! And I know it's crazy. I've had next to no time this week, and I've worried over it.

So, I'm going to try the no guilt - see if it works. :)

Kristal Shaff said...

You go girl! What a smart decision! I see so many writers saying that social network is the most important thing in your writing career, but then they forget about the WRITING part. They spend so much networking, that they don't write.

Bravo!

Kathryn said...

I try to set aside a few hours a day (no more than two though) for writing and social networks, more on the weekend (I usually schedule my blogs on the weekend so that I don't have to worry about writing them during the week). Setting a time limit is a good strategy. Otherwise, I'm not sure I'd be as disciplined as I am.

Nichole Giles said...

I have issues with this myself. Good idea. I think I'm going to try setting a time limit to my social networking, and require another amount of time for writing. =)

G said...

Fortunately, I don't do hard core social networking. While yes I am on Facebook, I treat it exactly like I would treat everything else in the real world.

Which is to say that I spend on the average, about fifteen minutes a day on it. I update it about once every two or three days.

As for blogging, I spend at the most an hour a day adjusting, tweaking, reading or getting a weeks worth of posts at the ready.

Those are about the only time limits I give myself.

That and I make sure I don't overextend myself with too many blogs to read.

Jennie Englund said...

That's fair! You have to live a real life, too. Or you'd have nothing to write about/comment on, right?

cleemckenzie said...

Setting limits is the only way to do all that I want and need to do. Had to work out a few priorities along the way as well.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

You are always so brilliant, girl. I desperately NEED this advice. Heck, I spent two HOURS the past two days just responding to EMAILS - let alone blog reading/comment responding.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I'm a blood courier. I work 8 day straight gauntlets with half of that on-call.

That doesn't leave me a lot of free time. I try to use it wisely.

I do the Zen of blogging. I do what inside feels right at the time.

I don't twitter.

I carry a company cell phone. Period. No chance to twitter. It seems another way to fritter away time better spent writing.

You must do what you feel is right for you, of course. I have always gone my own way. Listened to advise but made my own decisions.

And I will have to live with the consequences of them, too.

I wish us both luck in our publishing dreams, Roland

Corra McFeydon said...

I'm soooo with you! I won't know how much time to devote until I get there. (Later in the summer.)

I want to balance writing/reading/work/school/family - and LASTLY, social networking.

:-)

- Corra

The Victorian Heroine

Jessica said...

Social networking is addictive. I probably feel more guilt for spending a lot of time reading blogs, and checking in on facebook instead of doing other things.

I should probably set a time limit for myself. I don't think I will feel guilty for not reading. I think it is the other way around for me. :)

Lea (YA Book Queen) said...

This is really good advice, because I know I always feel really bad when I don't make it to someones blog or respond to emails quickly. I usually spend part of my Sunday's catching up on social networking. I like the idea of spending an hour or two social networking a day, because it's not excessive time online, but it's also enough time to get some things done!

Jo Schaffer said...

Guilt shmilt. (=
I do what I can--when I can.
Enjoy the ebb and flow.
I will try to keep up on the blogs of people who comment on mine and the ones I am most interested in--
while keeping my social networking from interfering with the rest of my life. It should be fun!

Katie said...

fabulous plan! I need to get organized like that. love it!

Carrie said...

I've cut down on my blogging/social networking. I took a whole week away and I'm limiting time now. I don't feel guilty because I have a lot of things that I'm working on and I want to get them finished.

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