More on My New Social Media Habits

“We can choose to shift our collective dialogue about time as a lacking resource to a more powerful view of time as friend.”

“Time as friend also means the death of multitasking.”

~ Christine Louise Hohlbaum, The Power of Slow

Yesterday I wrote that my plan today was to write for an hour before going online, and I am happy to say I did it! After showering and conversing (or conversating, as a friend of ours says) with my husband over coffee, I bypassed the Firefox icon and went right to my WIP folder. By 7 a.m. I had one thousand words, more or less, of new writing.

This is definitely a habit I want to develop. One month from tomorrow I return to teaching part-time, so that gives me 31 days to make this new routine automatic. If I can continue to get in at least an hour of new writing every day, during my most productive part of the day, I know that I will not only make huge strides toward my goals for the year, but I’ll feel really good about my work at the end of each day.

About half an hour into writing this morning, I had a question (concerning the inheritance of Tribal land), and I was tempted to go online to do some research, but I decided that this hour will be devoted to writing only, so I put a note in brackets to look it up later and kept going. My guidelines for myself are these: During that hour, I will write new material either in a Word document or longhand, without having a browser open, and I will work only on my novel, which right now is my most important work in progress.

Whatever I do later in the day—more writing, revising, research, planning—is above and beyond that first, most important hour. It’s the least I owe myself.

If you are also searching for ways to manage email and communication overload, you will enjoy this 26-minute interview by Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check E-mail in the Morning. Julie discusses not only social media, but issues of perfectionism and learning to live the life we want by controlling our choices and attention (if the video below does not load, click here):


Also, you might find some tips or inspiration in Tim Ferriss’s How To Check E-mail Twice a Day… Or Once Every Ten Days or Gretchen Rubin’s Five Realistic Tips for Using Email More Efficiently.

Figuring out how to make social media work for us, as writers, rather than against us is probably a highly personal project. For example, I love email. I don’t love phones. So when I can substitute an email message for a phone call, I’ll do it every time. I know other people, however, who prefer a phone call to having to write out information in an email. A classic case of YMMV.

I still haven’t made a decision on how best to handle email. It won’t work for me to check it twice a day, because I’m a freelance indexer, and often I need to read and respond to queries from publishers or authors relatively quickly. However, I don’t need to check in with Twitter more than twice a day. Same with Facebook. Sometimes I get Facebook inbox messages that are time-sensitive, so today I turned on the feature to have Facebook send me an email alert about messages, solving that problem.

I think we should be easy on ourselves as we make changes in our routines and habits, and resist the urge to castigate ourselves for wasting time. After all, we are dealing with brand spanking new technology that changes almost before we can master it. We are, in that respect, explorers, and we will make mistakes.

What is working for you? What baby steps are you taking to take more control over your use of communication technology and social media?

14 thoughts on “More on My New Social Media Habits

  1. 1,000 words–that’s awesome!! I’m so glad that system is working for you, and I’m trying it next week. Like you, I’ve learned to research at a different time than my writing time. Even if I had to look up something that would be quick, like a specific year that ‘x’ occurred, I’d notice my email icon indicating that I had 11 messages and so I’d have to check. 30 minutes later, I’d find myself making random comments on my friends’ Facebook updates! So yeah, no internet while I write.

    • I am definitely more easily distracted by email and other online temptations now than in the past. At the same time, I like not having to split up my “work” life and “play” life–I like them to be integrated as much as possible. It’s a matter of drawing new boundaries for myself, I guess. Thanks, Kristi!

  2. I was beginning to notice a trend in your tweets, so I just had to check out your link here. I think it’s a fantastic plan, and I do hope that this proves as useful as it sounds. I sorely lack the ability to follow a routine. Never have had it in me to follow schedules. Short attention span…maybe…I don’t know. I like the idea about defining time for tweets and FB. I have developed some bad habits there lately and have purposefully reigned in time and attention there. Anytime I slip and forget…I regret it. Anyway…I read some great advise here, and I am quite sure that other folks will find it useful. Congrats on your 1k words and your plan to create new productive habits!

    • DiDi, thank you! I do feel that I’m at the beginning of some new habits for myself right now, and I’m both excited and a little scared about whether I can follow through. I choose to stay positive! 🙂

  3. Love the plan! Sorry you can’t back off of email more, but it’s sort of the bathwater that comes with the baby, yes? I do only check my work email one time per day and it’s amazing – I get less email b/c I send less – typically, I have 34 emails in my inbox each day. 34. I don’t know why, but 5 times out of 6 it’s that exact number. Waaaayyy less than when I checked multiple times per day! I’m loving these postings, Lisa! Keep it up!

    • Cyndi, thanks so much for your encouragement! I will find a way to handle the emails. There are days, when I’m not at the end of a deadline, when I can probably cut way back on checking for new messages. It would be terrific if that meant receiving fewer, too! 34, eh? A mystery there… 😉

  4. This may be the shortest comment you’ll ever receive here, Lisa, but I think the whole key to planning, mapping out, indexing, time management, ordering, organizing is …

    Flexibility!! (my best friend as a single mom)


  5. Good luck on your adventure towards a new habit. Sounds like you are off to a great start. My partner has been talking about his “book” for over a year now and I don’t think he is past the outline. I know that he has told himself (and me) that he was going to do something like this before, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    I will share your post with him and see if you can inspire him 🙂

    Have a wonderful day,

    • Cindy, thank you! Best of luck to your partner. It’s kind of scary to jump write into actually writing a book, but the payoff and feeling of accomplishment is soooo worth it. I hope you are both having a lovely weekend!

  6. See, this makes me feel so proud! What did I do to resist the alluring sirens of the social media triumvirate, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, while writing my last book?


    My kids would give me one sticker per 2000 words. And there were times (rarely) that I actually got two stickers on one day! Keeping those around you vested in your progress is key, Lisa. Congratulations! May you live, breathe and write the slow all your days..and nights! 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Christine Louise Hohlbaum

    • Christine, thank you so much for stopping by and for this thoughtful comment! I love how your children gave you stickers. My son did a similar thing for my birthday as a way to encourage me to write daily (and, through his gift, I finished writing a middle-grade children’s book).

      Your book is inspiring and informing me every day. Thank you. I’m very excited by the changes I am making.

      Warmly, Lisa

  7. Good luck with your book! I think you’re on the right track – getting email habits under control is a huge way to find more time in the day. Keep encouraging yourself and watch those pages pile up day by day. I always keep a log when I’m working on a new book or script, and track the pages that way. Helps to see how that steady progression does lead to the finish line.
    Best wishes,

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