What is your approach to writing something for publication, or to meet a deadline? Do you plan and complete the piece of writing well in advance? Or do you tend to wait until the deadline is almost upon you, to prompt you into writing?
I confess to the latter. When I started this blog in June 2014 I made a commitment to publish at least one post a month. And I have kept to this for over a year. But sometimes, it was only at the end of the month that the blog was actually written and published. The month-end deadline galvanised me into action!
This time I am writing this blog in July, to be published in August. This is so that I can prioritise time with my family over the summer school holidays.
In theory, this is one of the joys of self-employment: to have more freedom to schedule our time as we see fit. In practice, it’s easy to let work creep into our precious family and leisure time. It can be hard to resist temptation to check our email, or social media accounts. But most of the time, it would do our businesses no harm to take some time away from the screen.
Here are three of my favourite tools, to help you with scheduling. And they are all easy to get to grips with.
Mailchimp and other mailing systems allow you to set up and schedule emails to go out at a time to suit you. This is a brilliant tool and one that I use a lot for group emails. But be careful if you plan an email campaign in advance. You need to be sure you are around to deal in a timely manner with any responses or queries that arise from it.
Buffer is my favourite scheduling tool for Twitter. It’s easy to use, and allows you to stagger publication of tweets, or to plan and schedule tweets in advance. You might still like to check your notifications now and again so that you can respond to any replies or re-tweets. And my advice is not to over-schedule. I tend to switch off now from tweeters who just churn out stuff day and day out without engaging. Social media is much more rewarding if you use it to be social, not just to broadcast your own stuff.
Pocket. This tool is your friend if you have a tendency to find interesting articles on the internet, and then get distracted from what you’re supposed to be doing. Install the bookmarklet on your browser, or set it up on your phone. You can quickly bookmark articles for later reading, at a time that suits you. Pocket does one thing, and does it well.
What tools do you use to manage your online life? Please share below (that’s if you’re not too busy having a holiday – and if so, good for you!)