Take charge of your online life

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These days a writer is expected to do a lot of things in addition to writing. Staying abreast of industry trends and participating in social media are two of them. Trouble is, keeping track of all the interesting and useful stuff on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs can not only suck time from writing but also bury inspiration, dampen enthusiasm, blur focus, and deplete energy. Posting and reading social media updates can be just as distracting. There is so much out there to read and do—and still only 24 hours a day in which to do it.

Two little programs that I use regularly have helped me streamline my time online, even as I attempt to stay on-task in the midst  of all the noise.

Pocket (getpocket.com – formerly Read It Later) is one. It’s a program that works on any device (phone, tablet or computer). I have installed it on both my desk computer and laptop using Firefox.

The program puts a little pocket-shaped icon in my browser bar. If I find an article that looks interesting but I don’t have time to read it, I simply click on the pocket (which then turns red). It gets saved to a list of links that I access by clicking on a second pocket found at the far right of my browser.

Because I have Pocket on both computers, I can browse the internet for information at my desktop, save all the articles in my pocket, and read them later when  I’m relaxing  with my laptop.

A second great time-saver is Buffer (bufferapp.com). This program lets me schedule tweets. I also installed it on both computers using Firefox.

The free version of Buffer lets me schedule updates to one Twitter, one Facebook, and one LinkedIn account, but it does have some limitations. For example, I’m limited to how many tweets I can schedule; I think it’s 10. However, that’s easily enough to schedule enough tweets for a day or two (I have control over how many times a day I’ll tweet and when).

So gone are the days of inundating my followers with a deluge of tweets within seconds of each other. Now I set aside some time most days to Buffer my twitter stream for the next day, remembering to sprinkle in a few tweets for my book or other writing. I haven’t posted any updates to Facebook or LinkedIn with Buffer but I’m sure it works just as well.

These two handy little programs (plug-ins, apps, whatever they’re called) have helped me take control of my online reading and social media endeavors. Why don’t you give them a try?  You might like them too.

 

(First published on Inscribe Writers OnlineSeptember 12, 2012)

2 thoughts on “Take charge of your online life

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