It’s oh so quiet
It’s oh so still
You’re all alone
And so peaceful until…
Acckk! Enough of all that Icelandic tomfoolery already. I just wanted to let you know that I hadn’t fallen off the face of the planet and that Twenty Steps is still alive and kicking despite the fact that it seems that every other blogger seems to be giving up or selling up these days…
The build up to Christmas has been quite busy for me with a number of offline client projects to finish off. It’s been great, actually, because it’s meant that I haven’t spent every waking hour in front of a computer screen.
During November I was starting to suffer from regular migraines and my old RSI condition was flaring up. Darren Rowse once said that blogging nearly made him go blind and Chris Garrett has recently decided to make a change to his online activities partly because of health concerns.
Being online and available practically 24-7 rather than helping me get more done, is actually hindering my productivity through loss of energy and poor sleep.
Spending your entire waking life online is bad for your productivity and it’s bad for your health.
I’m in agreement with Chris here and think that a lot of bloggers feel that they need to be online 24/7 in order to get everything done. I know I certainly have been guilty of this in the past. However the fact is that it’s actually counter productive because you find yourself immersed in a blogging bubble and detach yourself from reality. You find yourself nodding your head and agreeing with all of the points made in posts like “Top 10 Reasons Why You Are A Computer Geek” without realising the irony.
I genuinely chuckle to myself when someone says that their meal was delicious because in my head I’m hearing them say “mmm…that meal was del.icio.us”. How sad is that?
The problem is that it’s so easy to fall into. Your quest for knowledge or acceptance in your niche means that you invest a lot of time into it. Too much time. The result is that your offline life suffers. I’m not just talking about interpersonal relationships but your involvement with “the real world”.
I spoke earlier this year about my amazement when a role playing colleague of mine said that she had no idea what a blog was. Removing myself from the blogging bubble, though, why the Hell should she know what a blog is let alone how to make money with one?
By immersing yourself in the blogging bubble you’re actually alienating yourself from the vast majority of your readers. In fact you’re probably alienating yourself from the vast majority of the rest of the world. Unless you only ever associate with other
geeks IT savvy folks, your in depth knowledge and passion probably makes you a fairly dull person.
The other week I was chatting to a friend of mine who is an osteopath. He runs a website and he made the fatal mistake of asking me if I knew anything about getting listed on the search engines.
The poor bastard.
I think it was after the first hour that I noticed his eyes had glazed over. It was definitely at some point in the third hour that I realised he’d lost the will to live.
Passion and knowledge are great things for a blogger but it’s important to step away and sample real life on a regular basis. Not only will it help you to write better content for your readers but it will also help you maintain a healthy balance in your life. It will also mean that you’re no longer avoided at parties.
Poor Time Management
How many hours do you spend every day poring over every blog or website in your niche and never actually getting anything done? You’ve become an information sponge but you’re not doing anything with that information because by the time you’ve finished reading every snippet, tip or factoid you’re too knackered to do anything with it!
Research is important but it’s not so critical that you have to prop your eyes open with matchsticks and have coffee intravenously injected into your arm.
Ahmed Bilal wrote a great piece for Performancing about web publishing time management. One of the tips that really hit home for me was adopting an input/output/processing mentality to publishing online.
- Input: Any task that involves the intake of information. Browsing, feed-reading, etc are input-oriented activities.
- Output: Any task that involves you producing something – blogging, programming, designing, etc.
- Processing: When you’re dealing with ideas, knocking off action items, planning for the next day or evaluating progress.
Maki recently wrote about using an editorial calendar to help structure your blogging. By being proactive rather than reactive you can schedule your blog posts more effectively and, in theory, free up more of your time.
Chris talks about using a time log in his article to record his daily activities and cut out the fat in his working day so that he can turn his computer off at 6:30pm.
Whether it be for productivity reasons or whether it’s for health reasons, implementing a well thought out time management program should be on everyone’s New Years resolutions list.
Health, Wealth and Happiness
Without a doubt, the break has made a difference to my health. The migraines have gone, the RSI has improved and my diet no longer consists of caffeine, nicotine and microwave meals. Although I’m still getting a few aches in my back from incorrect posture, it’s nowhere near as bad as it was. I’m still concerned about my eyesight but that’s something I’ve had problems with since my early teens. Maybe my mum was right after all although I still don’t have to shave my palms…
I’ve also noticed that by extracting myself from the blogging bubble that I’m no longer so wrapped up in some of the things that previously seemed to be vital to my day to day existence. So what if Google Reader is showing 1000+ unread items? Will the world stop turning if I don’t read them all? Will I miss out on some priceless piece of information if I mark everything as read?
- So Google are clamping down on paid links, eh? Fine. I’m aware of that so I’ll now delete the 200 posts all expressing outrage.
- Agloco was a scam after all? Quel surprise…
- Facebook are evil? Expect them to be on Larry Page’s wedding list.
- Christmas is the busiest time for online affiliate sales? Just as well I subscribed to your RSS feed, eh? Might have missed that one otherwise.
I guess in a lot of ways taking a break from the routine has helped put things into perspective as much as anything else. It’s made me realise just how much I was messing up my body by being online nearly 18 hours a day. About how much I was reading theory and not putting enough of it into practice. About how easy it is to be distracted from your goals.
I can really relate to Chris when he says in his article that he feels he has squandered his time this year because I’ve had countless ideas for making money in 2007 but I’ve also managed to find countless more ways to distract me from actually seeing any of them through to fruition. Reading my 2006 review and subsequent 2007 Battle Plan makes for depressing reading. I might as well just re-publish them again this year because I’ve made the same mistakes with time management, work-life balance and procrastination as I did last year.
I see your squander, Chris, and I raise you a fritter.
So after a long and spiralling post which has gone off on a bit of a tangent, what I’m trying to say is that I thoroughly recommend taking a bit of a break from blogging. In fact take a break from your computer. The Internet will still be there when you come back. You owe it to your readers, you owe it to your family and friends and you owe it to yourself. You’ll come back to things with fresh eyes – literally and metaphorically.
If you’re thinking that you can’t afford to take the time off, think again. Is your health so unimportant to you? Just do it. Do it now before the sky caves in, the Devil cuts loose and you blow, blow, blow, blow, blow your fuse.