So I was in Nicaragua a few weeks ago as many of you know. While most people said, it will be good to have a week of extremely limited Internet, when I asked “why” no one had a good reason, it was all about recharging and being immersed in the experience (which I did) But I actually did learn several things by being unplugged, it wasn’t about recharging it was a lesson in how I could increase my focus.
#1 - Inbox Zero w/o filters is suicide
Knowing that there was a GOOD chance that I would not have Internet I did something I was shown a while ago by Will Critchlow
, the inbox delegation feature in Gmail
It worked like a charm, while down there, I knew that most days I might get between 30-90 minutes of Internet on a 2g connection, doing that for 7 days I knew an “out of office” wouldn’t be enough. So not only was I off of email (critical) I was also off of twitter (not critical but important, and darn it, fun). I couldn’t delegate my twitter, so I just let it sit for a week.
Kristen was able to manage the crazy flow, meaning when I logged in most days I only actually had 20-30 emails (10% of my typical flow) that were really important for me to answer in a 1-2 day turnaround.
That was eye opening, so much so that I kept my inbox delegated when I got back, but I wanted to first try just using filters before having Kristen working on it.
As someone who enjoys SEO and loves working directly with clients, I used to get cc’ed on a LOT of project emails, which I would check immediately, this would constantly break my concentration and have me off on new tangents, breaking my concentration on what I was currently working on.
Upon coming back I decided to filter all basecamp messages out to a different “inbox” and now I have decided to block out 2-3 times every day to go through basecamp, but its more structured and on a schedule, I also now am finding time to just call clients and check in, seeing how we are doing and where their businesses are headed.
#2 - Twitter, do I REALLY need you??
About 50% of the people I follow on twitter are probably SEOs. Its not a secret that I have been struggling with my “role
" on social media . I’ve struggled with it since the beginning
(this post is 5 years old). I’ve always seen it as something that can go from helpful to narcissistic, ego-filling drivel in a heartbeat, and I am constantly afraid of crossing that line.
I also have a hard time focusing on one thing, I am easily distracted, and that is exactly what social media is great for, distracting you in the middle of trying to do other more important shit. Having a week off from social media, was easier than I thought, because I missed thousands of BS tweets, but I KNEW I also missed some important industry news. So how would I keep up / catch up?
Well since SEO is a major echo chamber, I have a twitter list specifically titled out of the echo chamber, where I don’t have any SEO folks, so I can get new perspectives (just made it public) - https://twitter.com/wilreynolds/out-of-the-echo-chamber
- always taking recommendations to add to this list.
The problem is that Twitters use of lists BLOWS, so it means that these lists are “3-4 clicks away” from twitter.com, and I find myself spending a LOT of time on twitter.com
Inbound.org to the rescue!
When I was finally able to reconnect I couldn’t go through thousands of twitter messages just to find the good ones, so what did I do? I went to Inbound.org
, and SEOmoz (especially youmoz). I figured that all those SEO people I follow likely tweeted and RT’ed and RT’ed and RT’ed the good stuff from there already, Inbound.org showed me that I could avoid following a lot of the echo chamber or heavy tweeters since most of what they tweet is SEO news or @’s back and forth.
Now for SEOs like Will Critchlow and Rand (yeah you guys are still SEOs to me) who share about wide ranges of topics, INCLUDING SEO, so I knew I wanted to follow them still.
But the hardcore SEO, whom I learn a lot from and LOVE deeply, they do tend to RT the same stuff, so I can unfollow and add them to my list instead.
It’s the people like Ardath Albee
, Mike Gadsby
, watch out during he phillies season he gets a little crazy, Patrick McKenzie
, Cole Nussbaumer
, or our own Steph Beadell
, who I think are GEMS to follow, they get me thinking differently, but I miss their stuff sometimes when I am on twitter.com, because of the RT machine that goes on in the SEO echo chamber of the same articles buries their tweets.
I had already done this in a more private way. About 3 months ago I unsubscribed to tons of SEO blogs in my feed reader because I was getting the good stuff via twitter, and my Google Reader became useless, I just see this experiment as a tactic in that vein. Today my Google reader is used to get the info from the people who are not well known or haven’t gotten on the radar of the echo chamber, they may blog 1-2 times a month at most, so their stuff easily gets lost. But I don’t need SEOmoz or SEL in my reader anymore, right? Twitter is now able to do that sorting for me, and now I think I can put that in a separate list.
So I am going to try something new, I am going to “unfollow” a lot of SEO people, but add them to a list instead. I will still see their stuff, but just when I block out time for reviewing that list allowing me to stay more focused.
I hope this helps me focus better.
Oh one more thing, Pocket
. Ahh Pocket you are a lifesaver, I used to allow myself to get all into reading articles (an important part of my job) becoming yet another distraction, now every time I see something good I pocket it, and then I schedule time to read what is in my pocket.
If you are interested in finding new content that gets you thinking differently, I have found that Zite
is also pretty decent for that.
#3 - The last realization I had was that my team is comprised of more managers of one
than at any time in SEER’s history, that always lets you maintain focus, so it sharpened my desire to help them continue to make decisions on their own and with the support of their colleagues and me when needed. Nothing like going away for a week, and realizing everything ran great to show you how much people at your company care about delivering for clients and having each others back.
I have always struggled with 2 things, focus and listening. I work on them all the time, I’m wondering how this test will play out. Also guys if I unfollow you, you are ON my SEOs list, its just something new I am trying.