a Twitter chat is a guided conversation where users interested in a particular topic hop onto the service to chat. The chat is given a hashtag, which makes it easy for anyone looking in to identify the chat and participate. It’s similar to a chat room in that it’s a topic-driven conversation happening in real time; it just happens to be housed on Twitter.
Twitter chats are a wonderful way to engage directly with experts on any topic under the sun right from your desktop. It moves quickly, but it’s a wild and enjoyable ride–and a unique learning experience.
I recently caught a Twitter chat on time management for freelance writers under the hashtag #wclw, coordinated by Michelle Rafter of the WordCount blog. I reasoned that I could learn a lot from this crowd because freelancers have perhaps the toughest time management challenge of all: being their own bosses.
Here is some of the great time management advice I picked up along the way:
- Don’t get caught up with online distractions: Delete irrelevant e-mail without even reading it. Limit the amount of time you spend on social networking and aimlessly surfing the Web, especially when you’re trying to meet a deadline. And don’t leave your e-mail open all day.
- Set specific time goals: Aim to get a particular task completed in a set amount of time and work your hardest to meet that goal. Use a timer to help you reach your target time frame. (It can also help freelancers keep track of billable hours.)
- Stick to a to-do list: You may not be able to accomplish everything on your list, but it can be helpful to chart out your most important tasks for the day. Be sure to celebrate the small victories by crossing things off the list as you complete them. And there’s no shame in adding something to your list just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. This will boost your confidence and help drive you toward meeting your other goals.
- Tackle the tough stuff first: Instead of dreading those particularly challenging tasks all day, get them done and over with early. They’ll go more smoothly with a (good) night of sleep and a cup of morning joe on your side. Plus you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, you’ll be less stressed, and you’re more likely to be productive the rest of the day.
- It’s ok to ask for help: One chat participant hired a virtual assistant a few hours a month to cover her administrative tasks. This support frees her up to focus on her writing.
As a self-professed overachiever and control freak, that last one is probably the hardest one for me. But I’m working on getting better at delegating things to other people. I recently requested an intern for my department at work because I was feeling so overwhelmed. My fellow graduate student Rachelle Pavelko has been a very valuable addition to our communications team. Having her in the office 12 hours a week has helped me focus on urgent communication needs while she tackles those items that are important but don’t always make the top priority list. This experience has also given me my first run as a supervisor. It may be to find good help, but thankfully I did.
So whether it’s a housekeeper, a co-worker, a friend or family member, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am working on accepting the fact that there is no shame in admitting you can’t do everything by yourself.
What time management advice would you add to the list above?
Special thanks to the #wclw chat participants for sharing your insights and experience. Follow these wise writers on Twitter: @michellerafter, @leslieajoy, @urbanmusewriter, @nancygoll, @saralancaster, @nicoleindenver. @lowrha, @jenwillis, @susie, @lvanderkam, @thoughtshappen, @susanweiner, @sakurachica, and @ajdigitalfocus.
Chat coordinator Michelle Rafter wrote an excellent and very thorough summary of the discussion on her blog.
Above image courtesy of Guy Kawasaki