There are three aspects to managing my time*. Consumption, creation and managing engagement.
It’s become all to apparent to me in these last two years how precious time is. It’s become more precious because I have found myself more engaged with everything ‘internetty’. I’m talking about the consumption of media alongside the creating media for others.
I’m superconscious of what I’m doing online, whether it’s a live-stream, an article to read, some research, a video edit, arranging a meet to bring a guest to the podcast/live-stream. Now I type this, but many ways I still spend my time on other things I know I shouldn’t put any effort into, but it’s a gradual process of pushing out the distractions. I’ve spoken at length about simplifying and focusing on Periscope a few times and I find it helpful as I have witnesses to the things I say and could in the back of my mind, hold me to account (especially if they contribute to my Patreon or Ko-Fi).
Got to say at this point, progress has been evolving, but importantly calculated. I hope what I share is useful for you.
For brevity’s sake here’s a list of things I’ve eliminated or restricted.
- Holding myself to only following 100 people on Twitter.
- Stopped ‘liking’ items on my Twitter timeline.
- Stopped getting “involved” in US politics.
- Deleted Facebook and some other accounts entirely.
- Removed various apps I had on my phone as part of me saying no to 30 things in November(2017).
- Made a mental note of how much I would read in a day.
Holding myself to only following 100 people on Twitter.
This came in various stages, I had about 160 people I was following when i started this. That’s not a lot in itself, but I don’t just follow anybody. The goal was to get this number down to 100 people in a decent amount of time. To me it is the digital version of Dunbar’s numberwhere Dunbar explains that humans can comfortably “maintain only 150 stable relationships” with that itself being a physical limitation on our time and mental capacity.
I applied that to how I wanted to use Twitter. Of course its not the same thing, I don’t text those I follow on a daily basis, but it allows me to just focus on what I think I want to see. Twitter is also a tool and I want it to be ‘sharp’.
Stopped ‘liking’ items on my timeline.
What I mean by this is I would scroll down my timeline and just ‘like’ things to set aside and read later. The way I use the ‘Like’ button is to make a bookmark, I don’t actually ‘like’ anything. I found myself ‘liking’ more than reading and in turn I was hoarding and just constantly searching for the next interesting looking item to ‘like’ and hold on to. It got to a point where I wasn’t reading as much as I thought, and I was just amassing articles.
Also on Twitter, everything I retweet, I have read. So I found myself creating quite an overhead in terms of what I want to be responsible for.
Stopped getting “involved” with US politics.
This helped immensely when I needed to follow fewer accounts on Twitter. I thought it would benefit me to have an opinion on what happens in the USA because most of my audience is from the USA. Many viewers wanted my opinion as it was different to what maybe they would get from their immediate social circle as I don’t live stateside and could be seen as objective. Then it occurred to me that if I’m talking about issues in another country, I’m not talking about what happens in Hong Kong. I made the choice to focus on the one region that is more important. My main problem is that I’m cursed with having english as my native language, news about the USA greets my ears much more easily than anything else, it’s hard to get away, but again I’m trying.
Deleted Facebook and some other accounts entirely.
Found in my #NoinNovember challenge that I didn’t need some other internet accounts, but they were nice to have, to kill some time, and that was itself the problem. Being there as an option if on the bus, or in a queue meant mental energy was being diverted. Have you heard of ‘decision fatigue’? Having these options contribute to getting tired and making wrong choices.
Removing Facebook was the most significant online account as it was a statement in many ways unlike for the other social media accounts. Let’s see, Facebook have
- a negative influence on the world (no matter how much they deny it).
- through me, helped other people to stay on the platform (I’m like a raindrop to a lake, but the raindrops eventually add up and the Facebook lake needs to dry up).
- never significantly allowed my audience to keep abreast of what I’m doing, meaning Facebook didn’t share my content on their platform.
- allowed the most random of people to contact me. I had a woman who was prepared to travel from LA to Hong Kong to be my husband and wanted me to be the father to her child. The conversation went on for months. This along with other Facebook chats were getting in the way of what I wanted to do.
I removed various apps I had on my phone as part of my saying no to 30 things in November
Looking back at the article was a good reminder of the mixed success I had with focusing. I’m going to pursue a few more of them, while others were really easy and can be considered fluff in the grand scheme of things. It’s still an ongoing project, with hopefully the chance to set new ones before November 2018. :-D
Made a mental note of how much I would read in a day.
Have I at least read a single page from a book today? Or even just an article? It’s important.
As a mini summary, I noticed a lot of my ambition to focus is also Twitter focused, this just illustrates that I don’t have much else outside of Twitter that needs managing and I’ve been successful with focusing on this platform that I can dig deeper into Twitter so that it best serves me. I’ve never felt the need for a Twitter break for example, and my timeline is never toxic enough that I want to quit.
This is where I begin to probably lose some people when it comes to understanding my time management issues. Maybe only other creators will see this as something they themselves will relate to.
SIDENOTE: let’s say you’re a parent with the responsbility of having created a child, and time is something you are acutely aware of because you have to look after that person. I’m not saying you don’t understand time management, I bet you do moreso than me. It’s just you have a single person to look after with immediate needs, whereas media creators have large audiences with different needs that pull on their attention in various ways.
My main concern is that the same tool that entertains me, the Internet, is also the same tool that educates me and as we pull out of consumption, that alongside creation has to be in balance. I have to ask myself questions, “What am I doing on YouTube at this very moment? Am I here to learn a Final Cut Pro X video tip, or do I check out that new ‘Emergency Awesome’ video or the new Caisey Neistat blog update”?
“Do I even leave the Twitter tab open while I work”? ;-)
Watching and listening to others is part and parcel of creating something. Development is never done in isolation, consideration is always paid to what other people have made. It’s a constant choice to be make if you have set serious goals for yourself with the intention of providing a fanbase with something entertaining. There are also additional hard limits, it isn’t possible to sit in front of a computer all day unless you have a deadline. You need breaks and distractions, I learnt this especially while travelling last year, I thought I could sit on a train and edit movies. Nope.
At the moment I find setting a hard limit of a minimum of one hour of video editing, or writing a day helps. Just like the need to go to the gym. Once I’ve achieved that hour, I can continue or do something else, but an hour of creating something must be done.
This kind of blends in and out of the previous two sections.
When I find myself replying to a tweet, sending an email, checking on whether payments have been made, or repeatedly following up on someone who wanted me to buy something for them**, I know it takes precedence over whatever else I’m doing except besides breathing.
These few seconds, evolve into minutes and in any given week, might for me at present use up time that is significant, preventing me from having ten minutes to do something else. Managing of all this is exponential to a growing audience. While I’m nowhere near some creators or public figures, they don’t even bother to check their ‘Mentions’ on Twitter, it’s something that they have had to shut out entirely. That’s next level stuff right there. I do however find myself muting conversations more often now than before!
Managing a backend service like Patreon, Ko-fi, or writing a regular subscriber email is another aspect I never expected. Those little bitty things are like limpets that can slow you down, though undeniably are part of anyone’s social media presence. I walked into some of this blindly, without knowing. I’ve brought it on myself to set up a payment service and then manage it, but who knew in the beginning how that would go? Something like Patreon has its own set of notifications to engage with. I’m not complaining, I just want to share how another level of stuff is hidden from viewers who give it nary a thought. Of course why should they be thinking about “my backend”, but then a viewer, fan or follower will turn round and also say, “Hey you don’t make as many live-streams any more”. “Well yeah, I’ve got other stuff to do now”!
On a sidetone, I would love to hire someone part time.
In A Conclusion, that Provides *Some* Closure.
I imagine a pie chart, (because I’m not drawing one) and on the pie chart are the three sections I’ve outlined above, but I’m not entirely sure what their percentages are. I believe ‘Creation’ has to be the larger portion of the pie. Management has to be kept to a minimum (Hello $1 Patreon tier) and letting loose with consumption has to sit somewhere in between.
I think some viewers realised the limits of what I could do with regard to my #5countries1month project late last year and so far this year. Along side live-streaming and wanting to write. Last year in September 2017, I finished travelling for 35 days and it took me until April 2018 to finish everything I wanted to get done from that journey. I had cut back on live-streaming to the point where I wanted to make one video a week and it amounted to just drinking coffee in front of an audience to maintain a presence. I managed to cut out everything else in order to focus on video editing. Now that’s all done I have by accident reflected more closely on managing my time and my output.
I said some closure is present in this conclusion, because this is never finished, it’s ongoing, the best I can do is stay aware of the things that could get on top of me and act accordingly.
I know this is solely about me, and I’m not sharing tips, but it might be pretentious of me to suggest anything when I’m not an expert on anything. I’m simply sharing what I’m doing and hoping you find it useful as you go about managing the things you need to do on a daily basis.
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*My private life is from your perspective is my fourth leg, and hosts another set of ways to manage my time, but I’m not discussing it here. There is an aspect to it that matters in this article, but let’s just say I’m not as social in person as I use to be, and it’s naturally freed up a lot of my time.
**Quirky story, that individual asked me to buy them something (from having seen it in a live-stream) and then ignored all communication with me when I wanted to send it to them. That particular person oddly had donated over $600 US dollars first as a lump sum to my Patreon account, then donated $50 dollars a month for a few months after that (so I totally trusted them), to then just avoiding my questions in live-streams, instantly leaving a live-stream if I entered it (as we both followed each other, we could see each other in a live-stream). One time I just happened to change my profile picture and enter a stream where this viewer was watching. They didn’t leave the stream until the broadcaster called out my name! At the same time, they would watch my streams on the replay and yet ignore my private direct messages on Twitter!