Balancing Work and Pleasure Online
In the early days of the internet, I balanced work and pleasure by chatting a couple of hours a day on IRC and reading books in the rest of my free time. It was a great balance between learning and socializing. But I was in school then, and the internet was a lot simpler.
Nowadays, I have a lot more going on – work, family, errands – and I do a lot more research online too. I’ve found that using a few tools to gather and organize information keeps me from becoming overwhelmed.
NetVibes is an awesome RSS aggregator. What that means is, you can subscribe to any website that has a feed – news sites or blogs, for starters – and put it on your homepage.
You can browse through NetVibes’ categories to find new sites, or type in an RSS feed URL to add a site directly. They also offer lots of widgets, like weather, so you’ll have all your favorite information at a glance.
I’ve found that by setting NetVibes as my homepage, I learn a lot more. Every time I open my browser, up pop my favorite blogs, and there’s almost always an article that’s more interesting than random browsing. The whole idea of the tool is to focus my efforts online into being productive.
Another benefit of NetVibes is that you can organize things in tabs. I keep my research tab up as my starting page, but I also have a social tab with my Facebook updates and friends – anything that’s not research-related.
When I first started using Facebook, I connected only with friends and family and spent way too much time on silly discussions. I still enjoy conversing with friends, but I wanted to make all my time online productive and not just fun.
As I started to Like businesses and blogs, I realized I had a whole new stream of incoming information. Pages like Search Engine Land, SEOmoz, and Conversation Marketing post articles that I frequently can’t resist clicking on.
When I’m done reading the link, I just click back and continue chatting with friends and family. It’s the best of both worlds.
Twitter is not really my thing. I’ve never gotten into the flow of it, and I don’t post much there. But it’s another invaluable source of news.
I’ve intentionally followed a few of my favorite SEO and marketing blog authors, and a few friends who post really useful stuff. They post links to articles and resources that I want to keep track of. They often include links to blogs I’m not subscribed to in NetVibes, so it broadens my circle of knowledge.
I frequently find that links posted on Twitter get reposted on my Facebook feeds, but that’s a good thing. Since I’ve already read a lot of those posts, I feel like I’ve accomplished something and I have permission to chat and not focus strictly on research.
V7N is like an extended Facebook to me: it’s full of friends, so I learn lots from their posts and chat away. But I also connect with a lot more people I’ve never known before, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and opinions.
Truth be told, it’s so enjoyable that I end up pushing the balance between staying up learning and getting enough sleep…
Finding the Balance
Every day, I want to spend more time learning and sharing with others. It’s just so much fun. By sculpting the hours I spend online carefully, I’ve learned how to get the benefits of learning something new every day and shooting the breeze with my friends without feeling so overwhelmed.
About The Author
Elaine Shannon is a web designer and small business owner from Texas. She started out as a graphic designer, taught herself how to make websites, started Alamo Websites with the help of Cricket’s SEO classes, and now enjoys being a mentor at the V7N forums. She believes anyone can learn to be successful on the web — it just takes time, practice, and some good advice.