Does your online work flow support your needs?

If blogging is a "hungry beast" as Dan Gillmor already remarked in 2001, today's micro-blogging and social networking sites are, if anything, even more addictive and distracting, devouring our precious time.

In order to get something of a grip on my own online behavior, to impose a bit of self-discipline and subject my social media mingling to my real business needs, I thought I'd try to write up what might be a workable work flow for routine online participation.

This just comes off the top of my head; I have no idea if it would work for anyone else out there. It would please me to receive a few pointers to other examples. Do you recognize yourself in this structure? What would you change? Please, share your thoughts in the comments below.

I – Respond:

1. Answer phone calls, return missed calls, reply to SMS.
2. Answer/return IM calls as relevant.
3. Check email. This is where a lot of stuff you should be aware of, comes to you. In fact, according to Steve Rubel, if you use Gmail it could be your nerve center.

3.1     Report and delete email spam. (Maybe this is not always to most urgent if you are the only person who is bothered – still it's important, it's  about hygiene, removing clutter, which will help you focus)
3.2     Check comments and track backs on your blog(s). Delete spam or inappropriate content. This is defensive and urgent, as it reflects most immediately and visibly on your (brand's) online public presence. Respond to relevant comments, and/or plan when and how to respond later.
3.3     Check out Google Alerts on your (or your brand or product) name. Bookmark sources if relevant. Save source content if relevant. Respond immediately if necessary, and/or plan when and how to respond later.
3.4     Check out replies or comments to you on social media and networking services. Bookmark sources if relevant. Save source content if relevant. Respond immediately if necessary and/or if time allows, and/or plan when and how to respond later.
3.5     Respond to relevant email, and/or plan when to respond later. (I feel that sending me relevant email is about the most personal approach people can take and therefore deserves my full attention)

4. Get some fresh air, pick up snail mail. Respond and/or plan when to respond later. File snail mail.

II – Manage your time:

5. Once a week, on the last work day: look at the big picture, then establish priorities for next week. (see my blog post on '16 steps to effective time management')
6. If necessary, adjust this week's and today's priorities and time schedule.
7. Arrange or change appointments if necessary.

III – Administer:

8. Pay bills, send bills, arrange travel, etc.

IV – Execute:

9. Scheduled or unscheduled, just get some of those prioritized tasks out of the way! (This was supposed to be the "real" work)

V – Read up, capture & amplify:

10. (On mobile device during "spare cycles":) Read RSS feeds (blogs, publications). Bookmark and sync with Opera Mini. (See also my frustrated blog post about the lack of participation tools on the mobile handset)
11. (On mobile device during "spare cycles":) Read micro-blog content feed(s). Bookmark and sync with Opera Mini.
12. Save relevant content for later reference. (I have to find a good way to do this)
13. Bookmark, tag, rate, (re)tweet, comment on relevant content.
14. Subscribe to new RSS feeds and micro-blog feeds. Start following relevant new people.
15. Capture own ideas for later execution.

VI – Research & contribute:

16. Prioritize online conversation topics.
17. Online research. Save new relevant content. Bookmark, tag, rate, (re)tweet. (Here is a great primer on retweeting for Twitter novices such as myself – via Jeremiah Owyang)
18. Original research. Ask questions. Interview people. Collect facts. Lay bare connections.
19. Create. Write, shoot, record, edit.
20. Share. Upload, publish.
21. Promote. Micro-blog, email, recommend.

VII – Network:

22. Talk with people. On the street and in the corridor.
23. Pick up the phone and call a friend (or enemy).
24. Call someone new  🙂
25. Leave a comment on one or more blogs.
26. Drop a personal line to one or more people in your online social networks.
27. Connect to one or more new people on your social networking services (e.g. on Facebook).
28. Recommend one or more person (e.g. on LinkedIn).

Does your online routine look similar? What do/would you do differently? Does this serve any purpose at all? Or have I just been reading too many PR blogs lately? Please, share your thoughts in the comments below.

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