Professional Development Practice: The One Sentence Journal
Introducing Web 2.0 Wednesday

Finding Time Means Finding "Instead of" Rather than "In Addition To"

Simplicity I recently moved into a new house and in the process of moving, I got rid of a lot of stuff I'd been holding onto for no apparent reason. I have to say that I'm liking the uncluttered look and have made a personal decision that from now on, if I bring something new into the house, something else will have to go. It's the "instead of" approach to home decor, since my 1200 sq. feet will not accommodate an "in addition to" home design scheme.

On a related note, this morning I was skimming my feed reader and found this post from Stephen Downes on finding time to blog. In it, he says:

The whole point isn't to *add* online writing on top of everything else you do. Nobody has time for that.

Rather, what you want to be thinking of doing is to gradually migrate to writing online *instead* of writing for those other purposes.

That doesn't mean you become a blog writer and nothing else. Rather, what you'll find is that writing for the website makes writing for all those other things a lot easier.

The idea is to take the stuff you do for private audiences and to present it (as much as you can) to public audiences.

And you'll find you have people reading your work, helping you with resources and links to do the work you're doing now.

Many of us have to write as part of our jobs, so the idea of blogging in addition to the other writing we do seems like one more task. But as Stephen points out, if we think about blogging instead of writing for these other purposes, it actually opens us up to even more learning and information. If I'm planning a workshop, let's say, and do it privately, then I only have my own ideas and resources. But if I planned it publicly, on my blog, in a wiki, or even in a Google doc, then I could open it up to the resources and feedback of knowledgeable people all over the world. This could not only save me time, it will most likely make my workshop even better.

So much of getting into the social media mindset is about realizing that there are different, more productive ways to do things. We should be searching for the "instead of" opportunities in using social media, rather than thinking these are "in addition to" everything else we're doing.

What professional activity could you do through social media INSTEAD OF through some other means? How can you pare things down, rather than adding to your load?

Flickr photo via The Alienness Gisela Giardino

Comments

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Great question. I wonder if it's really that simple though. A lot of my blog writing is about learning which is not really something I currently do as writing - or at least not in the same way.

I'll be curious to see what you get in terms of response.

You bring up a good point, Tony--that at least with how some of us are using blogging, it does become an "in addition to," because otherwise we might not do it at all.

For me what has happened, though, is that blogging has replaced some things I used to spend more time on. Sometimes that's good (when it replaces things like mindless TV watching), but sometimes not so good--I haven't created a piece of art in the two years I've been blogging here either. I'm still trying to find the balance and seeking productivity nirvana, though. :-)

I have been very critical about people who say they do not have 'time'. But at the moment I am on study leave so I incorporate blogging etc into my average day. When I am back at work full time, I will either be teaching all day or maybe working at the hospital. I know that when I get home from work, I'll be really tried and all I'll want to do is 'veg' in front of the TV, despite Clay Shirky's assertion that that is a waste of time.

I think that that feeling of physical and mental exhaustion is what a lot of people are talking about when they say they don't have time - its not so much about having time, its having time when they are able to think and are clear of other distractions.

This seems to be a key to adoption. The #1 objection I hear about blogging is I don't have time. And while it makes sense to those of us who already do it, that you can't afford not to....I don't think that is convincing to newcomers.

For me blogging takes the space of some professional development, some networking, some training for customers and some qualification of clients.

It reminds me of moving from creating images digitally rather than older methods. It doesn't necessarily save me time overall, but I can generate a whole lot more options to pick from as a result.

@Sarah, I think you're right that it's the exhaustion that people are talking about when they say that they don't have time. I know that there are definitely still nights where I'm DONE! What I've been trying to do is pay more attention to my natural rhythms during the day, as I find that there are some activities that are better suited to early morning and others that I do better later in the day. I also try to think about value and what activities are bringing the most value to my life. No doubt it's an ongoing balancing act though.

@Christine, I wonder why newcomers are unconvinced that social media can replace some of their more "traditional" activities. I suspect that it's because social media is one of those things that you have to really experience first-hand in order to "get it" and until you do, you can't imagine replace what you usually do with these other activities.

Kia Ora Michele!

Old Scots saying: "The man that made time made plenty of it".

For all the things we do in our lives, and end up wondering when will there be the time to do it all, some people just seem to find it.

Everyone has their personal way to focus. Many never find it. Others seem gifted. My feeling is that it's partly a mind set, but...

Here's a few things I found works for me.

Optimise time-use-efficiency by doing a few experiments (over time :-) to find what time of day is best suited to doing certain things - early am, am, pm, late pm.

It took me about two weeks, way back, to find that reflective thinking was best done in the evening. Cerebral work intensive thinking like assessing was best done in the morning. I can read and assimilate quickly am but that is poor pm. Creative work and planning was also am oriented but that creativity could be switched on at other times.

Everyone is different. I guess each individual has their own optimum time of day for certain types of tasks. Knowing more about yourself can help you be selective with this.

Ka kite

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