We last posted about social networking sites; in this posting, I am on more familiar territory – writing online. This week, Julie Stauffer brings us the second in her three-part series, with important advice for those wishing to venture forth into the blogosphere or Twitter.

I feel very comfortable with blogging, because I write and edit for a living. I’ll admit, though, that I am still struggling with Twitter. It goes against everything I’ve been taught to value as a professional – good grammar, complete sentences, telling a story, providing a context for the reader. As our web administrator noted, ‘these tools aren’t doing much for the English language, are they?’

I love the immediacy of these tools, and I’ll admit that checking Facebook page posts, RSS feeds, emails, tweets and blogs can be addictive. The challenge is to incorporate these tools into your life effectively. While Julie is offering tips on how to use these tools, let me share some of my strategies for keeping them in check:

  • Out of sight, out of mind: When I have ‘real’ work to do, I close my web browser and email program. The micro-interruptions of new email notices is an enormous drain on my attention – the fraction of a second it takes to look at the notice and determine whether to read and/or respond is minutes lost from my work, and that adds up. Instead, I set aside blocks of time every couple of hours to check email, tweets, etc.
  • Reading time: Likewise, I set aside a specific time during the day to read news, ‘Facebook stalk,’ and follow- up on RSS feeds. Whether reading for personal or professional reasons, I am a big believer in reading each day, as a way to stay informed and as an exercise to quiet and focus the mind. It has to be done as a distinct and separate activity, though, even if I can only spare 15 or 30 minutes for it.
  • Be choosy: As Julie notes in her article, we can’t follow everyone, but the ease and immediacy of the click-through on the internet can make it effortless to follow any momentary whim. My brain has a limited amount of information it can hold at one time, so I choose that information carefully.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these internet tools and how they affect your work life…but only if you can spare the time.