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Timing is everything

December 14, 2010

Multitasking isn’t as easy as it sounds. It certainly isn’t that productive. Studies indicate that each time you change tasks, it takes a substantial amount of time to refocus. Checking your e-mail, twitter, or favourite blog every 15 minutes isn’t conducive to effective work flows. Neither is the sending of e-mails, twitter updates or blog postings every 15 minutes.

At the same time, though, our new media (that really is a horrible term, isn’t it?) demands constant attention and updating.

A common downfall among newspapers’ Twitter accounts is the way they regularly issue whole swaths of tweets first thing in the morning, with links to all of the new issues’ stories. This is a great way to get de-followed. It also encourages Twitter users to skim over all your tweets. A better method is to tweet regularly throughout the day. That way your tweets seamlessly integrate into followers’ ongoing conversations.

But that brings us back to the multitasking conundrum. Nobody wants to have to tweet every hour. At that point, Twitter becomes a major pain in the ass, rather than a resource.

Thankfully, there’s a solution.

Those readers who have subscribed to my Twitter account may have noticed that I tweet regularly during work hours.

Now I’m not going to lie and say I never check on this blog while I’m at work, but most of what you read is written in my spare time. That includes the Twitter updates.

I use an online program called Hootsuite. Among the program’s (free) benefits is a scheduling feature that allows me to time exactly when a tweet will be issued. Since Twitter activity isn’t very high late at night, I’m not going to tweet (another icky term) into an empty void at 1 a.m. Instead, I’ll tweet at an appropriate time when it may attract some attention, say 10 in the morning. I can also make sure that my tweets are appropriately spaced out from each other, so that they fit into the conversation that is Twitter, rather than briefly taking it over. Subtlety is better than brute force.

You may also have known that this blog is also regularly updated during work hours. And again, yes, sometimes I stray during lunch and write something for this blog. But more often than not I have written the post the previous evening, or even sometimes several days ago, and scheduled it to appear at my preferred time (usually at least several hours after my last post). This way I can carefully — or more often than not, haphazardly — orchestrate my daily roll-out of posts to maximize the likelihood that they’ll be seen and read. After all, even if I’m doing this for free, I don’t want my words to go to waste.

Check out the poll on the right side of the page. Classy, no?

Photo (!) (?) by Robbert van der Steeg via Flickr

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We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

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