All About Information Overload Awareness Day

informationoverload2When a group of companies decided to establish Information Overload Awareness Day, their primary objective was to remind employees (and the general public) that there is simply too much information out there. Unchecked, this “infobesity” can have a negative impact on overall productivity and happiness.

Eight years ago, I had email and other correspondence under control. I was teaching full-time and would check emails and messages at most three times a day. Dealing with back-to-back classes, meetings, and extra-help sessions left with me with only small pockets of free time during the day. In the evenings, I disciplined myself to check email only after my marking and lesson preparation was complete.

Everything changed when I retired and started a full-time writing career. Suddenly, my in-box overflowed with messages from editors, publishers, and writers in different time zones. When I joined several national and international groups, I also had access to their Yahoo groups. Participating in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media added to the constant flow of information.

My personal numbers:

• 8 Yahoo Groups
• Over 5K Twitter followers
• 500+ connections on each of the following: LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
• 70+ emails each day
• Following 30+ blogs
• Active participant in Twitter chats

Here are some tips that help me stay on track:

email-control-11. Schedule blocks of time for email, doing research, completing work-related tasks, and simply browsing. Do not simply jump on anytime you feel like it. If necessary, disconnect from the internet if you need to focus on a particular task. In his book, The Power of Less, Leo Babuta introduces the idea of an “offline hour,” which could be extended to an “offline day.”

2. Turn off email notifications. Most programs have alerts like a sound, pop-up message, or blinking icon that let you know when you have received a new email. This interruption can be disruptive and gives power to anyone who wants to email you.

3. Work your way from top to bottom, one email at a time. Open each email and deal with it immediately. Reply, delete, or archive for future reference. Whenever possible, limit your response to five or fewer sentences. This forces you to be concise and limits the time spent in the email box. Before deleting any email, ensure there will be no negative consequences.

4. Take your breaks away from the Internet. Instead of checking social media during lunch and breaks, get away from your desk: take a walk, meditate, practice yoga, meet with friends.

5. Eat the frog. This famous dictum comes from Mark Twain, who strongly recommended completing difficult—and sometimes unpleasant—tasks early in the day. e.g. Writing a synopsis, outlining a novel, completing a round of edits.

marktwainfrog

How do you deal with Information Overload?


Achieving F.O.C.U.S

focus

While journaling (and complaining) about my lack of focus, I received an email inviting me to a webinar featuring best-selling author and educator D’Vorah Lansky. Intrigued by the title—“5 Time-Generating Secrets to Get More Done and Have More Fun!”—I signed up and took notes as I watched and listened.

I paid special attention to D’Vorah’s acronym for F.O.C.U.S.

Fine Tune Your Projects List

Optimize Your Email

Concentrate on What’s Essential

Unplug and Take Time to Recharge

Streamline Your Social Media Systems

Here are D’Vorah’s suggestions:

1. Gather all To-Do lists and create a Master Projects List. Set deadlines for completion and organize the items chronologically.

2. Schedule specific email-checking times during the time. Use a timer if you are easily distracted.

3. Create folders—Receipts, Writing Ideas, Publishers—and tag each incoming email accordingly. Only emails that require immediate attention should remain in the In-Box.

4. Identify your most productive times during the day. Do not check your emails during these times.

5. Clean your desk or work area at the end of each day and make a list of the six most important things that must be completed the following day. Leave the list on your desk and discipline yourself to attend to each item.

6. Factor in “fun time” each day. It could be as simple as taking a fifteen-minute dance break, playing with your cats, or having coffee at your favorite café. Setting aside time each week for a longer activity such as a movie, lunch with a friend, or “Blow with the wind” time is also important. When we recharge regularly, we can stay energized even during the toughest of times.

7. Schedule fifteen-minute blocks of daily social networking time. On the weekends, set aside a one-hour block to roam online.

Any other tips?


Top 10 Twitter Tips

I’m thrilled to welcome Soul Mate author Linda O’Connor to the Power of 10 series. Today, Linda shares Twitter tips and her latest release, Perfectly Planned.

Here’s Linda!

lindaoconnorI love Twitter! It’s fast and fun and can be used to share ideas, educate, promote, and connect. I’m slowly building my following and thought I’d share ten tips I’ve learned!

1. Follow freely. It’s not like Facebook where you follow only close friends and family. Keep your number of follows slightly lower than your followers. Never pay to get followers.

2. Unfollow people who don’t follow you back after 1 week. Seems harsh I know, but you want to generate followers who are interested in you. People aren’t notified who’s unfollowing them, so they won’t take it personally (and you shouldn’t either).

3. Keep the ratio of helpful tweets to shameless promotion to 3:1. The helpful tweets can be retweets from other people or links to interesting posts.

4. Tweet regularly – I find I need to tweet at least 5 times a day. Use Tweetdeck or Hootesuite to schedule tweets. They’re both free services, but you have to change your tweets slightly to tweet them more than once in the same day.

5. Tweet about your blog posts/favourite sayings/pictures you love/what you’re up to. Recycle old blog posts.

6. Use bitly.com to create shortened links (it’s free up to 5000 links a month). Use the statistics that are generated by bitly to see which links are most popular and lead to call-to-actions.

7. Link to a landing page (like your website) instead of linking to amazon in your tweets so you can draw readers to all of your books and all of their outlets.

8. Be professional and polite. Thank the person who retweets your tweets. Stay within your brand. For example my brand is upbeat, funny, romantic comedy. So I post upbeat, funny stuff (or at least try to!).

9. Pin a new tweet to your profile page every day or two – and even better make sure the pinned tweet is about your book. Twitter doesn’t like when people retweet the same tweet more than once so you need to change up the pinned tweet.

10. Use # (hashtags) in your tweets. It’s like putting a tag to categorize the information and increases the chance that someone will find your tweet. And you can make it catchy! #doinahappydance ~~~~~~ (It’s the moonwalk :D)

PerfectlyPlannedFlat2_850 (2)

Blurb

She has it all Perfectly Planned . . .

Chloe Keay is on the hunt for the perfect sperm donor, but who knew it would be this hard? So many things to consider in a father – sure height and hair color are important, but what about the real issues. How does he feel about bagpipe music? Does he buy the extended warranty? Skittles or M&Ms? She doesn’t want an average Joe. She’s narrowed it down to two candidates and has the perfect plan to pick the heir and the spare.

Staff Sergeant Rip Logan, head of the elite Tactics and Rescue Unit, has a gut feeling that Chloe Keay is trouble. She’s a sexy little spark plug who radiates innocence, but it doesn’t jibe with her suspicious behavior and probing questions. The fact that he’s attracted irritates him. What exactly is she after? And should he go with his gut or follow his heart?

Planning for love – what could possibly go wrong?

buynow

Bio

Linda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at HomeSense. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories😀.

Where to find Linda…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page


Chatting on Twitter

5737870_sWhat is a Twitter chat?

While many descriptions abound, I like the following: Imagine a business networking event without a dress code and with a keyboard instead of a bar.

Or to be more precise…

A group of Twitter users meet at a pre-determined time to discuss set topics using a designated hashtag (#) for each tweet contributed. The moderator of the chat poses questions (Q1, Q2, Q3,…) to prompt responses from participants (A1, A2, A3, …). Each chat usually lasts an hour.

When I first joined Twitter, I shied away from participating in chats. To be truthful, I found them intimidating. I tried to follow the flow of several conversations and wondered how anyone could keep up with the constant flow of information. I had read somewhere that participating in a Twitter chat is like trying to navigate rapids while white water rafting. Not something I’ve ever tried or even considered.

Continue reading on SMP Authors blog.

Your Time to Shine

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate Author Gay Yellen sharing her extraordinary journey from high school Economics class to literary publication via Hollywood.

Here’s Gay!

gayyellen1Thanks, Joanne, for inviting me to share my Second Act, though my journey feels more like a full-on odyssey. But I’ll try to keep it to two.

First Act: I’ve always written. Dr. Seuss was an early influence, and I still write silly verse for fun. In high school I wrote my best poetry in Economics class, to the chagrin of my teacher. But my writing career didn’t begin until after I got Hollywood out of my system.

The need for change: Performing came naturally to me. After college I moved to L.A. and began an acting career. While I managed to get film and TV work, I hated the life (yes, it’s as tough as the stories you hear).

First Act, Part 2: I decided to apply to the Director’s Guild, which led to a job behind the camera as the Assistant to the Director of Production at The American Film Institute. I worked with thesis film students on their productions, helped cast actors, secure and manage location shooting, arrange with major studios to use their back lots for filming, their props, costumes, etc., and facilitated editing and post-production.

The need for change: I loved working at AFI, but the pay was meager.

Second Act, Part 1: A friend heard that a magazine needed a last-minute substitute to cover a story over the weekend. I jumped at it, even though I didn’t know a thing about the subject, or about magazines, for that matter. After I turned in the article, the magazine offered me an editing position. It paid much more than the AFI job, so I took it. In a couple of years, I moved to another magazine, where a series I wrote won a national journalism award.

Second Act, Part 2: A book! I helped write an international thriller, Five Minutes to Midnight, which was my first taste of book publishing. Soon after, I fell in love, married, and thought I was finally free to try my hand at a solo novel.

Second Act, Part 3: I’d just completed the first draft of The Body Business when my husband asked me for help with the advertising for his new national marketing firm. “Can you come up to the office this afternoon and tell me why my ads in The Wall Street Journal aren’t working?” he pleaded. “You’ve been in magazines, so you know about advertising.”

I tried to explain that editors don’t normally deal with the ad department, but he was my husband, so I went. Fifteen years later, after creating countless marketing pieces, ads, and even investment prospectuses, we sold the company, and I retired as its V.P. of client and media communications, and advertising.

Second Act, Part 4: Finally, I was free to do my own work. I dusted off the old rough draft of my book and discovered that it had become a period piece, with pay phones, typewriters and snail mail playing pivotal roles in the action. I updated it to the 21st Century, put it through a critique circle and found Soul Mate Publishing. The Body Business was published in 2014.

Where are you now?

I’m working furiously on the sequel to The Body Business, and there are other projects in queue. I’m happy to finally affirm that writing is no longer my first, second or tenth act. It’s what I do.

Affirmation

Work to be as good as you can at what you do, and believe that your time to shine will come.

TheBodyBusiness3_850 (2)

Blurb

A great career. Fantastic boyfriend. Samantha Newman has it all, until her best friend vanishes, and doubt creeps in. Forced to choose between the success she’s worked hard to achieve and the hidden truth behind it, she risks everything and discovers a dark secret that could destroy her life forever.

Where to find Gay…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Joanne here!

What a whirlwind! If you ever run out of ideas for novels, consider writing your memoirs. Thank you for an entertaining and inspiring post.

Angels at AUTHORSdB

I’m always on the lookout for the “better angels of our nature,” so I wasn’t too surprised when I came across the angels at AUTHORSdB.

authorsdb1

These angels help all writers–aspiring, traditional, indie–increase their readership and flourish in the global marketplace.

What is surprising?

It’s FREE!

As one of 3000+ members, I can…

• List all my books and social media sites in one location.

• Receive tweets from AUTHORSdB when I’m trending in social media, launching a new book or have news to share.

• Have the opportunity to be featured on the TOP100 list and Author Spotlight.

• Appear in the weekly Featured Authors section.

• Enter my cover in the annual contest.

• Qualify for the VIP Blogger Award and increase my Google page rank.

Visit my page.

A Song’s Second Act

“You might want to shelve that manuscript…or song…or artwork.”

Many of us have heard that advice from well-meaning mentors. While it is often given with the best of intentions, sometimes that advice should be ignored. And if it has been followed, it should be revisited.

Serendipity can happen at any time. As it did with the following song.

***

In 1971, British-Kenyan folk singer Roger Whittaker hosted a radio programme in Great Britain. To increase ratings, he invited listeners to send their best poems or lyrics. Of the over one million entries received, Whittaker selected twenty-six. With the help of orchestra conductor Zack Lawrence, he recorded the songs and played them on the radio over a six-month period.

One of those poems was written by Ron A. Webster, a silversmith from Birmingham, England. Bittersweet and poignant, the lyrics became even more compelling when Lawrence added a French horn solo to the opening. The song was also featured on Whittaker’s 1971 album, “New World in the Morning,” but failed to reach the music charts.

Fast forward four years.

While traveling in Canada, the wife of a program director for a radio station in Atlanta, Georgia heard the four-year-old recording on the radio. Moved by the haunting lyrics describing a young British soldier’s anguish about going to war, she couldn’t get that song out of her head. When she returned to Atlanta, she asked her husband to play the song on the radio.

Listeners began calling the station for more information about the song and the recording artist. Soon after, “The Last Farewell,” made its way onto the charts. It became a Top 20 hit in 1975 and sold an estimated 11 million copies worldwide.

More interesting facts and statistics about “The Last Farewell”…

  • In 1976, Elvis Presley included the song on his album, From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee. When this version was released posthumously in 1984, it reached #48 in the United Kingdom.
  • Chet Atkins recorded an instrumental version on his 1986 album, Sweet Dreams.
  • AIK, a Swedish sports club, adopted the music together with alternate lyrics as their official anthem.

And most impressive of all, “The Last Farewell” became known as Roger Whittaker’s signature song and helped launch his career in the United States.