Why email is not the biggest waste of time and energy … and what is

Lots of internet marketers are helping followers (AKA “peeps”) conserve their time by managing their email reading habits. Don’t read your email first thing in the morning. Install an email filter. Just read a few preferred newsletters. Take your name off lists.

But don’t take your name off their own list, I suppose.

As I look at my own work habits, I see that email overload isn’t that big a deal.

Sure, I get hundreds a day. And I delete hundreds a day. As long as I don’t get carpal tunnel, I’m fine.

I think I’ve put my finger on a bigger problem: too much participation in forums, social networking, blog commenting.  These are the real time drains. But worse is the way they drain creative energy and divert us from more productive writing.

One item, such as one blog post or one comment on another person’s blog, absorbs more time than hundreds of emails. Everything we write is an expression of who we are and the relationship we want to cultivate with readers. If we care about such things, it makes us think twice. In contrast, screening email and deleting go fast.

Not only does internet writing take time, but more important, it takes creative energy. I see this energy as the air in our balloon. There’s a lot of air pressure—or in this case creative energy—in there. All these small writing projects are like a pinprick in the balloon, leaking out our focus till hours later we are holding a shriveled, deflated orb barely fluttering along the ground. On the other hand, real writing is like squeezing that balloon with both hands, explosively.

Time and creative intensity are not the same thing though a lot of info-product experts make the two seem like one and the same. Produce more each day by religiously allocating your time and declaring each article or whatever to be complete when the timer rings, they recommend.

Sorry but real creativity doesn’t work like that. They say that if you can manufacture one article, from idea to final execution, in 20 minutes, then you ought to be able to crank out 24 a day. That’s three articles per hour times eight hours a day.

Mediocre, formula-driven copy can be churned out for eight hours straight, I guess. Sounds like a miserable, exhausting day to me. Now picture five days in a row.

However, there’s a limited window of several hours per day when we do our best thinking and composing. The exact length of time and when in the day it occurs varies from person to person and by how we feel from day to day.

Admittedly, there’s a downside to being more mindful about how we spend our time. All this internet activity is said to generate people relationships, traffic and business. Equally important, it creates inbound links to our online presence, which is intended to move us towards Google page 1.

Less writing that is not central to our mission is certainly not a no-brainer. But it does merit consideration if we want to become more productive in a meaningful way.

I’ve learned a lot about how to land great freelance and consulting clients and I continue to explore new ideas, which I share on this page and in my newsletter. Please sign up for the free newsletter—you will also receive Three Secrets to Freelance and Consulting Success: Start Making Great Money as a Freelancer or Consultant for High-Paying Corporate Clients. (Cancellations fully honored. Email addresses managed with complete integrity.)

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