In the mid-90s, I would open Microsoft Word and Excel at the beginning of every workday, knowing that I would spend most of my day using these applications. That ended some time ago.
Today, I open the Chrome Web Browser as soon as I boot up my computer. It’s also the last thing I close before I shut down at the end of the day. So, what do I use it for? Well, the tabs that open by default at the beginning of the day describe pretty well why the browser is my mainstay tool.
I use my browser for the four major things I do every day: publishing, measurement and analysis, knowledge gathering, and community.
I open a series of tabs for each of the blogs that I contribute to: ProPR.ca, Inside PR, Social Mediators and Corum. This helps me to focus first thing each morning on writing. And I find I am most able to write at the beginning of my day when I still can close more door and before I open any other applications that might prove a distraction – especially email. (I keep Outlook closed through most of the day, opening it only when I have a block of low energy time that I want to use for low involvement work.)
In addition, I have a tab for the Admin panel that 76design developed to enable me to curate the posts that go on the home page of the Thornley Fallis Website.
Measurement and Analysis
I look at several tabs at the beginning of each day: PostRank, Google Analytics and Feedburner. These give me a quick indication of the engagement and traffic on the various blogs I contribute to. Of these, I’m most focused on PostRank. Traffic to my sites is nice. But what I really strive for is content that engages people enough that they will want to act upon it – share it, comment or even just follow a link.
Social media has made it possible for experts to self publish in a form that is readily available and shareable. I find that most experts I’m interested in say their piece on a blog or on Twitter. So I subscribe to their RSS feeds and Twitter streams. And so I’ll go to Google Reader and Twitter (I use both Hootsuite in my browswer and Tweetdeck on my desktop) when I have the time to gather new knowledge and news of what’s happening in my world.
There’s one more knowledge gathering tab that I’ve kept open for the past few months – Quora, the question and answer site. I’ve answered questions and posted questions of my own. This could be a great resource if the questions and answers broaden beyond the tech roots of the early adopters. The jury’s still out. However, I go here late in the day when my writing and creative work is done and I want to be stimulated with new perspectives.
We use Present.ly as our “behind the firewall” team collaboration software. I’ll keep this open throughout the day so that I can respond to requests and queries from my work teams.
I use Meetup.com as the online host for the Third Tuesday events. I’ll check this daily when we have upcoming events.
Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. My main social network, as well as a great knowledge gathering site. I’ll check into Twitter several times a day. Then sign out when I’m done. Must avoid distraction.
Yes, I open LinkedIn and Facebook at the beginning of each day. And then I mostly ignore them. Both seem designed to trap me in a mindless attention loop. Too much random noise.
Focus on one thing at a time
A final note. Even though I open several tabs at the beginning of the day, I close everything I am not using whenever I am trying to create content. I find it takes me some time to get into the flow of creation. So, I don’t want any distractions. No email. No pop up alerts. No skype. No telephone. I just try to focus on the one thing I am trying to create.
What about you? Do you keep your browser open through the day? What tabs do I have set up to open automatically at the beginning of each day? How do you maintain your focus?