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How to de-clutter your online network

Do you feel like you spend more time online than you do growing your business? If the answer is yes, it's time to de-clutter your online network.

Written Jul 14, 2008, read 1428 times since then.
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The other day, I’d done my usual routine of morning meditation followed by booting up the computer and going through my email. I then logged into my livejournal and started catching up on the events of various people. An hour and a half later, having caught up, I looked at the time and realized that I had invested a lot of time into catching up on livejournal and as yet at that point nothing on my business. As I thought about this, I began to remember my week and how much time I had invested in livejournal. I realized after a bit of calculating that I probably put in an average of 2-3 hours a day just reading my friends list, let alone posting any content. That’s 14-21 hours a week, which is a lot of time that could be put toward my business.

I realized right then and there that I had to do something important. I had to decrease the amount of time I put into livejournal. It is a networking site, but for me, it wasn’t bringing in lots of traffic or interest in my business. So I went and I defriended about 2/3rds of the people I had friended as well as leaving a bunch of communities. Who I kept friended were people I was really interested in either continuing to read or friends I knew in real life who I used livejournal to coordinate events with. I kept what I felt was really important and meaningful to me, but also wouldn’t demand such a large investment of my time.

I cut down on some of my online clutter. This is something which is really important for any entrepreneur or business owner to do, in order to maximize how you’re spending your time so that you can grow your business. It’s also a good task to do for anyone else who decides that s/he is spending entirely too much time dealing with technology as opposed to dealing with other facets of life and business that could help grow it.

 Twitter, Livejournal, Tribe, Linkedin, Biznik, myspace, facebook, blogtalkradio, etc. All of these are networking opportunities of some form, but they also represent the potential for online clutter. It can be easy to fall into a trap where we get so caught up in focusing on the technology that we are using that we lose sight of the original goal, which ideally is to create connections that help you achieve your goals. There are ways to evaluate and cut down on the online clutter in your life:

One way that I cut down on online clutter is to estimate how long it will take me to get used to the interface I’ll need to use in order to work with the networking site. If I don’t “get” the interface within a few minutes, I usually don’t use it. A good example, for me, is Twitter. I recognize that it can be a networking tool, but the initial interface was complicated enough for me that I realized it was likely going to demand more time than I was willing to give to it, in order to accomplish what I might want to use it for. I also realized that I likely wasn’t going to devote the time Twitter might need in order to make it an effective networking tool for myself. If you find that the interface for technologically is overly complicated for you, you may not want to use it, unless you feel that it will definitely effect the outcome of your goals in a favorable way.

Another way that I cut down on online clutter is to look at how I’m using the networking site to help me reach my goals, as well as measuring whether those goals are really being met. If, for instance, I have five hundred people connected to me via my livejournal, one could easily argue that this is a lot of connection, and quite possibly a good way to spread information about my goals. But if all those connections consistently don’t produce a measureable result toward a specific goal, is it in my interest to continue sustaining those connections?

A third way I cut down on the online clutter is to consider what kind of networking is occurring on a given website. Livejournal is great for keeping up with friends and family across the world, and even meeting new people. It’s not as good for advertising classes or making business connections with other people who also want to grow their businesses. The kind of networking that occurs on a site dictates how useful the site will be for helping you reach your goals.

While the internet can provide wonderful opportunities to make connections, being picky about how much you devote your time to it can be very important in building your business or meeting other goals. Not every networking site will automatically fit your goals, and some will actually detract from time you could put toward fulfilling those goals. When considering joining a networking site, choose well and wisely by determining how easy the interface is to use, how much your goals are being met by being on a particular site, and also find out what type of networking occurs on the networking site.

Learn more about the author, Taylor Ellwood.

Comment on this article

  • Trainer and Coach 
Foxboro, Massachusetts 
Jen Vondenbrink
    Posted by Jen Vondenbrink, Foxboro, Massachusetts | Jul 16, 2008

    I plan an hour of online "catch-up" in the morning while I am doing email. I go through each site, update what needs updating and move on.

    If there is a particular business goal, such as networking with coaches I don't know, I will put that into my business plan and then allocate the time accordingly.

    Granted this works most of the time, but if I don't monitor it, you are right it can be time clutter.

  • Creative Clarity Coach 
Bainbridge Island, Washington 
Jennifer Manlowe
    Posted by Jennifer Manlowe, Bainbridge Island, Washington | Aug 14, 2008

    I'm so pleased to see this topic. Have you seen Leif Hansen's work? A topic like this made it to the TODAY SHOW-- super-mainstream. Too, read the Seattle Post Intelligencer article on the same subject.