With the world at our fingertips via the internet, research plays an important role in modern business. Since gathering and sharing play a vital role in marketing strategy, I make it a priority to spend a little time searching the web for inspiration, connections and data. The problem is, one can quickly lose focus and dive deeply into a time loss at the sight of a funny cat meme.
While my process isn’t perfect, to spark conversation, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the tools that I use to maximize my online productivity and marketing research time.
Set a timer with Toggl and auto-track time with RescueTime
I like to time all of my online tasks, from casual reading to website development. You can’t determine if you’re productive unless you have a snapshot of where your time was allocated. I utilize two cool apps for time tracking:
Toggl, and it’s handy Google Chrome extension that allows me to simply start and stop a task directly in the tool tab of the browser. Not only is it great for tracking billable time but also helpful to make sure I don’t overspend time on sites such as Facebook and I can also provide reports to clients if needed. I try not to spend more than 20 minutes a day on “research”. Also, it’s much easier to make business decisions and proposals when I actually know how much time it takes me for a given task.
RescueTime is another program that tracks time in a more passive way. In the background, RescueTime records where you have traveled on the web and your computer and categorize the websites and apps into productive and non-productive time. It was a real eye-opener that I spent the majority of my date in communication programs (Gmail, Outlook, etc.). RescueTime made me realize I need to close my inbox for a couple of hours at a time so I can focus on my project at hand. RescueTime has a neat feature called Focus, which will block very distractive websites, such as social networks and shopping sites, for a set period. Works great, unless your highly productive time includes Facebook marketing.
Skim the headlines with Feedly
Feedly is an RSS reader and is probably one of the most powerful tools in my social media marketing arsenal. Users can subscribe to various blog and website feeds and create a dashboard of recently published posts from all of the blogs they follow. I use Feedly to subscribe to the blogs and business’ that I care about and then load up my social media marketing tools when I read content worthy to share. A major bonus is Feedly also suggests other blogs to follow based on the sites that I like, this allows me to find other authoritative sources.
Schedule Great Reads with Buffer
Buffer is a social media scheduling tool that allows users to load up content and share it over pre-determined time slots. Say, 9am, 2pm, 4pm and 8pm slots. When you find great content to share (maybe this blog post for instance) you can hit the Buffer icon in Google Chrome and load it up to blast out on your social media profiles either right away, next or in at the end of the cue. Buffer also integrates with Feedly, making an excellent one-two punch for social media curating.
Save ideas for future posts and lessons in Pocket
Pocket is a tool for saving blog posts, news articles and web pages into a filing system. It also features article tagging and in my pocket you will find articles and posts tagged with “lesson ideas” or “blog post ideas” if they support such a cause. Pocket’s handy iPhone and Android apps make it easy to read longer articles or return to reading something when I have more time.
Got any online marketing productivity tips you’re willing to share? Leave a comment below or Tweet me @swinterroth: