Focus Is a Critical Skill for Online Community Managers

All online community managers like to spend time on the social networks chatting with their members. Also, they all like reading and commenting on blogs, and performing other social tasks to foster good community relations. Although the fun stuff is necessary, it’s also distracting.

Sometimes, you need to shut out the world and concentrate on the important stuff so that you can get the job done. Keep these pointers in mind as you hone your focus:

  • Scheduling is key. The secret to staying focused is having specific times of day when you handle everything. Take the tasks that require the most focus and do them for your first couple of hours. Then schedule e-mail for the next hour and phone calls for the first thing after lunch. After that, take to the social networks.

    If every task has its own time, you’re less likely to get distracted by different tasks.

  • Use the fun stuff as a reward. Try handling the most unattractive tasks first to get them out of the way. Use the stuff you like best as a reward.

    If your least favorite task is writing the community newsletter, and your favorite task is monitoring the social networks, do the newsletter first while telling yourself that the sooner you get it done — and get it done right — the sooner you can chat up your community members.

  • Block out noise. If you work in a cubicle in a noisy office, you have trouble focusing because of the noise. Phones ring, coworkers chitchat, and you have to cope with office sounds. Having good focus means being able to block out these sounds and attack the matter at hand.

    If noise is a problem, see whether your company grants permission to wear noise-reduction headsets or listen to low music as long as you can still hear if you’re being paged.

  • Say “No” or “Later” when necessary. Although being flexible is important, you also have to let people know when you can’t be disturbed. If a coworker is asking you for help with something that you’re not obligated to do, you can politely decline. If you have too much on your plate, you can nicely mention your to-do list without sounding whiny.

    If someone comes to you with a task or request for help, you can also say that you’re in the middle of something and can’t stop, but you’ll be happy to help when you’re free.

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