“Of course!” “I’d love to!” “Sure, no problem.” “Absolutely, yeah, I’ll do it.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve said or written these words, only to realize days, weeks or months later that either I have completely dropped the ball on whatever project I agreed to do or I am overwhelmed with the stress involved in completing said task by its deadline.

How about an example, you say? Well, let’s take this blog post for one.

Writing a blog post for Chicks Who Click seemed like a simple request. And I didn’t even consider saying no, for two reasons. One, I’m always looking for ways to promote my personal blog, and guest posting is a well-documented method to do this. And two, I had the opportunity to attend Chicks Who Click in Kansas City thanks to a kind scholarship from Metzger & Associates. So I could hardly turn down their request for a blog post.

But when I turned the page on my calendar to June . . . and remembered that I had yet to write for the Chicks Who Click blog . . . my heart just sank. I frantically opened my e-mail and realized I’d gotten the request for a post almost three weeks ago. In today’s social media world of immediacy and urgency, I’m pretty sure that’s about two and a half weeks too long.

Am I the only one who’s done this sort of thing? Or are you finding yourself in deeper social media water every day, too?

Chicks Who Click was the third social media conference I’ve attended in the past four months, and with each meeting, I find more blogs to read, more people to follow, more tools to use and more topics to write about. During the classes and panel discussions, I feel my head swimming with ideas and energy and motivation.

But to continue the water analogy (because these things never get old), I arrive home feeling as if I’ve spent all day at the pool. You know what I mean, right? Drained, sleepy and, most likely, hungry.

Because the thought of actually doing all these things? Using the tools? Connecting with the people? Well, it’s utterly exhausting! And when you add them to an already busy life – filled with work, family, friends and hobbies – it can really seem like too much to handle.

So my question for you is this: How do you manage to stay afloat?

Obviously, if I’m forgetting guest blog posts and putting off work projects to clear out my Google Reader (Oh, I didn’t mention that one? Well, please ignore that should you happen to be the person who signs my paycheck!), then I am not your role model for a balanced life.

However, I have been doing this long enough that I know a little bit about what works for me and what other people have said works for them. Here are a few tips and ideas:

  • Have a designated time for each online task. For instance, only comment on blogs on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
  • Similarly, have a time limit for online tasks. For me, this means closing out my Google Reader at 9 a.m. and moving on to “real” work for the day. I also limit my Facebook sessions to once in the morning (before 9 a.m., of course) and once again after my daughter goes to bed in the evening.
  • Take advantage of planning tools, such as TweetLater.com or Blogger’s ability to schedule posts for any time you choose.
  • Only read blogs you really like. This is a tough one for me, because I feel there are certain blogs I must read to be current and relevant in both my professional and my personal life. My solution? Continue to subscribe to these “obligatory” blogs but just skim them. That’s all.
  • Be brave enough to try new things . . . but also brave enough to decide when they’re not for you. Or when it’s time to take a break. I’ve seen more and more bloggers talk about taking a break or getting back to basics lately. And I think that’s great. For me, I only Twitter every other day or so.
  • Consider instituting an Internet-free day. In order to keep the peace and my sanity, Sunday is my [mostly] computer-free day. That makes getting a Monday post up difficult, but having the mental and physical energy to give my family all my attention more than makes up for it.

What about you?

Do you write blog posts weeks in advance or every morning as soon as you get your coffee? Do you have a computer-free day, or do you go into withdrawal after just a couple hours away from a screen? How do you balance an active online life with an active offline life?

Originally posted on June 5, 2009, at Chicks Who Click.

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