Paranormal romance author, Ann Gimpel, is guest blogging today about online time management. Her Rx? Read this blog, of course!! 😀 Start with this post: Ann has some good tips for dealing with internet distractions and maintaining balance in your life. (You can do something else after you’ve told us what it is in the comments 🙂 ) Ann is also here to let everyone know about her recently released box set featuring shifters, UNDERGROUND HEAT. More on that below. Welcome back, Ann!

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“No matter how much you do, you never really feel done.”

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit your blog.

Today I’ll write about the Internet and time management. Maybe a good starting point would be that the Internet can be the biggest time hog imaginable. You know how it is. You log on to look for one thing. Two hours later, you’re sifting through a bunch of other stuff and never did get to the original thing you’d set out to do. In the meantime, there went two hours a writer could have been, well, writing. Or at least editing, or plotting out their next story. Or marketing…

Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is probably one of the most creative and powerful inventions of modern life. I’ve watched it evolve from its infancy when only those who could code could use it. It was painfully slow then, so an even bigger time-pig.

How to marshal the power of the Internet so it can work for you and not against you? All I can tell you is what’s worked for me. I usually write in one of two places. I make certain my iPhone is nowhere near either of them when I’m working. There’s something about its dings, vibrations, and other assorted sounds that gets me going, sort of like Pavlov’s dogs. Even if I make a decision not to peek and see who wanted me, it still breaks into my flow enough to disturb my writing process. Sure, I could activate its Do Not Disturb feature, but why have it close to me if I’m going to do that? Temptation is always less tempting if you have to get up to get to it.

I also make sure to have things like Outlook fully closed. It’s not helpful when the latest e-mail materializes on the top right quadrant of my screen. The problem got worse when I switched to Windows 8 and their “seamless” Internet interface. If I didn’t have it turned off, it would alert me to texts, PMs, e-mails, and every other time anyone does something with my name anywhere in it.

When I’m done with my writing day, which means either I’ve finished edits an editor sent me, or I’ve gotten at least 3000 words written, then (and only then) do I let myself wander around the Internet. I’m as guilty of brain-drift as the next person, and I can waste a whole lot of time if I don’t rein in my tendency to “just look up one more thing.”

That tendency to get snapped up in cyberspace is doubly seductive when I’m marketing. I’ll just do one more thing, I promise myself. An hour later, I’m posting a comment somewhere. More than anything, I think the marketing aspect of writing is what can truly eat you up alive—and drain you. No matter how much you do, you never really feel done. I try very hard to limit myself to an hour most days for marketing; two if I have to write a guest post or an interview. I make that goal maybe 50% of the time. The other days, I do more.

Lastly, there’s an addictive quality to being settled in front of a screen, which is why it’s important to have several hours a day you do something else. The screen life can start to feel more “real” than the rest of your life, and that can be the beginning of a fairly large disconnect that doesn’t bode well for flesh-and-blood relationships. This last paragraph could segue into another thousand words or more, but this seems like a good place to stop, so I’ll rein in the psychologist part of me.

How do you manage your Internet time, or do you? For those of you who write, does your life feel balanced? Why or why not?

Ann Gimpel Shifters Box Set

More about Underground Heat

Underground Heat is an action adventure, paranormal romance boxed set containing three full-length books. It’s the entire Underground Heat Series:

Roman’s Gold

Once respected members of society, shifters are running for their lives. Devon’s been a cop for a long time. He has shifter blood, but not enough to change into anything. His latest assignment is Kate. From the moment he sees her, he can’t get her out of his mind. But she’s the enemy he’s sworn to eradicate. As he tracks her, the line between hunter and hunted explodes into fiery attraction. If their passion doesn’t save them, it’ll doom them forever.

Wolf Born

Max leads a dangerous double life in a futuristic California that’s almost out of resources. If Audrey could finesse it, she’d go to work helping the shifter underground. The only sticking point is Max. She’s been in love with him forever. If she joins the underground, she believes she’ll never see him again—but that’s because she has no idea he’s the head of it. After a second attempt on his life, Max faces critical choices. He can’t believe Audrey’s behind the assassination attempts, but everything points her way. Will he follow his head or his heart?

Blood Bond

Head of the shifter underground’s security force, Johannes has his hands full. He’s the most compelling man Daria’s ever met, but he’s also stubborn and arrogant. Her cat thinks he’s their mate, but if Daria had her way, she’d run hard the other way. Just her bad luck, a series of lethal attacks keep her square in his gunsights. Johannes is desperately attracted to Daria, but anything beyond sex isn’t part of his life plan. He has his reasons. They’ve served him well, and he’s not changing them now.

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More about Ann

I’m basically a mountaineer at heart. I remember many hours at my desk where my body may have been stuck inside four walls, but my soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry.

Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), I finagled a move to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. Stories always ran around in my head on backcountry trips, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made me fear for my life, sometimes for company.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. I returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. It wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. I learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel, and I’ve been writing ever since.

In addition to turning out books, I enjoy wilderness photography. A standing joke is that over ten percent of my pack weight is camera gear, which means my very tolerant husband has to carry the food — and everything else too.

How do I manage my internet time? I’m sure it surprises no one to know I don’t have a set plan. A lot depends on how the writing is going. If it’s going really well or really horrible, I tend to interact less online. That’s because I’m either writing or AFK. But I’m not actively promoting anything right now and that changes everything. You know what is the biggest “time hog” for me? Research. Without a doubt. I waste more time burrowing into the Black Holes of Internet Minutia than anyone else in the universe.

Thanks for a great post, Ann!