This morning I tweeted this question – ‘what are the first 3 things you do when you get online in the morning?‘
A number of people asked me to answer the question for myself – so I thought I’d do so as a blog post as it is pretty relevant to how I run my business. Of course I couldn’t just stop at three – here’s some of my morning routine:
Firstly: I liken most of what I do in the mornings to a Triage in the emergency room of a hospital. It’s about assessing what happened over night, identifying urgent things that need immediate attention and less urgent but important things that I need to prioritize and then mapping out how I’ll use my day.
Note: Preceding all of what follows is Coffee…. without it I find very little of it works.
1. Check Blog Stats
The first thing I do in the morning is to check the stats of my blogs. While this might seem like a bit of an egotistical thing to do first thing in the morning I actually do it because it gives me a very quick overview of any problems or opportunities that might need my immediate attention.
I am particularly looking for any spikes or lulls in traffic.
Spikes indicate that something has happened to bring me traffic on some other site. This could indicate a social media event (front page on Digg or a hot link on Twitter) or could indicate something more controversial that someone has written about me. Either way – I want to know about it – either for damage control or to see if there’s a way to extend the positives.
Lulls in traffic indicate potential problems with servers or other problems on my blogs including broken design, posts not going live, newsletters not going out that should have gone etc.
What flows from analyzing stats could be leaving comments on another blog to respond to what they’ve written, tweeting a hot link to extend it’s viral qualities, fixing an error on my site, checking server errors etc.
2. Scan Twitter Accounts
I find Twitter is another great source of being able to assess what I’ve missed while I slept. This is particularly important for me because I’m in Australia and actually sleep during the peak times on my blogs when most of my readers are online.
I scan three main things on Twitter – my Direct Messages, my @replies and trending topics (via Twitscoop).
Twitter quickly reveals any topics/stories/news that has broken over night that could be relevant to my blogs. Many times I have links that have been DM’d to me by my followers alerting me to these stories.
I am also on the look out from any problems with my sites that readers are reporting (I find that if one of my blogs was down even for 5 minutes that I’m told about it on Twitter).
Lastly on Twitter I’m looking with interest at what people ReTweeted overnight – particularly posts on my own blogs. If I notice a post I’ve written is doing well on Twitter and has a lot of RT’s it can be worth me giving it a second push. It might also indicate to me that it could be worth writing a followup post on the topic to keep the momentum going.
If a story has not been RT’d much at all it’s an indication that perhaps the post needs reworking or that it wasn’t a topic that connected with my audience.
3. Scan News Alerts
This is a quick one but can be important. I have a number of alerts set up in Google News and Blog Alerts that I quickly scan each morning (it’s my ‘vanity folder‘). Each of these alerts is either an alert to anyone using my name, blog URL or a keyword relevant to my niche in a blog post or news article.
It’s important to know what has been written about you and about topics you’re writing about as this can lead to all kinds of opportunities and interactions (not to mention damage control). I generally don’t respond immediately to these unless they’re urgent but they’re good to keep in mind as I plan my day.
4. Scan Email
Are there any urgent matters in my inbox needing my immediate attention? This is a real challenge as most mornings I wake up to around 100 emails in my inbox (this is after another 500-700 emails are filtered automatically in Gmail using techniques that I talked about in this post on clearing your inbox.)
I don’t reply to many emails at this point – I’m just scanning them looking for important stuff (I don’t always see it unfortunately). I come back to email later in the day.
5. Scan my A-list of RSS feeds
In Google Reader (my RSS reader of choice) I have a folder called ‘A-list’. In this folder I have around 20 feeds from blogs and news sites that I read religiously each day. These are feeds I want to read because they have important news, stories or posts that are directly relevant to my niches.
They are from thought leaders or news sources – I want to know what they say and I want to know it as soon as I can after they write it.
Many days what I read in these feeds will lead me to a post that bounces off their stories, informs me of new products that have been released overnight or alert me to controversy or hot topics in my niche.
The above process usually takes me around 15 minutes (on a normal morning where there’s nothing that needs an immediate response).
Remember it’s simply about scanning rather than stopping to respond – unless there’s something important.
At the end of this process I generally have a list of a number of things that I need to achieve in the day ahead. I then attempt to plan my day combining the list I’ve compiled with other tasks that need to be done.
Usually at this point I identify posts that I want to write and publish for the day, schedule in other marketing or admin tasks etc.
I tend to ‘batch’ my tasks together so that I’m not flitting from one thing to the next but instead am setting aside chunks of time for different activities.
Once I’ve got a plan for my day (that usually takes me 5 more minutes to compile) I get to it and start to knock off the things on my list.
One More Tip
I use Firefox and have a number of bookmark folders set up. One of these folders is called ‘start up’. It contains the following bookmarks:
- All my stats packages
- Google Reader
- A couple of news related sites
Each morning I simply hit ‘command/startup folder’ and each of these sites opens up in a tab of its own. I have them in the order that I’ve mentioned above and simply work through the tabs one at a time. This way I don’t have to think about what I need to do next – all my stats are there ready for me to take a look at first, TwitScoop is open next so I can look at that…. etc
Of course I have to open my Twitter client (I’m using Tweetie at the moment primarily) to check my twitter accounts but apart from that everything I need is open in a tab of its own for me to work through. I simply close down tabs and move on to the next ones as I move through the list.