To Harness Social Media, Get Thee Into a Routine!

I find value in social media sites. My biggest problem is finding the time to visit and use them. So how do you prevent social media from taking over and eating up huge chunks of your productive workday?

Simple. Get yourself organized — and turn it into a routine.

My latest article about taming the social media beast has been syndicated over at the OPEN Forum:

The one tool that I find invaluable to organize my activities is Netvibes, where I bookmark my list of social media sites. The sites I visit regularly include OPEN Forum;;;; my own websites; Facebook; Twitter; and numerous blogs and forums.

If I had to stop and think about every site I wanted to visit, and manually type in the URLs, it would take me a lot longer. I’d certainly forget some of them. Using Netvibes to bookmark my master list, I don’t have to think about which sites to visit. Also, if I stumble upon a new social media site or discover a new blog, I simply add the URL or the RSS feed to my list.

Rather than just talking about my routine and how I organize my work, I thought I would show you two screenshots of how I use Netvibes, in case you are not familiar with it.

Here is a screenshot showing my social media page that I’ve set up in Netvibes.

Netvibes, a free start page, helps you manage your social media presence

Each of the colored horizontal bands (red, blue, gold, gray) you see on the above screenshot is a collapsed window that I can click and open up. When each window is opened up, think of it like a “picture in a picture” on a television screen.

When I open each of the little windows, I’ll get to a list of bookmarks (shortcuts) to social media sites. I can quickly go down a list of sites I’ve bookmarked on Netvibes and jump over to those sites. No hunting around for URLs or trying to remember them.

In some cases the window embeds certain applications right within Netvibes — including Facebook, Delicious and Twitter. In those cases, when I open up the window, key information I need to manage my Facebook account is right there on the Netvibes page. I can even update my Twitter status directly on the Netvibes pages. It saves keystrokes and surfing time.

Here you can see my Facebook application opened on the left, and Twitter and Delicious on the right column:

Netvibes, a free start page - help you manage applications through widgets

I do a lot more with Netvibes than simply manage my social media activties. For instance, I can track some of my Web statistics from widgets contained within Netvibes. I can even check my GMail account from within Netvibes.

Netvibes is deceptively simple. It may not seem like a big deal. But it saves time and keeps you organized. You can get a lot more done in a short period of time using a tool like Netvibes.

I think of it as an executive dashboard for managing my online business interests. And did I mention it’s free?


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

35 Reactions
  1. It is really important to stay organized if you expect to accomplish anything, especially if you work from home. It’s really easy to get distracted and forget simple things. Thank you for recommending Netvibes! I had no idea that this existed and it looks like it will keep me even more organized. I love that it’s so colorful, it will keep me excited about work. I’m heading over now to get better organized, thanks! I love that I’m always discovering new things here.

  2. I use iGoogle, and it seems to work pretty well for staying on top of RSS feeds, daily headline news, (and even a calorie counter!). Will have to check out netvibes.

  3. I have used Netvibes for some time now. I am using Pageflakes as my domain name site. For more on this topic, please read my post, Web Stuff in One Place. (Click on “Martin Lindeskog” Says:)

  4. I use a spreadsheet, since I get distracted by all the other stuff the the aggregators can throw your way.

  5. I’m trying netvibes right now. I wonder if it’s better?

  6. Martin Lindeskog


    Here are some alternatives:

    Pageflakes – similar as Netvibes. I use Pageflakes for my name domain site.
    Protopage – clean startpage.
    Symbaloo – using building blocks / squares.
    Pageonce – everything at one place, e.g. your bank details.

    I use Netvibes as my bookmarked start homepage on my computer.

  7. Now I know how I am going to get better organised. Anita, you showing how to do it with Netvibes is a great example and Martin, I must admit I hadn’t heard of the alternatives and will look at them as well.

  8. Martin Lindeskog

    Susan Oakes,

    Please tell me if you find a favorite. 🙂 I will continue to search for the ultimate start page! 🙂

  9. Anita,

    Great tip – I’ll go to Netvibes right this moment 🙂


  10. Ivan Widjaya,

    You could create your own public universe if you want. Click on “Martin Lindeskog” Says: if you want to view my personal page. I have my own private page as my start page on my computer and I have this public page.

  11. Anita,

    Thanks for the reminder on Netvibes. I had tried it out before and honestly I thought the RSS module was a bit clunky, but I’ll give it another try. For rounding up all your social network sites, AND gmail accounts, I think it could shine. Consolidation is always a good thing.

  12. I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one unaware of netvibes. I started setting it up last night and it seems really useful. I will be taking a look at Pageflakes too. Thanks everyone!

  13. Martin Lindeskog


    You are welcome! 🙂 I like both Netvibes and Pageflakes. I will look out for new alternatives on a regular basis. Right now, I am looking into a site called

    Dave Crain: Check if you like Pageflakes RSS feature better. You could also use a niched tool like Bloglines and then add it to your startpage.

  14. Thanks for the tip on netvibes. Looks like a solid free aggregator for personal use but I am thinking of collaborative business use. I run a small web company. Besides development, user support is the major task to be performed each day. This looks like a platform to create a portal for user support where all the user correspondence is funneled into then messages can be left for support staff as they come in to pick up new items. I’ll have to play with it to see if the system has those capabilities.

  15. I spend way too much time doing the social media thing. I definitiely need ot get into a routine. Netvibes looks really nice. I’m currently using Google Reader but am going to check out Netvibes today. I especially like the fact that you can view some of your sites right there in the Netvibes program. That alone, would save me time. Thanks for the tip!

  16. Martin Lindeskog


    I think that Netvibes “beats” iGoogle in comparison. I am not sure if Google has opened up its system more, but when I tested the program it had limitations. It is a plus that you could have public page (Netvibes Universe) and share your bookmarked sites with friends and contacts.

  17. I have used netvibes and find it quite helpful, although, I tend to find that’s it’s easier for me to create link folders within my toolbars and I simply go down through the list of sites each day. . .just another suggestion because it really helps me to remember where I need to be – and go there!

  18. I admit, I have never tried NetVibes, but maybe it’s time to check it out. Thanks for the heads up Anita.


  19. I also love Netvibes as well Anita, and not just for the pretty colors either. I also like iGoogle and Newsvine. But the nod for me goes to Netvibes.

  20. Martin,

    I looked at the sites you mentioned and for simplicity and ease of use I think Netvibes seems slightly ahead of pageflakes although both would help you get organised. if you find any better ones let me know.

  21. Martin Lindeskog


    I will look out for you and see if I find alternatives in the future. How are things “down under”?

    All the Best,


  22. Martin,

    Thanks and things “down under” are great except for the weather. As this is the start of winter which is usually like spring or even summer in parts of Europe with lots of sunny days it is raining and cold which does not make us very happy.

    As an aside I clicked on your name to see how you use pageflakes for your domain site and it would not load. I don’t know if it is my computer or something in pageflakes.

  23. Thanks for the heads up on Netvibes. I am currently using a spreadsheet to keep track of all of my social media sites. This will be much easier and more productive for sure.

  24. Martin Lindeskog


    I haven’t been to Australia yet, but I want to visit this place and see for example opals and other precious stones. You have to come to Gothenburg, Sweden, if you want sunny weather. It has been warm and sunny for a pretty long period now. I am planning to have BBQ this weekend.

    Regarding the loading of my site, here is the answer I got from Pageflakes when I asked about this problem in the beginning of May:

    “I am not aware of any browser problems – it should work fine in FF2, IE6 and IE7 as well as Safari. Some older browser versions might have problems with Java Script and other modern technologies used (and required by all start pages) but so far we have not come across any significant browser issues. If the problem persists, please post a message at the Pageflakes Bug Support forum with a detailed browser version and other information that might be helpful.”

    It works in Fireworks
    It doesn’t work in Mozilla 1.7.2., Konqueror 2.3.2., Epiphany 1.2.8 and Opera 8.0.
    I don’t know about Internet Explorer. I am using a Linux OS (Mandrake 10.1).

    Please tell me if have problems in other browsers and if you have any suggestions for a solution.

  25. Martin,

    I tried your link this morning and it loads fine with no delays. Just to let you know I use IE7 and last week I think there was a problem.

    Regarding opals the place to visit would be Lightning Ridge which is in outback NSW. There are quite famous for their black opals. Hope the BBQ went well.

  26. Martin Lindeskog


    Good to hear.

    Thanks for information on opals. Do you know how the rutile sand business is going at the moment? I purchased raw materials for the production of welding electrodes during the 90’s.

    I could send you the BBQ recipes. Tasty & yummy stuff.

  27. Martin,

    Unfortunately I do not know what rutile sand is. I would be interested in reciving your recipes, thanks for the offer. My email address in on our website.

  28. Anita-

    I had to hire a 5 hour-per-week marketing intern to manage my blog feeds alone. She can effectively sort through the many feeds and submit the 50 or so I need to read through. also seems like a great way to sort “web lists,” or blists.

    Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

  29. I like the idea! Thanks for the tip! I always get lost in my social sites with all the people and things to do!

    Save time = make more money!

  30. Hi Everyone! I just discovered a brand new blog called – it’s written by a time management expert and a blogging newbie. Get this on your feed and let’s see what help he has to offer those of us who want to gain more efficiencies from social media.