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How do you stay on top of your online activity - e.g. posting on questions, answers, comments on various forums?

Sometimes it takes take to compile a decent reply or a follow up comment, but by the nature of online world - if it were posted within a few hours is likely to get much more attention than if it were posted two days later.

Also it gets even more complicated with a long running discussions spread over a weeks where it gets difficult to maintain a context of a discussion?

What techniques or a software do you use?

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2 Answers 2

I use two techniques to say on top of these sorts of things.

Most forums in which I participate have a "follow this discussion via e-mail" function, and I've got a number of gmail rules set up to direct that content to specific folders. In cases where there isn't a mail function, I'll use a hyperlink pasted into my gmail calendar as the reminder.

Now, a bigger question, which will lead to whether or not this method works for you or not is about WHY you're using the forums. For me, forums are not a critical part of my communications, nor do I consider it a bad thing to post a thoughtful quality reply after a day instead of stressing about being the first useful accepted or upvoted answer. Those may be important to you, in which case you may want to tweak the following.

Specific discussions that I follow (the long-running type) usually get their own e-mail label. Topics and boards I follow may just get a label like "Stack-Exchange" or "SE-Productivity". "Check forums" is a task on my to-do list that is a "nice to do" but not critical to get done, so when I have a break or need to redierct for a few minutes, I perform a quick triage on the e-mail inbox folder for forums. Don't need to reply? I just delete it. Quick reply? do it and get it out of the way. Need time to formulate a post? I block off time in my calendar to do so...with the understanding that if I can't get to a reply in time for it to be relevant, this may end up turning into "Don't need to reply." I also keep in mind that sometimes, while my answer may not be the most timely, its relevance outweighs the delay in getting it into the discussion. Like everything else in my to-do list, I set a fixed time to do this triage...sometimes ten minutes, sometimes an hour.

Periodically, when I get to a "review my productivity" task, if my backlog of forum duties is getting out of hand, I need to re-prioritize my participation in forums, and save/delete/reprioritize the list of forum to-dos appropriately.

The biggest thing though is to balance forum participation against the value you place on that participation. Determining this will make it a lot easier to prioritize, sort, and schedule those interactions in your life.

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Let me summarize your point:

1) replies can take a long time to compose in a fast changing or quickly aging topic

2) complex issues over a long time (weeks) can take a long time to re-familiarize with (leading to the problem in 1) composition time).

First, Prioritize which topics are important to you. Time management may require you not waste time on junk, fun topics.

Second, Summarize important points - especially ones you want to address or advance over competing points, or ones you want to particularly challenge- and repeat those points in your replies.

First reason: This helps not only you to keep the controlling variables "fresh" in your responding but allows others who are also trying to follow the discussion to remember them too.

Second reason: A summary of points can also help to clarify inconsistency and contradictions in positions.

Third: A summary can help speed up draft time.

You seem to be treating your response times as a given (i.e. slow speed). Try giving yourself 5-10 minutes to respond to a topic and then stop. If you are a compulsive "revisionist" give yourself another 5 minutes. If it can't be done in 10-15 minutes throw it away and do it again. Repeat this until you can compose anything in a short period of time.

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