Locked Away from My Many Online Selves

Brig_Reg_11Due to a new full-time high school librarian job, I haven’t had the time to write any articles for this blog. All social media is blocked on my campus, so neither have I been able participate with my beloved, informative online library discussion groups!!! And, thanks to strict campus IT regulations and email management settings, I have discovered that I am not able to combine my work and personal email accounts either. The latter would have allowed me to manage multiple email accounts simultaneously. I am locked away from my many online selves!

If I were a normal person, I’d admit defeat, transfer all my contacts and manage only a single work email account. But when I’m at work, I prefer to deal with professional correspondence, rather than message threads from family members about dreadful music videos (example) or Corner Bakery coupons.

Adding to my frustration is that I recognize a need for balance among my physical and web-based working worlds. In a frantic attempt to soothe my soul and find the ultimate answer, I turned to yet another self-help book: The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential by Leo Babauta. (I also selected this book because I was familiar with the author’s award-winning blog: Zen Habits.)

In The Power of Less, Mr. Babauta says to focus on one goal at a time. Duh! That’s what I’m TRYING to do!!! Another inspiring piece of advice offered by the author is to focus on finishing only three tasks each day before adding anything new to the task list. If I did this regularly, nothing on my 3-page-long task list would get done, especially when it comes to trying to better manage my many online selves.

I keep trying, unsuccessfully, to find ways to work around my new job’s strict internet controls. My goal is to SIMPLIFY not to defy. What have I tried?

Buffer – a new service that does basically the same thing as HootSuite, but with a more user-friendly interface. Buffer also bundles your social media posts and sends them to your email with analytics. Nice.

HootSuite. A FREE HootSuite account considers each LinkedIn or FB Discussion group as a different social media addition. Since the free version of HootSuite allows only up to 5 social media accounts, and I have several groups that I contribute to… er, would like to continue contributing to, I would have to pay for the upgraded HootSuite version.

What could be glorious about paying for a HootSuite account is that there’s an additional app that would allow adding multiple email accounts. Plus, I could add my blog. Imagine having a single spot to check all emails, social media groups, AND personal blog posts! This would be lovely… if only the social media accounts weren’t blocked on campus. Sigh.

Gmail – You can set up gmail to import up to five different email accounts. Unfortunately, my work email can’t be one of them.

Part of my job is to stay up-to-date with current tech tools and social media trends. I’d like to not feel chronically overwhelmed by email and frustrated by being locked out of helpful online library discussions. It’s ironic, then, that I am locked out along with the rest of the students. Unlike some students, I am too busy with real life to devote hours of social media-ing after school/work.

School Library Journal included a recent article about this very topic. I passed it along to work peeps in hopes that something may change in the future. Yes, schools are responsible for protecting students during school hours. However, as more technology is expected to be included in the classroom, it is becoming increasingly apparent that overly strict IT controls stifle and hinder students from creativity.

If I feel frustrated and fragmented. (And I do!) I’ll bet students must as well.

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