Last year, I took the plunge into online dating at a rather crazy time in my life. Not only did I have the normal responsibilities of being a full-time entrepreneur, but also I was in the midst of final editing and proofing of my first book.
It would have been easy to hide behind the "I'm too busy to date because I'm focusing on my career" line, but that would have been a lie. I had recently broken up with my boyfriend and finding a new relationship was a priority to me. This meant to authentically live out my time investment philosophies and be true to myself, I needed to make time for it. I also needed to be as effective as possible, meaning I was investing my limited time and energy in the key actions that could lead to quality, in-person dates.
I'm very grateful to be dating a wonderful man offline now so I thought it was the right time to reveal my best strategies on how not to waste time with online dating:
Make Sure You Have Time to Devote to the Process
In my experience, online dating takes as much or more time than being in a relationship because you're not focusing on just one person but have to communicate with many of them. Realise that if you're not willing to set aside any time to communicate and/or meet people, it may not be a good use of your time to be on at all.
Set Up a Separate Email Account and/or Filter to a Folder
This keeps all of the messages in one place and lowers the chance of distraction throughout the day. That way you can efficiently go through all new messages at certain times, such as right after work. This also can allow you to not have any of them show up as alerts on your phone, which is rather awkward if you're on a date with someone else at the time.
Ignore the Stats, Views, Etc.
Actions speak louder than views so if someone didn't communicate with you, they probably didn't want to after looking at your profile. I realised it was a waste of time (and caused unnecessary heartache) to look at who viewed my profile or any other supposed signs of interest. Focusing on responding to the actual messages I received lead to the best results.
Decide What You Want in Advance
You will need to be making a lot of decisions on a daily basis about whether you want to communicate with someone. If you already have a pretty clear sense of what you want/don't want, you can more quickly decide when to reply or delete. You don't owe anyone a response, and in my opinion quality beats quantity.
Triage Your Responses
I tended to get a lot of messages so I took a triage approach to speed up my decision making process. There were some people I responded to right away, others I put in a "Later" folder, and others I deleted immediately. I never actually needed to go back through the "Later" folder, but that was an easier way for me to sort people out instead of completely eliminating the people I wasn't sure were a good fit but had some nice qualities.
Save Frequently Typed Answers
Some common questions are going to come up again and again such as "What do you like to do for fun?" Instead of retyping your answers every time, it's much more efficient to save answers to frequently asked questions that you can reuse later. You can simply copy and paste those in a Word document or text file. Or you can use a text expander to allow you to quickly and easily insert your answers.
Avoid Lots of Extraneous Communication Before Meeting
This is my personal preference (some people take the opposite view). But before I've been on a date with someone, I don't want to spend time talking to him for hours or sending lots of texts. You could realise on your first date that you're not interested at all and then you've spent all that time and bonded with someone that you don't want to ever see again.
Fire Quickly, Hire Slowly
In general, I'm a very warm, friendly, and accepting person. But when I was juggling up to six different dates with six different men in a week, I learned that I had to be decisive. If I realised after the first date someone wasn't a good fit, I said so and moved on. A text to the effect of "You're a great person but we're not a good match" works well.
Bonus Tip Based on a Real-Life Scenario: If someone sends you three e-mails in one day, before you've even had the chance to respond to the first one, and in the last e-mail, says, "Here's my number, you can text me if you want" Do NOT give that person your number unless you're really bored and like to be constantly interrupted. Set good limits from the get-go and you can avoid much annoyance and drama.
Good luck! Share your best time-saving strategies for online dating in the comments below.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time coach, the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress. Find out more at www.ScheduleMakeover.com.