Yeah, we’ve all heard it before: you can’t save time. You have all there is, and each person is allotted the same number of minutes in every day.
Then why is it that I lose an hour every time I open Facebook?
If you’re struggling with time and social media, you’re probably wrestling two ways. 1) You spend too much time Twittering, reading blogs or catching up with your Facebook friends or 2.) you’re dreading finding the time to use social media to connect with family and friends, or effectively network in business.
Lucky for you, the answers are the same for both issues! Here are five tips that will make your use of social media as a tool for marketing or staying in touch more effective and enjoyable.
- Be intentional, and reduce the guilt factor. You’ll feel guilty if you “waste time” on Facebook, or guilty if you don’t post your weekly blog. Be intentional about the time you’re spending on social media. To do that, you need to plan. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to share your day, build a community, or discover a solution?
- Make a plan, and then an appointment. Set aside time to check Facebook, log on to Twitter, or read your blogs. If you set aside 45 minutes a day, in three 15 minute increments, and actually put them on your daily planner, you’ll begin to control the time spent. If your marketing plan calls for you to comment on one industry Tweet a day, and one blog, make sure you’ve scheduled a reasonable, appropriate amount of time to do that. Recognizing new media as an important part of your marketing plan, and designing action steps, can help you control and use your time efficiently. If you’re supposed to be posting a blog every week, set aside the time to develop a six month editorial calendar, and then schedule your blogging time every week. If it’s an important part of your marketing plan, be intentional, and then follow through.
- Use tools, both old and new. I use the timer on my microwave, and sometimes I bring my kitchen timer into my office or set the alarm on my phone. When I’m writing a blog, I tell myself I need to stay focused and write for just 20 minutes, and I use 20 minutes increments until it’s done. When I’m on Facebook, I limit myself to 10 minutes. I use Tweetdeck to manage my Twitter feeds, and I use my igoogle page to corral my RSS feeds. I get lost moving from one interesting blog post or article to the next, so I often print out articles I want to read and put them in a basket by my comfortable reading chair. Later, I can sit back with a cup of coffee, skim through and read selected articles, and avoid the trap of spending several hours on the computer following each link.
- Shut off notifications. Don’t keep your accounts open so that you hear every ping! Intentionally log on when it’s time to check an account, remind yourself of what you’re trying to accomplish, spend your time there and then log off. You are in charge!
- Be selective. Add a blog to your feeder, read it for a bit, and then dump it if it doesn’t bring value. Use your Facebook settings to “see less” of people you friended last year, and now you don’t care how much they win Mafia Wars. No one is holding a gun to your head and demanding that you overwhelm yourself with interesting -but essentially useless – content.
And a bonus tip:
- Keep at it. Set it as a personal challenge to create a simple system and use it for a week. If you’re not more productive, revamp your system. Plan, do and review.
If you’re spending hours on –line when you should be working or building your home relationships (!), that’s a serious issue that is more about your psychological needs than it is about discipline or efficient use of time. But most of us just need to get a grip, decide how we want to prioritize social media in our personal or professional lives, and then act accordingly.