…Or How not to Waste all your time on Facebook

The biggest and, to be honest, quite valid complaint about Social Media is that it’s a time-sink.  Especially for someone like me, who works at home on her computer.   If you have plenty of time left in your day, there is no surer way to sap it all away than logging in to check Facebook for “just a second.”

By now everyone is aware of the importance and power of Social Media as marketing tools. I know that I need them to promote both my businesses and myself as a writer. But the question is: how do I use it all without getting caught up in that time sucking vortex?

The advice everyone gives for making media manageable is: “only spend so much time on it per day.”  What nobody admits, is that they have no better idea how to do this than they know how to use their Twitter account for marketing.

Recently, I spent some time plotting and planning how to best use Social Media, without getting caught up in the great big sticky strands of the Web.

And yes, I just broke away from writing this blog post to check Facebook.  I lost about 20 minutes.

Sometimes it’s like one of those bad movie depictions of a person with multiple personalities. One minute you’re working along happily.  Then, blink. You’re suddenly looking at a completely different window on your monitor and you have no idea how you got there or how long you have been there.  You look at your watch.  Its what time?

Ok, maybe its not quite that scary, but it isn’t far off for some people.

Tricks and Tips

If you have a flexible schedule like me, and you work from home, all these Social Media accounts can put a real dent in your productivity.  You are the boss so there is no fear factor to keep you on the straight and narrow.  It feels so natural to just start the day by checking your Facebook account, only to find that its noon before you even start working on anything.  So, the only way to get anything done is to start using some Jedi mind tricks on yourself.

One old standby trick is to have a day of the week that you devote only to Social Media.  You can call Monday “Media Day” and spend the entire day devoted to checking in with Facebook, Twitter and the gang.  The rest  of the week its time to work.  If any time is wasted, it’s on a day you weren’t going to get anything else done anyway!

The only trouble with this method is that Social Media is a creature of the now.  If you are waiting for 7 days to respond and interact to people on your Facebook page, they are not going to know what you are talking about. It’s so “last week” by then.

Of course there are always those Social Media accounts that you don’t check very often. These are perfect to relegate to a certain day.  This way you touch base with them regularly, and they don’t become lost and forgotten in favor of the accounts you frequent every five minutes.

A favorite trick of mine is to wait to check any Social Media accounts until the end of the day.  Facebook is not the most important thing I do in a day so why should it be the first thing I do? Holding off until I get a few important things checked off my to do list is one of the most effective time management tricks I use.

The key to remember here is that Facebook breeds more Facebook.  And it’s the same for Twitter or other Social Media accounts.  It’s a social activity and humans are a social animal. It’s natural! Unfortunately, most of the things we consider productive require us to be isolated and unsocial. It’s a terrible crime, but unless we are all going to abandon our computers to live on the local Commune that is just the way it works.

You could try setting a time limit on your activities, but make sure to set a really obnoxious alarm clock.  Time has no meaning for someone in a Twitter trance. Always keep in mind, before you click that bookmark to your favorite Social Media outlet, that it could be quite some time before you get back to work.

Finally, the thing you must never do is have a way for your Social Media accounts to reach out and touch you while you are supposed to be working.  All those little computer programs running in the background need to be shut down.  If your phone gets emails about Facebook notifications, turn it off!

Do your best to divide the time you spend “working” and the time you spend using your Social Media tools. Keep them separate.  Yes, those accounts and pages are tools and using them counts as its own kind of work.  But that sort of work and the sort of work where you need to get things done just don’t mix well.

The plan of attack when you are just one person

All the various Social Media accounts you may have can seem a little overwhelming when they are just some big nebulous mass out there.  You signed up for all these accounts and you can barely remember what they are, let alone the passwords.  This can lead to a great deal of inefficiency.

You need to know what you have, and what you want to do with it, or you will never be able to keep up.  You need make use of all of your accounts in the ways you intend them to be used.  If you don’t, your day is over and all you managed to accomplish was to level up on Farmville.

I am not saying games are bad, but there is a time and a place for them–when you are trying to work is not that time!  I know! Admitting that all those big mean ex-bosses of yours were right is as hard as admitting your mother was right. But you need to be honest right now and say it out loud: Playing Facebook Poker when I am trying to work is counterproductive! It is the only way you will ever be able to utilize Social Media tools and still get some work done.

It is not enough to just have all those accounts either.  You need to get organized. Make a list of every account you can remember. Then make note of how much you need to use each one and what activities you need to use them for.

You will find that most of your activities will consist of:

  • Status Updates & Posts
  • Interactions
  • Content
  • Design and Maintenance

Seeing it laid out like that helps it seem more manageable.  Especially since a lot of those things overlap.  Content you provide on a blog also becomes content for Twitter, Facebook, Squidoo etc.

You may also find that you start prioritizing.  I used to fret about not logging onto MySpace enough.  When I created my own plan of attack, I realized that I am only one person.  MySpace and a few other accounts became “set and forget” pages and my life got a whole lot easier.  As long as there are a few that you use more frequently, there is no harm in letting a few be somewhat static.  Make sure they guide people to the places you are more active, like your blog or your Facebook page, and keep the information current.

Once you have your list of accounts you can set up bookmarks for them in your toolbar or wherever you keep your most frequented bookmarks.  Making them accessible quickly and easily helps to increase your efficiency.  It also provides a handy list when you have something to promote, like a blog post.  You can go down the list, one and a time.  If you find yourself dawdling on Facebook you can look at your list and know where to go to next in your little Social Media tour.

A little organization goes a long way here.  Once you get organized you will find that Social Media transforms from a time-sucking-Internet-vampire into a powerful and friendly set of marketing tools.

Hopefully I have given you some information and inspiration that will help you in your quest for making media manageable!

Courtesy of dontfeedthegeek.com