How to Get Control of Facebook and Twitter Time

Before diving in, please allow me to announce that Life of a Steward is now on facebook. The facebook page is brand, spanking new – so if you enjoy Life of a Steward, please stop by and like it.

I get asked about this a lot, and it seems to be a growing problem.

Social networking has changed the way we interact and communicate. The potential for marketing and promotion is alluring. But it can be a colossal black hole of time wasting.

How can we control the massive amounts of time that we spend on facebook and twitter?

It Never Ends

You read a book and eventually come to the last page. You watch movies or TV, and eventually the credits roll. Even in face-to-face conversations, there comes that moment when you know it’s appropriate to wrap it up.

But facebook and twitter are never done. The same is true for reading blogs, watching videos, or just about anything else we do on the internet.

There are no natural boundaries which prompt you to move on. The only boundaries that exist are ones that we create ourselves – and we must be vigilant in protecting our borders.

Be Intentional

If you like to shop, never go to a shopping mall to wander around “for just a few minutes.” You’ll end up being there for hours. Along those lines: If you like to use twitter and facebook, never just aimlessly “check in.”

Before you ever open these networks, know exactly what you’re going to do. Set yourself a goal and/or a deadline. “I’m going to reply to those who have messaged me” is a good plan, as is “I’m going to be on twitter for only 10 minutes.”

Parkinson’s Law

10 minutes might not seem like a lot. Perhaps you need 15 or 30. If you’re a blogger or businessperson and are really serious about social media, you may need even more.

But I would encourage you to stick to a lower time than you initially feel comfortable with.

In time management, there is a phenomenon known as Parkinson’s Law – which states that a task will fill up its allotted time. If you set aside one hour to clean your office, that’s how long it will take. If you allow three hours, then it will take you three hours.

Use this to your advantage. If you tell yourself that you’ll only use twitter for 10 minutes, you’d be surprised how that gets you focused on what’s really important for you.

Fill In The Cracks

If you have a smartphone, take advantage of the small areas of found time in your day. You could be checking twitter or reading blogs while you’re in line at the grocery store.

Be careful with this, though. It’s easy for us to “expand” those cracks. For example, you could be checking your smart phone while you’re waiting on your wife to put the finishing touches on dinner. But you get so engrossed in something that you’re still tapping away on your phone for minutes after she sits down at the dinner table.

Strive for Efficiency

If you’re not getting done what you want to get done on twitter and facebook, the kneejerk reaction is to increase the amount of time you spend on social networking. This may be a good idea – but my advice is always to try and be as efficient as possible before letting social media take over more of your day.

There are great tools out there like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck which can enhance your ability to access information and to interact quickly. Twitter lists are great, too.

Batching

I strongly recommend using twitter or facebook for short, concentrated bursts a few times a day. Perhaps 10 minutes in the morning, 10 at lunch, and 10 in the late afternoon. With Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you can preschedule tweets to be sent at intervals throughout the day – allowing you to compress a lot of value into those 10 minutes.

Make the Hard Choices

I’ve saved the most important factor for last. The key to making decisions about our social networking is to be aware of the value that it provides. And we must frame this value in the context of the rest of our day.

You may do twitter and facebook just because you enjoy connecting and talking to people. That’s fine. You may even find tremendous value in social networking as it drives traffic to your business’s website. Great.

But what if your twitter time is taking you away from more important things?

Is social networking the best use of your time? Does the value justify the time spent on social networking?

Perhaps social media is great for you, and you want to spend even more time on it. More likely, you may feel led to cut it back just a little.

Allow this to be a work in progress as you dial in your social networking schedule. Your usage today may look totally different a year from now.

If you have any time-saving tips for social networking, please share in the comments below!

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. However, this doesn’t affect what I write about, what I choose to say, or what I recommend. Learn more here.

  • http://popparables.com Keri @ Pop Parables

    Excellent post, Loren!!!

    Believe it or not, I’ve never heard of Parkinson’s Law, but I think it absolutely can be applied to social media.

    I also really like your point about how social media never ends-you’ll never be caught up, you’ll be finished, unless you tell yourself you’re finished.

    I honestly don’t really have any tips to share. As you know, I’m kinda in detox right now from FB. LOL So, I’m not the best person to ask. But, maybe that’s a tip in and of itself. If you find yourself way too immersed in it, take a step back and re-evaluate what exactly it is you want out of social media and create boundaries around that.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      That’s a good point: take a step back. I think that will help you to evaluate the true value it has in your life. You might find that you’re better off without it. Or you could find that it’s great in moderation! Thanks for stopping by, Keri.

  • http://www.bloggingfromtheboonies.com Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies

    Great, great post! Right now, I am limited to short bursts of internet strictly based on the fact that we’re doing a lot outside of the home and my “sit-down” time is scarce.

    I love the idea behind this blog! I’ll be sure to stop back….when I can!

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Michelle,
      I know what you mean. Sometimes it seems the busier I am, the less problem I have with distractions. There’s not a lot of margin there 🙂
      Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Hope to see you around the internet!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    We do have to be careful as leaders of our families concerning the time we spend on social networking sites. It’s easy to get caught up in it. I try to limit myself to how much time I spend working on stuff. I try to wait for my kids go to bed before I work on stuff like this so that I don’t pull precious time from them.

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Eric,
      We’ve got to have our guard up in many ways. Glad to hear that you’re placing boundaries for yourself.

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin @ Joyful Mothering

    Excellent points and all that have crossed my mind as I know I need to streamline my own time.

    I think I can keep the same amount of value without spending so much time on it. It’s a no-brainer!

    Thanks!

    One tip I can offer, is don’t keep Twitter or Facebook up on your computer. Once you’re done, close it out. It’s to easy to keep “glancing back” when it’s just sitting there. Take it a step further and shut your computer down altogether for a while. Helps with the temptation!

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Christin,
      Excellent tip. Get your fill of twitter or facebook and then get out! Otherwise, it’s so easy to just aimlessly start meandering around them again.
      Thanks for sharing!

  • http://growwhereyoureplanted.com Paula @ Grow Where You’re Planted

    Awesome advice! I try to do all of the above…. I use Hootsuite and preschedule my tweets throughout the day, which helps tremendously. I’m actually getting ready to write a post about something I saw at McDonald’s the other day. I know… random… but it made me think about how much we are attached to our phones!!!! Anyway, great post!

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Hey Paula, nice to see you around. Smart phones certainly have great benefit, but it’s amazing the negative impact they can have on us also. Glad to hear you found the post to bs beneficial.

  • http://alexspeaks.com Alex Humphrey

    Great post, I really like the idea of limiting the time spent on facebook and twitter.

    Thinking about the value, Facebook and Twitter are still some of my best marketing platforms. I get more from them than almost any other source. Though, I wonder if that’s because I focus all my efforts there and little elsewhere…

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Alex, it’s amazing how powerful Parkinson’s Law is. And hey, if Facebook and twitter are working for you, then keep it going!

  • http://dustn.us/blog Dustin W. Stout

    great advice Loren! I am marking this in my favorites!

    I’ve written about Twitter lists in the past & think it’s the best way to save time on Twitter, however, there’s nothing similar in Facebook. Google+ has done a great job at this idea of “lists” but they call them circles. These lists allow you to group the most important people/brands to see exactly what you’re looking to catch up on.

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Yeah, Google+ sounds like it has a lot of nice features. We’ll see what happens 🙂
      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • http://www.mycmsite.com/olaotto Ola Otto

    Love this! Thanks for posting.

  • http://www.nickthacker.com Nick Thacker

    Loren, great post (as always!). I never even thought about the concept of Parkinson’s Law as it applies to social media.

    Now that I do, though, it does make PERFECT sense!

    As a creator/writer as well, I thought it was important to analyze how social media should and shouldn’t be used to be effective (you can read that here: http://www.livehacked.com/blogging-business/social-media/ )–and I’ll direct people to your post as well!

    Thanks!
    Nick

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Thanks, Nick! I’ll have to check out your post.

  • http://taunetnelel.blogspot.com Maureen Jepchumba

    I love this post because of it’s practicability.

    I took time off Facebook the past month, I needed to reflect on what I wanted to accomplish through the interactions on Facebook. That time off was totally worth it, I now only go to Facebook at specific times, I need to schedule it as you have suggested – otherwise it’s so easy to slip back to aimless surfing.

    On Twitter, I have also found lists to be quite helpful.

    “The only boundaries that exist are ones that we create ourselves.” ~ Thanks Loren.

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Glad to hear it was helpful, Maureen!
      I think that taking time off from social networking is a great way to find out what’s important to you. The same would go for TV, reading, or just about any other activity. Then, we can evaluate what we miss and what benefits we truly received. That was, in a way, how I was with television. We cut off our cable for budget reasons, but I haven’t really missed it!

  • wonderbrett

    Great thing for those of us that need to stay focused is a Chrome extension called StayFocusd. It literally limits the amount of time you can spend on certain sites – for me, that’s Facebook and Youtube. You set a timer and it won’t let you on there until the next day (you can override, I guess in some sort of Facebook emergency, but it’s really difficult to do). https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankejkbhbdhmipfmgcngdelahlfoji?hl=en

    On my phone I use an app called ScreenTime that does the same thing… It’s made for kids to only have certain amounts of time on their phones – but man, it has worked wonders on making me more productive. I gave a friend the phone and said, “here, you make a password” and I don’t have a way around it. It’s currently only available for Android phones. My 2 cents on things that have helped me! https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.screentime&hl=en (ignore the less-than-stellar rating – kids get on there and vote it as a “bad app” because they’re mad their parents put it on there!)

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Haha – it gets bad votes from kids who don’t like that their parents put it on? Ha!

      Thanks for these awesome recommendations. A lot of great gems here.

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