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.
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.”
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.
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!
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