If it’s part of your job description to write a blog, tweet on Twitter, or post to Facebook to engage with customers, you already know that hours can disappear faster than a snowflake on a skillet.
Case in point: yesterday afternoon after wrapping up a job I decided I finally needed to get familiar with Pinterest, after which I was going to start this blog post. I am proud to have five boards and 56 pins to my name now, and today I have repins from three people already. Suddenly Pinterest is not just a vaguely feminine mystery, but something I understand on a personal level. (And no, it’s not just for women any more.)
However, writing this blog post got postponed due to all that social media discovery, which is necessary to do once in a while. On a daily basis, necessities such as tweeting and posting to Facebook vacuum up minutes mercilessly. These tasks can only be done efficiently if you stay away from friends, fascinating stories, and cat videos. Except this one about a stuffed cat that flies. You have to see that one.
Sorry— where was I? Oh, yes. As a remedy I have three REALLY DUMB SUGGESTIONS you might enjoy reading (each followed by ideas you might actually be able to use).
If that doesn’t work, use a tool like HootSuite or Tweetdeck to restrict your view. Kind of like a horse with blinders, you will do a better job in an ad-free, non-distracting environment that can schedule posts and tweets for you and show you only what you need to see.
Alternatively, turn off notification sounds for email, Twitter, and whatever else tries regularly to get your attention. I used to scoff at this, but not any more. I have even turned off the brief pop-up visual notifications from TweetDeck and Outlook.
Wait, can you tell I don’t like that one? Many of us aren’t CEO-level enough to get that kind of distance from the details we’re managing. I do advocate checking email no more than once an hour, however. If you’re old enough to remember when interoffice mail was delivered by a guy from the mail room pushing a cart, twice a day will seem about right.
Well, some of us like that junk. So I suggest you make use of message rules in Outlook or filters in Gmail to divert regular emails into folders. That way, distractions are kept from the top-level inbox folder and don’t snag your eye, but are available for later.
A time-saving second step is to set some of your email sub-folders to delete non-personal messages older than a week. That way, if you don’t get around to reading them, they don’t pile up. (In Outlook you can do this with auto-archive settings, but not all email clients can do this easily. You can sort of do it in Gmail; here’s one way.)
Or, if you read more than a couple of blogs regularly, use an RSS reader like Google Reader to scan, read and bookmark them. Set aside two hours in the morning or whenever is good for you, and tear yourself away after that.
Now if you want a more comprehensive post on this subject, read “How to Make Social Media Less of a Time Suck” by Yvette Pistorio. This came out two days ago, and I discovered it after coming up with this topic on my own and writing this post, really. I highly recommend it.