How long can you go without checking your phone? Does your screen light up every 15 seconds with a notification, some enticing invitation to pick up your device and respond RIGHT NOW? How long could you go, realistically, without checking your e-mail, updating your Facebook status or replying to a Tweet? A week? A day? Maybe about half an hour or so? Don’t be ashamed, social media and smart phone notifications have risen to near obsession status in many people’s lives. You are not alone.
It was bad enough when social media sucked up all our time by being entertaining but now that we use it to expand our businesses as well, we are connected to it almost constantly. If you let it, the compulsion to engage in social media activities will consume your entire day. In addition to all the business and personal e-mail (not to mention Spam and Junk-mail) we get, there are countless notification coming at us from all directions as well. Each social media site, game and tool we use now wants permission to send us notifications whenever the slightest update is made.
The infinite stream of digital stimulation is easy to get lost in, but there is a way out! You can become a productive member of society once again by following these 5 pieces of advice for taming social media.
1. Get Zen And Shut Out The Distractions
The first step to taking back the hours in your day is to make a firm commitment to limit distractions. Here’s the key, you have to really mean it! Consider how much more work you could accomplish each day if you didn’t jump onto your social media sites every time you got a notification or you were not so inclined to answer every e-mail on the spot? If you have a big deadline approaching and can’t seem to practice self-control, don’t worry, there’s an app for that!
Try a website blocking tool like “SelfControl” or “Freedom” to literally lock yourself out of Facebook for an entire day – you’ll be surprised how easy it really is to go a full day without reading your news-feed!
2. Narrow Your Focus
There used to be just the one or two main social networking sites, now there are literally hundreds. Of the ten or so major ones, which ones do you really use and follow and which are just collecting internet dust and sending you pointless notifications you don’t respond to? If you’ve signed up for everything under the sun but only really use 1 or 2 sites consistently then you are inundating yourself with extra notifications for no good reason.
This is especially true if you are using social media for business. It is better to really master and get known in one or two platforms rather than to have empty accounts all over the place. Pick your favorite few and delete the rest!
3. Trim Back Notifications
Speaking of notifications – you don’t really need them. The notification acts as a trigger. You’re minding your own business; your brain focused on the task at hand, when suddenly you hear a tell-tale chirp from your phone and immediately grab it to see what the latest update is. So let me ask you this, how important is it for you to be immediately alerted every time someone Tweets about what they’re having for dinner or posts a new selfie on Facebook ? Is this something that requires your immediate attention, or can it wait until your work is done?
Chances are, the notifications are just distractions and it’s time to cut your ties! Go into the account settings and turn them off, or at least limit them to a select few.
4. Time Blocking – It Works!
Now that your notifications aren’t dinging at you all day long, you can create a manageable plan for when you will check your social media sites and answer your e-mail. Time block your online activities and schedule this time as if it were a meeting on your calendar. This way you’ll always know that you have time to get to it eventually which will cut way down on your social media withdrawal symptoms.
Time blocking is a powerful time optimization tool that you can use to make your entire day, week, month and life more productive. If you haven’t tired it already, I highly recommend it!
5. Be A Social Media Ninja – Schedule Posts For Later
If you’re using social media for business you probably have already come up with several very plausible excuses as to why you need to be connected to social media 24/7 in just the time it took to read this article. One of those reasons is probably that you want to regularly be posting content to your social media sites. No problem!
Even if you’ve time blocked yourself into only 1 hour of social media time per day you can still post to sites like Facebook and Twitter every hour if you want to – by using scheduled posting. Facebook and Twitter both have their own free in-site scheduling options but if you have multiple accounts and want to make life easier you can also use an app or tool like HootSuite to help you manage your social media posts.
Don’t get me wrong, I love gadgets, social media and all things web but the very things that are designed to help us get more done can also hamper our productivity which is why I had to cut out the distractions. How are you taming the distractions? I’d like to hear your story – Please comment.