Tell the social news feeds to get out of your face. You have stuff to do.
9 ways to manage your time on social media
Ahhhh… social media. It’s fun! We see kids and grandkids and cat videos! We get sucked into political arguments. We take a quiz or two or three to see what Disney character we are or which food matches our personality. Then, an hour or so later, we wonder what the heck happened.
How to deal social media distraction
It’s a challenge. Especially when being on social is part of your business. And if you have a business today, there isn’t much choice. Social media better be part of your marketing strategy.
This topic came up during one of my coaching calls recently. Two clients were talking about just how much of a challenge it’s been for them to control their time on social. They both have online businesses. So, they do need to check into various Facebook groups and interact with clients and see what’s going on.
But they both found, especially recently, that they spend more and more time getting distracted and going in different directions on social.
One of them talked about just staying up very late at night, reading comment after comment after comment on a certain post. Hundreds of comments later, she couldn’t fall asleep.
They both felt that social media was beginning to rule their days. Social stopped being a useful tool. It actually prevented them from being effective in their business. Worse, it also was really bringing them down in a lot of ways.
So how can we address that? I feel this pain, too. It’s a common, common issue, and it’s especially acute for online entrepreneurs.
In a perfect world, social is an effective piece of your overall marketing plan.
Except when you fall down the news feed rabbit hole.
And how about this not-so-fun fact? According to this study done at the University of California, Irvine, once you are interrupted, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand.
So if you jump on social a couple of times a day at 20 minutes a pop, you lose almost another 25 minutes trying to get focused back on your pre-sidetrack tasks.
Then how do you get on social, do what you need to do, and get back off quickly? I’m not proposing that you ignore what’s going on in the world or your family and friends or all of the amazing cat videos. But you do need to be focused and strategic about how you spend your time on social.
Here are 9 ways to manage your time on social media.
First, pay attention to what you’re doing and be strategic.
What is your intent when you head over to Facebook (or Instagram or LinkedIn)? Be clear about that in your mind before you open that app or that tab. What is your plan and desired result? When you jump on social, ignore the news feed. Make sure you go straight to the intended place. Do just what you planned and no more.
If you’re not focused… if you’re not paying attention to what it is that you’re actually doing… that’s where we get tripped up.
Instead, stop and think, okay, is it necessary for me to watch this video or comment on this thread? Is this part of my plan? Or is this something that I need to do at another time? Which leads to tip 2….
Second, set aside time on your calendar for being on social.
Ideally, you want to schedule separate time blocks for marketing on social and being social on social (catching up with friends and family, checking out stories for fun, watching videos, etc.). Put the times on your calendar and don’t go onto those platforms outside of those assigned time blocks.
And I know the arguments against designating time for social. For instance, you are just getting started in your business. You feel the need to be on Facebook constantly because you’re checking groups and prospecting work.
However, if you are on Facebook all day, my guess is that you are doing a lot more than popping into the right groups and looking for opportunities to provide value. You probably are getting sucked into the news feed.
You don’t have to be on Facebook every single second of the day to make connections and find clients. Again, set aside a limited amount of time for this activity, maybe two or three times a day. Figure out which groups are really worth your time. When you jump on Facebook, go straight to those groups. Put it on your calendar and don’t do it any other time.
Third, don’t look at your notifications.
In fact, just turn your notifications off on your desktop and on your phone. Notifications are a huge potential distraction! You’ll be shocked at how freeing it is to simply turn them off.
When you go on social at your scheduled time for a specific purpose, resist the temptation to look at your Facebook or Instagram notifications. It’s just another rabbit hole.
Set aside a time during the day to check your in-app notifications. Maybe you check them first in the morning, then again in the afternoon.
And, keep in mind that you don’t actually have to click through on every notification. Scan them and decide what’s important to act on. Then mark them all as read. This tip in particular was a game changer for me.
So all of these things are within your control. But we all need a little extra help sometimes.
And there are ways that you can get extra help to manage your time on social.
There are apps and browser extensions that support reducing distractions and amping up productivity. Which brings me to tip 4…
Fourth, install the Chrome extension News Feed Eradicator (also available for Firefox).
This solution only works on your desktop (or your laptop). The News Feed Eradicator takes everything out of the news feed on Facebook and replaces it with an inspirational quote.
Try it out. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much time you get back in your day simply because the news feed isn’t tempting you.
Fifth, for you iPhone users, check out the Feedless app.
The Feedless app is similar to the News Feed Eradicator. In fact, the developer created Feedless because he was inspired by how much the News Feed Eradicator improved his productivity. The Feedless app takes away the news feed when you use the mobile browser version of Facebook (as opposed to the app).
You can still see notifications or create posts while using Feedless, so you can do a quick check in without the distractions.
The Feedless app is free for Facebook. You’ll find it at the App Store. You can upgrade to the paid version for 99 cents a month (as of this writing), to block the news feed for Instagram or for Twitter.
Need to take a slightly more aggressive stance towards social and general internet distractions? The next two tips are for you.
Sixth, give StayFocusd a test run.
StayFocusd is another Chrome extension. And if eradicating the news feeds, isn’t enough for you, StayFocusd might be your solution. StayFocusd helps keep you more productive by limiting your ability to access time-sucking websites.
As the developer states, “It’s highly configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc).” Pretty cool, right?
So again, this extension is for desktop and laptops. It limits the time that you can spend on certain websites, but it’s not a complete solution because it doesn’t help on mobile. If you need even more structure… that takes us to Tip 7.
Seventh, sign up for Freedom.
Freedom is an app and website blocker. Freedom works on your desktop, your laptop, your, your tablet, your phone, all of your devices. And you decide how much freedom from distraction you need. Freedom can block websites, it can block apps or it can block the entire internet. So if you really need to break the distraction-dopamine-hit habit, then Freedom might be the perfect answer for you.
As of this writing, you get a free trial to test drive Freedom. But, if you like it and want to keep it, you do have to pay for it.
Freedom can support your productivity in other ways, too.
They also have some really clever – and FREE – browser extensions that you can check out. I particularly like Pause. Pause allows you to choose from a list of the most temptingly distracting websites. Once it’s set up, Pause displays a calming green screen when you try to access one of those problematic websites.
After pausing for five seconds – the setting is adjustable – you can choose to continue to the distraction, remain on the green screen with the site temporarily blocked, or close the tab. Five seconds can be just enough time to rethink your decision and nudge you back to more productive pursuits.
So Freedom is definitely worth checking out for you and your family.
Tips 8 and 9 are a bit more straightforward.
Eighth, delete social media apps off your phone.
If you find turning off notifications just isn’t enough, deleting the apps makes it that much harder to jump on social “for just a few minutes.”
And ninth is one I use all the time. Put your phone in another room.
If you haven’t tried this one, give it a chance. You might be surprised at how frequently you reach for your phone without really thinking about it. When it’s not there, you might just stay on track.
So social media and other candy-coated internet distractions don’t have to be the boss of you. As you’ve seen, there are tools and techniques that can allow you to take control of your productivity and manage your time on social.
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