Social Media: The Great Time Waster

While it’s true that social marketing is a powerful technique that all online (and offline) business owners should explore, it’s also true that much of what we do on these sites is most definitely not work.  But when you make your living online, it’s far too easy to justify time spent on social media as being “work.”

Yes, you may have to market your business on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but you are wasting time when you just can’t pull yourself away from that Facebook game that has your attention, or the beautiful photos of yummy desserts you want to make.  Even agonizing over the special access to some marketing guru’s new product (that has no relationship to your business) that will be at a special price but only until midnight, is a time waster.

Schedule Your Day

Not all social media is bad. It’s a great way to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends, and yes, it’s an important business-building tool as well. So rather than try to eliminate it all together,  make it a regular, scheduled part of your day.

For example, catch up on your Facebook feed over coffee, then log out and get to work. Or browse Pinterest while you eat lunch. For actual work-related social media tasks, schedule a time during the work day to log in, update your status, respond to questions, and check up on your competitors. The key here is to actually schedule this as you would any other business-related task, and not to let this “work time” turn into a chat with a friend or relative..

Segregate Your Tools

One way successful entrepreneurs separate work from play is by the tools they use. When on the computer in the office, they avoid Facebook and other social media sites because they’re working. Instead, they limit their use of social media to off hours by only visiting the sites on their mobile phones or tablets.

By adopting this type of policy, you create a boundary in your own mind. After a few weeks of practice, you’d no more think of hopping on Facebook from the office computer than you would consider wearing your bathrobe to the grocery store. The two activities just don’t go together.

Let Someone Else Handle It

If you really can’t stay focused on work once you’ve logged into Pinterest or Facebook (they’re just so distracting!) consider letting someone else handle your social media accounts. You can create updates ahead of time, then simply turn them over to a virtual assistant to schedule. Then once a day or so (maybe from your iPad rather than your office) you can log in and respond to your followers.

Take a Sabbatical

Finally, if you’re not using social media as a marketing tool, consider taking a sabbatical. Simply make a deal with yourself that you will not log in or check any social media site for a month or a week or even just for a day. You might just be surprised to see how much time you really do waste playing Candy Crush.

If you eventually decide that you should be using social media as a marketing tool (and you probably should be), adopt the “Schedule Your Day” model or the “Segregate Your Tools” model  right from the start.

Overcome Distractions; Stay Focused

This is the third and last (for now) of my posts on overcoming distractions. To stay focused on your business be sure to read my two previous posts on Time Management and Taming the Email Monster.

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