Picture this: You’re a busy entrepreneur–take Elon Musk, for instance. Full plate doesn’t even begin to describe your nonstop schedule, and on top of that, you have a profile on every forum that exists.
You get so many notifications per hour, your head starts to spin–text messages, LinkedIn notifications, tweets, emails, pokes, Instagram direct messages, friend requests and more, which will in total, take you half a day to acknowledge.
It’s not even lunchtime, and you are already exhausted.
Socializing in 2016 now comes with more options than ever before, and while each tool invented is helpful and has distinctive features, it’s not always easy to manage time effectively, but imperative to be productive with each minute, even if you’re not Elon Musk.
I, too, have a crazy schedule and receive nonstop social alerts each day. As I read down the notification list on my iPhone 6S, I no longer open each and every notification to further read the content unless it’s meaningful to me. This social filtering made me realize how much time I would have actually wasted if I didn’t utilize all of these tools.
At this point, I started to think of delving into the not-so-time-saving sides of social networking and decided to provide a simple but comprehensive list of ways to help the busy socialites have some time off their hectic schedules.
Of the five tips I am going to share, some are clever tweaks of what we face every now and then, while others are blatant facts and might appear to be quite obvious after you read them.
Focus on what really matters
Our socializing instincts take over almost instantaneously on social networks. While you may have set objectives for the day, socializing can derail you from your objectives.
Social networking is a melting pot of data from all over the globe that can easily distract you. Each and every social network has its own benefits. However, it is common that all of them are equally addictive and time-consuming. We often lose the most productive hours of day being caught up in activities of lesser priority.
The simplest of activities is browsing your News Feed. Scrolling through takes you through an endless compilation of events of little or no value to your actual task, only to realize that you have spent an overwhelming amount of time on it.
You should train your mind to focus and complete your objectives without getting lost in the two zettabytes of data available worldwide. There are three key facts you should consider if you want to gain more focus at your work.
Concentrate: Our mind indeed travels faster than light, and concentration is the key mechanism to take control of the elusive velocity. To achieve concentration, we need to first figure out what causes us to lose concentration and the fixes to overcome them. Experts claim that psychological issues like depression, anger, anxiety and more can result in loss of concentration. Hence it is necessary to have a healthy mindset from the very beginning of the day so that you can start fresh. Moving on, there are possibilities that situations will arise where you might feel the stress at the back of your mind, but you should keep yourself from being carried away and tame the anxiety within yourself. Another helpful tip is to break each task into a set of smaller, more manageable action items, so that you can deal with them one by one. Each will require less time and, as a result, you will be able to concentrate more, even if you have a short attention span.
Get rid of distractions: Whenever you feel you are being dragged away into something meaningless, refrain from doing it. It is not mandatory to be readily available for replying to emails or answering phone calls. You can phase off such distracting elements if you limit your News Feed time and keep your phone silent while accomplishing an important task.
Set objectives within fixed time frames: This is fun. Set achievable goals that you can accomplish with convenience, and you will feel victorious once done. Setting specific goals and binding them with time frames keeps you focused more rather than giving a full throttle to your activity without any fixed interval. If you are a gamer at heart, then you are going to love this, as it turns your boring tasks into fun activities through its gamification pattern and drives your focus with more attentive engagement.
Organize your activities smarter
Organizing is about having a home for all of your things and compartmentalizing everything so that you know where to go when you need something. This holds true for the social networking age, as well. If you are overloaded with devices and accounts all around and you are spending time monitoring each of them once in a while, you are only wasting your time.
While moving fast in the social networking age is a necessity, improper organization can actually slow you down. A few smart but simple tricks can help you gain the momentum while keeping you well-organized.
Prioritize your tasks: Prioritizing your movements will allow you to recognize the importance of one activity compared to another. When you recognize the importance of an activity, you are psychologically more prepared to get it done with immediate effect. This helps to get what matters done on time without being caught up wasting time in less important tasks. Plan is a handy organizer that integrates with your calendar and lets you set a due date for a task and schedule time and manage everything you have to do and everywhere you have to be.
Schedule and sort your tasks: Once you have set the hierarchy of your to-dos, you can further optimize your time saving motto by scheduling and sorting. Instead of manually doing each and every chore on your social media schedule, you can make the most of technology to help you out. Free scheduling service is provided by renowned names like Buffer, SocialOomph and Hootsuite, enabling you to take control of your social networking activities without time constraints. While some of them are network-specific, others allow you to schedule multiple social updates at once.
- Buffer: Lets you make the most from your posts by sharing your content throughout the day, preferably during the peak hours when your audience is engaging to ensure maximum exposure. There is a “forever free” option. However, with a monthly fee of $10, you can manage up to 10 profiles per platform across the leading social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
- SocialOomph: A favorite of socialites who are on Twitter more than any other social media, SocialOomph comes with great automation choices such as post scheduling and uploading content. You can also connect multiple Twitter accounts, send tweets through email and configure short URLs. The Twitter Unlimited feature is also only $6.97.
- Hootsuite: The $8.99 monthly bill sets it apart from the rest, as it lets you “do more with social media.” In addition to multiple social profiles and message scheduling, Hootsuite gives you access to premium apps and analytics reports.
Make the most of specialized social networks
Social networks are no longer limited to just the socializing aspect. Much has changed over the years, and there are an increasing number of platforms available to meet the various needs of users. While the latest news and events are available across multiple platforms, many people utilize the various networks for their intended purposes.
We have been using LinkedIn for professional connections, YouTube for videos, Instagram for photos, but the lesser-known alternatives are also readily available and provide distinct advantages over the popular networks.
Networks you need to know: In addition to LinkedIn, beBee can help you reduce wasting time, as it is a network based on both personal and professional interests and only delivers truly relevant content to the users. For creative minds, Zerply is a network for professionals, and it lets you showcase your talent through videos, portfolios and storyboards. Data.com is integrated and backed up by Salesforce and provides key contact details–such as email and phone number for both companies and the individuals in those companies–in its business directory, making it an extremely helpful tool for many.
Get your stream on: Utilizing Periscope and Meerkat rather than YouTube can indeed prove to be economical for your precious time. If you are irritated with cluttered, low-quality videos and are looking for high-quality content, then Vimeo, the video streaming application, works just fine. For the ones who are more business-focused, Viddler comes as a solution geared toward companies and corporations rather than homemade video, as it comes with a plethora of features to aid corporations for better communication and employee handling through its training suit.
Photos are king: Because this is the age of selfies, photo-sharing platforms are all the rage and important to mention. If you feel that urge to have that quaint representation of your camera work, then EyeEm has you covered. EyeEm links you with a group of professional photographers and high-quality images, and you can even sell your images through the network. One network that grew using other networks is called VSCO Cam. With the #vscocam hashtag, users share photos on Instagram, and what sets the app apart is that it offers its own built in camera, which has more powerful editing capabilities than Instagram does and also has its own camera roll.
While this may seem elementary, implementing this can save you precious time if you can see through the next level.
Set time limits for your activities
According to The Telegraph, the average person has five social media accounts and spends around one hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day, which accounts for 28 percent of time spent over the internet. We can easily set up a benchmark from the statistic and say that spending about two hours on social media should be enough for individuals. Now the question is: Can we stay within this time frame?
One clever idea to bar you from addictive social networks is tools that block social media sites for specific periods of time.
I like to divide my hour of social media activity to tiny fragments spread throughout the day. Whether I spend as little as 30 minutes to maybe a few hours a day, the breakdown of my activities into three- to five-minute sessions during the day allows me to accomplish my goals.
I personally suggest small increments of social activity, such as two to three minutes on Twitter, five minutes on Facebook for birthday wishes and more, five to 10 minutes reading blogs, 10 minutes on bookmarking articles, posts and others for later. This effectively leaves you with plenty of time to invest elsewhere.
There is no right answer to exactly how much time you should spend on social networking. Rather, it’s how wisely your time is used. Assuming that you are headed in the right direction and your priorities are set, you could spend any number of hours as needed.
Some of us are fueled by constantly checking every notification, every feed and just about everything, whether it’s new or old. If you suffer from the inability to detach yourself even for a minute, you can benefit from the following tools for gaining better focus, and there are various other tools available both paid and for free.
- Self-Control: Set an amount of time and your browser will be offline for that period. Browser restarts or computer reboots will not affect it. You don’t have to be without internet because you can selectively whitelist or blacklist sites for best results. Unfortunately, this tool is for Macs only.
- StayFocusd: A free Chrome browser add-on that allows you to block websites for a certain amount of time. Not only that, you can further customize the time of day, days of week and more. While you can block websites for use, you can provide certain limits of time to certain websites–for example, 15 minutes per day for Twitter.
- Freedom: Available for Macs, PCs and iPhones to give you complete freedom from all your devices, it is a paid app, but the monthly cost is well worth-it for addicts to cover distractions from all your devices. I advise you to opt in for the annual payment of $2.42 per month, rather than paying $6.99 for the one-month-only package.
- Time-Out: How about the reverse? At set intervals between your tight schedule, it fades in and calmly reminds you to take a five- to 10-minute break. Now if you do your socializing within that time frame, then you get to both socialize as well as get your business tasks accomplished without one interfering with the other.
Social networking, with its tremendous potential for productivity, is open to seemingly productive diversions. While pursuing your target, set time limits for the execution of your activities. While you may not be able to meet a deadline, it will give you a much needed structural framework for achieving your goals.
You don’t have to be hard on yourself when you exceed your preset time limit, as this is something that will guide you rather than be a mark of failure. This will give you the ability to manage both your social activities and your objectives for the day, efficiently.
Get in the habit of using tools
With the overwhelming amount of social networking platforms, we often forget the supporting tools that have been created. These tools are designed to automate and synchronize our social networking activities and make social networking much more efficient overall.
Often times, we are stuck doing activities that are repetitive and time consuming. However, they can be effectively managed with the right tools. Using tools for filtering and scheduling will allow you to concentrate on tasks with a higher priority.
Social bookmarking: It is the ability of marking or saving content of importance to be used later and, ideally, a way of quicker access. Without the collaborative actions of saving and sharing on the web, social bookmarking would be of little use. Tools like Delicious let you share bookmarks and be involved in social interaction around those pages. A free service that serves as secure storage for things you often bump into while browsing. It allows the easy collection of essential links, which are organized and easily accessible, serving as your own customized search engine. There are also more popular and versatile sites like Pinterest and Reddit, which let users store and share internet bookmarks.
Tab arranging: If you are a tab hoarder, you know why I’m highlighting this. Every time we are engaged in research and development or simple socializing, we open multiple links, which mostly open up new tabs on our browsers. This tends to cause previously accessed important links to be lost among the clutter of several other tabs. Browser extensions like Tab Organizer and One Tab can help you out with this mind boggling issue. While Tab Organizer rearranges tabs into groups of matching URLs, OneTab converts all of your tabs into a list.
Social networking is more often than not an instantaneous results-driven prospect. Achieving results through activities online is the one true guarantee of efficiency.
In today’s social networking age, everything is immediate. Users like you and me do not consider it an option to save time by doing less. We all have different needs and they all must be met. One cannot simply tag an activity as “unimportant” for it to be eliminated from their social activity. It may seem like a herculean task, but if done properly, indeed, more can be achieved with less.
Ayrin Islam is the co-founder and CEO of social networking app ringID.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.