Today’s article was written by Cecily Kellogg.
At my first job as a travel agency receptionist, the only distraction I had was the occasional cigarette (remember smoking in offices?). Otherwise, work was just work, and despite the infrequent water cooler chat we pretty much kept our heads down and focused.
In today’s offices, the Internet is both a constant lure and a likely requirement for research or using web-based business apps. Even if your company has blocked access to most social media sites, all you have to do is pick up your phone to log in and check the latest status updates. In fact, for many of us, the idea of being offline in social media for eight hours at a time is torture (and impractical, for those of us who work in marketing and current events).
So how do you pace yourself? You want to be productive at the office, but you don’t want to feel out of touch, either. Here are some simple tips.
1. Decide how many times a day you really need to check in.
For my work—which is in social media—I have a set schedule that I follow religiously. While it’s pretty unlikely that you need to sign in to Facebook as frequently as I do, it’s still good to think about how often you do. Can you get by with just twice a day? Can you keep your tweets to two or three times a day? Figure out what you’d prefer and then stick with it.
2. Set time limits.
If you’ve decided to only check in on Facebook three times a day, make sure you know how much time you can spend. Five minutes? Ten? Use your alarm on your phone to buzz you, or on a desktop you can use fun apps like Minutes Please and set a time limit (you’ll get popup windows when it’s time to go offline).
3. Turn off notifications on your phone and desktop.
I promise: You do not need to pay attention to every single posting of Aunt Ethel’s cat. Stick to your schedule instead of being distracted by flashing alerts on your phone or desktop.
4. Schedule your posts in advance.
If you are using social media to promote something like your new cookbook, a blog, or an event you’re helping organize, you can use tools such as Hootsuite to schedule posting in advance. That way you can trust your message is getting out there without having to disrupt your day.
5. Bookmark, “like,” and “favorite” links rather than reading them now.
Twitter lets you “favorite” a tweet, Facebook lets you “like” a post to bookmark it—use these tools instead of actually reading the link now. The reason social networking sites are such time busters isn’t just because you engage in conversations; it’s the outbound links you follow to articles and animal videos that absorb your attention.
In today’s hyper connected times, promising that you’ll stay off social networking sites during work hours is unrealistic. It is possible, however, to be productive while checking in each day. Take it from a social media addict: These tips really work.