Are you suffering from Social Time Delay (STD)? So many people have it and the worst news is: it’s contagious. It spreads with the touch of a button—almost any button these days—including send, tweet, like, comment and share.
It starts off innocently enough with a subtle plink, ding, plunk, quack. These are the disarmingly sweet sounds that now replace the heinous “you’ve got mail” of yesteryear. Each unique bell and whistle alerts you that someone, somewhere is poking and prodding you to take your eye off the prize. To read, look or respond. To waste time swapping stories around the watercooler. Before you know it, you’ve lost an hour tweeting it up with a friend, visiting a blog, facebooking your way through a conversation that, quite frankly, can wait.
I’m not suggesting you abstain from the watercooler. It’s completely necessary for your sanity, success, sense of community and ongoing quest for simple pleasure. I’m just saying, there’s a time and place when yukking it up doesn’t result in a loss of productivity during the workday.
Fret not, my social butterfly. There are a number of ways you can tone down the distraction, pump up your profitability and still have a little time left to play.
It just takes clarity and purpose. You need to determine why you’re sitting in front of that computer or tethered to that smartphone in the first place. If you very quickly analyze your profit stream, you can identify what, if any, social networking sites positively impact your bottom line.
Will an hour on twitter boost your profits? Maybe. Will thirty minutes on Facebook help you sell more widgets? Perhaps. And how about Flickr? What’s that doing for your bank account? If you’re spending more than an hour on any, chances are your not investing enough of your time and talent on your business.
So how can you keep your STD in check? Here’s a 3 step plan to get you started.
Determine what sites are a good fit for your business.
Are you completely devoted to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, Tumblr, Pininterest? Do you find yourself roaming around in a long list of blogs? Is this a matter of business or pleasure?
If it’s pleasure then you need to allocated personal time—read: after work—to enjoy yourself. If it’s for business you need to categorize your reason for roaming around. Simply put: what sites offer you a return?
Do your Twitter lists provide much needed resources that improve your business? Do the bulk of your sales come from your Facebook page? Does your favorite blog empower you? Your answers may be yes, yes and yes which means you should devote a little time to each source every day; however if your answers are no, no and no then you need to level with your social addiction and step away from the delay it puts in your workday.
Designate a social hour that works for you.
Try to pinpoint one or two times a day when you’re least productive. When do you feel like you need a break? Steer clear of your fresh zones: first thing in the morning and right after lunch. The last thing you need to do is become socially engaged when you’re energy level is at an all time high—your work deserves the benefit of fully present, pumped-up you.
When you determine your social time zones, allocate only 15 minutes of your time. Set a timer if you need to. This may be difficult at first. On some days, it may be impossible. I’m willing to confess that I donate an hour of time on Twitter every Thursday from 1-2 just to walk into the bright and sunny #omhg chat fest. That hour of power offers more than just a sense of community—those inspirational, creatively-juicy chats help my business brain function. If my schedule is swapped, I forgo the fest and catch the transcript. It’s not as much fun, but neither is extending my workday, delaying a project, putting off a meeting.
Focus on your tasks at hand.
When you’re working, shut your virtual doors, disable your social plugs, mute that handy-dandy phone of yours. If it’s not work, it can wait.
If you follow these 5 tasks to a more productive day, you can reward yourself with a little extra chitter-chatter at task #5. Just don’t be surprised if you find a long bath and glass of wine more rewarding than a trip to the watercooler. Funny things happen when you keep your eye on your prize.