In every business or job, we all want to find ways to improve our productivity both with our teams and our work loads. We all have those days where we can’t seem to get ourselves on task. We stop and start, we get bored and find ourselves falling into that time-sucking rabbit hole: social media. Beyond social media, communication in general can keep us distracted because we may have news notifications, chats, group texts, and email conversations going on as well.
If you tracked the number of times you stop a project to access these outlets throughout your workday, you may be in for a rude awakening. You might not want your boss, business partner, clients or customers to see those numbers. If you’re brave enough, there are apps for tracking your activity on your desktop (but it doesn’t count the amount of times you stop to pick up your phone because of yet another notification.
Instead of dropping social media altogether, as some might suggest, I say schedule your social media first. Wait, what? Well, most of us, including me, have an issue with managing this time, looking up to discover it’s been 20 minutes or an hour. We also feel like we’re missing out, as if social media is what keeps us informed on current events. So, schedule time for the Internet, to check emails, and social media is as important of our daily tasks. If you don’t, simply “cutting back” without boundaries probably won’t work because, truthfully, we cannot control ourselves from the ease of access today’s tech provides.
Here are some guidelines. First, plan social media into your day based on the day’s tasks, meetings, etc. Next, turn OFF notifications during work hours. Try airplane mode or do not disturb mode on your phone, and closing social tabs in your web browser.
When scheduling your social breaks, the following are times NOT to schedule any social media:
First thing in the morning. This time is our time to reflect on yesterday, eat breakfast, perhaps meditate or exercise, etc. so that we can have a healthy productive day.
Peak business hours. This is where we make our money! Even I do not violate this and I admit I am a social media freak.
Crunch times for deadlines. Crunch times usually arise because of our mismanagement of time, including social scrolling, dragging our feet at the start of projects we don’t enjoy, etc. The end of a project can be stressful and tedious, and we may want to take a break here or there to relieve stress, but now is not the time!
When you’re scheduling and prioritizing;
- Try scheduling two 30-minute breaks: one early in your day or shift, and another toward the end. Longer sessions let you consume more at once, feeling informed and satisfied.
- Or try scheduling your texting and email correspondence like it is a cigarette break. In an eight-hour period, some states are required by law to offer two 15-minute rest breaks to their hourly employees. This could be your time for social media connection, just make sure you cut yourself off at 15 minutes and also note that 15 minutes should include water breaks and bathroom breaks as well, not in addition to, your social time.
- If necessary, make sure clients, customers, and coworkers know that you only check email at certain times.
Once we establish set times for checking emails, social media, and texts, we can complete everything else on our to-do lists uninterrupted and guilt-free. Mental breaks for funny videos and chats with friends can be helpful during long days or days filled with difficult problem solving. Social media can even provide game-changing connections for our career or business. The key is to stay in control and on schedule so that you’re no longer a sort of media junkie, responding to every ping and ding and notification.
Stick to your plan and soon you’ll find that you can stay connected to the pulse of your community and still productive at the same time.
This article originally appeared in the February Issue of our monthly magazine alongside articles from other great guest contributors and Kelsey, such as Productivity Success for the Rest of Us with exercises, apps and worksheets, plus behind the scenes details from each February episode.
Gil Evans is a service industry veteran of over 40 years who has found that people work their best when they feel valued. No matter what type of business it is, your employees and your customers want to feel important. He is a published author specializing in inspirational leadership, diversity and inclusion. Join thousands of inspired viewers by catching his daily Vlogs on Facebook and YouTube.