Productivity Tip: #7 How to Trim Social Media Time

“Happy people produce. Bored people consume.” ― Stephen Richards

social mediaPeople are now spending more time on computers and other digital media than watching TV. The average adult will spend over five hours a day online!

A good portion of that time is spent on social media sites and one study in 2011 estimated that 1 in every 5 minutes online was spent on social media. Facebook alone accounts for 3 out of every 4 of those social networking minutes and 1 in every 7 minutes spent online is on Facebook.

A recent shocking study by economist, Scott Wallsten, showed that “For every minute that they spend lazing on the computer, Americans spend approximately 16 fewer seconds working, seven fewer seconds sleeping,  six fewer seconds traveling, four fewer seconds doing household chores, and three fewer seconds educating themselves.”

Can you imagine how much more educated, rested and richer we would be if we could cut back on our computer time? In order to be more productive, we have to look at the activities that are taking up our time and see how we can cut back. I don’t think it’s realistic to ban yourself from all social media as it is a great way to connect with friends and for networking. But we can be more mindful of how much time we spend online and learn how to maximize our time.

To determine how much time you are actually spending on social media sites, use a program like Rescue Time to track how much time social media takes up. You may be surprised to see that it can be up to an hour or more a day.

How to Trim Your Social Media Time

Get your Content From one Source Only

Are you signed up for a blogger’s newsletter, and following them on Twitter and Facebook? While you may not want to miss anything they share, you are wasting time reading the same headline in various places and the information doesn’t always come at a time when it’s convenient for you.

To avoid this problem, you can use a news aggregator like Feedly. Add your favorite blogs and news sources to this app and then you can choose to read them at a time that’s convenient for you.

You can separate content into different categories such as news, career-related information and entertainment. It is cloud based and you can use it on your phone or iPad while you have a few free minutes.

Schedule 1-3 times a day to check social media

Social media offers instant gratification and it is tempting to check several times a day to see if anyone has liked your Instagram picture, shared your Facebook link or commented on your blog. These small chunks of time add up and disrupt your productivity and flow.

Pick 1-3 times a day to check your social media. This will also allow you to keep better track of how much time you spend online as well and help you avoid re-reading the same posts.

One of my friends complained that waiting until the evening to check her Facebook feed meant spending an hour to get through the entire newsfeed. As I pointed out to her, spreading it out throughout the day would likely take longer because you see the same posts multiple times the more often you check. I also suggested she might want to delete some of her “closest” 600 friends.

Segment Your Content

Facebook and Twitter have a number of ways you can segment your content to make sure you see the most important updates.

On Twitter you can create lists and then set up a stream in Hootsuite to follow this list or a hashtag. This way you can be more likely to see tweets that are important to you.

On Facebook, you can add your closest friends and family to lists. By default, you are notified every time someone on your “Closest Friends” list posts but you can turn that off. When you’re short on time, you can scroll through the updates only from these friends so you don’t miss anything important.

If you have friends who post daily photos of their pet, children, sport or lunch you can choose to hide their photo updates. Putting people on the acquaintances list means you’ll see less of their posts or you can hide all their posts from the news feed.

A simpler way might be to just delete people but that can be awkward with family members or co-workers. A recent study in the UK showed that people only consider themselves good friends with 10% of their Facebook contacts yet hesitate to delete the others because they are nosy or worried about the consequences.

Whether you delete or hide people, remind yourself that every minute spent reading about someone’s daily life is a minute taken away from your busy schedule that could be spent going after your goals and dreams.

Preschedule your Posts

If you need to promote your company on social media, you can’t ignore it entirely but you can be more efficient. Instead of breaking up your day to post on social media, you can pre-schedule posts on Hootsuite or other social media apps. Most allow you to post to multiple networks which also saves you time.

Take a Social Media Holiday

If you find yourself still spending too much time on social media, consider taking a break. Commit to a few days and see how you fill your time. If you’re not spending an hour reading acquaintance’s updates, you might have time to have coffee with a friend, call your mom or spend more time with your family.

As much as I love the work that I do, some of my favorite days are when I don’t have time to even sit down at a computer. It’s become so ingrained in us to check social media as soon as we wake up, during the day and before we go to bed that we’ve don’t even notice how much time it is taking up.

Take back your life by recognizing how much of your day is spent on social media and how you can maximize your time by eliminating irrelevant or multiple postings.


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