Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Balance Your Social Networking Time

In my previous post I explained how social media is a great investment of our time, but it can begin to drain too much of that time. This post will offer ways you can balance social media so that it doesn't become a demand on your time.

Assess your current time usage.
This means being honest with how much time you spend on social media sites in all their flavours. You might be surprised by how high that number is, especially if you dip your toes in at regular intervals during the day.

Note: a part of this assessment should include some honesty behind why you are currently using it. For example, many of us use it as a distraction from other priorities.

Assess what you want from social media. There are many reasons to hang out on social networking sites: to sell a product, to be a part of a supportive community, to build a platform, to connect with friends, to keep in touch with an industry of choice, to learn new information, to be seen, to be distracted, to share…and the list goes on.

Assess your priorities. Now that you know what you want, you need to work out your priorities. This includes the priority of each 'want' if you have more than one, as well as your priorities outside social networking.

Assess your needed time usage. Based on what you want from social media and other priorities, you should be able to work out how much time you'll need to gain the most out of all of them. For example, if it's about platform building, then a writer who hasn't finished their first manuscript doesn't need to spend as much time networking as an author who is about to release their book. The amount will also vary depending on the type of social media. Some, like blogging, require more time than others.

Schedule your time. If you don't like schedules, then place a maximum time limit on your browsing, commenting, tweeting etc. These are the best way to keep an eye on your time if you stick to them.

Take a break. Breaks hold off burn-out. They keep us sane and they can refresh our spirit. Know that you won't fall off the grid if you disappear for a week or even two. Note: Rather than just disappearing, it's crucial to inform your readers/followers of your plan and let them know when they can expect you back.

Be flexible. Demands on your time will fluctuate and needs will vary. It's important to stay flexible and adjust to these changes.

This post turned out longer than I'd expected so next week I'll share specific tips on the things you can do to cut back. 

What do you want from social media?

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Thank you to Amy at The Literary Mom for the Sunshine Award. Thank you also to Susan Fields for the Great Comments Award. Please pop on by their blogs to say hi from me.

62 comments:

  1. This is something I've been SO conscious of lately... especially when I'm getting close to completing my WIP... I've had to schedule my social media time... The blogging is important to me, so I've set time limits for myself! It's been working well, because the short time in blogging world helps clear my head for when I dip back into writing. :D

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  2. I have the opposite problem of an addiction. I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the social media that sometimes I just quit. These tips will definitely help though! :)

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  3. You use the word "assess" a lot. I'm thinking that this could be a crutch word on this particular blog post.

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  4. Great post, Lynda! I took some time during my holiday break and analyzed what I was doing on social media and what I wanted from each of the venues I spend time on: blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Now I can better utilize my time spent. Not to say I always follow my rules LOL, but at least I know when I'm off track.

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  5. I've learnt to prioritise time, but sometimes it's spur of the moment surfing, and then I have to watch it. This is surfing to see who did what today so I don't miss out on something important - a festival, a book launch, a review, writing advice, etc etc!
    I like the 'take a break' advice, hard to do, but I know it will keep me sane and refresh my spirit.

    Thanks again for your insight. :)

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  6. I'm one of those authors getting ready to promote a book, so yes, I am on a lot right now. Taking breaks is a good recommendation because one can only stare at the computer so long - and the time does add up. I will ease back to write my third book, and fortunately it will be my last.
    Blogging is all about the socializing though!

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  7. I'd rather not follow anyone unless they're posting cute bulldog pictures.

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  8. hope you wash your toes before dipping them into social media :PPP

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  9. Great tips. My problem is that I have two reasons for using social media - it started as a platform-building exercise, but it turned into a way to gather information - and there is SO MUCH information out there!

    Setting a time limit will probably help me avoid the Social Media black hole. :-) Thanks for the post!

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  10. Great timely post! Thank you for this Lynda. Sometimes I'm on the net the whole day through without a break! Or lunch...0r shower...

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  11. I have had to get a lot more strict with myself lately. I follow so many blogs that I could spend the entire day on social media. But, um, I've got this novel thing I'm trying to finish...

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  12. When I find myself spending too long online, I either switch off the Internet or I leave the house and work somewhere without wireless ^^

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  13. Excellent advice, Lynda! I have a Goodreads account I never use because I don't have time. I'm hoping someday I'll be efficient enough to fit it in, too.

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  14. The title of this post should attract a LOT of attention - there is a bit of social media overload on the net now. Just as I start up a Flickr account I learn from my kids that Instagram is where it's at.

    Have to admit, I use blogger because I love the writing community, but my readers (tweens and teens) don't go there, they frequent Tumblr, but the thought of investing effort in one more site is overwhelming.

    Internet should come with a free personal assistant :)

    Wagging Tales

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  15. I SO-O-O-O needed this post. Great advice. Thank you!

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  16. great advice! thanks for passing it on.
    limits are necessary!

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  17. I look for information and connection, mostly. Great advice for balancing social media!

    Congrats on the awards. :)

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  18. As the social networking community grows it demands more and more of our time. I know some who've virtually given up blogging to concentrate on FB and twitter which don't demand as much as blogging. For me, blogging is still no 1, but I definitely know I spend far too much time blogging and reading blogs. But I'm learning so much and I find it truer than a quick tweet or often self gratiating FB post.

    Denise

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  19. very good advice! i see so many young kids connected at the hip to all the social media sites available!

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  20. Very good post. I will be scaling back soon as I need to finish my WIPs. Thinking of not even turning the internet on for the first couple of hours in the day.

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  21. It's hard, yet easy. I probably don't do enough with social media but my writing comes first. :)

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  22. I am finally using social media wisely. It has taken a long time. I will never give it up completely because I so enjoy the friendships I've made. It has helped me promote my books. And I use it to promote the books of (especially) other bloggers, my friends!

    Very good post, Lynda!

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  23. Heheheee, different "flavours." Yes, there are. I like the idea of setting a time limit; that's what I'm TRYing to do with Facebook. But like you also said--be flexible. Once in a while I have a bit of time and something intrigues me on FB or Twitter, so I keep at it a bit longer, and make those connections. :)

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  24. Excellent post. I want relationships, but I don't want blogging to take over my writing time and life. Still, I need to commit some time because people seem to have a short memory.

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  25. Hi, Lynda,

    This is a perfect post. We all need to use social media to keep connected and informed. But as you said it can get very time consuming.

    I, myself, have had a hard time keeping up lately. Just when things in my life quiet down and I'm back, something else pops up.

    But I do try to keep blogger friends informed. It is so important because so many have become friends and we don't want to disappoint our friends.

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  26. You are the voice of sanity in this blogosphere.

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  27. This is one of those "pin it on the frig" articles. I need it some place where I will reread it as necessary. Excellent advice... now I just need to follow it!

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  28. I started on Facebook only to "advertise" my blog and then my writing. Around the same time I became very interested in my family tree. I really don't even go on FB much anymore, unless it's to "find" someone in the tree. It really does work. However, maybe it's given me a reason to put the writing on the back burner. I'm having so much trouble putting it all together. I'm going to have my wife read this. Great post!

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  29. Excellent tips, Lynda. I do some of this, but there's room for improvement. I have yet to take a break. I might be off Twitter for a day or two, and that's it. And for my blog, I schedule posts when I'm out of town. I need to learn to take a break.

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  30. I want the time I spend on social media to result in establishing new connections with intelligent people from around the world.

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  31. I have no doubt I spend a lot more time on social networking in a day than I realise.

    I do love the idea of taking a break, personally ;)

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  32. As I see blogging as a bit of fun it's nice to know I can nip in and out whenever I want to! It's addictive though! LOL! Take care
    x

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  33. Excellent post, shall look for the next one.

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  34. Great post. It is a time hog, for sure. I struggle between promo and writing, with a dash of family time.

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  35. As the social networking community grows it demands more and more of our time. Recently i came across Tweet Adder Review which is again a great social network tool.

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  36. these are awesome points to consider, Lynda--esp. the part about whether we're using social media to procrastinate! :D

    You're right, though. We need to decide what we want and then prioritize based on that. Good stuff. :o) <3

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  37. Flexibility is key, and it also spices things up, because you don't want to always do the same thing. I'd say I spend 1 to 1.5 hours a day doing social media type stuff for my book.

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  38. Yup, yup. I'm trying to monitor myself.

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  39. Ah, I need to schedule my time better with social media. I do use it a lot to avoid doing other things. It's terrible. I think I'll have to make a plan and start sticking with it more. :)

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  40. Madeline, a desire to quit is often a sign of burn out. The occasional break will help.

    Michael, lol, thanks for that.

    KarenG, hehe yep I often break my rules too.

    Dezzy, before AND after! ;)

    Nas, yeah, I've been known to forget to eat too... but I do that with writing as well ;)

    Luanne, It's so easy to spend the whole day blogging...and still not get through them all!

    Miss Cole, switching off the internet is a brilliant way to control net time. I do that on occasion too.

    Charmaine, instagram? Really? lol, sigh ;) I was talking to some older teens recently and they definitely trawl the blogs still, but it's highly dependant on their topics of interest.

    Denise, I agree. At the moment my preference is for blogging as well, but my goodness it takes a lot of time.

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  41. Marta, not turning on the internet for the first couple of hours each day is a smart move.

    Carol, even though you've taken a step back, it doesn't feel that way on the net because I still see you around.

    Theresa, same, same, and yes, people do have short memories because there's so many of us bloggers around.

    Michael, life happens. Try not to stress too much about it. I think you've formed some real relationships and that's what matters.

    Pat, I hope it helps

    Medeia, Last Christmas I took off three whole weeks and it didn't hurt my numbers at all. I came back stronger too.

    Old Kitty, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    Leigh, unfortunately, regarding procrastination, I speak from experience ;)

    Mark, I agree, mixing it up is a good thing. Your social media time is good and certainly manageable.

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  42. I've been turning my Internet off... Because I hVe the worst habit of flicking onto social media in my thinking moments.

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  43. I concentrate mostly on blogging, and reading others blogs. It started as a way to learn but now it's a way of keeping in touch with the friends I've made, and I definitely spend longer than I should do - but it's mostly time I would have spent doing housework or sleeping or something :-)

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  44. I saw the post title and went, aah. I spend way too much time on social media! Got to cut down.

    Can ask where you got the code for the facebook, twitter etc links in your sidebar? Would be perfect for my blog.

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  45. I feel I've been spending too much time blogging but I get so many ideas and opportunities to promote I'm not sure the time is wasted.

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  46. I like the idea of scheduling - it definitely helps if I set days on which I don't even turn on the computer.

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  47. 'Assess what you want from social media.'

    You know, this is so basic, and yet it's easy to fail to do this until burn-out starts to rear its head.

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  48. Very informative - I need to go through your checklist and schedule! *bad scheduler, right here*

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  49. Great tips, Lynda! I tend to lose focus on social media and then start procrastinating ... using social media to do so. I need to tighten up my ship :)

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  50. All great tips, Lynda. It's so important to prioritise and be focused with this.

    Jai

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  51. There is an ebb and flow to social media, as it really depends on how much time we have to commit to our projects, and sometimes social media is at the forefront of our minds, or has to take a backseat.

    Take a break...Ugh. Need to unplug, which I will do this weekend!

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  52. These are all great tips. One of the most important things i realized, is that you don't HAVE to do it all! Do what makes sense to you (i.e. I fired my twitter account. didn't use it. didn't like it.).

    I agree on "Scheduling your time" - if I don't do this, hours can get sucked away. I've also learned not to go online BEFORE I write in the morning! big mistake. lol.

    Have you read Jeff Vandermeer's BookLife about "creating a writing life in the 21st century?" - it's a few years old now, but I'm still always recommending it.

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  53. I like your profile where you say you take a break on the weekend. Kudos for you.

    This was an interesting article on Social Media as I just had Stacy Jensen on mine talking about the same thing in a different way. She had a different take saying the same thing. I'll be back for the next post. :)

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  54. I forgot to say HI from the campaign trail. Hope you get around to my challenge, number 181 and like it.

    Thanks for reading. :)

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  55. Hi, Lynda. Great post. Right now I'm using social media to meet new people and to learn all I can to help my writing. There are so many wonderful, helpful writers who are willing to share of their time and talents. I want to say THANK YOU to them all! : )

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  56. I've had a strict schedule for awhile and realize I'm going to have to up the ante a few days a week soon. As you said, it depends on what you want out of it.

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  57. This is really good advice. I often forget that I need to step back and assess the time that I am really spending on social networking sites.

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  58. I only really do blogging, but that still takes up a vast amount of time. I am on Facebook but don't do anything on it - I even stopped updating about my posts because I realised my minimal number of friends aren't really interested!

    I think it's really important to make connections with other writers via blogs and I'm learning so much. However, I do need to make sure it doesn't get out of hand and I get burnt out. Having said that, I'm currently taking part in the Platform-Building Campaign and have followed about 100 new blogs - yikes...

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  59. Ellie, a couple of weeks ago I sent you an email with this code.

    Susan, if you think it's time well spent, then that's great!

    Jamie, I'm all too familiar with that ;)

    Jay, enjoy your unplugged time.

    theaccidentalnovelist, that's absolutely right. We don't have to be everywhere doing everything.

    Clarbojahn, I'll check it out :)
    And welcome to my blog!!!

    Susanne, yes! There are sooo many supportive and helpful writers in the blogsphere.

    Nick, hehe, yep, when you're involved in blogfests and campaigns you have to give that extra time to networking. It's well worth it though.

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