Creating: Social Media and Time Management

I'll just state flat out ... no, I don't have the magic answer to stop the time suck.

I spent most of my social time last week adding people to my groups little by little. I punched the Like Button a lot and commented on several posts, but I didn't do too well on making original wall comments or tweets. I also joined Google+ - thanks to Clarissa for the invitation :)

Since all this jabbering about and eavesdropping is brand new to me, I know I'm spending more time there in these first few weeks than I ever plan to spend again. I know this because if I continue to spend so much time there I've defeated my purpose. I would then have no time remaining to write. And I get cranky if I go for a while without writing.

Even with all that, my Goodreads page is in sad, sad shape. One day I will tend to it. Sadly, that day will probably be when I'm totally embarrassed by its condition. I've thought about all this more than a bit because all of us have a finite amount of time in each day.

Although I don't yet have any sort of answer that works for me, I do have methods I'm going to try. And I'm going to share them with you. If you have something that works for you, please share with the rest of us.

Set a Timer
This method works well for me in other areas, so it's my go-to for any time crunch. I check in at the Tiki Hut early. Then mid-morning, after lunch, late afternoon, and evening. Depending on my schedule I may check here more or less often, but those times are pretty standard. I spend 30 minutes to an hour early reading your blogs. I rarely get to all of them in that time frame. I spend about 15 minutes on subsequent check-ins throughout the day. I read your blogs then. And on the following day. I try not to read in the same order all the time. If I add 15 minutes morning and evening to this schedule, that gives me time to check-in, comment, and say something on each social media outlet twice a day. I hope. This will be the best option because it will be the least intrusive on the rest of my day and still allow me to maintain contact with everyone. This is the method I will try first.

One Media at a Time
If the timer method doesn't work, I will visit each site one at a time once a day. But I will set a timer here, too. No more than 15 minutes for each site visit. This will take an hour of time as opposed to the 30 minutes above. It may be that I will need to do things this way for a while before cutting back to twice a day visits. I hope not. If neither of these work, then I have to rethink.

From time to time, I'm sure there will be conversations I want to follow. But I can't let them take over my day. I think if I have a plan in place, I'll know where I need to be and not be as prone to get too caught up in something.

I may be all wet. It may be that nothing will work. But I have to try.

I don't know if I will start this week or next. I had some social media goals when I began, and I'd like to reach them before letting things build the rest of the way organically. I will probably focus on achieving those goals before I cut back. I hope most of them are met this week. They're not huge goals, but to me they will put my pages and profiles and circles and followings and friends in more respectable positions. And that will make me feel better about myself and about being more active.

The Top Things I Need to Remember
Prioritize - Put first things first. For me that's family and writing. Everything comes second after that - blogging, email, and social media included. This is the basis behind using a timer and staying firm.
Read - It's what I tend to drop first when I run out of time. And I hate that. I love to get lost in a great book.
Unplug - It's important. It doesn't have to be for a long time. Even a few hours once a week can work wonders.

So how about you? Do you manage your social media time? Or does it manage you?

Share your secrets. We won't tell.

Promise :)


I'm still trying to manage my social media time, as well. I like the idea of setting a timer or creating mini deadlines. That's a great idea to avoid the time suck, as you say.

It certainly is time consuming. I've joined lots of different groups and sites, but I don't use them all. At some point I just started to naturally weed out sources that weren't helping me or that didn't feel like a positive use of my time. Good luck to you and have a great week!

-Miss GOP
Julie Flanders said…
Great advice, and this post is very timely for me. I'm trying to get more involved in Twitter and Facebook, not to mention Goodreads, and I am having difficulty managing the time. I've gotten behind not only on my writing, but also on my blog visits. I enjoy the blogging the most of the various social media avenues so I want to focus on that, but I don't want to miss out on everything else. I appreciate your tips as I'm clueless about how to effectively manage the time at this point.

Thanks for sharing, and I hope you have a great week ahead!
Linda G. said…
Boy, you sure struck a chord with this one. I love social media, and how it gives you a chance to really connect with other writers and readers, but it does take a lot of time. Something is bound to give. For me, it can't be family or my novel writing.

Where I really fall down is Goodreads. I suck at it. *sigh* I just can't find the time to master that yet. Maybe someday...
Carol Kilgore said…
Miss GOP - Thanks for the good luck wishes - I need them!

Julie - It's both good and bad to know others have the same problems. Things are messy now. The will get better. So far I like blogging best, too.

Linda - I think you and I are a lot alike. Maybe we need a Goodreads Cram Session to get it all done. It's just overwhelming.
Lydia Kang said…
I like your rules. Especially to unplug here and there. It's hard balancing it all...I'm still figuring it all out too.
BECKY said…
Hey Carole! Boy, I sure can relate to this! I've continually spent way too much time the past! Since I got home from my vacation last week, I have been in such a writing compares to nothing I've ever done before! So...a couple of answers might be: 1) I was unplugged for almost a week. 2) I had a fun, relaxing vacation. 3) AND maybe my "missing muse" finally found its way home! I haven't been a happier writer in years!! *All your suggestions are wonderful, and I really have nothing to add*
VR Barkowski said…
Great post. Social media manages me, no question. I can unplug, but the tell is, I feel guilty about it. Not sure how to fix the problem. I find Facebook the least time consuming because it allows me to dip in and out, something I've never been able to accomplish with Twitter.
I'm sure I blog more than I need to...
Jennifer Shirk said…
I cut down on blogging and have days where I spend all morning online and days where I'm not online at all. I don't worry about those days. It is what it is and I'm a lot less stressed. :-)
Carol Kilgore said…
Lydia - Keep me posted on your progress :)

Becky - Yea for happy muses!

VR - I knew going in Twitter had the power to make me totally OCD keeping up with all of it. So from the get-go I read tweets from maybe up to 30 minutes old only. Now that I installed Tweetdeck, it's easier to skip those that don't interest me at all. But since I'm still going back and forth for other things, I see things from both FB and Twitter that don't show up on Tweetdeck and others that only show up on Tweetdeck. Weird.

Alex - But I love your blog :) So don't stop.

Jennifer - There's the key - be willing to let it go. I'm trying to get there :)
LR said…
Social media is def. important, and fun too.

I'm not doing Twitter just yet. But maybe at some point. I can't imagine Facebook would be a big time suck.

Good luck with all your endeavors!
Terry Odell said…
I enjoy poking around blogs more than FB or Twitter (and now there's Google+) but when it's time to work, it's time to work.

I've managed to keep most "clutter" off my FB Wall, so I'm not inundated with updates about who's friends with whom, etc. And TweetDeck really helps because I create groups for the people I want to follow and let the rest stream by.

But ... I must get back to the WIP!

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery
Unknown said…
I'm not sure you should be happy with me for sending you an invitation to something that takes up more of your time. I have in the past set up a timer and it does work but it takes a lot self control.
Elspeth Futcher said…
Iron self discipline is what's needed. My self discipline has more in common with the strength of spaghetti than iron. I'm confident you'll fare better than me!
Unknown said…
Boy can I relate to this post. It is easy to get distracted by social media. You offered some great advice here. I've just limited myself to twice a week in regard to social media. Otherwise, I'd never get any writing done.
Carol Kilgore said…
LR - Thanks. I think I should have my head examined for beginning everything at once.
Carol Kilgore said…
Oops. I hit send before I finished responding to everyone.

Terry - Blogs are my fave, too. And I like Tweetdeck :)

Clarissa - So far I like Google+. Lots of buzz about it, for sure, good and bad.

Elspeth - We'll see how it goes.

Andrea - Twice a week! Sounds like heaven :)
Rula Sinara said…
It's a tough one. I'm not on all social media, but even blogging and following blogs, plus a few forums, is an addictive time suck.

I try to limit the time in the morning, and check emails and my own blog comments again in the mid afternoon, and once again before bed.

I use an egg timer (yep, in the shape of an egg...I did a post once that explained why, LOL) to keep me on track for word count goals during my first draft of a manuscript. Pretty much as you described.

But some days, I'm not in the mindframe to do heavy duty work, so I check blogs more. Others, like yesterday, I completely unplug. Usually, I'll go back the next day thinking that I've missed sooooo much...but I haven't really. It's easy to catch up :).
Carol Kilgore said…
I punch my end time into outlook and it shows up on my screen. I totally get not doing heavy duty work on some days. I'm the same way. I do easier things those days.
Laura Eno said…
It's still managing me. :(
J.L. Campbell said…
Setting priorities is important. Of course, I tend to forget what I should be doing once I log on to catch up on everything. However, if I have deadlines, those get my attention first.
Carol Kilgore said…
Laura - I'm struggling to win.

J.L. - It's a constant battle, I think.
Savannah said…
Carol, I love the top three things to remember. That's it in a nutshell!!!
Carol Kilgore said…
Thanks, Savannah :)
Anonymous said…
I like to use a timer with many tasks, too.

I set limits on social media. A year ago I drove myself crazy with all my accounts, and I lost precious writing time. Sometimes this still happens.

I created a chart of my daily SM usage so that I don't go overboard posting and commenting everywhere. It's a simple system that I created and it's easy to follow. I'm a maker of charts and to-do lists, so this works for me.
Carol Kilgore said…
Medeia - Good for you. I make to-do lists, but I'm not a chart maker. I do keep track of my time, though, so I see how much time I've spent everywhere. I think it accomplishes the same goal.
G. J. Jolly said…
Hi Carol

Social media was driving me crazy. I finally just stopped going to any of the sites. It's only been in the past week that I have started to show up at the sites again and I'm handling it different now. If something has to be left behind in the dust, it is now social media. I've kept up reading friend's blogs to a certain point but I've even ignored yours at times this summer.
Carol Kilgore said…
Glynis - I'm working really hard right now to get it under control. Or as under control as possible. I'm still searching for people I know but I hope to complete that task by the weekend. Even so, I'm sure there are some I'll miss. Maybe they'll find me. In September, I'll be back hard at work editing and writing, so I need a firm schedule by then or I won't meet my goals.