I’ve talked about the social media monster before and it’s true, maintaining an authorly online presence can seem like a legendary battle. You begin to feel that social media controls you, instead of you controlling it. Specifically, that social media monster can devour way too much of your precious time, time that you need to write.
What do I mean by ‘time spent on social media’?
- planning what you’ll post on social media
- writing and scheduling social media posts
- creating other kinds of content to share on social media
- responding to comments and other people’s content
- aimlessly scrolling (we all do it)
What I don’t mean is the personal time you spend reconnecting with Aunt Elsie on Facebook or catching up with your cousin’s wedding pics on Instagram.
It’s an ongoing struggle that demands you regularly check in on how you’re doing, but here are three ways I keep control of time spent on my social media channels:
I have a plan
People plan ahead in different ways. Some people use online apps, others build detailed spreadsheets, while yet more use sticky notes and a notice board. I use a hand-written bullet journal.
Every month, I write a list of days (June 1 to 30, for instance) and plan out what I’ll post on which social media channel and when. There’s a whole process behind how I decide what to post, factors like where I am in the book writing/publishing process and what special dates/holidays I can use to market my books, but the advantage of planning out my social media posts for the month is that I know how much I have to create, schedule, and post over the next few weeks. This means that I also know how much time all of that will take.
I make a weekly appointment with my social media plan
Every week, I spend Monday morning on my social media plan. For me, that means planning, writing, and scheduling social media content for both my copywriting business and my authorly persona for the week ahead, including writing blog posts like this one. For you, that appointment might be an hour on Sunday or a couple of hours on Saturday morning.
I treat that time as a busy slot in my diary in the same way that I would treat an appointment with the dentist or a meeting with a client. By making an appointment to handle my weekly social media:
- I set a boundary around that time
- I reinforce the importance of that task and appointment
- I save time by completing that task in one go
- I can see at a glance how the week’s social media output will work as a whole
I limit social media time on mobile devices
For me, this is easy to do because I handle my social media posting via my computer. I therefore have no reason to check my Twitter or Instagram feeds, for instance, on my mobile phone. If, however, you do all your social media posting on a mobile device, this won’t be as easy to do.
But here’s the thing; most of us have a mobile device (or two) and if we’re honest, most of us also have a habit of reaching for that mobile device on a regular basis throughout the day. I admit that I feel lost if I don’t have my phone in my pocket, on my desk, or on the sofa arm beside me. The temptation is to check if your tweet has gone live, or if anyone has commented on your Facebook post, or whether the person you tagged in your Instagram post has responded. While there’s nothing wrong in any of that, it often leads to that aimless scrolling that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Before you know it, a couple of hours have passed and you’ve done nothing constructive.
I’ll say it again, there’s nothing wrong with having personal time on your social media channels. After all, it’s called ‘social’ media for a reason. But there is a need to divide that type of browsing from your online time as an author.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use your mobile devices to post to and check your social media channels, but do it mindfully. Know why you are there, what you need to do, and how much time you can afford to spend on it.
It can often feel like you’re fighting a losing battle with social media and that the monstrous online beastie is not only winning but increasingly gorging itself on your valuable time. It doesn’t have to be like that though. With a few tweaks to your routine, you really can win out and take back control.
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