A Two-Step Method for Managing Social Networking Time

By Laura Christianson

Time.

It’s a killer, isn’t it?

Finding time to “do” social networking — and managing that time effectively — is the single biggest bugaboo most of us face.

Before you practice managing your time, you must be aware of how much time per day/week you spend social networking.

Step 1: Track Your Time

You have more free time in your week than you think, says Laura Vanderkam, author of the book, 168 Hours.

Her premise is that there are 168 hours in a week. On her website, she provides a free Time Management Spreadsheet (Excel and PDF versions) so you can record what you’re doing every hour of the day for a full week. Vanderkam writes:

“Think of yourself as an attorney billing your time to different projects.”

After you’ve recorded 168 hours, Vanderkam recommends breaking your activities into categories. How much time did you spend doing the following:

  • working
  • commuting
  • interacting with your family
  • sleeping
  • exercising
  • personal care (showering, shaving)
  • housework or household administration
  • watching TV
  • reading
  • checking your Facebook account

Then ask yourself: Do these numbers reflect the number of hours I’d like to “bill” to these projects?

Step 2: Practice Managing Your Time

Do some hard thinking about how you want to prioritize social networking time.

  • Do you want to bookend your day, checking and updating your social networks for 15 minutes at the beginning of your day and another 15 minutes at the end?
  • Do you want to devote a specific chunk of your day to social networking  — say, from 10-11 a.m.?
  • Do you want to spend 5 minutes, four times per day, checking updates and interacting with your followers?

Choose one method and test it for three weeks. I know you’ll feel tempted to cheat, so here’s the critical part:

Set a timer.

If you plan to spend a 15-minute chunk of time social networking, set a timer for 15 minutes. When it dings. you’re done. Period. No excuses.

You can set the alarm or countdown timer on your cell phone or use a kitchen timer or a web-based egg timer, but it has to be something that dings, bleeps, honks, or otherwise makes an unusual noise to alert you that time’s up.

Here are two timers I use and recommend (they’re free, of course):

E.ggTimer: http://e.ggtimer.com

Setting this timer is about as easy as it gets. Just type in the number of hours/minutes/seconds, click “Go,” and the timer begins counting down. When it reaches zero, it makes a high-pitched, irritating beep-beep, beep-beep that sounds like a hospital heart monitor. Impossible to ignore.

This eg.gtimer also comes with creative some built-in default settings:

  • Morning warm up (running in place, stretching)
  • Brushing your teeth
  • And, of course, cooking an egg!

Online-Stopwatch: http://www.online-stopwatch.com

Online-Stopwatch.com Countdown Timer

I love the countdown timer. There are many options to choose from; my favorite is the Custom Countdown, which I programmed to play a round of applause when my networking time is up. After all, we deserve someone to cheer us on for a job well done.

You can also make it play an air raid siren, rocket launch, explosions… even laughter (if you feel the need to mock yourself).

Join the conversation!

What’s your best tip for managing your social networking time?

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