(Your dog is waiting for you to log out of Facebook and go outside with him.)
This is Part Three in a series about developing a healthier relationship with Facebook and other social media. If you’re just tuning in, Part One goes into my reasons for taking a Facebook hiatus. In Part Two, I get into the details of how being away from Facebook has effected my ability to focus, feel better, regain some brain wattage and discover hidden buckets of time I can reclaim for my own.
If you’ve been following along, you know that I stopped using Facebook a couple of months ago, and that there’s been no real down side. I’ve gained some healthy perspective on my social media usage, I’ve carved out more time for myself, and I’ve been more relaxed and focused.
BUT—and we all knew this was coming—social media is a reality that most of us have to live with, to some extent. We use it for entertainment, socializing, and keeping up with people and events. And of course, if you’re reading this blog, you’re almost certainly using it for business! I guess it’s possible to do business without social media, but if you’re selling online, this sure seems like a hard road to success. So for me, and maybe for you, too, it makes sense to find a middle path.
My challenge, then, is to 1) find a way to reintegrate Facebook into my life and workflow in a healthy, limited way, and 2) to find social media tools and solutions that require as little of my time as possible. How will I do these things? Let’s break it down.
- Make a plan. How much time do I feel like I have to devote to social media for work and for play? This is important. I wouldn’t approach blogging, writing a book, making a product or even cooking dinner without considering the tasks involved and whether it will take 5 minutes or 40. So why have I been ok with open-ended social media usage?
- Create social media goals for work. What do I want to accomplish? How will I get there? Which tools do I need? How do I know when I’ve accomplished my goals? Are they measurable?
- Draw a line between work and play. It feels right to me to separate these tasks—social time at the beginning and at the end of the day, with work on a different schedule—so that I can clearly define my parameters and make the most of both. Blurring this work/play line seems like a path back to unstructured Facebook usage. No bueno.
- Use social media management tools. I’ve long been an admirer of Hootsuite, and I look forward to getting to know it better. More on that later.
- Keep the Facebook app off my phone. This has been a game-changer for me. Instead of poking at Facebook whenever I’m faced with a moment of unstructured time, I just be. But hey, I’m not perfect; when I can’t manage a zen-like mastery of my smart phone urges, I click over to Instapaper, where I keep all the fascinating articles I’ve run across and saved to read later. And remember: if you keep Facebook Messenger on your phone, you can still be reached via Facebook messages, without the trap of the full app to lead you astray. While you’re at it, be a luddite like I am, and always have been, and shun those horrid notifications on your computer and other devices. This alone will make a huge difference in your ability to focus on work, life, people, the sunset, dinner, and, well, everything.
- Create a schedule. Need help with this? You’re in luck, mon chouchoux; I’ve created a Social Media Worksheet just for you! Just click on the image at the bottom of this post. If this one isn’t your thing, Google and Etsy are your more than capable backup resources. Whatever you choose, make a schedule, even if you plan to use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. Think of your schedule as part of your strategy, and Hootsuite as part of your execution. Hand in glove, my friend.
- Live in the moment. I’m really pleased to report that I no longer see individual glimpses of my life as “sharable”. Sure, I took photos of my beautiful Thanksgiving dinner, and yeah, maybe I’ll post those somewhere eventually. But I spent Thanksgiving with my husband and our friends, and not staging a single second for a Facebook post. I like living this way, and I don’t want to give that up.
- Consider how to deepen my connection with close friends and family outside of Facebook. I can’t be the only person who’s come to realize that I don’t send much email anymore, far less letters or cards. I’d grown to assume that relationships with friends and family far away were ok to handle, at least to some extent, via social media. But wouldn’t your brother like to know you have a new job, or that you’re taking an art class, or that you ran into a mutual friend last week, via an actual conversation?? Getting in touch with people individually is still really important. I may not be dedicated enough to get back to daily letter writing, but I’m already spending more time with one-on-one communication than I have in years. This is a good thing.
I’m in the middle of Tiffany Han’s Social Media Sanity course over at Creative Live. So far, she’s focusing on how to use social media effectively and efficiently for work—which is great!—and less on how to handle your use of social media for personal stuff. But she’s a rock star at getting you up and going on scheduling, goal-setting, efficiency and boundaries. (Boundaries are good!) I 100% recommend her course. If you can get your work usage cordoned off into just one part of your life, then you can use the time you’ve set aside for play time for play, full stop. It’s all about making choices and setting yourself up to succeed.
*whew* – I hope you’re feeling inspired, and ready to evaluate your social media usage. (That is, unless you’re already on top of all of this, in which case, do share your tips and insights in the comments!) If you’re going to give this a go, here are some resources to help you get started:
- If you want to give yourself some structure and some strategy for using social media for work, check out 30 Ways To Get Serious About Social Media at ByRegina.com.
- Hootsuite – I’m still getting started with this versatile tool—I’m using the free version to handle Instagram and Twitter. It’s a bit of a sledgehammer for a task that, for me, might only require a tack hammer, but I like what I see so far.
- Buffer – Life is full of compromises. This tool works with Pinterest, which Hootsuite does not (at least not without a paid add-on) but not with Instagram. Check it out, though, if you’re not an Instagram person (or if you don’t mind handing that one manually). I hear tell that Buffer’s interface is a bit more accessible than Hootsuite’s, which is a plus.
- CoSchedule – This works with WordPress, and helps you create Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Buffer and Tumblr posts and develop a schedule to keep it all straight. It’s not free, but at $10/month, it might be just what you need to marry your blog to your social media goals.
- Jason Does Stuff: Go read all about Jason Zook’s social media detox. I did mine before knowing about his, so it was super interesting to see that he had such similar insights—more focus, more productivity, less fragmented thought. But he has a different perspective on social media than I do, so he’s got a lot to teach you, too. Head on over and have a look.
- Paul Jarvis: I don’t think I’ve ever read something Paul Jarvis has written that didn’t impress me. He took a social media sabbatical and realized some of the same things I’ve already mentioned, with an important addition: He realized that he values having the time to get bored, since, hey, it opens one’s mind up to new ideas. (Yup.)
- Here’s Marie Forleo‘s take on social media strategy. She’s doing ok for herself, so go see what she has to say.
Your worksheet, comrades: