Friday, June 12, 2009

Overcome Social Media Overwhelm

“And I'm happy to report that it is possible to write for a living and have a life!” Elizabeth Grace Saunders

I ‘met’ Elizabeth Grace Saunders when she left the above encouraging message on my “Tackling Time Issues” blog. Intrigued, I wanted to know how. Therefore, I was quite excited when she agreed to do a guest post for me. So without further ado, here’s Elizabeth.

My time coaching and training business actually emerged from my personal struggle to achieve work-life balance as a freelance writer. In 2005, I “accidentally” began my career as a full-time freelancer based on the fact that editors started handing me work after I resigned from my magazine position. It was a blessing to have a business emerge relatively effortlessly but a curse to not have had the time to think through how I would structure my life. Everything just happened, and I just responded as best as I could.

About a year and a half into this venture, I started to feel burnt-out. I enjoyed writing but didn’t want to feel like a prisoner chained to my computer, and I hated the sense of guilt I felt whenever I was home but not working. I wanted to succeed professionally and financially, but I also wanted to relax once in a while and enjoy the relationships that make my life truly rich.

That's when I began a journey to work/life brilliance™ that I still live out every day. And over the last year and a half, I realized I loved to empower women in business to do the same with Real Life E® Schedule Makeovers™ and time coaching and training.

As I’ve gone through this process and guided others on the journey to work-life balance, a common problem that emerges is how to keep social media from taking control of our time. Every day some must-have application pops up or some get-rich method comes out. To combat this time assault, I’ve developed this three-part method:

Ask Yourself, Why?

Before you engage in any business activity, always ask yourself questions such as:
• Why am I doing this activity?
• Why am I spending this much (or this little) time on it?
• Why would someone care about what I’m doing?
• Who reads this information?
• Will this win me new clients or preserve my current ones?
• How does this activity reflect on my brand?
• Does this activity energize me and focus me on my important goals?

These kind of questions work with anything from networking events to Twitter updates—basically if you can’t see a clear ROI on an activity, you might want to stop or reduce your time doing it. If you simply enjoy doing something, you can still do it on your personal time. But don’t waste time on “business development” that produces no results.

For instance, when I worked exclusively as a freelance writer, I did not write a blog. I made this decision based on the fact that my business-to-business clients were not interested in hiring me based on blogging. Instead, my clients cared more about seeing me face-to-face on a somewhat regular basis. At that time, it made more sense to spend a couple of hours a week visiting their offices rather than writing posts.

Stick with a Theme

Just like the most successful novelists develop a reputation for a certain style and subject matter, you need to establish an online reputation that’s aligned with your brand. If your main “Why” for engaging in social media is to build your business and your status as an expert, you must pick a theme and stick with it.

When I decided to do time coaching and training for work/life brilliance™, I began a blog to establish my expertise and develop my well of online content. To make it a go-to resource, I chose to focus on time management for women in business.

Around the same time, I started using Twitter. At first, I would just put up tweets about random articles or thoughts. But after a little bit, I realized it would be much more effective to have a consistent tweet each day. That’s when I began a daily “E time management tip” which evolved into an “E Schedule Makeover Tip.” Now my hundreds of Twitter followers can expect a daily tip to assist them with their schedule. This builds my reputation and expert status, and by using Google analytics, I found out that Twitter is the top driver of traffic to my Web site.

Time Block Everything

The mental state required to effectively process e-mail or scan tweets is not the same as the one you need to write a cohesive article. One of the biggest ways to make writing or any project that requires a high level of mental concentration take FOOOREEEVER is to flit between the project and e-mail or social media.

I’ve found it most effective to answer all of my e-mail and do all my processing at the beginning of the day. Then I can take a little break to get a cup of coffee or stretch my legs and focus completely for a couple of hours on a major assignment such as an article. Once that’s done, I take a little break, maybe check e-mail for 10 minutes, and then focus on the next important task.

To stick to your schedule and overcome distraction, try these techniques:
• If you’re a twitterer, decide when you will go on Twitter and for how long, then stop once you reach your limit.
• If you’re a blogger, designate a certain day and a certain time slot or at least number of hours you will spend blogging, then stick with it.
• If you like to read lots of content, collect it all in a single folder and then designate a certain amount of time each week to review it. Stop when you reach the limit.

Read Less, Do More

With the onslaught of social media, the lie is that you will always benefit from more information, but that’s simply not true. By picking the best information, learning from it, and applying it, you will be far ahead of the people who fritter away their lives reading yet another article about Facebook, yet doing nothing.

It will take time to develop the habit of focus when you’re used to falling for the lure of mindless social media. But as you decide on what’s most important, focus on a theme, and set time limits, you’ll start to develop new habits and the ability to maximize the value of your time on and off social media.

If you want to end your feelings of overwhelm and guilt and step into the future with confidence, check out or contact Elizabeth Grace Saunders at Elizabeth can develop an ideal schedule for you that includes specific time blocks for social media activities.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time coach and trainer who empowers women in business to achieve work/life brilliance™ through her exclusive Schedule Makeover™ process. Inc magazine, NBC, and The Chicago Tribune are just a few of the places where Elizabeth has appeared.

Thank you, Elizabeth. I appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog. I’m so looking forward to using your suggestions to help overcome my social media overwhelm. And, as always, thank you readers for stopping by.

Tags: Elizabeth Grace Saunders, RealLifeE, Twitter, ScheduleMakeover, time coaching,


Alexis Grant said...

Cool post! Seems fitting for your blog, too.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for the tips! Social media is taking over my life...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Helen Ginger said...

Great tips. I've been trying to do the blocking of time, so that I don't get carried away on social things on the Internet.

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

Excellent article with lots of good points. Thanks for sharing this. And Jane - you come up with the greatest quotes on top of all your posts. :)

The Old Silly From Free Spirit Blog

joe doaks-Author said...

I found this insightful… “by using Google analytics, I found out that Twitter is the top driver of traffic to my Web site.” This was the result of focused tweeting. Good idea. I think I get twitter, but, still get a bunch of useless tweets. Alexis and I agreed the other day, the key is in whom you follow. Apparently another is in how meaningfully I tweet. Don’t think I’m doing a good job of the latter. Thanks for surfacing this.

Best Regards, Galen

Patricia Stoltey said...

Time management is the hardest thing to incorporate into my writing and writing-related activity schedule. I appreciate all good tips. Thanks to you for featuring Elizabeth today.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great tips- Thanks for hosting!

I instinctively block out my time. It's a way for me not to get bogged down and chained to my computer.


Elizabeth Saunders-Time Coach said...

Thanks for the opportunity to be included on your blog. I'm super passionate about empowering others to achieve their dream lifestyles by taking back control of their time!

Feel free to contact me if you need personalized help with overcoming social media overwhelm.

To your brilliance!

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world