Possibly inspired by Seth Godin’s latest post Lost in a digital world I thought I’d put together a few tips and hints on how social media managers can actually switch off from the never-ending cycle of social media awareness and get some work done.

1. Invest in a tool

There’s lots of free tools out there that switch off your internet for a set amount of time (as mentioned by Seth), allow you to make to-do lists and set timers on work but for me none of those are much use. I need to get things done online and switching off is just not an option. However there’s two tools I mentioned in my article 5 Mac apps for businesses that I think are great for social media managers and the like.

  • Firstly, Stone Hill Time Card which lets you track how long you spend on a task and see what’s been eating up your time.
  • Secondly try Time out free which reminds you to look away from the screen. This allows you to work for longer.

2. Write a real to-do list

When you’re managing lots of different accounts and creating a strategy for a brand it can be difficult to keep track of where you are. I always find writing lists is more effective offline. Beside my computer I have a list notebook from Muji and a diary. I break tasks up into areas and then tick them off as I go. Then I scrap the paper when either all of the tasks are complete or it’s come to the end of the week. There’s no point in hanging onto things that aren’t getting finished. Add them to the next weeks list if need be.

Use a page-a-day diary to write down what you’ve achieved. It means that when you get a last minute meeting you can tell the boss exactly what you’ve been doing, plus you can add reminders that will be accessible whether the computer breaks or not. Big up the real!

3. Bookmark or ‘favourite’ and read later

I’m constantly being distracted by fantastic links and articles that may be of use in the future. Of course before I commit these to permanent record I really need to look through them. On Twitter a great way to do this is with their ‘favourite’ button. I then go back through these at a more convenient time, and I feel satisfied that I haven’t missed out. My favourite social media links then go into Delicious (see ‘I love links‘ on the side bar), but everyone has a favourite bookmarking site.

Another way to track ideas and links is to get a notes programme. You might be happy with using Word but we all know how easy it is to forget which notes are where. Another great tool (also mentioned in the article from point 1) is Evernote which allows you to save photos/links/text for later in an organised way. Try it out and let me know what you think.

4. Switch off!

Now I know I said earlier that it’s impossible for me to switch off from social mentions throughout the day [What if something embarrassing for the company came up and I wasn’t there to respond?] But sometimes it helps to step away from the screen, for example when I’m writing copy, I need to be able to concentrate. It’s important to have breaks during the day, and for many accounts no-one would expect you to be there 24/7 anyway, so be a real person and take some time off. Look at the blog articles you’ve saved, make notes on paper and ignore all flows of information that distract you from the task in hand.

If you use a social media dashboard like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite it might be a good idea to switch off all streams except your @s. This way you can concentrate on what’s of real importance, we all know trending articles have a tendency to stick around anyway.

5. Be unsociable at home

Leave work at work!

It’s easier to say than do but unless you’re out for business remove your work Twitter stream from your phone. Turn off your emails and step away from the Facebook page. You can’t be expected to respond to enquiries 24/7. If being ‘there’ for people is part of your service then give them set times that you’re available. Say “Hello” when you arrive online and “Goodbye” when you leave and make the time you do spend online count.

You may even feel the need to carry on socialising in your own online life but why not give it a rest on weekdays. Check Facebook before heading home for the evening and then chill out on the sofa or do something completely different. If you’re working in an office environment you’ll be using a computer and probably the major social networks for about 35 hours, that’s plenty considering you’ll probably sleep fewer than that.

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What’s your worst social media habit?

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