Want to Succeed? 7 Easy Ways to Be More Focused and Spend Less Time on Email & Social Media September 17, 2015 Reading Time: 5 min Share9TweetShare58Pin168 SharesDoes this sound like you: "In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it." Robert Heinlein On the days when I don't plan out my day first thing, it's usually lunchtime before I know it. Usually all I've done is check social media and my email and maybe completed some small trivial activity that seemed useful, but certainly wasn't a priority. Both email and social media easily become time-sucking "black-holes". With email, no sooner have we "finished" our emails than another one "pops" into our inbox. And with social media there is a never-ending stream of both trivial - and genuinely interesting - posts, articles, infographics and updates from our friends and family. It's so tempting to click on the next item... BUT we are wasting precious time that could be spent growing our businesses (more clients, finish that project). That time, is never coming back. If you want to succeed you MUST be ruthless with the time you spend on email and social media. And Here are 7 Easy Ways To Help You: SET CLEAR GOALS for the week - and each morning - that you WANT to work on. Review your weekly goals EVERY morning and write out the 3 most important things to get done that day on a post-it. This gives you a REASON to be more focused, a reason to pull back on time-wasting habits like social media and email - and also gives you a very specific reason to say "No" to others when you need to! Make ALL PERSONAL calls, email and social media OUTSIDE of work hours. That means only when you're on a planned break, before or after the work day. This may seem a little harsh, but it helps stop you procrastinating and avoiding work by getting caught up in social activities. I guarantee you'll get more done if you have this as a guideline. Have a SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN and follow it! For example, my daily goals for LinkedIn are to "Like" at least one thing, "Share" one thing, and make one "Post" promoting something to do with my business. I have similar goals for Facebook. I work through my plan systematically and the plan allows me to focus on making social media work for me, not the other way around. Having a plan also means I know when I'm done - and when to stop! Use a TIMER to manage your time on Email and Social Media. There are plenty of timers online like this one at TimeandDate.com and there will be one on your cellphone too. I use an old photography darkroom timer. Use it if you're doing personal social media or email on a break to stop yourself from eating into your work day. Set SPECIFIC and DEDICATED times for when you do your Business Email and Social Media. For example: EMAIL: I (generally) check email twice a day. 30 minutes for email first thing in the morning and 30 minutes at the end of the day - usually at 5pm. If I run out of time, I extend the timer for another 10 minutes. If that still isn't enough time, I do a quick check for anything urgent and reply to that (eg. customer service issues), then everything else waits to the next email session. On Mondays I allow up to 1.5 hours - to allow for the extra emails from over the weekend and replies to my newsletter. SOCIAL MEDIA: I give myself 20 minutes on social media just before email in the mornings - with a 10 minute "check" after lunch. And that's it. Deal with the EMAILS in your inbox IN THE ORDER you RECEIVE them. No "Cherry Picking" the most appealing or easy emails! When we pick the easy or interesting emails and read or answer these first (I'm guilty!) we simply end up time pressured to do those important or urgent emails later. And sometimes that important email gets lost in our out of control inbox... Try to "TOUCH" EACH EMAIL ONCE only. That means as you read each email, decide what you will do with it eg. Read it, Delete, Print, Forward it, File it for reference, Reply. Then do it right away. If you can't, set a reminder for it so you remember to come back to it. This way your inbox stays clear and under control! Without discipline and goals around social media and email especially we waste precious time we could be spending on growing our business. With some "rules" or guidelines like those above you get to focus on your important business goals earlier in the day - instead of drowning in trivialities. It may sound rigid and boring, but nothing could be further from the truth. Having a plan like this makes me super-focused and gives me more time (and energy) to work on my bigger business goals - which I love. And my business bank account loves it too... Rules are made to be broken: Of course it's entirely up to you how you spend your time! Perhaps your brain is fried and you need a bit of mid-morning tweeting to help you relax, or a phonecall to connect with a friend. Great. Just make sure it's a conscious decision, and you're not getting sucked into an online black hole... So, why not challenge yourself as we refocus in September? Set some clear goals for your business at the start of each week - and some limits around how you're spending time on email and social media - and watch your productivity go through the roof! PS. I'm assuming you've already switched off your email and social media notifications? (that's those little bings and pop-ups that tell you when you have a new message etc). If not, I recommend switching them off as your bonus tip - those little bings and beeps are destroyers of focus and productivity! 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