I might have an addiction: the Facebook newsfeed. No matter what I do to master my procrastination, that newsfeed sucks me back in time after time. I have friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, and I love having a sneak peek into their day-to-day lives through their wedding pictures or videos of young children. But when time tracking for your work is paramount and you’re getting paid by the hour, scrolling through social is the absolute worst thing you can do for your business.
What do you do when you love to scroll, but understand that the time you spend scrolling is actually losing you money? If you’re being social for social’s sake and not for work, your billable hours are lowered, and you have to work harder and faster to get your work done. That scrolling doesn’t seem so fun anymore, does it?
Social Media Time Tracking
Do you spend too much time on social media? Before I first tracked my time, the answer would have been a big, fat “No way, Jose.” I thought I spent just enough time getting a fix of my friends and marketing myself for business. But I still felt as if I was cutting it too close to deadlines and couldn’t figure out where all my time was going. So, I committed to time tracking for one month to figure out where my time went when I used my computer so I could set up better systems for my business.
First, I installed RescueTime, which runs in the background and tracks your app and website usage. It also works on your mobile devices, and you can run it manually, tracking offline computer usage. Since I was using RescueTime to analyze my time — not track it (which it technically can do, too) — I also used Toggl to track my time manually to learn how I was spending my time from task to task. Toggl can also pull reports that’ll help you invoice clients if your contract calls for time management.
After about a month of tracking and analyzing your usage, make a plan. How much time were you wasting? Where can you better spend those minutes (or hours)? Create an ideal schedule and take baby steps to work your way toward making that schedule your new reality.
Tools to Limit Time on Social Media
My results? Turns out, a lot of my analyzed time was wasted on social media (but you expected that, didn’t you?). Once I realized that, I could set a schedule of how I approached it for business. But as a business owner, you can’t block social media out completely. It has its virtues (hello, digital marketing), and your business can thrive when you’re social with your audience. The key is learning how to use online tools to your advantage so the time you spend on social networks benefits you instead of distracts you.
I now set distinct time for personal use and business use, and I’m diligent not to mix the two. I also installed the Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator. It completely removed my newsfeed, eliminating my scrolling habit. I’ll be honest with you, though: I go back and forth between enabling and disabling this extension. I want to access it on my off hours, so it’s not a perfect bandage to my newsfeed addiction.
I just recently started using StayFocused, an extension that lets you limit the amount of time you spend on certain websites. It works well for me, since I can control it based on my in-the-moment needs. When I do limit certain sites for set amounts of time, I work smarter and my tasks get completed faster.
A web extension like Buffer lets you grab an article you want to share on social media and post it at a previously defined and optimized time. There’s no need to log into the specific platform or make a note in your calendar to share it at a specific time. Just click the extension, edit the post content and schedule it for later. If you’re not a Buffer user, try Hootlet.
Social media shouldn’t be shunned in the small business world — it should be embraced. Once you’re able to identify the precise amount of online time that works for you and only you, you’ll better serve your customers and grow your business without hurting your productivity.