I am an ardent lover and enthusiastic advocate of social media. I believe that it offers an amazing suite of resources to help people create and/or strengthen meaningful bonds. It can also be a powerful means to amplify your voice and increase your reach as an individual, organisation or business entity.
However, if you have been using social media for a while, you know how much of a time waster it can be when you allow it. You get on Facebook or Twitter and without realising it, you have spent 30 minutes scrolling and clicking without achieving anything in particular.
Here are five tips to help you increase – or at least maintain – your productivity and stop wasting time on social media:

1. Set Your Priorities Right

It’s so easy to jump on social media in order to avoid or postpone other things we need to do but which we really don’t want to do. Most of us have been there. You know you need to do something but it’s not something you’re particularly excited about, so you switch over to social media instead. Don’t let this happen. Discipline yourself to always do the important things first. Rather than allowing social media to distract you from getting important things done or completing your high priority tasks, let it wait till later.

2. Be Intentional

What do you really intend to achieve with social media? When you don’t have a goal, you don’t know where to go or what to do and you just find yourself moving round and round without making meaningful progress. Deliberately think through how you can use social media more effectively. For instance, you could choose to make your posts more helpful, positive, encouraging or humorous – depending on what you intend to achieve and how you want to be perceived.

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3. Use a Timer

As you plan your day, allot a specific amount of time to engage your social media community. You could allocate 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. There is no hard and fast rule about this. It largely depends on what you do and what your daily schedule looks like. The key idea is to set a particular time in advance and hold yourself accountable to it. And remember, social media is not a “me” affair, it is a “we” affair. In other words, whatever time you allot should not just be used to “check” social media, it should be used to “engage” and interact.

4. Automate Routine Activities

Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer app, Commun.it and a host of others can make social media a more fulfilling experience. They can help you automate routine tasks which could otherwise be time-consuming. For instance, you could schedule your posts several weeks in advance. You could even appreciate valuable members of your community without having to spend time scrolling through notifications and scrambling through posts, profiles or comments. This improves your quality of engagement and could even provide valuable feedback.

5. Adjust Your Perspective

You may need to adjust your perspective on what you interpret as wasted time. Always remember that not all time is wasted. Sometimes, time that you think you have wasted on social media is really not wasted. That time was probably used to stay in touch or keep up with the developments in the lives of your connections so that you can engage them effectively or respond as appropriate. Such interactions strengthen bonds and build relationships which can yield tremendous value over time. After all, life itself is a matrix of relationships.

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How do you approach social media to get the most value for your time? Share with us in the comments.