Time management with new-media marketing is challenging. Like many of you, planning time to create and manage content is only a small part of my work responsibilities. Most of us got into the work we now do because we love it–it calls to us and we can’t stop thinking about it. Learning to heed that call in a way that allows us to continue doing the work and share it is an art.
Each of us has our own particular challenges when it comes to social media. For me, there has always been an element of “Fear of Missing Out.” Succumbing to that means I’ve spent what feels like endless amounts of time scrolling through feeds. My top two strengths (Gallup StrengthsQuest) are “Relator” and “Learner.” I like…I mean really like…keeping up with what others are doing (whether or in person or online) and learning about things that interest me. I often struggle to call it quits with “enough” information. As an academic, this is both a blessing and a curse. It’s good to be thorough for a refereed journal article, not so much when you need to write a short creative piece based on experience. And, I don’t need to know everything going on in everyone else’s lives. If you missed something, they’ll tell you in person and you can go back to find the details if necessary. Life will continue without you knowing absolutely everything. I have to tell myself this quite often.
To combat this particular challenge of mine, here are a few things that have helped me develop a more balanced approach to social media consumption and creation.
- Actively practice dipping in and out of social media. Allow yourself to get comfortable not knowing everything that is going on. Be mindful, noticing the times when you are poking around on your phone just because you are bored. Let yourself feel whatever it is that you’re avoiding by looking at your phone. Learn to not fill every waking second with something. Quiet is a gift.
[Have you ever tried being the only one at the dinner table without a device of some kind? It can get boring, fast. Maybe that’s just our house. Eh hem.]
- Limit your content consumption and the resources you manage or provide content. I admit it…I’ve created social media accounts and even website resources that I don’t update regularly. Some of those are fine being static and others are not. Knowing when to archive an account is a skill I’m working on. Knowing which resources to give my limited amount of attention is also a skill (industry magazines, books, research journals, etc.). Content Overload is a real thing! Learning to curate without feeling like you have to know absolutely everything in your industry will bring quality and a unique perspective to your work. Lean on industry newsletters to provide you the highlights (but maybe read them in bulk to spare your focus for bigger projects).
- Don’t make it bigger in your head than it really is. Face the task head on instead of procrastinating in favor of a “better” time. It won’t come. Address it now. Address it quickly. For example, this year I’ve set a goal to practice writing quicker and more frequently in this forum. I set a timer for myself today so that I couldn’t languish and procrastinate on this task (It was actually due yesterday. Eh hem.). This will help me combat perfectionism and make content shorter, quicker and more engaging.
- Channel that passion. The other day as I was driving home from an Extension meeting during the “golden hour,” the light streaming through the gently waving seed heads of the prairie grasses on the Flinthills was just gorgeous. I got that “deep love” feeling I feel when I visit nurseries, garden centers, and arboretums. Plants and people are my passion. I feel it deep in my soul and I want to capture that and share it. All too often I don’t. Either I’m practicing mindfulness and just enjoying it or I start a thought for a photo caption and get distracted, never returning. I think it’s okay to tell people you need to finish a thought, even if it’s a quick social media post that communicates what you’re doing and narrating your work passion. Audiences will respond positively to you being yourself and sharing the light inside.
- Read or listen to outstanding books on self-management that will help you reframe your concept of time. I don’t read many books more than once, but anything written by Laura Vanderkam gets read, re-read, and ruminated on. These include I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, and several others focusing on how “successful” people spend their time. The crux of her work is studying how people actually spend their time, as recorded in time logs. This is a revealing exercise, demonstrating that uncomfortable tasks feel like they take more time than they actually do and showing you how much time you really do have for things you want to spend time on (or how to craft your schedule so you can get more of what you want). I subscribe to her blog and follow along as she talks about work life, family life, goals (and accountability), and proven methods for making all the pieces fit. I also choose to spend some of my attention on reading The Harvard Business Review and Fast Company. These two take me out of my specialty area for a more global look at leadership, business, and trends.
I can’t claim perfection on all of these (nor would I want to), but they’re what has helped me feel more balanced, informed, and productive. Give them a try and report back to share your success and struggles. Remember to keep practicing. Pick yourself up when you fall into old habits and keep trying again and again. The journey is the medicine.
Do you have any tips of the trade that helps you time manage? Share in the comments below!