It is not uncommon for people active in social media to take breaks from some of their networks because of input overload. It starts simply. Follow a link on Twitter, to a blog with links to great sites with cool videos, that in turn lead you down YouTube for an hour, following a trail of videos that quickly change from being fact-filled and data-laden to silly and funny and completely worthless. And now your brain is so fried you just don’t care about the proposal you were supposed to be writing while you were watching pointless but beautifully filmed Vimeo videos or playing Spymaster.

There is a way to survive this phenomenon and gain back some of your productivity. It’s called scheduling. There is no reason to monitor Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader and FriendFeed 24/7. Missing a post by an hour or two (or more) will not destroy your business. (UNLESS you’re doing customer support on these networks.)

•    Set up a schedule you can live with, stick to it and you’ll suddenly have lots of free time in your workday for mundane but necessary tasks.
•    Read RSS feeds in the morning before you get to work. You can download them to a Kindle and read them on the train, or use an RSS reader for your phone. Share a couple of links with your network to get them thinking for the day.
•    Check your Twitter stream 3-4 times a day. In the morning, coffee break, lunch and at the end of your WORK day.
•    The rest of the day, rely on notifications and alerts to let you know when you need to respond to someone.
•    Figure out the times the people you want to engage with are usually online and let that guide when you log on. (Use your listening tools to see when your traffic spikes on Twitter etc)
•    Set up reminders to ping you when you get a direct message  or a reply on Twitter.
•    Set up listening tools to alert you of mentions of you or your brand.
•    Create an email address that lands all of your notifications in one e-mail box and then check it every couple of hours.
•    Missed a post and you think it’s too late to respond? Try email. You can make your response longer and richer. You might even try the telephone.

This might not work for everyone, but try it and see how to customize it for you. It IS possible to be connected and productive at the same time.

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