For me, it all began with learning how to manage my processes. Manage my in-coming messages. Manage the noise.
Manage your process
If you have not heard of David Allen, or his book, “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity” you are missing out on one of the greatest corporate time management gurus. By learning how to manage your workflow and your processes, you will rediscover hours in your week which you were wasting on searching for lost documents, stressing over deadlines that appeared out of nowhere, and remembering all those things that have fallen through the cracks (usually at 2:00 a.m.).
Through David I learned how to manage my files, my incoming messages, my action items. I learned how to prepare my attorneys for when I am out of the office on vacation or at a conference. Through his principles I gained control over what can be a pretty chaotic job.
First of all, turn off any auto-notification and sound that notifies you of a new message (this applies to your e-mail as well). Set regular times throughout the day to check your social networks. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just has to work well for you: top of the hour, every two, every four. Just set the time and live by it.
By avoiding the distractions, you will be better able to focus in on the tasks at hand, leaving more time for your social networking.
Clear your life
I took a Sharpie to my life last year, and opened up seven hours in my week.
I went through my calendar and started to cross out everything that really wasn’t necessary, beginning first with the television. What was I watching that I didn’t enjoy? What was complete junk that I really didn’t need to watch? Gone.
Then I sorted through what I was reading, both magazines and on-line. Anything that was “brain junk” went out the door. I started deleting links from my “favorites,” unsubscribing to newsletters and feeds.
Same thing went with movies, “friends” I didn’t really care for, chit-chatting around in the halls. If I don’t have a clear purpose on why I am attending an event, I don’t go.
Make social networking part of your job
I was asked recently how I was learning/managing social networking and my work load. Well, part of the answer is that my continuing education, which is what this was for me in the beginning, is part of my job. As the marketing professional for my law firm, I must keep up with not only the happenings in the industry, but the advances in technologies.
In addition, by marketing myself, I am building relationships with peers, vendors, reporters, publishers, and other professionals which all benefit my firm.
Take Advantage of Technology
In the “good ol’ days” we all worked late in the office because we didn’t have a choice. Now we’re all wired with home computers, laptops with wireless connections, Blackberrys and iPhones.
If you haven’t upgraded to a smart phone, do so now. With all the applications available, I can easily participate in social networking from anywhere.
I now view “waiting” moments as great opportunities to quickly glance through my social networks to stay connected, make updates when necessary, contribute to the conversation as much as possible.
Filter the Noise
Most importantly, you need to learn how to filter the noise. This is especially true on Twitter. As of today, I follow more than 900 people. Sounds insane, but the more people I follow, the more I filter the noise, and the less time I spend on the tool. Applications like Tweetdeck are essential to managing and filtering the messages in Twitter. You can set up searches based on people, subjects or hashtags.
Have faith, it will settle down
When I first started on LinkedIn, then Twitter and now Facebook, I found it exciting, time consuming and even overwhelming at times. I am pleased to report that now that the initial rounds of connecting, following and friending are done, my time commitment to each of these tools has balanced.