Don’t Let Social Media Hijack Your Work Goals

social-media-logos_15773Social media has worked its way into our psyche so deeply, we often use it in a mindless way. While you’re investing countless hours on social media each day, it could be standing in your way of making real progress on the job.

You come into the office early, at 7:30 a.m., to get a solid start to your day. Of course, you scan emails for anything important. A few things catch your eye, like a new Facebook request from someone you met recently. “I’ll just respond to this real quickly,” you say. While you’re visiting his Facebook page, you happen to notice his photo album. “Let me just spend a few minutes seeing if he’s got any good pics.” Then, of course, you have to spend a little time reviewing some of his recent posts.

Do you hear that loud sucking sound? You have just been sucked into the vortex of social media.

Don’t get me wrong. I love social media. The fact that you can remain connected to professionals through LinkedIn, or friends and family through Facebook, or catch the latest trends through Pinterest or Instagram. It’s all good.

Except…

When you get sucked into social media when you aren’t prepared or you have no time scheduled for it. It usually begins with a thought, “I’ll just take a few minutes…” until you realize later that you have just spent 30, 60, 90 minutes on social media when it wasn’t planned as part of your work day.

How do you enhance your relationship with social media so that it’s more beneficial, not detrimental, to your career? Here are a few quick tips that could save you from far too many unscheduled trips down Social Media Lane:

Should I do this now or later?¬†Ask yourself if this is the right time to review or respond. Social media remains alive and well on the internet. With the click of a mouse, you are there. It’s ready when you are.

How important is this? With all of the work that you have to do, where does social media land on your work priority list? Social media usually doesn’t show up as part of your work day.

Is this the best use of my time and skills right now? This is the most important question to ask. When you arrive at the office fresh, ready to plan your day, or tackle those big issues, that is not the time to engage in social media. Rather, it’s time to get to work.

Earn a break. To stay on track with work priorities, if you can, schedule a few minutes here and there to check in with social media. It can make your brain more productive during the work day if you take a few short breaks to shift your mindset, like mid-morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon, or end of the day. When you take those short breaks, and I do mean short breaks, set the timer on your phone for just two, three, or five minutes. When the timer goes off, wrap it up and get back to work. That way, you can still get your work done and remain connected to your contacts.

Remember, some companies have software that reviews employee visits to social media sites. Check your employee manual to make sure you are not violating your company’s guidelines.

As a hard-working, responsible professional, it’s up to you to figure out where social media fits – if at all – in your work day.