In this series, we’re going to talk about how to avoid social media overload.

We all know how popular social media is. We also know that if left unchecked it can become a real-time suck, but what most people don’t realize is that it can send your brain into information overload faster than any other form of information consumption.

This type of overload can quickly lead to symptoms such as confusion, lack of decision and decreased productivity. It can also cause others. For instance, looking at screens and seeing the streams of (often contradictory) information on your social media accounts can lead to eye strain, headaches, stress and even high blood pressure.

Even if you’re doing it for work, you have to admit that sometimes it isn’t, at least not the productive kind of work you should be doing. However, if you can focus on productivity instead of activity, you’ll be amazed how much more you can accomplish.

Schedule social media time

The first step to avoiding this type of overload is not checking your social media at random. If you use any type of social media, then I’m sure you know how a quick peek at your Facebook or Twitter feed can easily turn into an hour or more scrolling through, checking statuses, replying and tweeting to friends and followers.

Instead, create a plan that gives you certain times and days that you spend on social media. This will help keep you from getting sucked into the abyss. I know this can be difficult at first but if you teach yourself to stick to a schedule, you’ll start to notice that you’ll feel less overwhelmed and become much more productive on and off social media.

Use automation

Did you know that you can automate certain social media tasks? This is especially great if you are using social media for your business. Smart automation can help you get the most out of social campaigns without causing overload.

For example, with tools like Hootsuite and Sproutsocial.com you can automate post scheduling, so you can get meaningful content out consistently without having to create it every single day. Instead you can spend an hour creating a weeks’ worth of posts and set them to go out once a day. This way it looks like always there for your followers, even while you’re busy doing other things.

Tip: They also have aggregators that can pull in relevant information that you can share, making your job that much easier. This article on some popular social automation tools may help you.

Focus on what matters

If you’re using social media to connect with customers then money-making tasks should come first, then relationship building, then personal activities. If you don’t have a plan of attack when you check your social media, you’ll get sucked in.

Outsource

Find someone to help you with social media if you’re using it for business. There are many social media managers who are good at helping you do the job properly. If that’s not your main money-making activity, let someone else do it.

Turn off notifications

It’s all too easy to get sucked in when you see one notification after another pop up, so turn them off especially when you’re working, with your family or out with friends. The world won’t collapse if you aren’t in constant touch with social information, so only turn them on during designated times.

Don’t lie to yourself

Many times, being “busy” feels good. It feels like you’re really accomplishing something. But, the truth is, not all activities that keep you busy are productive. It’s important to be honest with yourself about why you’re doing something. When you can do that, you’ll naturally start avoiding information overload, gain more clarity and focus.

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