Is social media too much of a time suck?

In this digital-focused world, promoting your business online seems like a no-brainer. I’ve certainly shared plenty of content about online marketing with you guys, and I agree that it’s an important part of building a business. Whether you’re a one-person show or have a big clinic or studio to run, promoting yourself via social media, a website, an email newsletter, blog, podcast, or other ‘modern media’ is normal and expected.

But, have you ever taken a close look at how much time you’re spending on social media?

I did, and the answer was a bit shocking.

For the last year I’ve been keeping an eye on my ‘non-work screen time’. How much time do I spend reading random news articles, watching YouTube videos about food, or flipping mindlessly through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?

I then compared it to how much time I’m spending doing work online, whether it’s developing my newsletter, recording my podcast, sending content out to my audience through Facebook and other platforms, or doing direct client work.

Anyone want to take a guess at how much time I spent working vs not working?

What I found was that for every hour I was spending doing productive work, I was spending at least an hour doing all that non-work stuff. Sometimes far more than an hour.

That shocked me! I assumed I was spending more time than I wanted to admit on social media and random, mindless surfing. I just had no idea it was that bad.

Of course, I work on a computer all day now that I’m not an actively practicing clinician. So those of you in healthcare, fitness and wellness might be thinking my story doesn’t really apply to you. You probably spend a lot of your day away from the computer, right? So you might think any ‘screen time’ you have is perfectly fine.

Be really honest with yourself! I challenge you to pay attention to how much non-productive social media and internet time you’re spending each day vs how much actual work you’re doing. Track it for a week and see what happens. I bet you’ll be surprised.

The thing is, most of us figure that because we use social media, blogging, email newsletters, and other online methods of marketing, it’s ok to spend time on those things. And of course, that’s true.

It’s also ok to spend time on social media catching up with friends or playing the occasional game. I’m not here to rain on your parade – it’s ok to have fun!

The problems come in when we don’t see that we’re spending a lot of time wasting time.

A common refrain I hear is:

‘I just don’t have time to do [fill in the blank] for my business!’

Sound familiar?

Is it really true, though? Are you actually so squeezed for time that you can’t make time to do the things you need to do to move your business forward? Things like take that course you’ve always wanted to take, start that blog you keep telling yourself you’ll start, or create that client self-care resource you keep saying you’ll ‘get to, someday…’

If you’re anything like me, you can make the time.

It just requires shifting your focus.

That’s why each year I do a ‘social media detox’. This is something I see more and more entrepreneurs doing. We take some time away from social media to spend more time on other things, making space for all that stuff we keep saying we’ll get to ‘someday’.

I was recently sent a link to a blog post by a fellow Canadian entrepreneur, David Cain. He did a social media detox a few months ago and documented his experiences.

Here’s a quote from his post that I found particularly telling:

“Essentially, I had removed the easiest way to spend time from a long list of possibilities, so that all that’s left are activities that require at least a little commitment and resolve. I’m reading more, walking more, socializing more, and working without so much self-prodding. I feel freer than ever to do these things, because there’s no ultra-easy competitor undercutting them. And there’s all this new time.”

That’s the thing about social media, isn’t it?

It’s so easy to spend time on it because it doesn’t require much from us. Just take out your phone, open the app, and boom, instant interaction and entertainment.

Meanwhile, other things are falling by the wayside. And for some of us, we’re replacing real human interaction with the little machine in our hands.

Is that healthy? Is that the way we really want to live?

I’m not saying we should all go back to the 1990s before smartphones and social media became a thing. But I am saying that for a lot of us, we’re spending time being distracted instead of getting stuff done.

Bringing back some balance is what’s needed for our lives and businesses. Being more mindful about how much time we spend wasting time. Is social media one of your time wasters?

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