Sunday, November 4, 2012

Don't be Swallowed Up by the Social Media Monster!

I have a friend who will remain nameless (But David in Flint, you know who you are) who spends as much time on email and Social Networking as he does taking photographs. I think he's addicted, although he is much better than he was 10 years ago. Now granted, some of this is actual business, and there's nothing wrong with promoting your business on linkedin and Facebook. But be careful: too much twiddling and not enough effective promoting can seriously impact your income!

Many photographers find themselves drowning in email, Twitter messages, and Facebook posts. After all, one comes along at the rate of about 1 per minute. By day's end, you start to feel the urgency--imagined or real--of having to read and/or answer all of these messages! Does this sound like you--(be honest!)? If so, you can be sure it's killing your productivity, ergo your business.

With over 35 years of business experience, I had to make time management a top priority--because I am not an organized person by nature. I found to keep on track I had to filter all of the time demands that existed. So here are the top 3 tips from time management experts that can help you get control of that Social Media Monster:

1. Set aside specific times to answer messages. Preferably first thing in the morning, right after lunch, and right after you have quit for the day.

2. Turn off instant notifications. Let's face it, the constant reminder of  incoming messages a distraction. And honestly, how many times are they so important you HAVE to act on them immediately? Not that often, right? Do yourself a big favor, shut off the instant notifications on your computer or tablet and on your smart phone. Check them during down time or a missed appointment, or at the same time you check your email.

3. Don’t read a message without doing something with it immediately. Email (and other messages) come in 3 types: junk, reference, and action items. Delete the junk right now. If you feel a message has information you’ll need to reference later, drag it into a folder. You can save even MORE time if you set up filters in your email program to have these messages placed in their folder automatically. For example, if I get a message from PayPal, I have a label (folder if you are using Windows Mail) set up in Gmail that sends that message to the "PayPal" label. This leaves action items. Pay close attention to this: answer them immediately and delete them! If you feel a message will take more time to complete, or if it has the potential for being a profit maker (like an email from me), create a "TASK" and set a "COMPLETION DATE." As part of your daily message review, review your tasks. Here's the kicker--you are going to discover that on average 50% (some time management experts say 80%!) get old and reach the Completion Date without any action being taken. If this happens, delete it.

These tips, in addition to keeping you on task and prevent time wasting, has the added benefit of keeping your inbox tidy. My wife chides me about how many messages I have. She shouldn't throw stones! Truth be told I think AOL sends her warning messages about having so many emails in her inbox it's slowing down their system! Sorry baby, you know I love you!

Make sure that if you are doing Photography for Income, that you will actually earn an income! As always, your comments are welcome!

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