A common complaint with social media is how much time people spend on it. The meme’s are flying thick and fast about getting outside, having conversations and enjoying life. In. Real. Life. Too much time online, they say, to the detriment of other things in life. Well I’m here to tell you that you can have your social media cake and eat it too. Spend time online and not sacrifice anything to do so. Interested? Yes, I thought so. Here it is.

You do what you need to do online, then you get offline and do what you need to do offline.

Yup. That’s it. That’s the whole secret. It’s about being present and paying attention to what you are doing when you are doing it. When you have a blog or run a social media presence for a business there is always more that you can do. Way more. You can make the images prettier, you can rearrange your blog sidebar or pin that extra fifty images. I get that. But don’t do that.

Do what you need to do then go have a life. Go lay on the grass and watch clouds float by for all I care. Take your kids to the park. Make out with your partner. Dance. It will enrich your online time but don’t even think about that while you do it. Okay, maybe an occasional snap to post to Instagram later. Just be with the people you are with when you are with them. One. Hundred. Percent.

Most upsets come from people who don’t feel they are getting your attention {communication}. So give it to them. I used to work afternoons into the early evenings on my blog. Hubby would return home around 6pm and I would still have a solid couple of hours to do. Somewhere in the middle there we would eat dinner, and he would go to bed. I’d look up hours later and realise he was gone.

Whoops. Missed him.

And night after night that’s how it went. Until the resentment for the blog started to show. In me and in him. There were eye rolls, huffing and puffing. Sighs. Something had to change. Around this time I was reminded to be present. A real in the now type reminder. So we started to change how we did things. I closed the laptop when Hubby arrived home. We spent some real time together. Every single night. Our relationship changed. The work I could produce with a fresh deadline changed.

My new schedule went a little more like this wake up, breakfast, work, lunch, home, gym or pool, visit the folks, blog work, husband type person, blog work, sleep. Rinse, lather, repeat. Weekends more time was spent with him and the other folks that make up my real life. More time too went to responding to comments, emails and requests, not to mention the writing, photographing and such. I learnt what was important and what could wait.

That’s the key. There will always, always be more to do. As a property manager you learn that early. Always one more request, one more piece of filing, one more call to make etc etc. So you need to set some boundaries. If you kids are alive and kicking and screaming for your attention between 3 and 5pm you had better be ready for that to be offline time. If you know mornings are a mess for you, be prepared to be online at night.

Sure, in a perfect WOOOOORLD SUGER. Yeah well we all know there are exceptions to every rule. For example I check my emails while waiting for people. You’d be surprised how much waiting you can do in one day if you actually run on time for things. I respond quickly to those that can be responded to, delete rubbish and flag others for follow-up later {coloured coded because old habits die-hard}. It saves me a ridiculous amount of time at the end of my day replying to the emails I receive. Its my exception to the when offline be offline rule and it works.

Same goes for Instagram. Sometimes I’ll stop what I’m doing, a conversation I’m having to take or post a photo. I excuse myself from the conversation, take the couple of minutes to do what I do and return quickly. I do it because I enjoy having those photos later and so do the people I’m hanging out with usually. I’m like the photo taker in our circles. The keeper of the memories. But I don’t sit there and respond to all the comments on Instagram while I’m there or interact in any other way. I’m offline in that moment even though I’ve just been online. If that makes sense. There’s always time to reply later.

See how it all works? Bit by bit you’ll work out what works for you. I know Hubby is okay with a photo or two being taken while we are out and about but he can’t stand the nose pressed against the phone thing for long. That’s cool. I know what his expectations are. He expects me to be with him when I’m with him. Certainly a reasonable request, I’m sure you agree.

But hanging out with bloggers and other social media types? Well that’s a free for all. Seriously. The conversation continues on whether you’re on your phone or not. But even in that sort of environment {hello teenagers!} it’s important to put the device down every now and then and do one thing at a time. Don’t take that sort of freedom for granted. Give people your full attention and you’ll be surprised what can show up.

So there you go. My thoughts on having your social media cake and eating it too. Let’s recap.

  1. Set boundaries for time set online or it’ll get away from you
  2. Work to those around you noticing and keeping free key times
  3.  Know what is important and what can wait until later
  4. Find a way to do what you need to do in less hours than it takes you now {systems people, get them!}
  5. Be present with people, give them your full attention

Done and done. Do you have any tips? What’s something that works for you? I’ve heard some bloggers take weekends entirely off. Some schedule social media posts and interact at a later time. I want to hear from you, what helps you successfully balance time online with everything else you’re doing?

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