Ever go down the social media black hole?

I have. I see something cool on Twitter like the Coolest Cooler, so I go check it out over on TechCrunch and read that it's crowdfunded on Kickstarter. I go to Coolest's Kickstarter page, fund it myself and tweet about it to my 13,000 followers. So now I'm back on Twitter, and I see that there's a new infographic on the day in the life of a social media marketer. I'm intrigued, so I click on it and it takes me to Dasheroo where I read the blog post. I share it and email it to a social media marketer friend. Then I read another article. Share that on Facebook, and now on Facebook I see that I've got a few friends who are traveling around Asia. I like their pictures.

All of a sudden, two hours are behind me.

But what I learned was that crowdfunding is cool and the companies that are getting funded are cool. I'm going to talk to a few friends who are starting a business and let them know how easy it could be. I learned some interesting statistics about social media and shared it with people who need to know about it. And I got to check out some cool places in Asia.

I'm sick of reading about how people want to "leave" Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and (fill in the blank of the social network of the day). Go ahead and leave. I'm learning all of the time and loving it. To me, the time spent is well worth it--as long as it doesn't get in the way of accomplishing the tasks I've given myself for the day.

There's a big difference between checking social media to stay in-the-know, and using it to procrastinate on things you need to do. I definitely need to set some limits. If you're like me, try these tips:

1. Check social media while on the go.

In line at the coffee shop? In a cab on your way to your next meeting? That's great idle time to do a quick Facebook or Twitter check.

2. Sign out of all your accounts.

If you have all your social media accounts open as tabs on your browser, it's really tempting to just pop over for a "quick" status check. Make it harder by signing out of all your accounts and closing tabs.

3. Schedule time for social media.

This takes a lot of discipline, but can be done. Allocate specific times throughout the day that you're allowed to be on social media. Maybe it's only during lunch, or only during your bus or train commute, or only after the kids have gone to bed. Do whatever works for your routine and schedule.

4. There's an app for that. Apps like Anti-Social, SelfControl (Mac only) and Freedom will block you from accessing websites you choose or--in Freedom's case--the Internet completely. I haven't tried any of them, but they sound intriguing.

5. Use lists and filters. If you've got tons of friends and followers and you're seeing all their updates, change your settings so you only see updates from people you actually know and/or are interested in hearing from. It'll eliminate a lot of the "noise."

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