Let’s just say it. Social media can be a time suck for any entrepreneur who is trying to expand their business online. The cute animal videos are enough to consume hours a day! The top seven social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Google Plus, and Instagram can be a source of overwhelm, frustration, and confusion to anyone who is trying to master them alone, without the help of a social media manager or virtual assistant. Because as Chief Everything Officers of our own businesses, clients and other pressing matters come first. Working ON your business, to grow and expand it, sometimes leaves little time to work IN your business. But, fear not! There are ways to incorporate social media into your schedule everyday without being sucked into the vortex, never to be seen or heard from for hours at a time. And the way to do that is to implement some easy time savers that really will allow you to enjoy your second cup of coffee in the morning without stressing about your online presence. By doing all or some of these, your social media footprint will expand, in just thirty to forty-five minutes a day, if you plan accordingly. 1. Buy a kitchen timer That’s right, buy an old-fashioned timer and set it for 30-45 minutes. Place it away from your desk so you have to get up and turn it off. Why? Because this is the amount of time you will devote to your social media engagement. Once a day – twice a day if time allows. When that bell rings, get up, walk across the room, turn it off and continue with your other responsibilities. You’re done online. 2. Consider a scheduling platform like Hootsuite or Buffer. Plan your posts, schedule them in advance so you are not knocking your head against the wall wondering what to post every morning. As brilliant ideas pop into your head during the day, you can schedule them right then and there for as far in advance as you desire. 3. Set up Google Alerts for topics that are important to your Ideal Client and Google will send you an email. Choose the option of one summary email a day so you are not bombarded. For example, if you are a health coach, set up alerts for ‘healthy lifestyle’, ‘organic foods’, ‘clean eating’, etc. This will give you some great resources because you can select to get emails from the web, blogs, videos, etc and use them as you see fit. And they are sent to you in a neat email that you can scan and select the headlines that appeal to you the most. 4. Close tabs on your browser that distract you. If you are working on a client proposal, close your email, Facebook, and any other sites that will pull your attention away from the task at hand. If you are monitoring comments on your Facebook business page, close Twitter, and any other social sites you have open. And, turn off the audio notifications, too! That dinging bell is just beckoning to you to click and open something that may not be important enough to pull you away from what you are doing. 5. Unsubscribe to the all the junk email you get. This is a big one! If you haven’t read that newsletter in months, unsubscribe! This is worth taking a few minutes to do everyday. Rule of thumb; if you haven’t opened it in two days, you probably aren’t going to, so get rid of it for good. 6. Use an extension in Chrome such as Friends + Me. This will enable you to post on Google Plus and select which other sites you want your post to be shown. For example, try connecting your Twitter account. Every time you post anything on your Google Plus My Business page, it will automatically go out on your Twitter feed. Two totally different audiences, for most brands and a great way to get some good mileage for a post. 7. Consider using an editorial calendar. You can make one yourself in Evernote or Word or even Excel. If you are actively on two social media sites, (and I don’t recommend you need to be on any more than that!) plan out the topics of your posts. For example, if you are a beauty/fashion blogger your calendar may look something like this: Monday – Makeup trends – Tuesday – Hot News from the Runways – Wednesday – Product of the week – Thursday – Hair styles we love Friday – blog, guest post, or industry news. Topics don’t have to be the same every day of the week; some of my clients plan a month in advance and change them up. The purpose of the editorial calendar is to help you focus and know exactly what you are going to write or post in advance. 8. Go narrow and deep with your social media efforts. As mentioned in the above tip, unless you have a staff, Virtual Assistants, or have hired a social media manager, you do not need to be everywhere online. Be where your clients are. Check out your competition to see where they hang out online. Send out a survey to your clients and ask – “What social media sites do you frequent the most?” This will save you time and help you to have a solid presence instead of being everywhere with little to no consistency. There is no doubt, social media is must for most businesses but, it does not and should not consume all of your time. Thoughtful posts, planned in advance, with some limits on your time can be very effective. Remove distractions and focus your energy effectively. And, be sure to splurge every now and then and watch that cute cat video you saw go by in your Timeline. What tricks and tools do you use to stay productive online? Let us know in the comments below.