guest posts, time management

Guest Post: Staying In Control of Social Media

19 Comments 26 February 2010

This is a guest post by Hannah Katsman. Hannah and Hadassah Levy gave a fabulous presentation at the Kishor social media conference on Tips and Tricks for Social Media Time Management, and I asked if she would write a guest piece for this blog.

In our talk to Jewish professional women on time management and social media, we wanted to address two contradictory concerns: when it comes to social media some people don’t know where to start, while others can’t seem to stop! The concept of social media, or just learning one new platform, can be overwhelming on top of an already hectic schedule. But once you do get the hang of it, social media may eat up time needed for other important work.

No one is an expert at every platform, and it’s essential to allow a generous amount of time for learning. But once you become comfortable, you can set aside time to update status and respond to contacts. Time spent on social media should be devoted to building relationships, making connections, and answering questions.

Social media like Facebook and Twitter can be compelling and even addictive. One attraction is anticipating a response to an email, comment or status message. This anticipation keeps our adrenalin up and prevents us from focusing on more productive work. While some important discussions take place in real time, when we sense the adrenalin going up it may be a signal that it’s time to turn off the software or website. The response will wait until we get back.

Tools are important.

If you find yourself repeating a particular task, chances are that someone has invented a way of automating it.

Women, especially mothers, are used to multi-tasking. Writing a grocery list while waiting for a doctor’s appointment is an effective use of time. But when we switch between windows and tasks on the computer, our minds take time to adjust. Answering an important email makes us feel like we accomplished something, but it costs us our concentration. Frequent responses to email and status messages makes us less productive, not more.

To minimize distractions and multi-tasking, I suggested a technique called Pomodoro. Spanish for tomato, the name recalls a standard kitchen timer. Pomodoros are uninterrupted 25-minute blocks ofย  time. Large tasks are broken down into a number of pomodoros. For a lengthy blog article you might need four. Smaller tasks, like replying to emails or updating Facebook, can be combined into one. Tasks that come up in the middle of a pomodoro get noted and added to a future one. At the end of the day, you have a written record to analyze how you spent your time.

Other speakers emphasized a point often mentioned by Debra: To get results from social media, you need a strategy. This is the best time-management tool of all. When you sit down at the computer, keep your goals in mind. Use the tactics and platforms that generate results for your business or non-profit, and drop the rest.

Hannah Katsman (pictured) was born in the US and moved to Israel nearly 20 years ago. She writes on parenting and life in Israel at A Mother in Israel. In her newest project, Cooking Manager, she helps home cooks save time and money in the kitchen. You can find her on Twitter at @mominisrael and her fan page,

Hadassah Levy of Jewish Ideas Daily helped prepare the talk, and designed the Powerpoint presentation.

  • Thanks, Debra, for inviting me. It was a terrific conference.


  • Hannah,
    Your presentation at the conference was really inspiring. I don't think the slide show captures all of your advice, and that's why I wanted you to enhance it through commentary. Thanks for agreeing, and sharing with us the benefit of your knowledge on this subject.


  • Hannah, I loved your post. I Tweeted a few of the insightful sentences & the slideshow. Makes online time management easier.


  • Hi Shari –
    I found many of the ideas insightful as well, which is why I asked Hannah to translate her presentation into a guest post. Thanks for tweeting it!


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  • Thank you Shari! I'm going to check out your tweets.


  • I had no idea tomatoes could have such a wonderful effect on my workday. This is a great technique for social media, but it truly extends to everyday time management too. Thanks a ton for sharing it.
    Re: “If you find yourself repeating a particular task, chances are that someone has invented a way of automating it.” This is particularly true for everyday website maintenance too – taking an hour (or pomodoro) to research a better way to do things can save you a lot of time later.


  • I knew this is going to be a good read as just the other day I was talking with Debra about how overwhelming social media can get. What a timely post, Hannah. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the quote near the end of the slide — let social media works for you, not the other way around. My biggest challenge now is the unstable network coverage around the area. Frustrating as it is, there's nothing much to do but to be prepared – do as much when the time permits; plan ahead for offline tasks when it strikes. Strategy, a must.

    Great job, Hannah. I'm glad Debra invited you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Social/Blogging Tracker


  • Thank you, ppp! I'm still sorry I didn't get to meet you at the conference.


  • wchingya: Thanks for your warm comments. I hope your network situation improves but that is a good example of dealing effectively with scheduling problems.


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  • Gloria Mushonga-Roberts

    Excellent strategies! In the past we never thought about strategies for engaging media. No one ever said I don't have time to read the entire newspaper, watch the evening news or listen to a social cometary on the radio. Often we created a plan for engaging these sources of information without thinking deeply about. We found a way to make it work that fit into our lifestyles and belief systems.

    What I like about what you have presented here is the idea that we knowingly decided when and how we will engage media. Thanks so much for the suggestions


  • Thank you, Gloria. That is a good point. I think immediacy is a big part of the distractions we face today. If the phone rings, we feel compelled to answer it. We might have waited for the mail or the newspaper, but those came once a day at a scheduled time.


  • Ah, the wonders of social media! Love how Shari is now connecting with Hannah. (smile on my face)


  • Leora, I'm smiling too!


  • Gloria, this is one of the best points of Hannah's post, in my opinion. We are in control, and we decide how to best engage, and when. (Chris Brogan just wrote a wonderful blog post about email and the fact that everyone thinks it's a 24-7 world now…and expects immediate replies to email. He reminds us all that we all have other, non-email lives to live as well. )


  • Thanks for the tips hannah! It does get overwhelming- its so easy to lose track of time!


  • Hannah's tips are great! Thanks for stopping by and visiting the blog, too.


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Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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