Drinking from the Fire Hydrant

Social networks can devour your day before you realize it. I’ve heard from some people that they need to, “catch up on all of the Facebook posts,” or “read all of the latest tweets on Twitter.”

No wonder they feel overwhelmed. Here are two quick tips to make this simpler.

Don’t Try to Drink from the Fire Hydrant

Whether it is Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter, don’t try to read every single post there (a.k.a. Drinking from the fire hydrant). Yes, you will miss things, but that is okay.

If you are on Facebook, just scan down the latest news feed and check your inbox for messages, notifications and updates. The first time it might take 10-15 minutes, but then you are caught up and it will take 5 minutes. I typically do this twice a day, once in the morning and once before the end of the work day. I usually update my status once a day, although sometimes more from my iPhone if I’m early for a meeting or stuck somewhere. I like to post comments to other status updates

On Twitter, just scan down the first page or two of posts for people that you follow. Remember that Twitter is “real time” and once something is more than a day or even a few hours, the value drops. I also use Twitter search to follow particular keywords about my interests.

Use a Timer

Whether it is a desktop widget or a kitchen timer, set one. And while this may seem very simple and you will give me the, “I’m too smart or disciplined or whatever to use a timer,” line, this very simple solution will help you enjoy the social networks without feeling like you are flushing your time down the drain.

Here is the simple strategy. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Open Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. Go to town until the timer rings and immediately close the browser (tab) when the timer goes off.

So no more excuses. Use the social networks to build your connections between people, but don’t drink from the fire hydrant.