Question: I need to do a better job of avoiding "insecurity work" (constantly checking social media updates, email, etc). What strategies do you use to ensure that technology does not get the best of you during the day?
Question by: Amanda
Schedule Your Social Life
"It sounds simple, but to avoid constantly checking your email/social media, schedule times to check in. Put it on your calendar as if it's a meeting, and stick to it. Not only will it keep you sane, it will set an expectation that's more manageable and realistic for your clients for when they can expect you to respond."
"Many entrepreneurs manage their work by their inbox. This is sustainable as long as new tasks do not constantly divert your attention. Work from offline mode and create a to-do list of critical goals for the day. This is all about prioritization; only go back online when those tasks have been completed!"
"There are some great tools out there for solving that problem. Notably, StayFocusd for Chrome, which lets you customize the limit of how much time you're allowed to spend on certain sites. Once you surpass that limit, you can't access the site. Of course, if you can set these limits on your own without a tool, that's even better."
Find a Way to Concentrate
"There's a simple application called Concentrate that you can set up to block certain sets of websites and applications while you work. It gives you a countdown, say fifty minutes, until your next work break. The side benefit of this technique is that you get a lot more done when you don't context switch!"
Get Yourself a Nanny
"I use Chrome Nanny to block certain websites like Facebook and Twitter during certain hours of the day. Now, when I begin to type in those URLs, I already anticipate that this Chrome plug-in "babysitter" will block me from access if I even try to waste time on these sites."
Push Those Notifications Away
"Even if you commit to not constantly logging in, email notifications and pop ups can be distracting and pull you down the rabbit hole. Change your settings so new emails don't appear on your desktop and social media notifications don't forward to your phone. Important notifications can filter into email folders for you to check at a designated time."
Batch Your Tasks
"Newsflash: your Facebook friends will still be there next time you login. As Tim Ferris says in "The 4-Hour Workweek," you should only be checking your emails twice a day—and this too applies to your social media updates, text messages and anything else distracting in your life. Instead, focus on outcomes you've set for your day and take care of all your insecurity work in one clean sweep."
Is It Time for Recess?
"One strategy is to work in hour-long blocks throughout the day. Focus on a client or task for 45 minutes straight, then take the remaining 15 minutes to check email, make a phone call or check social media sites. Plug in some headphones or close your office door to signify to colleagues that unless it's an emergency, they have to wait. If you get everyone on board, it's even more successful."
The "Billboard" Effect
"We have a giant white board that I put goals on, so whenever I have a moment of idleness and look up, I'm reminded about what I should be doing. Having that in my face reminds me that there are important things to do and I probably don't need to switch to that tab to check my email one more time."
Clean Out Your Smartphones
"Remove push notifications for email, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and any other non necessary apps on your smartphone. Or even better, remove Twitter and Facebook entirely. That way, it's much more of a hassle to check these obsessively and you'll likely just keep on working. I made this change a few weeks ago and am way happier and much more productive already."
"If you don't want to be distracted, then remove the distractions. It's too tempting. Turn off the Internet and phone and do the creative work you know you need to do. Even if you have to write a bunch of emails as your important work, just do it offline and then connect to send them. If you must be connected, then use tools like RescueTime to keep you off the sites that kill productivity."
Why Are You Insecure at All?
"Break it down. First off, you should ask yourself: What am I avoiding? To discover the answer, you may need to take time to think, journal or talk with someone. Once you release the emotional barrier, then you should focus on the next most essential task at hand and break it down to the smallest baby steps (I actually jot these out on a piece of scratch paper). Then execute the steps and repeat."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.