Welcome back – this is the second of two articles where I’m sharing some very practical strategies that help us to manage email and social media for your business so you’re better equipped to limit distractions and that feeling of overwhelm.

If you haven’t listened to the podcast episode (88) or read part 1, then I encourage you do that first and then come back and join us for the second part. The first three steps I talk about in part 1 will make creating any new productivity habits so much more effective if you think it through in the right order.

At the end of today’s article, you can access my Distraction Action Business Productivity Booster Workbook. And you can use this to take you through all of the five steps over both parts 1 and 2, plus there’s a super helpful checklist at the end of it, which is a good tool you can use to identify the distractions you personally need to stay on top of.

So part 2, let’s jump right in with Step 4…


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    STEP #4 – Wrangle Your Email Inbox (And Social Media) Into Total Submission

    I’m guessing you probably have a good idea of where your distractions lie. What are those rabbit holes, where you start off with the intention of spending 5 minutes on it but that time turns into hours?

    Keep your list of distractions in mind. There’s no fault, no blame, no guilt, no shame. Don’t wish you had done things differently or wonder what life or business would be like today if you had ignored your distractions. You don’t know what you don’t know, so look at today as a new beginning, a way to corral those distractions so you can focus completely on what’s important to you.

    Let’s talk specifically about strategies for managing email and social media.


    HOW You Use Social Media

    While it’s not the case for everyone, most entrepreneurs struggle with social media and email. It can also be housework, Googling random bits of information, Pinterest, needing to spy on the neighbours. If it takes you away from your deep work for a significant amount of time, it counts as a distraction.

    I did spend some time researching some of the tools I’d heard about. But this was very purposeful googling 😉

    If social media is a serious time-suck in your world, get strict about exactly HOW and WHEN you use it (especially during work hours). Are you actually using it to promote your business or are you keeping up with neighbours and the college buddies? If you’re not using it for business, keep it off your browser during business hours.

    I know, you’re thinking that will take willpower. Consider using Chrome extensions like Stay Focused, Dayboard, or Block and Focus. Each of these will put web blockers on your chosen sites during certain hours, so even if you click over to that site, you’ll get a blank screen and a reminder that it’s off limits for now.

    If you have a social media plan in place for your business, you can still use these extensions but allow yourself certain periods during the day when you can check for comments or responses. Another way to automate your social media is to use a third-party scheduling platform, such as SmarterQueue, HootSuite or MeetEdgar, to name but a few. These help you to plan out your publishing strategy without getting caught up in your feed.

    Lastly, hiring a virtual assistant – a ‘VA’ – who can be your social media manager or tech person, and take over some of the workflow is another way to remove yourself from temptation of getting in the weeds. You want to keep yourself primarily in your genius zone in the high peak productivity periods of your day.

    My suggestion is to have a plan in place before hiring – including your optimal publishing schedule and what you want to publish – to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible.


    WHEN To Use Social Media

    Equally as important is when you’ll use social media. As much as we love technology, one part you don’t want to automate is your ability to interact with your followers. Decide how frequently you want to post to your page/profile, then schedule that time into your calendar.

    For instance:

    Maybe Monday-Friday you only use your Facebook Business Page once a day to post and reply to comments but save “social” scrolling for the weekend. 

    Look into how to cross promote and link multiple platforms together (like Facebook and Instagram) so you’re publishing in two spots at the same time. 

    Plan out how many posts or stories you’ll publish in a day and add it to your social media calendar.

    A social media calendar – either paper or digital – is vitally important as it will help keep your plans in one spot (as opposed to sticky notes or notebooks that get lost or tossed in a drawer) so you’ll never question what you’re going to post on any given day.

    Creating social media content can be a major time suck for some. A social media calendar is a great start to preparing to outsource some aspects of your content creation. It can seriously help cut down your time-wasting distractions considerably, especially at the researching phase!

    Newsfeed Eradicator is another Chrome extension that blocks your main newsfeed but allows you to visit pages and groups. The idea is you can still get on to update your business page or manage your groups without getting caught in the endless scrolling.


    Managing An Overflowing Email Inbox

    Email is another activity that certainly has a purpose but can also turn into a time sucking distraction. Depending on the size of your inbox and the number of clients and lists you’re subscribed to, managing your inbox can easily become its own full-time job.

    Instead of popping into your email whenever you have a minute, schedule email-checking time into your schedule in time blocks of 15 to 60 minutes, depending on how crazy your inbox is.

    Determine how many email blocks you want to schedule. If checking email only once each morning gives you anxiety, choose one morning and one afternoon time block. Or split your time into three blocks: morning, noon, and late afternoon.

    Checking emails just a few times a day is an absolute game-changer. It takes a bit of discipline and practice, but it really is such a big productivity hack – just try it for a day, or three days and I think you’ll be amazed how well this works.

    In addition to time blocking your email management, logging out of your account when you’re done is helpful. Think of how many windows you have open at any given time. Do you really want an open email window to tempt you every time you go to research a blog post?

    Again, if you don’t want to waste your willpower on your email distraction, consider using Inbox Pause by Boomerang. This is an add-on feature available for Gmail, Outlook, and iPhones which allows you to decide what time you want email delivered to your inbox. Consider setting it to first thing in the morning and late afternoon. This makes the rest of your day email-free!

    Boomerang also allows you to send emails at your preferred time of day, so if you’re responding to someone after hours or on the weekend, you can set it so they’ll receive it during business hours. This way you’re not setting any precedents as people won’t expect a response during off hours.

    If you’re crunched for time during one of your email blocks – due to a client call that ran late or a project that took longer than expected – consider snoozing certain emails so you’re reminded to return to them at a later date/time. This feature is available in Gmail and Outlook and allows you to choose a better date/time to read these messages. This works better than sorting emails into folders where they run the risk of being forgotten.

    If you have any lengthy email conversations that include information you’ll need at a later date, use the Mute feature in Gmail instead of allowing it to take up space in your inbox. When you mute an email thread, it’s archived and taken out of your primary inbox. At any point in the future, you can remove the mute feature and it will appear back in your inbox.

    Another thing I do is to create a calendar event and copy the email text or links, for instance if someone sends me a goggle doc I need to review. This way when I get to that task, I’ve not only blocked time for it, I’ve also got all I need super handy.


    Stick to Your Preferred Communication

    When it comes to business communication, you as the business owner are allowed to set up boundaries with your clients by letting them know your approved forms of communication. If some choose email while others use Slack or Facebook Messenger, you run the risk of being more distracted because you’ll worry that you’re missing important messages.

    Tell your clients the time of day to best reach you, how long it will generally take for you to reply, and which communication platform to use.

    Some clients will be stubborn or claim they don’t know how to use different platforms other than email and it will be up to you to determine how to handle those situations. You can hold strong to your communication request by ignoring messages than come from any other platform; or you can accept those messages and reinforce how long it will take for you to respond. Some might mutter and groan a bit before complying; and others will be happy to comply because they understand that you need to set business boundaries.

    You can also use one location (like Asana, Trello or Basecamp) to communicate with your team. It keeps everything streamlined and in one place, which is important if you’re sharing files and contracts. No more searching a massive inbox with tons of folders for the important documents you need!

    Lastly, if you work from a home office and are tempted daily with household chores, consider setting boundaries for these tasks (or outsource): cleaning, gardening– try to pick a particular day and time window you get these done. If the dishwasher needs unloading, do it outside of your work hours. The same is true for meal planning and grocery shopping.


    Setting Boundaries around Household and Home Tasks

    I did a three-part series on self-organisation for business owners at the end of 2022, episodes 78, 79 and 80 and that last one, part 3 was all about setting boundaries. It’s actually one of my most popular episodes. So it’s obviously an area that people struggle with.

    Avoid using your entrepreneur freedom as extra time to book hair or doctor appointments. Save general errands for after work or on weekends.

    Treat your business time with the same respect as you would if you worked in a corporate office for a boss. This holds true whether your business hours are the traditional 9-5 or if you’re a night owl working evenings. Treat those work hours as sacred to maximise your productivity.


    STEP #5 – Get Tactical on Notifications & Tech to Eliminate Interruptions (and Get Way More Done!)

    Technology is awesome for helping us get our work done but it can also hinder us by causing major distractions, which lead to lapsed productivity. So, let’s tame the distractions without tossing technology out the window, so we’re using our time and attention wisely.

    1.   Think about how you can limit (or completely eliminate) the following while doing your work.

    • Turn off your notifications. If you have notifications set to pop up, turn them all off, including on your phone.
    • Silence your phone or set it to airplane mode. iPhones also allow you to set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” and choose which hours you’re available, and under which conditions others can reach you. Androids also have a “Work Time” setting where you can block certain apps during certain hours of the day.
    • I already mentioned Strict Workflow and Focus Booster earlier. These follow the Pomodoro Method and allows you to block distracting websites for when your Pomodoro timer is on.
    • The Self Control App allows Mac users to add websites to a blacklist, then set a timer for how long you’d like to block them. Blocksite offers similar features for Windows users as does Stay Focused.

    2. If you have technology in place and still feel the need for human accountability, bring in the reinforcements – aka accountability partners.

    1. Focusmate.com is a “virtual coworking” site where you’re partnered with a peer accountability partner anytime for a 50-minute work session.

    The site boasts “no chit chat” and “no collaboration.” Instead, you show up, state your first task, and get started. Sometimes having a stranger as an accountability partner holds you to a higher standard than a friend who might let you slide if you’re not complete with your task.

    1. Focused.space has a similar methodology. For approximately $37/session, you’ll meet with a Focused guide for 90 minutes. You’ll start with a short meditation, share your task at hand/goal, share your screen for accountability, and they’ll check in with you at intervals you agree on throughout the session. You can also sign up for “wake up calls” which are daily, 15-minute check in group calls where you’ll state your goals, schedule your goals, and meditate together. Quick and easy!

    3.     Build a relationship with a business peer or friend and have daily check-ins for accountability.

    Consider checking in with each other as you start your day, say your intention or goal for the day. Then when you’re ending your day, do another quick check-in and state your accomplishments. The best accountability partners are those who are not afraid to question why something didn’t get finished. They won’t accept your excuses and they will challenge you to find the lesson so you can implement it. Partners will know how to challenge you without degrading your work or hurting your feelings. Accountability is about holding you high so you can reach your goals.

    4.     Using a coffee shop, library, or bookstore for accountability.

    While you don’t have to publicly declare what you’re working on in these places, most people don’t want to appear to spend hours on end scrolling through social media. They want the appearance of getting work done in case anyone glances at their screen while passing.

    Better yet, look into co-working spaces in your town or city. These spaces are designed for multiple people to work in the same vicinity for a monthly fee. If you want a private office or need a conference room for meetings, expect to pay extra.

    Otherwise, you get space in a cubicle or other type of workstation and still get the feel for an office space. The distractions are still minimal – especially if you wear headphones – because you’re all working for your own companies, on your own projects. You don’t need to collaborate (unless you want to) so the chatter is often more limited than in a corporate setting.

    5.     Keep your eyes on the prize.

    If all else fails, think about the end result. Think about your BIG goal – the BIG picture. How will getting this task done make you feel? What will you get to do later as a result of getting this task done now?

    Create a vision board or journal regularly about this big goal and how it will impact your life and those around you. What’s the price you’re paying by NOT doing the work to reach these goals? What will happen to those who depend on you?

    Distractions at work are nothing new. Whether you’re in an office building with people around you or in a home office working solo, if your brain wants to check out from your current task, it will find a way to do so.

    If you’re not distracted by your co-workers talking about last night’s new movie or footy game, you’ll be distracted by the piles of laundry sitting unfolded in your bedroom.  The key is how you react to these distractions and the steps you take to avoid them.


    My sincere hope after this article is that you’ve learned some new techniques that you can implement in your daily schedule.

    Everyone has email to tackle and social media to sort through. Use some of the add-ons and extensions to make your work life less chaotic. Even if you have to adjust the settings a bit until you find just the right schedule, it’s worth it in the end to cut those distractions for good.

    Now that you’re ready to kick distractions to the curb and reclaim your productivity, here’s where you can download a cool business productivity booster workbook. It will help you to brainstorm some of these aspects of your work habits, and map out your personal distraction action plan.

    business productivity

    Do get in touch and let me know how it goes… and what works best for you.

    Great to hang out with you … I’ve some great topics coming up on the roster, that with all these new focusing no-distraction habits you’re developing, you will be able to crack on with and get a tonne of stuff done.

    Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss alerts when an episode drops, AND please do share the show details – leveragedbusinesspodcast.com. If you feel moved to write me a review, that would also be awesome and much appreciated.

    Make your day a successful one!

    Ciao ciao for now.