By far, the most common question I receive from doctors when I give social media presentations centers around the time involved. You want to be active on Twitter or Facebook or start a blog, but you see patients full time. You take call once a week. You have kids who play sports. I understand completely.

Here are eight suggestions I have found in my social media journey that have helped me carve out time to maintain the blog, podcast and more. Plus I share one time-saving strategy I would strongly recommend that you avoid.

Check and respond to email only once a day.

I hate talking on the phone, so initially email was a lifesaver for me. Unfortunately I was receiving over 100 email messages on my work account every day. I would use every 5 to 10 minute break to check email and respond. Later, when I would check again, my inbox would still be full, largely with replies to my earlier messages.

STOP checking it so often! Email is arguably the biggest drain on productivity ever created. Check it once a day – and only once. You will eliminate much of the back-and-forth emails that waste so much time. People stop expecting instant responses from you if you stop giving them. I know you’re important, but if someone needs you right away, he shouldn’t email you. Trust me, if someone need you immediately, he can find you.

Don’t watch more than one TV show each day.

I will confess that I often have sports on in the background while I work. Other than that, I rarely watch television. It just takes too much time away from getting productive work done. Limit your TV time (news, sports, movies or any other viewing) to less than 60 minutes per day. And record shows so you don’t waste time waiting for them to start.

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Wasting time watching tv

Don’t play fantasy football.

Listen, I’m all for sports, but these aren’t even real teams. I suppose if you spend an hour or two drafting a team and then let it go on autopilot, fantasy sports wouldn’t be so bad. My friends who play fantasy football spend 1 to 2 hours every day on it. If you’re going to devote that kind of time to fantasy sports, you shouldn’t try to write for a blog or be active on social media – unless you are writing about fantasy sports.

Exercise every day.

This tip might seem counterintuitive, because it can take 30 to 60 minutes per day to exercise. Trust me – it is time well spent. You will feel refreshed and get far more done after your workout. Plus you need to get moving if you sit at your computer for long periods of time.

Batch activities.

I will address the concept of batching in a separate post because it is an important one for busy people. Basically batching refers to doing an activity multiple times in one session rather than a little bit at a time. For example, I write all of my blog posts for the following week on Thursday mornings instead of spending a few hours several times a week. I batch everything – blog posts, Twitter and Facebook, patient phone calls, calling  patients with MRI results and more.

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Use Twitter and Facebook as time fillers only.

Twitter and Facebook are great means of communication, but they can become tremendous time wasters if you aren’t careful. Read your timelines in your two- or five-minute gaps standing in line or between surgery cases instead of during your three-hour block of free time.
Woman typing on her phone

Schedule social media posts.

Rather than logging onto Twitter each time you want to tweet about your latest blog post, schedule your tweets all at once. Facebook allows you to schedule posts on the page itself. Scheduling allows you to share your content while others are online but you are seeing patients. Just don’t forget to go to Twitter or Facebook periodically to respond to people who have interacted with you.

Delegate everything you can.

I can’t stress this concept enough. You can’t do it all yourself. Spend time doing the work that only you can do. In the case of a health provider, that’s the actual patient care. On social media, that would be writing the health content. Hire someone else to upload the posts to your blog. Have an assistant file invoices for monthly hosting fees. Pay someone to research topics a few hours a week. There are countless people who can perform those tasks much faster than you, freeing time for you to create content – or spend time with family and friends.

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Caution! As I said, I learned the hard way that one “time-saving” strategy does not work. Do not cut back on sleep. During the first two years of my blog, I slept no more than 4 to 5 hours each night. I quickly became less productive, forcing me to stay up even later. It led me in a downward spiral. Once I committed to getting six or seven hours of sleep each night, the quality of my work improved, and I accomplished more in less time.