As a self employed individual over the past two decades I have learned how to beat time bandits of various stripes through self discipline. I concentrate on the task at hand, no matter how unpleasant it may be and I do that task until completion no matter what, unless the house catches fire. And then the alarm has to come from a credible source.

1.) Turn off IM and Text
2.) Check e-mail infrequently
3.) Schedule specific time slots for social media.

Only IM/Text if you’re in direct communication with a specific person for a specific purpose. It’s far too easy to let a quick note from a colleague, client or friend suck up surprising amounts of time. Just the question “Do you know a good restaurant in San Mateo” can take five minutes of your day. Fortunately I don’t have a IM/texting problem yet, but the next generation of clients may require a disciplined approach to this communication channel.

Email does not require an immediate response, it is best to give yourself time to think about an email because anything you say in it is in writing and can have far reaching effects. In one case a musician in Brazil surrendered his rights to being paid for a song in a national ad in his quick response to their preliminary inquiry. He was excited and not careful in his use of words. The court upheld the email as a contract in writing. I check my email six times a day, and this might be too much.

Social Media is a valuable tool for getting your message out and maintaining a “first and foremost” position in your clients minds, but if you don’t set a specific schedule you can end up spending hours at the wrong time of day researching a good article or crafting a new message. I set aside 90 minutes each morning and ten minutes at lunch to social media, professional development and blogging, no more.

Focus on the task at hand.