How to Increase Productivity by Reducing Email and Social Media Time

limit social media and email time

Every day I struggle to spend less time on two activities: handling email and social media. Why? My productivity plumments when I let myself get sucked into spending loads of time on these two tasks.

I bet you understand.

In fact, I hear more client complaints about the need for and time spent on email and social media than anything else. Writers feel these tasks reduce their productivity immensely…but they know they need to do them.

It’s true. Both email and social media constitute necessary activities for writers. After all, email allows you to be in contact with editors, agents, contractors, and readers. Plus, you need to build an author platform, and the most potent platform element of all is an email list consisting of potential readers. Of course, social media provides the means for building platform as well. By using networking sites consistently, you attract followers who also might become readers.

Despite their necessity, both email and social media can become time sucks if you let them. And they provide a super way to procrastinate if you want one. (Admit it. You know exactly what I mean.)

That’s why this month, I’d like to challenge you to take control of the time you spend on email and social media. If you take one and accomplish this challenge, you will increase your productivity fast.

May Nonfiction Writer’s Challenge

To take on and complete this month’s challenge, reduce the amount of time you spend reading, sorting, and replying to email and perusing the feed on your favorite social media sites. Here are five ways to accomplish this goal while still building platform and responding to digital communications in a timely fashion.

1. Sort mail by priority. Only read the email you need to read. And don’t open your email box before you accomplish your biggest goal for the day.

No…the announcements about a webinar, new program, free book, or proven way to increase your brain power are not priority emails. They should not even be in your inbox.

That doesn’t mean you have to unsubscribe from those lists. I suggest using a system like [Sanebox] (, which allows you to train emails or contacts into your inbox (priority mail), Sanelater box (non-priority mail), or the SaneBlackHole (unwanted mail). Or you can train your emails in Gmail; put all the low-priority emails in the promotions area.

2. Write first, handle email and social media later. Don’t read any email you don’t need to read—unless you have the free time to do so. You do not have free time until you have worked on your writing project and accomplished whatever goal you have for that project on a given day. That means you only check email or social media after you’ve achieved your daily writing goal.

3. Unsubscribe. If your email box is filled with marketing emails—the ones about webinars and great deals on courses, consider unsubscribing to at least half of them. You can always subscribe again later. Afraid you’ll forget the lists from which you unsubscribed? Make a list.

If this seems to time-consuming, train these emails out of your inbox. Drag them into SaneBlackHole or promotions. Or use a service like or

4. Limit social media time. Get a timer. Use it. Spend no more than 30 minutes per day on social media. Period.

During “work hours,” when you can spend your time writing, only use social media for platform building. No scrolling through to find the funny animal videos. No checking in with your friends and family. Just sharing your blog posts, curating content, or answering reader comments or queries. That type of social media time constitutes a work-related task.

Still…use your timer! Keep a handle on how much time you spend building platform on social media sites—if you want to be more productive.

5. Get out of the procrastination habit. Specifically, I’m talking about the email and social media habit. (I do it, too…) When you feel unmotivated, stuck, or tired, don’t click on your email box or Facebook (or your favorite social media site). Instead, stand up, stretch, drink some water, and do some deep breathing or exercise. Then sit back down, and get back to work!

Checking email and social media feed is a bad habit that is easy to create. You can break the habit as easily, though. Don’t allow yourself to “go there” when you don’t want to write. Refocus. And start writing.

Give these tricks a try this month. Leave me a comment below, and tell me what hacks you use to increase productivity and decrease email and social media time. Also, tell me about the results you achieved from taking on this challenge.

For more information on how to increase your writing productivity, join the Nonfiction Writers’ University (NFWU). You can join the Nonfiction Writers’ University for a $1 trial period of 30 days*! When you do, you get access to four years of great content housed in the NFWU as well as monthly educational events, virtual writing sessions, group coaching, and video trainings.*After the 30-day trial period you will be charged $37 per month for NWU membership until you cancel.

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