As a freelance blogger, I'm happy to admit I'm a procrastinator. If you write for a living, you'll understand how vital it is to take a break.
Well, that's my excuse.
Logging on to check the Red Robot Media account on Facebook or Twitter can seriously drain time from my day. When I have a deadline to attend to, I can't afford to lose an hour on social media.
I've started using three very valuable tools to help me make the best use of my 'procrastination time'. Maybe they'll help you too.
Free to $2.50 per credit (for people who need more than the basics)
There have been countless surveys, blogs and infographics about the best time to tweet, but I have issues with them all. Different industries have different audiences: a cafe running a sandwich promotion should probably be tweeting at around 11am, just as people are starting to think about lunch, not 2pm when they've already eaten.
It also follows that the industry's 'best time to tweet' will eventually become the hardest time to be heard.
So when should you concentrate your Twitter time?
Tweriod is a service which will help you make optimum use of the time you allocate to Twitter, making procrastination more productive. Simply log in with your Twitter credentials and Tweriod analyses the tweets you send, the tweets your followers send and your local timezone.
The end result was pretty revealing for me. Most of my followers are small business owners, and I was tweeting mainly in the morning or around lunchtime. I was surprised to see that I should be tweeting from 3pm until 6pm, UK time.
Free for up to 10 tweets and 3 social accounts. $9.95 for more.
Buffer allows you to schedule your tweets ahead of time, giving you a consistent presence on Twitter. You can also create a custom posting schedule.
If you use Chrome, I highly recommend installing the Buffer extension. Each time you tweet something in the browser, you'll be given the option to add it to your Buffer instead. You can opt to send the message to Facebook and LinkedIn, and you can post to your Buffer directly on the Buffer website. Buffer will spread your tweets and retweets through the day instead of blurting them all out within few minutes.
If you already have a Tweriod report, you have everything you need to create the perfect Buffer schedule. Set up posting times for each day and each social network. You may want to tweet more than you share on Facebook, or perhaps only post on LinkedIn on weekdays.
And that's it. Use Buffer to re-post blogs, tweet while you're on holiday or maintain a consistent Twitter schedule at peak times. Your procrastination on social media just got a whole lot more useful.
Free for Android and iOS
Zite is similar to other RSS readers, but it has an important difference. As you mark posts, Zite learns what you like to read about and delivers more of the same content. This turns your RSS reader into a research tool.
When I find a really good blog, I add it to my Buffer from Zite. Occasionally the link inspires a blog post of my own. The time I would ordinarily 'waste' reading news feeds is now a productive half-hour - a way to generate blogging ideas and keep my social media feeds topped up.
Zite doesn't yet understand location, so some of the categories are heavily US-biased. The team told me they're looking into this. Regardless, Zite is a really nice addition to any procrastination toolbox - and the interface is beautiful.
4. Lucky Orange
Free trial, then $10-£100 month
If you are the kind of person that adores analytics, you probably waste a lot of time getting lost in charts and numbers. Lucky Orange tops this up with heatmaps, and it also records video of a user's screen as they use your website. (The WordPress plugin puts all of these features right in your admin area.)
If I feel like checking my stats during a break, I head for the video page in the Lucky Orange plugin and see what the last few visitors did. It's incredibly revealing. Within a couple of days I had procrastinated effectively by tightening my web content, re-writing my FAQs and shuffling the layout around.
Most crucially of all, I noticed that almost every visitor was looking for pricing information - something we didn't provide. Within a couple of days of changing the site and adding the pricing they were looking for, we had converted three new clients.
Free for 10 messages, $14.99 per month for more.
If you run a business, you probably work crazy hours (or procrastinate more than you'd like to admit). If you find yourself switching the 9-5 for a 5-9, your clients may start to call you in the evenings. That's probably something you want to avoid.
Boomerang is a Google Apps or Gmail extension that holds your sent emails and fires them off at a pre-defined time. Even if you have to work late into the night, you needn't worry about disturbing a client by emailing them when they're relaxing (or, well, asleep): just use Boomerang to send your email in the morning. That way, you don't need to worry about them calling you back and waking the kids.
If none of the other services I've mentioned work for you, Boomerang will help you to reclaim the time you spent on social media.