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Phones Down!

January 20, 2020

Use your CPA skills to manage your time on social media.  

By Amanda Phelps, CPA 

It’s 3:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, the trial balance is out of balance by $57,000 and retained earnings don’t tie to the prior year. “Ok, I only have one more hour and 27 minutes left to finish this project,” I think to myself. Feeling flustered, I reach for my phone subconsciously. I start trolling social media. Now I’m caught up with Kylie Jenner’s latest beauty product, engaged in a fruitless Twitter battle over college football and discovered that I look best in the Clarendon filter. An hour drifts by somehow. Where is that elusive $57,00? How did I waste so much time? Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Is social media a tool or a hindrance to your workday? Are you ready to take control of your life and learn to leverage your time on social media?  

Plan and Execute an Audit 

If you want to make a change and start managing your time spent on social media, first you need to take an audit. Gather data and analyze it. How much time are you spending on social media? How often are you checking social media and at what time? Which apps are you checking? Use Excel to map out exactly when and where you are spending your time on social media. Write down the results of the audit. 

If you are having trouble identifying the data, there are several apps that can help you track social media usage, such as MyAddictometer. Be honest with yourself. Does social media interfere with your workday? Does it help you achieve professional goals? Would you be comfortable with your manager seeing the results to this audit? Many studies find that the use of social media can lead to por work productivity, not to mention depression and anxiety. Unhealthy relationships with social media are commonplace today. Plus being on your phone all the time is just RUDE. Ask yourself the most important question: Does using social media add value and help you meet your professional goals?  

Internal Controls  

Based on your audit, you may find that it is time to implement some internal controls. Here are some controls you can put in place to manage your time on social media:  

  • Build social media breaks into your day. Having built in social media breaks can help you from impulsively checking your apps.  

  • There’s an app for that. You can install apps on your phone that can limit your social media usage. The app will send you an alert when you reached your set limit on social media. Try an app like Offtime. This app tracks your usage and you can schedule time outs. Freedom is another great app that blocks distracting websites like ESPN and YouTube during scheduled work hours.  

  • Turn off push notifications. Are you getting a windfall of alerts? Do you really care that Karen made chicken and broccoli again for dinner? Go into your settings and turn off these distracting, useless notifications.  

  • Greyscale your phone. The shiny bright little apps excite and reward the brain. Smartphones now have options that will turn your colorful paradise into a not so exciting 50 shades of grey. Your brain won’t be as enticed.  

  • Stop using your phone as an alarm clock. Often people check their social media before their feet hit the floor in the morning. Switch to old school alarm clock to help break your social media addiction.  

  • Find something else to do. Most likely you work on a screen already, so a different type of break would be better. Go for a walk, grab coffee or read a book.  

  • Delete the apps. You can’t check what you don’t have. You don’t have to delete your accounts; you can just delete your apps off your phone.  

  • Leave your phone at home. I know this might sound like blasphemy, but it can be freeing. You don’t have to leave it behind every day, but every now and then can be therapeutic. Or leave it in the car. Don’t worry; those who want to get a hold of you will call your work number. Has anyone ever actually called you on your work phone?  

Leverage Social Media  

Can you leverage your time on social media to your advantage? Maybe your job promotes the use of social media? Even if your company doesn’t blatantly support social media use, you should still build a social media presence. A lot of accountants have found social media beneficial for marketing and branding themselves. Today business deals can happen over Facebook Messenger. Firms can use social media to advertise, find and communicate with clients. Ask yourself: Can advertising your business or yourself on social media generate revenue? Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time on social media:  

  • Keep profiles up to date. If you are using your senior picture, it may be time for a new headshot.  

  • Grow your network. Find a platform and seek out like-minded individuals.  

  • Open yourself to new opportunities. Mark your LinkedIn profile to be open to new connections and prospects.  

  • Share relevant posts at strategic times. Use a scheduling app to share relevant content and plan.  

  • Engage in thoughtful discussions. Check out accounting discussion boards.  

  • List your social media handles and websites in your e-mail signature.  

Final Thoughts  

Social media is a powerful tool. The key is to set boundaries and utilize social media to achieve your goals. Effective strategies of social media time management are unique to the individual. Take an audit and implement internal controls. Execute a plan that works for you. If you can’t break the addiction, leverage it to your advantage. Make sure your social media is adding value to your overall goals. Use social media to brand yourself, engage in fruitful discussions and stay up to date on relevant topics. Hold yourself accountable — you’re an accountant after all! #socialmedia #timemanagement #accountingforsocialmedia  

Amanda Phelps is a Recruiting Manager at Robert Half specializing in the placement of finance and accounting professionals in Hampton Roads. She is a member of the VSCPA's Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC). Contact her at amandaphelps3 at gmail.com.