Rarely have I ever met a successful entrepreneur who wasn’t in charge of their time, tools, and systems. They seem to be in the driver’s seat of life as it pertains to their calendar, phone, and their self-imposed boundaries.

The greatest boundary I learned pertains to email and social media. In Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, he explains the idea of disciplining yourself to email once a day and then, after you master that, once a week. The discipline fascinated me. I realized how addicted to my devices I was. Here is what I learned and what you will probably learn as well if you implement this discipline. But first, let’s talk about the discipline itself.

The idea is to limit checking your email until noon and then again at 4 p.m. By doing this, you will be free to focus on producing higher quality work in a fraction of the time. We live in an extremely noisy and distracting world. It is going to continue to become louder and filled with more messages competing for your time and attention. This is why I call email and social media “time bandits.”

The greatest threat: One of the greatest tragedies I see is when people find their identity and source of worth in email and social media. I have seen people whose days are run completely by email. But it goes deeper. Their email becomes their source of self-worth. Eventually, email consumes and runs them.

The same goes for social media. People find their worth and value based on likes, followers, and whether or not people interact with them online. Let me be brutally honest with you. Email is a way to communicate. It doesn’t run you but you‘ve allowed it to. Email or communication is on your terms and in your time. Your bank isn’t open 24 hours a day. Your stores aren’t open 24 hours a day. Why are you? Because you haven’t told the world your boundaries. As Tim described, add an autoresponder to your email about the 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. response times. Do the same with your social media. You are only allowed to check in at noon and 4 p.m.

You have to realize that unless you are a brand and company, social media is a tool to sell things and get the word out. Spending a large part of your time crafting a post to let people know about the great thing you are eating or how your cat is doing is a time bandit that you are feeding when you should be growing your business.

Bottom line, email and social media are tools to get your business done. They are not an identity. If you are wondering whether or not you have an issue, I would challenge you to start with a 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. check-in. Then put it away. If you feel like you’re going through withdrawals and getting cranky, it’s probably a sign that your worth and value are dependent on being online.

By implementing this discipline, you will notice an increase in productivity. Your self-worth will start to rise. You’ll see an increase in confidence because you are in control of your day. More importantly, everyone else’s negligence or fire drills suddenly are no longer your problem to respond to immediately. If you have customers or clients who demand you every hour of every day, then get new clients. Email and social media are hamster wheels. They make you super busy without producing much. Get off the wheel.

Email and social media don’t run you or your day. You do. The question becomes, what will you do with all the hundreds of hours you now have?

This blog post is an excerpt from my latest book, 31 Disciplines of Highly Successful Creatives. Click here to get your copy!

Interested in learning how to build a creative business from the ground up? Click here.

Have an amazing day!