Social media time out

Ever since I presented at the Lean and Mean Library Machine event the issues of productivity and time management have been on my mind. The question of whether I am a productive worker is one thing I have been pondering, and I’ll come back to that in another post soon. The second, and what I’m going to focus on in this post, is about my use of social media.

On this theme, the two big issues I am struggling with are:

  1. Am I making the most of the time I spend using social media?
  2. Is the constant connectedness and flow of information preventing me from putting the things I read and ideas that stem from them into action?

I can’t tell you how much time I spend daily on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, or reading RSS feeds. I never spend a significant amount of time on them, but I suspect my 10-15 minute bursts could well add up to a couple of hours. This is made possible because I have an iPhone. It allows me to catch up on overnight events over breakfast, check updates whilst waiting for meetings, or on breaks, and most significantly to stay connected at home in the evenings. Another thing that makes this possible is that my wife is just as connected as I am – if she weren’t and was competing for my attention with what she calls my “tweet-box” I’m sure my habits would change, and fast!



I do worry though that I am addicted to updates. I find myself thinking in 140 characters, or starting my sentences with “Emma is…”. One participant on the 23 Things programme that I’m currently running wrote last week about her daughter giving up Facebook for Lent. I’ve also read posts recently about people giving up Facebook and Twitter for a month and ditching their smart phone. This makes me wonder if I have the courage, and will power, to do it.

A quote that jumped out at me from the article about ditching the smart phone was this:

“Do you want your people to be connected or to have more time to think and develop. The two are not necessarily compatible.”

This helped me clarify something in my mind – I struggle to focus on one idea at a time and see it through. Being constantly connected makes my mind run faster and I don’t make time to sit back and process the information I’m taking in.

So here is my plan. I’m not going to stop using social media. It is a central feature in my life and helps me to stay connected to friends, family and my professional community. It feeds my mind. What I am going to do is take some time out, not for a solid month but on a daily basis. I am going to begin by refining the streams of information I have. I will unsubscribe from RSS feeds and unfollow on Twitter. This will help me to stop skim reading everything and give me time to focus on what is of real interest to me. Secondly, I am going to disconnect in my lunchbreak at work and use this time to process and plan.

I’d be interested to hear in the comments if you have any strategies for making the time you spend on social media more productive.

One comment

  • cjclib

    @ekcragg v interesting post. Am wondering this myself + thinking will use maternity leave to pare down a bit but can’t quite switch off

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