3 Ways to Get On Top of Social Media Before it Gets on Top of You

700 billion minutes.

That’s how much time Facebook’s 500 million active users spend on the site every month! 700 000 000 000 minutes. That’s the equivalent of 1,3 million years – nearly 18 000 lifetimes!

And 7 years ago Facebook didn’t even exist! What did we use to do with all that time??

A recent study of media habits found that 33% of people surveyed admitted to checking Facebook before they even went to the bathroom in the morning; 21% admitted to checking it in the middle of the night; and half of them considered themselves Facebook addicts. Clearly something about Facebook has captivated us and drawn us in.

Me personally? I love social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. (just not LinkedIn – please stop sending me invites!) They have all helped me build a platform, learn from influential leaders, and stay in touch with friends around the world in remarkable ways.

But even as I type this on my iPad I have a sinking feeling of being overwhelmed.

And I’m beginning to feel like maybe, just maybe, all of my devices, my gadgets, my apps, my social media, own me as much as I own them. As they constantly beep, buzz and vibrate around me, screaming for my attention, I’m starting to wonder whether all this was a good idea in first place.

Now please don’t get me wrong – social media and technology are good things. But, like most good things, they can become bad things.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse.

How we use it will determine which one it will be in our lives. Here are a few tips that can guide us along the way:

1) Own Up

No one likes to admit they’re addicted to something, but if you want to get on top of your habits, you’ve got to own up.

Ask your friends/spouse/children/parents, “Am I using my iPhone/Blackberry too much? Am I on Facebook too much?” Even if their answer is subjective, it is still helpful. Chances are if your wife says you are using your iPad too much, you probably are. (Thanks darling!)🙂

Of course there is no right answer to “How much is too much?”, but a really good exercise is to record how much time you spend on Facebook in a given week. We generally tend to underestimate, and a good look at the raw data may be shocking and revealing.

2) Set Boundaries

I am convinced that in our information overloaded culture, discipline is becoming more and more key. Establishing clear boundaries, while tough to do at first, creates freedom and space in our lives. If we are always just reacting to our devices, compulsively checking email or scrolling through News Feeds, then it’s too easy for technology to get a grip on us and suffocate us.

Some ideas may be to have designated times in your family for going online, or perhaps a “tech-free hour” where you gather for a meal and everyone has to put their phones in a basket or switch them off.

The point is find ways of putting boundaries on your social media that work for you/your family – and force yourself to live within those boundaries.

3) Enjoy It

Having owned up, and established clear boundaries, you are then free to just enjoy the wonders of the Interweb! As I said, social media can be a wonderful thing. But we enjoy it most, when we enjoy it best.

Thanks to Tim Challies for the helpful info and statistics.

7 Ways to Turn Off Technology and Get More Done!

Studies show that the average worker is interrupted every 11 minutes!

Distractions destroy productivity and complicate your life. And you can’t blame others entirely for this. Tim Ferris, in his book “The 4-Hour Work Week” says that  “Blaming idiots for interruptions is like blaming clowns for scaring children—they can’t help it. It’s their nature.”

Often times, too, our greatest distractions come from ourselves. So each of us must learn to be disciplined in how we manage interruptions and learn to protect our own time if we hope to get anything done.

In my blog “16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity)”  one of the ways I mention to do this is to turn off technology. Here are some helpful tips on how:

1)  Turn off your email and phone for 60 minutes a day and focus on doing your most important work.

I find the best time for this is first thing in the morning. You can still take voicemails on your phone, but the important thing is that you have a solid chunk of time to focus on creative work, or work that requires some lateral thinking and brainstorming. Something I do that helps is put a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on my door/cubicle, and earphones in my ears. Even if I’m not listening to music, it prevents my colleagues from interrupting me with things that ultimately can wait an hour. (And in my opinion most “urgent” things can wait an hour.)

2) Stop looking at Facebook!

I know this is hard people, but if you need some extra help you can actually get simple programs now like Freedom that prevent you from logging in to certain sites between stipulated hours. And you’ll need to reboot if you want to get back online while Freedom’s running! The hassle of rebooting means you’re less likely to cheat, and you’ll enjoy enhanced productivity.

3) Turn all your electronic notifications off.

Other than calendar reminders, the rest of those notifications just create more anxiety and stress. Lose them!

4) Create your own email culture.

Tim Ferris is the CEO of a million-dollar organisation and checks his email once a month! How does he do it? Well, to cut a long story short, he has worked himself into that place over a long period of time by creating an email culture where he is able to DELEGATE, DISCARD or DEAL with emails immediately. He warns strongly against creating a “chat” email scenario where you end each email with a question, inviting back-and-forth conversation.

I am working at the moment towards checking my mail twice a day. And the more I do this, the more people get used to my system and learn to work within it. Generally I find most people are OK with receiving a reply as long as it is within one 24hr period.

Checking your mail constantly fragments your thinking, and is a huge productivity killer!

5) Don’t answer your phone every time it rings.

Record a good, friendly and professional voicemail message on your phone and trust it. You can always listen to the message and then decide wether the call truly is urgent, or if it can wait till another time.

6) Work in 90 minute cycles

Tons of science is now confirming that this is the optimal work to rest ratio.

7) Get comfortable with saying NO!

Every time you say “Yes” to something, you are saying “No” to something else.

Ok, well, I hope that helped. Now stop reading my blog and get back to work!!