by Carthage Buckley, Stress and Performance Coach
If you want to be as productive as possible, you need to eliminate distractions. You live in a busy world where there are so many things competing for your attention. If you don’t learn to control these potential distractions, you end up jumping from one thing to another without ever really finishing anything. Above all else 2 things have made distractions worse than ever – the smart phone and social media. These things have meant that we don’t ever have to be out of touch. We can always be contacted. But just because we always can be contacted it doesn’t mean that we should always allow ourselves to be contacted. I will tackle smart phones in a later article but today I want to focus on taming social media.
Why taming social media is important
Taming social media is important because social media is highly addictive but adds little or no real value to your life. I am a firm believer in the 80/20 principle whereby very few of the things which you do daily, produce the majority of the positive outcomes in your life. In other words, the majority of the things we do daily, add little or no value. I invite you to take a proper look at your social media usage to determine the time you spend on it versus the value you receive from it.
If you are honest with yourself, you will find that:
- You spend more time on social media than you had realised, and;
- You get far less value from social media than you had thought
The social media zombie
During your typical day, how many people do you see who are glued to their smart phone. Their head is down; they have no idea what is going on around them and they probably have a cramp in their thumb from scrolling through their Facebook or Twitter feed. We are creating a generation of people who lack the social skills to survive in the real world. They are more concerned with the lives of their imaginary online friends than they are concerned with the lives of their real-world friends.
I have become more concerned in recent times by the frequency with which I walk into businesses and receive poor service because the staff are focused their social media accounts rather than the customers who pay their wages.
The crux of the social media problem
There are many reasons why social media is a major problem for modern workers. I have just focused on the top 3 here:
1. You waste too much time
Because it is so addictive, you end up like a zombie as you read through your feed. You lose all track of time. You may think that you were only on your social media account for 5 minutes but it was probably more like 30-60 minutes. Time just slips away while you are reading through whatever comes up on your news feed.
“There’s time enough but none to spare”. Charles W. Chesnutt
2. You don’t really care
This is the thing which annoyed me most before I decided to tame my social media use. I would spend a great deal of time reading about stuff that I didn’t really care about. I am confident that my life would have been no worse if I hadn’t wasted my time reading the mundane garbage that was littering my newsfeed.
Equally annoying is that I often didn’t care about the people who were sharing their content with me. Yes, I hoped that they and their families were happy and healthy but I really didn’t care whether they got a new haircut or their child scored 10 out of 10 in their spellings test. I am from a small town and I had just accepted a friend request rather than feel I was being rude to someone I knew. I am sure some people accepted my friend requests for the same reason.
Simply put, I was giving too much time to the lives of people whom I wouldn’t seek out to spend time with. That is a real waste of time. What’s more, the time I was giving to them was time I couldn’t give to the people whom I really cared about.
3. You fill your head with junk
As an add on to the previous point, most of content that gets posted on social media is complete and utter junk. It is of no real value to anybody. Next time you are on your social media accounts, ask yourself if the content you read made your life any better or worse.
It may seem irrelevant but if you took all the time you waste on social media and used for the things which are truly important to you; how much happier would you be. There is enough time for the things you want to do in life. You just need to stop wasting it on things which don’t really matter.
Should you scrap social media?
Not necessarily. For some people, it may be best to close their social media accounts entirely but for most people, taming social media will be enough. To do this, you need to understand the purpose you are using social media for. Below, I give two examples from my own usage. You need to determine the best strategy for you:
My personal Facebook account is just for keeping in touch with people who live in other countries and whom I couldn’t otherwise keep in touch with.
I have accepted that if there are other ways to keep in touch with people and we don’t keep in touch; then neither of us really want to keep in touch. So, why waste time reading about their life on social media. This approach means that I only have to login once every few weeks to catch up with people.
My business Facebook pages are just for sharing content from my blogs and encouraging people to come along to my website and check out more of the content.
Between my twitter accounts, I have nearly 400,000 followers. There is no way that I could engage with that many people on Twitter. And, to be honest, I have no intention of doing so. Most of these people will never have any intention or interest in becoming customers.
I create free content which people who don’t want to be customers are welcome to enjoy but when it comes to my time, that is reserved for customers.
So, my twitter accounts are solely for sharing content and encouraging people to come along and check out my website. Some of them will, in time, become customers.
If you read carefully through how I use my Facebook and Twitter accounts you will see how having a strategy for each helps me to avoid wasting a great deal of time on social media. I know what I am using each service for and avoid engaging in anything which doesn’t fit that remit. Although I share approx. 300 posts across my social media accounts each day; I use a service called Buffer to set it all up in just a few minutes each day. The strategy I use may not be right for you but I certainly recommend that you devise your own strategy. Doing so will keep you focused and reduce a great deal of the wastage which social media creates. Tame social media and use the time you save to make more progress on your goals.
About the author
Carthage Buckley is a Stress and Performance Coach who helps entrepreneurs, management and driven professionals to identify and eliminate the sources of stress while developing and implementing strategies to realise their objectives and create a happy, healthy and successful life.
The principle philosophy of Carthage’s coaching is that the individual can shape their own world, rather than waiting for their world to shape them. Working from the inside out, it is perfectly possible for each person to create their own life, allowing them to fulfil their personal desires while living in harmony with the world around them.
Carthage has lived and worked in 5 countries and continues to work with clients all around the world, both in person and via the Internet.