Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, Friendster, Tumblr, Xanga. the list goes on and on. And if you are any sort of tech savvy, there is good chance you are a member of multiple social networks. Even I have accounts with at least 4 of these. While there is a lot to be gained by using these services, there is a lot to be lost.
In case you hadn’t heard, Facebook users share not only a social network of over 500 million, but also significantly lower grade point averages (GPAs) than their non-member classmates (according to Time Magazine). And apparently Jennifer Aniston ended her relationship with John Mayer because he was addicted to Twitter (as opposed to drugs like other musicians). This begs the question, how many of us are addicted to social networks, and what can we do about it?
You may think, “I’m not addicted, I can quit anytime!” Well if you have more Facebook friends than real friends, something must be done. If you spend more time working on your LinkedIn profile than doing actual work, it’s time for an intervention. Regardless of your excuse, this is not ok.
Here are a few tips that can help you monitor your social network use, and ensure that you are being productive instead of wasting time.
- Track Your Time Online – The simplest way to ensure you aren’t wasting time in any one place is to monitor your time. Use a stopwatch and set a limit. When time is up, log out regardless of what’s left. There is always tomorrow.
- Remember the Telephone – I know, it’s so primitive. But a call to a friend works just as well as a Facebook message, and its real human interaction, something we are losing touch with.
- Go Outside – get away from your portal to the network. Get some sunshine, chances are you need it.
- Limit your Memberships – There is no need for memberships to 10 different networks. In fact, there is no need for even 2 memberships of sites which do the same thing. Choose Facebook or Myspace, but not Digg, or StumbleUpon. This will probably cut your memberships in half, and hopefully cut the time spent on them down also.
- Use Your Networks Productively – When I first used Twitter I followed thousands of followers. Strangely though, people rarely responded to my tweets, and it was like I was invisible. I decided I’d only use twitter if I could be productive with it, so I unfollowed thousands of users (now below 1000), and use Twitter only to share and interact with people with similar interests as mine. Now my Twitter is a tool, not a time warp.
- Prioritize – Use these tools only when your work has been done, or during down time. Don’t spend time updating your profile or changing your pic when there is work to be done. This will not only save you time and increase productivity, but will build self-discipline as well.
- Stop Procrastinating – Many times we get on Facebook or twitter when we have real work that we just don’t want to do. Stop that! Get the work done. Once you finish you’ll have the time in the world to spend making friends on Facebook.
- Remove the Cell Phone Apps – You don’t really need Facebook or Twitter on your phone. Nothing on there can be that important. Save your social networking for when you are behind the desk and limit the distractions throughout the day.
- Spend More Time with Close Friends and Family – You aren’t the only one who suffers when you spend countless hours on Myspace. Your family and friends don’t see you, because you are too busy learning how to customize you backgrounds and take crazy pictures from all different angles for your profile pic. Cut out the cancer and get back to friends and family.
It’s time to take back your free time. Remember that these sites are built to make money, not increase your productivity. Nobody is looking out for you expect you (and me…). Follow my tips and live life in the real world instead of the e-world. Trust me, it’s more fun this way.