The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have it.
Hi. My name is Marianne. And I am a social media addict.
What does that mean? Well, I check my Facebook each and every morning for new messages, notifications, and events. I flip through my friends’ photo albums. I write cute quips on their status updates. I write up my own status, announcing my displeasure at the pain of working out, or expressing my opinion on a recent news article. Then, I check my Blackberry for Twitter updates. Now that I have two Twitter accounts, I have to make sure that I don’t miss any @mentions.
I repeat this not once, twice, or even thrice, but multiple times throughout the day. If I’m bored sitting in traffic, I’ll scan through Facebook updates. I post my workouts via SportyPal to Facebook and twitter. Some nights, when I have nothing to do, I’ll just waste a couple of hours on Facebook.
But I’m finally kicking the habit.
I still love Facebook, because it allows me to create events, share images, and interact with my friends. But do I need to be checking in so often? No. I love Twitter, because it allows me to interact with the blogosphere, share ideas, and see what interesting articles are being written. It also means that I am instantly alerted if Financial Uproar starts getting creepy. Of the two, Twitter is definitely the lesser evil, since Twitter does me a favour by limiting my interactions to 140 characters. However, it too can be a time-leech.
Last night, when I had to work on a paid writing project, I finally forced myself to install free software called FB Limiter. The basic, free level allows me to block Facebook and Youtube for as long as I want. It’s password protected, which is kind of useless if it’s only one person, but great for parents or companies. If I were to pay $9.99, I could upgrade to another level, which would allow me to block other social media such as twitter, and would also allow me to block it for specific timeframes.
Usually, when I’m working on a writing assignment, I’m very good about shutting down all distractions and using the time purely to focus on the assignment, which is important because I am paid by the hour. However, last night, I was really struggling with connecting with the piece and the person I was writing for. I had wanted to start around 6pm, and instead goofed around online procrastinating for another two hours. At 8pm, I’d had enough. So I installed the blocker and had at it. I finished the assignment in approximately 1 hour, which is less than half of the time I had spent surfing the web.
As I’ve written before, your time is an asset. Procrastination, in particular surfing social media, can be a huge time-and-energy suck. I don’t even want to calculate how many hours I’ve spent on Facebook. I could have used that time to read, work a part time job, write, learn an instrument, clean, exercise, spend time with friends in person, etc. The “what ifs” make me shudder.
So while I’m not quitting cold turkey, I will be withdrawing from it significantly. I can’t afford to be addicted to social media. I have a full time job, two blogs, a book to write, a part time writing job, and a Half Ironman to train for. Each minute I spend on unnecessary surfing will cost me, either financially, physically, or professionally.
Knowing myself well enough to install a limiter was a huge move forward. Next step will be actively using it, and channeling my newfound time into productivity, such as finally learning the guitar (which I bought nearly three years ago), working on youtube vlogging, exercising, and cooking.
Does Social Media eat up your free time? Or have you learned to use it productively, as an asset to your business, blog, etc?