Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, Friendster, Tumblr, Xanga… the list goes on and on. And if you are any sort of tech savy, there is good chance you are a member of multiple social networks. Even I have accounts with at least 5 of these. While there is a lot to be gained by using these services, there is also a lot to be lost.
In case you hadn’t heard, Facebook users share not only a social network of over 200 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 apposed 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 on Twitter than in sunlight, it’s time for change. 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.
Obviously the first step in your rehabilitation is to admit there is a problem. How could you not pick up groceries on your way home from work, yet somehow you twitted 3 times before making it home? You have a problem, and until you realize it, there is nothing we can do for you.
You need to realize that these systems are in place for you to use, not to use you. They are tools, not lifestyles. If you are using the tool for anything other than it’s intended use, chances are you are wasting time. Don’t fret though, with hard work, discipline, and the help from Lifehack, we can beat this addiction, and use these tools the way they were intended.
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 it is 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 15 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 both. 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 anyone, and had thousands of followers. Strangely though, people rarely responded to my twits, 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 200), 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 all the time in the world to spend making friends on Facebook.
- Remove the Cellphone 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 your 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 except 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.
Have any other tips to help your fellow addicts get through this rough time? Leave a comment below, and let us know you care.