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Managing Your Social Network Addiction

Managing Your Social Network Addiction

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?

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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.

Rehabilitation

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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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More by this author

Ibrahim Husain

Ibrahim is a management analyst who writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

What to Write Down

Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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Dates of Events

Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

Names of People

Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

Theories or Frameworks

Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

Definitions

Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

Arguments and Debates

Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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Images

Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

Other Stuff

Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

Your Own Questions

Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

1. Outlining

Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

2. Mind-Mapping

For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

Here’s the idea:

In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

3. The Cornell System

The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

The Bottom Line

I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

More About Note-Taking

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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