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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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