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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 March 30, 2020

What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

So, what to do in free time?

Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

1. Reading Files

Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

2. Clear out Inbox

Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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3. Phone Calls

Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

4. Make Money

This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

5. File

No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

6. Network

Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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7. Clear out Feeds

If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

8. Goal Time

Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

9. Update Finances

Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

10. Brainstorm Ideas

Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

11. Clear off Desk

Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

12. Exercise

Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

13. Take a Walk

This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

14. Follow up

Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

15. Meditate

You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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16. Research

This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

17. Outline

Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

18. Get Prepped

Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

19. Be Early

Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

20. Log

If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

More Inspirations on What To Do During Free Time

Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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