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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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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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