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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 April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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