Dec 042012
 

All too often I hear people complain about how distracting social media is. That’s not a fair comment, because there are far greater distractions like interruptions of a phone call or a person that stops by your desk (office, or cubicle), and wouldn’t you know it, that happens right when you’re getting traction on your work. What social media might be doing is adding and compounding the issue of distractions and interruptions that derail us from productive work.

The biggest time-waster at work is inefficient meetings (only 8% say that meetings are 100% productive).
And depending on who you ask (or survey), the numbers may differ. This different survey puts more blame of time-wasting on the digital rather than the physical:

… at companies with more than 1,000 employees, these kinds of digital distractions can waste more than $10 million each year.

And in this social media-obsessed age, typical water cooler banter and pointless meetings are no longer the greatest time-wasters at work. Almost 60% of workplace distractions involve social networks, text messaging, IMs or email. In fact, navigating between multiple tabs and windows to keep an eye on a wide variety of apps is a huge distraction in itself.

In the end, almost half of the employees in this study said they worked just 15 minutes or less without getting interrupted or distracted. More than half said they wasted at least one hour every day day due to distraction.

That’s the data. Data doesn’t motivate nor inspire you to action, the kind of behavior modification and change in lifestyle you need to eliminate the distraction of social media. Social media doesn’t have to control you. You have to choose and decide to be in control of your time and your social media usage.

I know people who’ve punted and just say no to social media. Is that really the solution? That is a solution, though it is not a very relevant one for those of us who do want to be effective in connecting with people near and far by using social media. Get smart with engaging the culture and being immersed in the culture, not by over-reacting by separating and unplugging in fear.

At the core of it all, methinks, it is about how you make the conscious choice of using your time moment by moment. (Naturally-born planners have it made in this respect; but I’m not one of them.) My top lifehacks on social media and personal tech: Turn off alerts and notifications; check email only 3 times a day; get a 2nd monitor (to cut down window-switching time). And, one more thing, I’m experimenting with: turn off the smartphone for time blocks.

Some other thoughts + insights + reflections + wisdom::

#video Joe Kraus made these remarks about our Constant Culture of Distraction and the crisis of attention, being disconnected, and losing ourselves

Minimizing Distractions: Managing Your Work Environment

We all face distractions on a daily basis. Distractions not only lower our productivity, they also increase our stress.

You probably already know what distracts you the most – phone calls, emails, instant messages, Internet browsing, interrupting co-workers, and so on. Strategies like scheduling email checks, turning off your phone, and leaving the office for a quieter environment may eliminate distractions so that you get more done.

Great tips abound for how to keep social media from being distracting:

Take Control of Your E-mail, Tame the Web to be More Focused, Change Your Work Environment to Shore Up Productivity

Silence Your Smartphone, Mute Your Inbox, The Nuclear Option

For more reflection and consideration:

Is Being Permanently Connected to Social Networks Good?

There’s an ebook by Leo Babauta focus : a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction that you can get in a free and paid version.

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