The Internet, smart phones, email and many of the other innovations we take for granted make our lives easier and our work hours more productive. While we use these tools for research and communication, they also provide us with a great deal of fun – feeding our need to connect, gossip, shop and do a myriad of other things that consume time. In particular, social networking sites are often pegged as a major source of time-wasting for the “me-focused” generation. If you or someone you work alongside seems to be hooked on social media, here are some ways to address this compulsion:
- How many times do you really need to check in with your favorite sites? If your work involves marketing, PR or some type of Internet-based communications, this might be a tough question to answer. If not, then force yourself to be honest. Can you restrict your Facebook sign-ins and your tweets to two or three a day? Perhaps you decide to check in before work, at lunch and sometime in the evening. Also, give yourself time limits. If you lose track of time when you are involved with social media, use the timer on your smart phone to bring you back to reality.
- Another good tactic is to log the time you spend on social media, and then consider what you might have done with those hours. How about some old-fashioned face-to-face socializing with peers over lunch? What professional activities or community service projects might benefit from your involvement? Offset the solitary, self-focused nature of social media (status reports, photos, blogging) with some activities that require you to turn your attention to the well-being of others. If professional development or community service doesn’t sound like appealing alternatives, perhaps you could have spent the time watching movies, dancing or learning to paint.
- Turn off notifications on your phone and PC. Don’t be seduced by the urgent beeping and chirping of your phone and computer to check out the latest from one of your “friends.” Only check your social media sites at the times you have set aside to do so. There is no better way to ruin your concentration and ability to complete tasks on time than to respond to every aler
- Social media can be a useful tool if you manage it, rather than allowing it to manage you. If you use social media to promote an event or a product you are selling, there are tools you can use to schedule your postings in advance. You don’t have to repeatedly go online to put your message out there. Likewise, both Twitter and Facebook allow you to “save” posts to read later.
If you are dealing with employees, you might want to block access to social media sites on all company computers – except for those employees whose jobs involve checking social media sites. However, staff will still use their own mobile phones apps to stay current. Every staff member should know your firm’s written policy on social media networking during work hours. It’s a good idea to include your expectations regarding general phone etiquette in the office: texting during meetings, taking calls on cell phones in public areas, etc. For Internet security reasons, you might want to apply restrictions regarding where employees are permitted to use personal iPhones and iPads to access the web. Above all, don’t assume that employees automatically know what is appropriate. A written policy that is provided and discussed with each employee is a must.