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Can Social Media Disrupt Your Life Or Career? 5 Tips For Managing The Timesink

Social media offers a lot of great opportunities and access to information. Among other things, some of the benefits of engaging in the social space include:

  • The chance to stay connected with friends or family who don’t live close
  • A way to meet new people and build relationships
  • Access to fun, entertaining content that just makes you laugh
  • Access to educational content that helps you grow your career or expand your understanding of a topic
  • The opportunity for companies to connect, on a personal basis, with your customers
  • Opportunities for authors to access a broad audience that you can share helpful, useful information with
  • The chance to write  and share content in a way that positions you as a thought leader in your niche

The challenge, however, is that social media can also distract you from what is important in life. If not kept in check, writing articles, playing online games and surfing blogs, tweets, posts and photos can easily suck away hours from your day. These activities may actually cause damage by keeping you from meeting your work deadlines or distracting your from your real-life relationships. At the extreme, it might even end up in a lost job or a failed relationship.

Do you let social media distract you from your career deliverables or from your real-life relationships? Here are a few tips to avoid the timesink.

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Personally, I have experienced nights where I start surfing (or playing) at 10PM and look up at the clock to find that it’s 2AM, wondering where the time went. Here are a few steps I took to keep from spending too much time with my digital relationships and not enough time in real life:

    1. Schedule your time…and stick to it – I consistently spend 1 hour in the morning and 2 hours at night to work in the social space. Since I work in social media in my day job, I pop in and out of my social channels during the day, but commit to not spending more than 10 minutes at a time.
    2. Set a timer – Along with #1, be sure to set a timer that beeps at you when time’s up. When the timer beeps, finish your tweet or post and then move back to real-life relationships and objectives.
    3. Don’t Tweet and Eat– Meals are a great time for real-life relationship building. Put the gadgets down and stop checking your social channels and email.
    4. Sometimes…it’s just better to sign off – Your real-life relationships are a LOT more important than your digital ones (sorry tweeps). Sometimes it’s just a good idea to take a break, spend time with your close friends, and give you family plenty of time and hugs.
    5. Worker Smarter– Rather than spending your time surfing sites or reading tweets, have the content your really care about delivered to you using RSS feeds or through targeted Twitter lists. Here are a few great articles that can help you with that:

Finding Content For Your Blog With Google Reader

Creating the Perfect Twitter Lists

The Smart Worker’s Guide to Social Media

The other thing you might want to consider is doing an assessment of where your time is going. For a day or two, write down the amount of time you are spending online. Is it going to answering email? Are you spending too much time tweeting? Maybe Facebook updates are consuming your day. Once you understand, you can adjust the time spent. Just for fun, you might check out this interesting infographic from the fine folks at Atlassian that shows where many of are wasting our time at work:

How much time are you wasting at work? And what are you wasting it on?

Have you have experienced the “social media timewarp” of lost time? I’d love to hear other tips, tricks and resources that helped you manage time effectively in the digital world. Have you written a blog post on managing time effectively? I’d love to see a link in the comments.



George J Lloyd

Sunday 30th of December 2012

Again, Thank you! :-)

Luba Brezhev

Monday 5th of November 2012

I like your posts very much, please keep making them, Sean!

Erik Van Erne

Saturday 13th of October 2012

Nice tips. Thanks for sharing

Greg Harvey

Sunday 30th of September 2012

Some great advice. I currently follow many of your tips. I try to do much of my social media at noon while I am eating. That is my time to myself, so I multitask.


Sunday 30th of September 2012

huh? what!? ... sorry, was watching a youtube. So what did your mother do???

like everything else in life, social media has to be assigned its appropriate priority in your daily regimine.