Social media disrupts your daily life in significant ways. For instance, your smartwatch may not be as smart as you think. It brings you constant updates from your email account and all of your social networks. Your online activity is as close as your wrist. However, there is a real problem with that. The more social media activity with which we engage, the lower our notion of time falls. As a result, a smartwatch wearer is using a timepiece which potentially reduces their ability to manage their time. Bonkers.
Several studies have now confirmed that when we use social media our perception of the passing of time is disrupted. What we think is three minutes is more likely to be around 20 minutes.
This is no real surprise. Time distortion is a feature of several behavioural changes, such as addiction or obsessions. People addicted to cigarettes, for instance, think that the gap between each one they smoke is longer than is actually the case. Similarly, those addicted to video games think they have been playing for a much shorter time than they have been doing.
Now, it seems that users of social media are falling into the same time trap. Luckily, recent research shows that by taking time off from social media you could quickly restore your perception of time.
How to arrest social media time bandits
If you are to be as productive as possible, you need to be sure that your social media activity is not eating into your time more than it ought to. After all, social media activity has some clear business benefits. However, if you are spending more time on social networks than you think you are doing, your work will suffer. You will become less productive because of the fact that social media disrupts.
You can increase your productivity in several ways.
- You could, as an extreme measure, abandon all your social media activity. But that means you won’t get the marketing benefits of social networks.
- You could get coaching to help you be more productive which will help you analyse the time you are spending on social networks.
- You might even try limiting your social media usage to just one principal network.
- Practical solutions could include setting a timer alarm so that you stop using social media after a pre-determined amount of time.
- You could also use software like Rescue Time to block social networks during your “focus time” so that you can concentrate on work.
Social media disrupts your work
Another interesting possibility to deal with the fact that social media disrupts is to renegotiate your working contract. It turns out that when we work for a “fixed price” we are much more likely to allow time bandits such as social media excess to eat into our productivity. Indeed, the researchers who discovered this found that this was the only variable that affected productivity. Time is money, it seems. So when you realise your income depends on your best use of time, guess what, you can manage that time better and you, therefore, do not get so distracted by social media.
This is probably to do with how our brain helps us pay attention to things. It focuses our activity according to over-arching priorities. One is survival and these days that means enough money. Hence, you are likely to be more productive when your income and your “survival” depends upon it.
However, whatever you decide to do about social media disruption, you need to do something. You need some kind of strategy to deal with the time-stealing impact of social media. Your personal productivity and your business depend upon it. If you don’t do anything and your contract is fixed-price, you are destined to become less and less productive as your ability to correctly perceive the passage of time will reduce.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+