Are you wasting time online?

Deidre RienzoHow much time are you wasting on Facebook?

I ask this because I recently had an incredibly productive week—but I was only working half days. Since I had work to finish within less time, I was avoiding everything else.

All week, I kept feeling like I was forgetting something.

What was I forgetting? My work was definitely done. Where was this feeling of “missing something” coming from?

Then I realized: I had been ignoring the twitch. Do you know which one I’m talking about?

The twitch that takes you away from work to check Facebook, look for a new eggplant parmesan recipe, see if those shoes went on sale yet, or see what Kim Kardashian ate for breakfast? It tells you to check your bank account –again. Find a video on YouTube. Read a restaurant review. Find things to buy on Etsy! Check your email, for the 57th time today…

Was the twitch filling up the other half of my day?

I feel like an explorer who has just uncovered a new world. A world where there might actually be plenty of time! Could it be?

The only way to find out: Keep ignoring the twitch.

And start checking Facebook – once –a –day.

Can I do it? It’s this week’s experiment. Wanna join me?

16 thoughts on “Are you wasting time online?

  1. Cheryl

    I (temporarily) inactivated my FB in early April before “tax day” because I noticed it becoming a time vampire for me. I’ll probably reactivate over the summer, but must say I’ve enjoyed people who’ve opted to pick up a phone or visit in person since they couldn’t rely on just logging in to find out what I’ve been doing. These friendly visits also lead to more ‘real’ discussions free of virtual presentations-
    I kinda dig the reality checks 🙂

  2. Deidre

    Cheryl and Damien, Thanks for the comments! Great points. I’m disabling my Facebook profile for a while to see what that’s like. I’m going to call and email my friends (like the old days!) If something life-altering happens, I’m sure I’ll find out through my hubby. He can be my spam filter.

  3. Carolyn

    I’m “lucky” if I check Facebook once a month. I just do not get the fascination with it. I’m curious what the next big thing will be, because you know there will have to be one coming soon. I will admit to following way too many people on Twitter, but that’s my evening hobby while catching up on TV.

  4. Paula

    Deidre,
    Great post.I’ve avoided a personal Facebook account; only use it for clients, since I already have “the twitch” and “black hole” syndromes with Twitter + LinkedIn. Recently a new client has consumed most of my time. I miss the social nets, but do find I’m able to get so much more done.

    The question I ponder: especially for free-lancers + consultants, is social media work time or play time?

    Thanks again!

  5. Danny Khoury

    I’m trying to do that… you’re right, it actually takes the other half of the day, and sometimes it’s the productive half!
    I recently had to work on a one-month-contract job at an office, so I had to ignore facebook for a while because the job was on a rush, but the problem is that whenever I got to the weekend, I had this terrible feeling that the world is revolving without me, so I wouldn’t stop checking facebook news, going back in time reading through it till the last time I had checked, not to miss something “important”, which I don’t really know what that would be…
    I don’t know if there’s ever gonna be a solution for this… we need a system (maybe based on each of our DNA or something) that really skims through the stuff and keeps what is needed! Until then, I guess I’ll need a facebook secretary! 🙂
    Information overload is giving me a headache!!!

  6. Jay

    Hi Deidre,

    My issue isn’t with Facebook- it’s with email! I’m a compulsive email checker so as soon as I see that a message has come in- I’m drawn like a moth to a flame. Sometimes they’re important, but most of the time they’re not. I’ve gotten into the habit of only checking my personal email account a couple of times a day but I haven’t had the willpower to to do the same for the business account.

    Great blog by the way.

    Jay

  7. val

    I am glad to know it’s not just me. The darn twitch is so hard to ignore. What time are you choosing to log on? I can’t decide if it should be morning to start the day, or evening to wind down. Keep us posted NOT via FB!

  8. Deidra

    I’m in.

    I estimate social media and email checking (and blog reading/commenting) wastes a third of my work time. Interruptions from my children take away another third. If I can be more disciplined maybe the inevitable interruptions won’t be so damaging to my schedule.

    Thanks for the challenge.

    PS. I feel like I have entered the Twilight Zone. 1) Note our names? 2) Earlier in the week I started brainstorming ideas to write an article on this topic. 3) I just stumbled onto your blog because I got the twitch 🙂

  9. Deidre

    Thank you all for the comments! Sometimes I feel so old-fashioned, but I can see I’m not the only one who has trouble keeping “the twitch” in check. Here’s my latest update on the Marketing Mix Blog:
    http://www.marketingmixblog.com/2012/05/should-i-quit-facebook-cold-turkey.html

    I disabled my Facebook profile today, and I still feel very anxious (What am I missing?!) , but knowing it’s disabled is making it easier. But I still want to check! I’m hoping the urge will lessen.

    Val, Usually I’m checking it 20 times a day, all day long.

    Danny, I’m totally laughing about your comment. “I had this terrible feeling that the world is revolving without me.” I can relate. I agree that a DNA-based system could be the answer! If you invent something, I’d be happy to test it out.

    Jay, I am a compulsive email checker too. Goodness forbid I make somebody wait an hour or two to hear back from me! I try to close my work email and only check it a few times a day, but it’s a constant battle to not slip into old habits. I just think all of the technology causes us to be more antsy. And I’m antsy enough without Facebook, emails, the internet, and constant bleeping from devices!

    Paula, I agree. I think it’s a slippery slope between work and play, especially for people who have trouble finding moderation like me!

    Carolyn, My brain knows that Facebook isn’t fascinating. But the easily distracted side of me just can’t get enough. What if I miss something important?! I know. I wonder/worry about the next big thing too. Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure I can’t handle it.

    Dan, Thanks for reading my post. I guess a little twitch isn’t so bad!

    Deidra – I think we might be in the Twilight Zone too! That is pretty wild. Thanks for reading, and for joining me on the challenge. Let me know how you do!

  10. Beth

    Deidre,

    Great topic! I, too, find myself having trouble ignoring the twitch and then all of a sudden FB sucks me in. If you don’t want to quit cold turkey, I recommend hiding all of your friends except the ones that you want to see their pictures/comments. Then check it just once a day (if you can!). I suggest the end of the day so that you don’t get distracted by sparkly things — like me — and waste your day away. I find that setting a timer on my phone for 10-15 minutes helps to limit my FB time.

    Beth

  11. Karen Meyers

    I disconnected from FB for a week and discovered I was more productive. But after the week was over I slowly went back to checking multiple times a day. I’m going to deactivate during the week and make catching up on FB something I do on the weekends.

  12. Brent

    I got the twitch BAD. And as another poster said, I would have missed your email had it not been for habitually being distracted.

    I battle with this a lot. I feel I “need” Facebook for my business presence, and working alone at home I find I get addicted to the interaction. I’ve not tried deactivating my account (it’s also the main way Grandmas sees pics of our little one…) but have removed the app from my phone, as well as removed the bookmark from the top of my browser on my desktop computer. And I have found when my week is really busy and deadlines are in charge I check it less and am more productive.

    One thing I’ve found moderately helpful (especially when I’m not completely swamped) is making a list of other things I need to do and sticking it to my monitor. Paying bills, doing timesheets, working on my web site, writing a blog post, etc. That way when I get fidgety, I’ll distract myself with something more meaningful than some random person’s vacation photos or alphabetizing my iTunes.

    But I’m definitely going to try the experiment of checking FB once a day. But I just read this today, so I’ll start on Tuesday… 🙂

  13. Wendy

    Rather than going cold turkey or trying to be disciplined and failing, get the computer to help you: use something like Nanny for Google Chrome. It is an extension that is free to download online and it tracks the time you spend on a site and once you have reached your budget, it won’t let you look at it anymore. You get to program it, and you can disable it if you find that you don’t like it. It has really helped me! I have a limit of 45 minutes max for Facebook each day and I find I do not use the limit most days, but it really helps me so that my FB time does not run amok on any heavy use days. You can set it for however much time you want, and can block access during certain times of the day to help create productivity zones where you can’t play. You can police as many sites as you want, so if you get lost of Wikipedia or Youtube, you can watch the time spent on them, or block them during chunks of time as well. Just search for Chrome Nanny if you are a Chrome user. Or search for Leechblock if you are Firefox. I am not sure what the IE or Safari equivalents are, but perhaps someone else may know, or you can search for them. Enjoy!

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