Four Reasons I’m Scaling Back on Social Media

When it comes to working in the internet age, do you ever feel like this?

Trying to be an expert in several different areas.

Or do you ever feel like this?

Trying to do everything at once and keep pace.

Or maybe you feel like this?

You may think you’re covering all the bases, playing all the parts perfectly, but in reality, you can only do one thing well at a time.


The problem: Social media has encroached on my time and concentration to the point where I’m not nearly as productive as I want to be, even though using social media in  business is promoted heavily as the best way to network, advertise yourself and your skills, and build a successful career. Here are the four reasons I’ve become disenchanted with social media.

1. Tremendous time suck.

I find myself spending increasingly more time  reading email, checking Facebook, monitoring Twitter feeds, and reading blogs to which I subscribe. Before I know it, two hours have flown by and I haven’t done any substantive work.

Out of 30-40 emails I receive in a typical day, many are little more than self-promotion of products or services wrapped in the guise of providing me with valuable “free” information, with the promise of much more if I buy the product or service the sender is hawking.

Other emails are ads from retailers that I receive simply because I bought a product online, which entitles the retailer to send me emails ad infinitum until I unsubscribe (or try to).

Some emails are direct links to blogs I may or may not still be interested in reading. I’ll often subscribe to a blog based on one particularly good or relevant article that I read that encouraged me to follow the blogger with the hope of obtaining a steady useful stream of information. I get into the habit of reading that blog, even if the content turns out to be weak or not helpful.

Add to that emails from friends and family plus news and information emails that provide information I find worthwhile, and the time suck becomes palatable.

2. False sense of accomplishment. No real learning is happening; a small amount of valuable information is gained when compared to the time invested.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of ostensibly using the internet for learning, staying current on news and trends in one’s business field, and in the case of writers and authors, building a network of potential buyers of one’s books. Unfortunately, this is what’s  happening to me: The mindless accumulation of information without putting any of it into practice through my writing begins to seem like working, when it actually detracts time and energy from the real work of being an author, which is writing words into stories.

“Writing” must be me creating sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters, and stories of my own, with the goal of having those stories published. So if I haven’t written one word of that story in a given day, I haven’t worked.

3. Constantly monitoring social media sites that update continuously leads to a shorter attention span and adds to multitasking mayhem.

I catch myself doing this more often: Flitting from email to twitter to Facebook back to email over to LinkedIn over to a blogger’s website then to an online webinar (free of course, in many cases) back to email back to twitter because you have five new tweets back to Facebook because you received a friend request and to another blogger’s site then back to email…. You get the idea.

It’s hard for me to concentrate on anything for more than five minutes at a time and I don’t like it! Because of that, reading a book for more than 30 minutes without getting distracted is difficult. Even watching a 30-minute TV show requires effort on my part to refrain from switching channels to see what else is on or try to avoid commercials, or check the score of the Twins’ game. If it’s hard to do  those short activities, it follows that concentrating on writing  for two to four hours or more will seem nearly impossible.

4. Many bloggers, media gurus, and information sites no longer provide the value they once promised.

I’ll subscribe to a blog, twitter feed, or Facebook page on recommendation of a friend, colleague, or so-called expert just because they’ve earned some credibility, either with me or within the author community. Some subscriptions have proven valuable, but more often the information becomes redundant, or the tweets come so fast they overwhelm my other tweeters, or the Facebook posts are regurgitations of other experts, or the blogs end up being more personal musing than quality content. In many cases, the individual over promised and under delivered.

MY SOLUTION: weed out irrelevant social media contacts by unsubscribing, unfriending, or unfollowing. I began about a week ago, filtering emails as they came in. Unsubscribe if they waste my time in any way. My goal is to cut daily emails by 50%, from 35-40 per day down to 15-20 per day. Still too many, but I foresee saving at least 30 minutes per day reading emails.

I’m doing the same with the tweeters I follow. Some post tweets hourly, when I’d prefer a daily tweet. I’m also looking for tweeters who post links to interesting articles or blogs rather than just update their personal status.

With bloggers, I’m trimming the bloggers who aren’t directly related to writing and/or don’t have an instructional or informational slant, or aren’t blogs of people in my network of writers.

LinkedIn is easy to control. I get a few updates or requests to connect, and I don’t mind as long as the person is someone I know well enough to be able to endorse them for some skills in their field. There’s no point being “fake” business associates when I don’t even know what a person’s exact job is or what skills they possess.

Facebook is more friends and family oriented, but the professional connections will be trimmed to those who are in the writing or publishing business. A few of those Facebookers I’ll miss, but I think I’ll survive without them, since I made it about 55 years before they ever showed up on my computer screen.

My GOAL: Reduce social media activity to less than 30 minutes per day (about 75% less than now) and use that time actually writing. I’ll work toward having only one connection to any colleague—Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or their blog. And I want those who are left to be high quality connections and relevant to making me a better writer.

I’ll have to change my priorities as well, since I’ve been in the habit of easing into my day by reading email first, then going through the rest of my social media before I get to my actual work. The new plan will be to skim email for those few that might require immediate attention, but postpone the rest of my emails and other social media until mid afternoon. I’m going to try writing first thing in the day, even though I’m not a morning person and might find it hard to be creative at eight a.m.

Why is simplifying and getting away from multi tasking important in a Neo Renaissance life? Simple. A Neo Ren strives to learn as much as he/she can in many subjects and skills, but shouldn’t try to learn or master one item at a time, since studies have shown that multi tasking is counterproductive. The more we multitask, the less we learn and master. Multi tasking sounds like a great concept, but it’s not working. Time to rethink our daily lives. Quality over quantity. I try to live that in most of my life, but that objective has suffered in cyberspace.

I’ll let you know in about a month how this has all worked out. Wish me luck, because old habits are hard to break, right?

My Question to you: How do you feel about multi tasking, especially as it concerns the internet?

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