Surviving My Facebook Break

For the past week, I decided to take a break from Facebook for the sake of my time management. I’m not against the social networking site at all. In fact, I think it is extremely important to have little distractions like this that allow us to zone out for a few minutes and give our brains a rest. However, my Facebook usage was getting out of hand and starting to affect my productivity. I decided that we needed a break in our relationship. Here is how my week went:

Day 1: Realized that no Facebook meant I would have to wait to post the pictures of the wedding I went to last weekend. Received upset email from my sister-in-law that I wasn’t posting pictures (she couldn’t be at the wedding.) This was going to be harder than I thought.

Day 2: Felt antsy and almost snuck a peak at my phone over breakfast. Instead, nosed around on the Internet and found some awesome SEO articles to peruse and then went to Starbucks for a work session. Productivity increase of at least 300%.

Day 3: Husband tells me that he saw on Facebook that my sister’s boyfriend got into a bicycle accident. Realized that Facebook is one of my major sources of news. Made a brief and supervised exception to my Facebook fast to look at the picture of him smiling in his hospital bed donning a bike helmet. Husband quickly shoos me off his account and tells me to stick to my rule as I vow to call my sister first thing in the morning and discuss with her proper ways of sharing breaking news with family members.

Day 4: Worked on the syllabus for the class I’m teaching in the fall. Felt the temptation to click over to my browser and scroll through Facebook land. Resisted the temptation and went for a walk around the block to get the mail instead. Felt re-energized and finished 45 more minutes of work. Win.

Day 5: Wanted very badly to tell everyone how well my productive week was going in a Facebook status update. Briefly contemplated the hypocrisy that would entail. Met new friends in person and realized that Facebook has replaced email as my go-to digital address book. Social networking sites do have useful purposes other than wasting time.

Day 6: Found myself going on Twitter a lot more in place of Facebook. Wondered if this was somehow cheating because Twitter is also a social networking site. Realized that it wasn’t cheating because everything I do on Twitter is to build my business. I don’t use a personal Twitter account.

Day 7: First day I could honestly say I didn’t miss Facebook. While working on a paper for grad school I didn’t once click over to my browser. Finished my work much more quickly and rewarded myself with a Happy Hour with friends. Annoying Facebook habit= broken.

So what did I learn through all of this? Facebook, as well other Time Killers, has a time and a place. Time Killers are like the cookies of your Time Diet. They are fine to have once in a while, but you shouldn’t eat them for breakfast. I am now confident that I can use Facebook as a way to keep in touch with people, share pictures and send messages without letting it interfere with my work and productivity.

Final Score: Emily: 1 Facebook: 0

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Time Management, Facebook, Social Networking

My Facebook Challenge

This summer, a time management battle of epic proportions is being fought on a quiet little street in Phoenix Arizona. The stand off is between my productivity and my most addictive Time Killer: Facebook.

During the school year, I have a fairly healthy relationship with my Time Killers. I am able to focus on my work for a good chunk of time and then take a break to check my email, grab a snack and check out what’s going on in Facebook Land.

Now that summer is here, I’m having an extremely difficult time not letting my social network distract me. Whereas normally I could easily sit down at my computer for an hour of focused work, I now find myself checking Facebook every 5 minutes. The constant interruption of focus is starting to really annoy me and I know it’s affecting my productivity.

I have a theory as to why my ability to be distracted has suddenly surged. During the school year, I spend the first 8 hours of my day surrounded by people at work. I also spend about 6 hours a week surrounded by my ASU classmates. Now, in the summer, I spend most of my day working in my home office…by myself. I know that my summer Facebook addiction is due to my craving of social interaction!

A Week Without Facebook

To win my Time Killer battle, I am going to go without Facebook for the next week. I will not check it on my phone, I will not have it open on my computer and I won’t even ask my husband to update my status for me. (“Emily is really missing Facebook right now…”) All “Desserts” are fine in moderation, but I have let this Time Killer have too much power. My challenge this week is to give Facebook a break and find another way to find some social interaction without constantly interrupting my work.

Be sure to check back next Sunday to read about how I did with my challenge!

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Time Management, Facebook

The Last 5 Percent

Why is it that we’ll spend all day working on something, and then stop right before it’s actually finished? We’ll finish 95% of the work involved, and then leave that last 5% until later. Oh “later”….that infamous black hole of time home to so many unwanted tasks!

The problem, of course, is that “later” gets here and we don’t feel any more like finishing up that work. In fact, we feel even less like doing it than we did before! We aren’t in the zone anymore. You create a lot of momentum when you’re working on that first 95% that carries you through to the finish. However, if you stop and try to come back to it later, you won’t have all of that built up momentum to carry you through. It’s like taking a roller coaster car off its track right before that last little hill, then putting it back later and wondering why it isn’t moving.

Time Management Solution

This isn’t to say you should never take breaks. No, you need breaks in your work to keep you going. I’m saying the worst time to take a break is when you are almost finished. Rather than spend the time and energy to get back into the project later, the temptation to say, “You know, this is probably good enough” is too great.

Last week, my husband and I finally admitted to ourselves that our TV was broken and bought a new one. We spent all day picking one out, buying a stand for it and setting it up. The last thing we needed to do was move the old TV into the garage (not an easy task considering it is one of those old TVs that weighs about 200 pounds.) However, I didn’t want to! I had a brand new TV sitting in front of me and I wanted to watch it! We could move the old one later. My fabulous husband talked some sense into me and said, “No, we should just move it now and be done with it.”

I was so glad we did! There was no way we’d feel like moving that thing later and now we didn’t have to worry about it. Don’t let yourself leave that last 5% until later. It’ll just loom over your schedule like a giant bulky television in the middle of your living room.

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Stop Being Busy

One of the single biggest time management mistakes people make is to confuse being busy with being productive. When you are busy, all you are doing is filling time. You are working, so it gives the temporary illusion that you are getting something done, but you’re not.  If you want to actually make progress on a goal you have to be productive.

(Check out my video about being busy and productive Here)

When school let out last week, several of my colleagues asked me how I planned to keep busy this summer. I don’t plan to “keep busy” this summer. I plan to be productive.

This summer, I have many goals but my biggest one is to prepare my book for publication. My manuscript is finished but as I’m quickly finding out, writing the book is one of the easier parts of the publishing process! I’ve decided that the only way I’m going to finish this summer is to find time every day to devote to the book. I could spend this time reformatting all of my headings and playing with the cover font. I am technically “working” on the book, but I’m only being busy. I’m not taking concrete steps to move toward my goal. Sure, the cover font needs to be dealt with at some point, but the more pressing issue is finding an editor and researching publishing outlets. If I want to be productive on my book right now, I need to work toward those goals. (On that note, if you know of a trusted editor, let me know!)

Busy is Easy, Productive is Hard

The problem we have is that being busy is easy. Being productive is hard.   Here are three simple steps to make sure your work sessions are productive:

1)      Have a Goal- Without a goal, our work has no purpose. Have a concrete goal that you are working toward.

2)      Have a Plan- Your goal is worthless if you don’t have a plan to get there. What small thing can you do each day that will move you toward your goal?

3)      Re-assess Your Plan – After you create your plan, you can’t blindly continue down your path. If something isn’t working, re-assess and change your approach.

Remember, sometimes your plan won’t always work and it might feel like you are taking a step backwards, but that’s OK. A step backward means you’re learning from your mistakes and sometimes that’s part of being productive. When you’re busy, you’re only taking steps sideways. You’re still moving, but you’re not going anywhere. Only productivity actually moves you toward your goals.

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