by David · 0 comments

Why Social Media Glugs Away Your TimeDoes time disappear down a black hole whenever you visit Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest?

I know I can log on to Twitter to send a ten second tweet, and find I’m still there two hours later clicking links and replying to friends.

Similarly, I’ve wasted whole afternoons of my life browsing Facebook.

The average American Facebooker spends eight hours a month logged in. That’s the average so of course it’s dragged down by those who rarely log in. Many regular users spend hours there every single day.

Using social media as part of your job (as many small business owners, freelancers and marketing managers do) is like working in a candy store. Temptation is everywhere.

Your time is precious, and Twitter and Facebook are thieving it. What can you do about it?

How a Naval Historian Predicted in the 1950s that You Would Waste Time on Social Media

Back in 1955 a British naval historian, Cyril Northcote Parkinson, write a humorous essay in The Economist magazine about how bureaucracies expand over time.

In the essay, titled Parkinson’s Law, he wrote:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

In short, if you don’t have enough work, or a plan of what you need to get done, you will waste time.

Social media wastes your time because you don’t know what you should be doing.

That’s one explanation. But many people (including myself) who waste time on social media are busy. We have to-do lists as long as our arms.

Why would we waste time on social media?

Are You A Thrill Seeker, an Avoider, or do you simply hate making decisions?

If Parkinson’s Law doesn’t apply to you, yet you still waste time Tweeting or posting updates to Google+, you’re a procrastinator.

Don’t panic. Nearly everyone’s a procrastinator, with 95% of us confessing to this bad habit.

Procrastination expert Dr. Joseph Ferrari has identified three main types of procrastinator.

  1. Thrill-seekers. These are the people who thrive on the rush of leaving everything until the last minute.
  2. Avoiders. People who put off tasks because they’re afraid of failing (or succeeding). They’re worried about what others will think of them.
  3. Decisional procrastinators. That’s those of us who put of making decisions because we don’t like to take responsibility.

Do any of these sound like you?

How to Beat Social Media Procrastination

Social media is procrastinator’s heaven because you can immerse yourself in it, avoiding the work you should be doing.

I use two simple habits that force social media into its rightful place, as a tool instead of an escape.

  1. Stay Away. Unless browsing social networks is your full-time job, this is easier than it sounds. My top tip for avoiding social networks is to send updates from within browser. I use Buffer App for this. Hootsuite also offers this functionality. That way, you can keep a flow of updates in your stream without getting distracted.
  2. Set a time limit. You will need to log into your networks everyday to check for replies, and look at the feeds of those you follow. Limit yourself to doing this once per day per network. This reduces your risk of falling into your procrastination habit, and forces you to focus on what you need to get done. Aim to spend just 15 minutes on each network per day.

Follow these two simple rules, and you’ll discover time you never knew you had.

The only trouble is, the time might disappear elsewhere. There’s a reason for that.

Procrastination is a Bad Habit

However you procrastinate, if you cut it out, you’ll find another way to procrastinate.

Stop procrastinating on social networks, and chances are you’ll start sinking more time into email, listening to the radio, or browsing news websites.

That’s because procrastination is a bad habit, almost an addiction. It’s ingrained in you.

The only way to stop is to develop good habits for managing your time.

When you’re creating new habits, it’s best to start small. Here are three simple actions you can start using today to reduce your procrastination.

  1. Keep a written to do list. When you remember something you need to do, write it down.
  2. Do the task you dread at the start of the day. Finishing it will give you energy and momentum to complete the remainder of your to-do list.
  3. Review your to-do list each week, and drop any tasks that, realistically, you’re never going to get done.

Over to You

What tips and tricks do you use to bust up your procrastination?

David is Social Caffeine’s acting editor. He’s British, but we don’t hold that against him.

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