A quest to tame technology-driven interruptions and distractions in my daily life.

Facing facts

In a blog post around this time last year entitled Unlike, I detailed the reasons why Excessive Facebook use is bad—for me anyway. Now it is time for me to find ways and places to really push away from the ubiquitous social network. I haven’t figured out how exactly, but I’ve turned a corner and this entry aims to help me figure out the way I’ll go about it.

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It’s a tricky issue: cutting Facebook out of large parts of my life. Not because it has become a bad habit or not because I get something out of it, but because it’s a significant portion of what I do with my company. Not only do we advise, create strategies, and administer several social media campaigns for clients, it is also a way we keep our company top of mind and discover new business inquiries. So, I’m careful not to slam Facebook (social networks don’t kill personal time, people do), but I need to be clear that I no more want to spend my evenings and weekends doing PR or new business proposals than I want to spend time monitoring the world via my always churning Timeline.

I’ve detailed the why Facebook is a negative force in my non-work day in the post referenced above, so now I’ll get to the how. Much like with my phone, there are certain functions that I want to keep workable, but I just don’t want it in my face every waking hour. Here’s my working plan:

1. Turn it off away from the office.
I’d already buffered my social network usage such that I didn’t check until I got to work on weekdays—which helped—and I have no means by which to check it on my phone, but I’ve admittedly fallen into a bad habit of checking Facebook several times throughout the evening and weekends. It is mostly just something to do, although I find myself checking back to see who has commented on my posts or what people are posting. It’s a waste of time. Looking for entertainment and validation from acquaintances and distant friends is no way to waste hours of my day. So when I get home from work and I shut off work email, I’m now logging off of Facebook. No more checking in, no more sharing, no more rabbit holes.

2. Get it out of my face
At the office, it is important to have Facebook available—at intervals—but I must figure out a way to keep it from being the thing I look at between most other tasks. I’ve found some promising widgets, third-party plug-ins, and tools that block social media sites for a time of your choosing. None of them is the apparent solution but a combination of a couple of them will enable me to close Facebook on the web browser (which I jump to for reference all the time) and move Facebook notifications to another area that I can go to at a specified time or when alerted of a time-sensitive issue. Open to any ideas here.

3. Carve out some “alone time” at my desk.
As is, my workflow is very fragmented. We have a client roster approaching 20 and another 6-7 in proposal and each of those has dozens and dozens of tasks in varying stages of urgency. What I tend to do is to jump around throughout the day between meetings and just do things that are due. My guess is that if I schedule myself some solid blocks of time without Facebook and other social networks, I’ll do better work that is less distracted.

I don’t have it figured out, but I do know that it has to change. After a day of leaving social networks off at home, I feel even more present, relaxed, and with a bunch of time to spare. Now, I just need to beat Facebook into submission at my office. Then… I’ll have some real headspace.

Let’s hear your ideas.

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