Finding the Right Balance Between Social Media and Productivity

by Jan Geronimo on March 12, 2009

The social media can spread the good news about you, bring you traffic to your blog and the brand you painstakingly cultivate. Alas, they can also make you less productive.

Atop my to-do list is to build a fair number of future posts for this blog. It’s like saving for the rainy days when inspiration ebbs. Or when life wrests you away to deal with real life problems and other emergencies.

But of late, I find myself becoming sucked in a black hole called Twitter. My reasons for going there are unassailable:

1. I’m on a treasure hunt for valuable links I can take back to this blog – seedlings of future post ideas.

2. I’m networking – connecting with prospective readers and online friends.

3. I’m taking the pulse of what’s out there – news, new trends, emerging technologies that might impact on my writing.

4. Of course, I’m also striking a pose and somewhat liking it.

Twittergrader after all gave me a report card of 95.5. Another Twitter application Twitterholic ranked me 65th among users in the Philippines.

Should I be happy? No. I’m practically scrambling to beat my posting deadline, a clear case of blogging hand-to-mouth. It’s taking me a lot harder to get into my writing groove. My attention span is shot. I’m even beginning to think there is a sliver of truth to the notion that online interaction is rewiring how we think and make decisions.

Gosh, can it be this technology overload is turning my brain into a flat pancake? You know the symptoms. You pick up a reasonably good book to read, but you can’t concentrate. You keep throwing anxious looks at your desktop or your blackberry. Can’t keep pace with what the author’s driving at. His multi-layered subtleties don’t send delicious chills down your spine anymore. You’re impatient – how you wish he’d get to the point and give you the lowdown, preferably in bullet points.

Facebook and other social bookmarking sites

I rarely check to see what’s up with Facebook lately. I used to like it a lot because interaction in Facebook is a little laid back. You can almost describe it as pastoral. I can play games, check messages, approve the occasional friend request and move out. That’s the lovely part. Then it happened. I got poked a lot. What’s with these people? Send me a message instead. I hate to be prodded and poked like so much sidewalk merchandise. And I don’t need to hunt for Easter eggs. That and getting friend recommendations of half-naked punks – what am I now a casting couch or something?

It’s good that whenever I twit this gets published as well in Facebook. Whenever I hit the stumble button this gets shown in Friendfeed and Twitter as well. Good. Efficient use of technology and all that But it’s weird – like I shouted something and this echoes and reechoes in the vast Grand Canyons of the internet.

For all its benefits the social media have the power to make your productivity toast. I find it gobbling up large chunks of time that would otherwise have been put to better use: like actually living. And writing.

Over to you now, friends. How do you deal with these online temptations? What system do you have in place that guarantees productivity and optimum social media presence?

I’m all ears for your suggestions. And of course you can join me in Twitter later. :) Let’s spook some people there, okay?

Recommended Post: 50+ Writer Uses for Twitter
Related Post: My Twitter Friends Mosaic

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  • jan, i think you're now in the top 20 of the philippines twitter users.
  • Jan
    @fifi: That's a hilarious story right there. Have you made a post about it? Very entertaining. Can be made into an e-book, I think. Lol.

    That's why I'm hesitant to try various apps in facebook. There's bound to be an addictive game there somewhere that might tie me down. And then what? It's not as if Matt Zuckersomething will reward me for my holing up in facebook like a mole. Just like you. hahaha.

    Nice story. I'm glad you shared that. But it will have been a blockbuster comment had you made it a lot earlier. Parinig pa ba naman me. Lol.
  • Now you're playing farmville, he he he . Did you receive the cow I sent you? lol
  • Natanggap ko na ang cow. Holy kaw! Thanks, kaya pala nagpunta ka pa sa
    archives magbibigay ka pala ng baka. Thanks na rin sa retweet! :)
  • fifi
    have you seen this video on 25 things to hate about facebook? i am hooked on fb, mainly because of pet society. i saw that this friend of mine got 500,000+ paw points (not that i expect you to relate to this earth-shaking worldwide fad) and then mine was just a mere, 69. so i battled long and hard, got irritable whenever someone talks to me while i was racing my pet with others, practiced catching frisbee and soft ball, played skipping rope, forgot schedules because i had a quota of paw points for the day, had to stay glued tending to my pet, visited and cleaned other pets for more coins and paw points. the paw points i earned as of now? 9,958 still behind the 500,000+ of my friend. and then the other day, after my exam, i bumped into this friend and asked her how she managed to score that high when their exams are supposedly scheduled every other day. then she flatly said: ay, hindi mo alam pa'no i-hack ang coin bank? i've been slaving myself for the points and coins, staying awake till 3 am from 10 pm when i get home from class, jeopardizing my health and studies, so as to keep on staring at my pet and clicking the mouse for coins, cleaning and making my pet happy. and they just hacked it?? fb owes me an apology, real bad. can't quit now, though. i've earned honest paw points.
  • Jan
    @Diane: Oh, I keep forgetting the real personal connections. I'm so dense. hahaha. Thanks for reminding me. :)
  • Ordinary Housewife
    Interesting. Really, really interesting. I'm at the opposite end - can't figure out what the draw is of Twitter, but am obsessed with Facebook. I guess it depends on what you use it for. Through Facebook, I've found long lost friends from childhood, former coworkers and everyone in between. And I love keeping up daily with my nieces and nephews all over the country. I would never be so in tune with what they're doing or know so many details. I love it. I only use it marginally for promoting my writing.

    But how to control it? Good question. I don't do "pokes," gardens, drink passing, contests or questionnaires, so my time on there can be a quick in-and-out. And to get to this point, I had to just get tired of all that stuff. So maybe the way to control it is to wait until it no longer thrills you.
  • Jan
    @Dexter: Yes, Dexter they're all interconnected now - thanks to friendfeed. Which means I've got to be doubly careful what I say because whatever it is I write on say twitter gets rebroadcast across the board. Do I follow you in Twitter yet? I'd check. :)
  • Dexter | Tech At Hand Dot Net
    Social Media is great, Although I must admit that I seldom plurk but most of the time I twit :)

    I suggest interconnecting all those social media site will be a great idea to have less time.. As an example when I tweet, my tweet goes to facebok, friendfeed etc..

    It also gose to one of my site.
  • Jan
    @Bingkee: I'm glad you said that. There's more to it pala than sending mail to friends and playing an occasional game or two. Gee, I have some tinkering to do. hahaha. Thanks, Bingkee. You're an angel. :)
  • bingkee
    HeyJan, you probably don't notice that the more friends you have in FB, it can also be done in real time. I have almost 400 friends in FB and only 77 followers in Twitter. I think FB for me is very effective in driving see Typepad post my post immediately after I published it plus there are so many ways to promote your blog or link there....on its shoutbox, note setting, link post, blogcast or creating a blog profile.
    That's why I prefer FB than Twitter. Plus my aim is to get more readers who are not bloggers because these ones are the people who really subscribe to feeds. Most of my subscribers are non-bloggers.

    As I've told you, FB now looks and sounds like Twitter.Posting links, videos, thoughts, pages, etc.....and converse in real time.
  • Jan
    @dede:In Facebook I've got 67 friends. In Twitter, 337. A big disparity. What can I say - conversations in twitter are in real time. :)
  • dede
    Well, I am also one of the social networking including twitter. but I prefer on facebook, as facebook is more application to ease the user. I understand everything have each of the advantages and disadvantages, but at this point I'm enjoy socializing via facebook. Btw, nice post bro!


    Sharing Ideas Online
  • Jan
    @earthlingorgeous: I hang out in Twitter. It has become my listening post - for links about cool stuff, cool bloggers. Mostly to listen (maybe not for long)only because I'm curious to a fault (edit: tsismoso). :)
  • earthlingorgeous
    ahahaha yeah I think pag new ka sa plurk mejo confusing. I also have twitter but I don't use that often.
  • Jan
    @Bingkee: That's a lot. If I register myself with all of that perhaps I'd be reduced to writing a weekly post. hahaha.

    I have Delicious, Digg, and Tagged too. Ito namang Friendfeed nakakagulat. Right after I made my last post, I went to Twitter to relax. I'm still undecided whether to twit my own post or not (I'm shy - hahaha). But I was surprised Friendfeed published it automatically. Didn't know that feature. :)

    I'm sure whatever it is you cook up will be a hit. More so you'd be giving away real stuff. :)
  • bingkee
    I limit myself to social media....I just used it for networking and contacting my friends (those whom I call my friends, like you). I am a member of a lot of social sites but I hardly ever use them because as Earthlinggorgeous said it can take up most of your productive time. Regularly I use FB, Friendster, Fab40, Netlog, BC, Pijoo, and Twitter. But do you know I also have Digg, Delicious, Magnolia, FriendFeed, StumbleUpon, Plurk, Playlist, Imeem,SpicyPage, MyBlogLog, LJ, Moli, Hi5, Tagged, MyYearbook, Wozone, and a dozen more? But I don't use them .
    I have about 5 books all half-finished, because sometimes I'm often lured to spend my time on social sites....but I know it's really not that good, because spending more time on social sites can somehow reduce the level of personal contact with friends and family who are not online.

    Alamm mo nasanay siguro ako sa job ko nun---that everything we do should have a teaser.....alam mo na I was into advertising/marketing/event organizing nun. Hehehehe!

    Ay naku magpapparty lang ako pag nag-1 year anniversary na ako....actually hindi party, sort of a contest. But my contest will not be blog make-overs or anything for your blog. My prizes would probably be real "goodies". (stuff talaga)
  • Jan
    @earthlingorgeous: Tried registering for Plurk once. It's got beautiful interface, I know. But I have to pick one only to maintain my sanity. And I chose Twitter. :)

    Okay, I'd check Fish and Co. :)
  • earthlingorgeous
    I have to agree using lots of social media makes you less productive but its addictive!

    Have you tried Plurk? Maybe you should :)

    Off topic: Try Fish and Co. at Shang if you are a fish lover! I was there last Thursday and wow the food is great.
  • Jan
    @elmot: Online navigator? hahaha. That's a good one. Now, where is my crash helmet? I'm off to twitterville, tweple. hahaha
  • Jan
    @Roy: You're an engaging storyteller, Roy. It's a pleasure to twit your posts.

    I used to just read the time line of tweets - your online version of wallflower. Then I started joining the conversations, but not all the time. As in real life so it's on twitter. Some will not give you the time of day. Perhaps there's a corresponding value in gold to their twits? hahaha. But many are just like you and me - anxious to make a meaningful connection. In 140-letter message. :)

    @Dee: When you find a good one do tell me. Better yet, write a post about it. :)
  • Dee
    Yeah, you've said it. So much stuff to catch up to these days. So many things to do and so little time. I have like 10 new books waiting to be read and I haven't got around to doing it because of the internet (sigh). I need new time management techniques.:D
  • Roy
    hahaha! yeah, I was surprised that one of those tweets was mine, hehe...

    I felt elated to be considered as worth re-tweeting ;)

    I don't tweet that much though, I'm just a 'follower' when it comes to twitter.
  • elmot
    ei jan! wow, you are really an online navigator huh...well, i don't really do that much going around the net...visiting only blogs and of course reading my news.

    i will follow your tweet...
  • Jan
    @Roy: *contrite and mumbling* Yeah, I know.

    Thanks to me you have discovered a great story thru my links. Turns out it's a post you wrote in one of your blogs. hahaha. That's my hobby - twitting about my friends' and other bloggers' interesting posts.
  • Jan
    @joji: You know me, I'm a sucker for plump impressions. hahaha. I say: bring it on. "Don't shy." :)
  • Roy
    well, I can see that you're really into tweeting. I discovered quite a number of sites following your tweets ;)

    other than online forums and my blogs, I really don't travel much online... except when my kids have an assignment :)
  • jojigirl
    I might as well, give my personal impression on this in my page, as it's a little plump to be put in here, hehe...
  • Jan
    @yatot: My ultimate weapon is that once I get into the flow of writing it's almost as good as done. Twitting is a reward for me. I have done my job for the day, now I'm going clubbing on twitterverse. hahaha. The hard part is switching off. I'm sleep deprived. :)

    And 319 is a good place to be? Hah, I can see faint traces of addiction there already. hehehe.
  • yatot
    well... sometimes i go offline to sustain my productivity (productivity means coping up with tons of work)... this internet thingamajigs really is a burden.. hahaha... i mean temptation to forbid office work! hahaha...

    btw, you are now ranked no. 50 as of this writing... and i'm 319! hahhaha... you are such an addict!
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