I have a huge confession. I waste time online. I do. At night, when other people are doing productive things like watching television or playing bingo, I like to listen to music and share it with my friends online. Sometime I tweet, and (GASP) engage in conversations with people through electronic means. We don’t even talk about business (GASP AGAIN). Skype. Twitter. Gchat. Sometimes, I even play a song here or there during the day while other people are doing productive things like smoking a cigarette, or hanging out by the water cooler. I even feel guilty about it.
There. I said it. That is my confession. There are times when I worry about how much time I spend online. It is so easy to get sucked into nonproductive activities, so I tend to feel guilty about my “fun” time online. But why? I shouldn’t feel guilty about my twitter time. Here is why:
During my day, I will periodically check into my social networks. When I am not with a client or teaching a course, I work from home. I don’t have the interaction of an office, so when I need a mental break, I may head over to twitter or facebook for a quick check in, and then it is back to work. I have had people say to me, “you seem to be online all day”. Yes, I am. I have to monitor online activity as part of my job and other times I just need a break.
I check in, but then I check out. What does that mean? I actually shut down my tweetdeck, facebook and email during most of my day. YES. I shut my email. If I leave it open, I am reactive. I could spend my entire day in my email, but I would never accomplish my high priority tasks. I can accomplish more in a two hour “power hour” then some people can in a week. Why? I shut down the noise and focus on my top tasks for the day. During my power hours, I often send my calls to voicemail ((shudder)).
Having instant accessibility has made us reactive in our businesses. Take control of your time and be proactive. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check email and answer phone calls. You need to be available and accessible but too much accessibility lends itself to inefficiency.
Shut down the deck. Close your email. Make “power hours” during your day. Be proactive and handle the top tasks first.
Taking a mental break here or there is acceptable (and needed!) but if your mental break lasts all day, you have a problem.