The internet and social media are usually considered to be distractions. They’re designed to be, because the longer you stay and the more links you click, the more ads the sites can serve up and the more revenue they generate. Your loss or productivity is their financial gain.
But it’s impossible to give up using the internet entirely. Its utility is readily apparent. Most of us maintain some tenuous connection to social media for personal or professional reasons, because there are people that we need or want to stay in touch with who refuse to use any other tools.
It is possible to use social media in a responsible and disciplined way. There are even ways to use it that actually boost your productivity, rather than draining it. You just need to decide what it is you actually need, and tweak your bookmarks so that they facilitate those needs.
I should throw out the caveat that I do not have social media apps on my phone. My access to Facebook and Twitter is through their websites. It’s part of controlling when and how I use social media. When I’m with friends and family, I want to give them my full attention. Because I have the mindset that my laptop is primarily a business space, it helps me to remember that I use social media for business reasons.
The first tweak I made was to set Goodreads as one of the startup page in Chrome, in addition to Gmail. I have email set up as my primary social media manager as mentioned previously. Goodreads is rapidly becoming my social network of choice because I’m a writer and a reader, and it helps reinforce good habits. I interact with other readers, and other writers. It supports my mission. Because I use the site to track what I’m currently reading, it also reminds me that instead of mindfully surfing the internet I could be reading a book. Updating the progress I’ve made in a book scratches the itch to post something, without getting sucked into pointless inanity.
The next tweak was to change my Twitter bookmark to open on a specific list. Rather than looking at my whole feed, it is a very specific group of fellow writers and professional contacts. Unless some major event occurs, the majority of the discussions there are about writing and publishing. If I need to bounce and idea off of someone, or another writer has a research question or wants some quick feedback, I’ll post. I only duck in quickly about once and hour, on a 5 minute Kanban break.
The final tweak was to change my Facebook bookmark to a group that I use similar to the Twitter list. It’s nothing but writers helping other writers, bouncing ideas around and offering advice and moral support. I realize that this utilization of Twitter and Facebook is a lot like a Slack team, and honestly, a few of us have discussed going that route, but all of us already use Facebook and Twitter to connect with readers, so adding yet another tool to do a specific thing we already do with multi-purpose tools is just so… not minimalist.
If you’re at all interested in storytelling, creative aids for fiction writers, or tabletop roleplaying games, head over to the Dancing Lights Press website and subscribe to the newsletter. It’s where you’ll be able to see updates on the project itself.