New York Times best-selling author, slow cooking expert, mom of three
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Totally Together

Time Management and Social Media: An Oxymoron?

March 15, 2009 by  

backwards-clock EDITED May 2013: In the fall of 2012, I took over my fan-run facebook page. I still don’t have a personal facebook account and try to limit my facebook time to strictly business. I have broadened my feelings on twitter — I actually do like it an awful lot  now.

I have a pinterest account, and find it fun. Until I don’t.

I am not on Instagram.

I still do not have a smart phone.

who knows what the next year will bring? ;-)

 

 

 

I wrote a bit about time management and moms in the book, and how I battle my biggest time waster: The Internet.

I’ve found that if I’m not careful I can whittle away hours of precious time following link after link or by playing with the Instant Messenger feature. Since I do the bulk of my professional work on the computer, it’s very easy to succumb to “playing” while I work, and before I know it hours have passed and I really haven’t accomplished anything.

I hate to admit how often this happens.

it’s kind of a lot.

There is no perfect work/life/family balance that fits all. There just isn’t, and anyone who tries to sell you otherwise is a liar and probably has really bad karma. You’ve got to figure out a system that works for you. Some people allow themselves a break every hour or two from work (and yes, running a house and caring for children is work) to check and answer personal email. Some people refuse to go to certain internet sites until all of the day’s work is done. I sort of do a mixture of the two. I usually get up pretty early in the morning (4 or 5 am, it’s nutty, I know) to get my work-work done so then I can do other stuff (which I usually masquerade as work when the kids or Adam ask what I’m doing) that I want to do. It’s not a perfect system, but so far it’s working out okay. Especially when I take a nap at 2pm. ;-)

I do not have an IPhone. Or a Blackberry. I also am not on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. This is a personal choice that I have decided that for right now(*) just isn’t a good fit for me or our family.

(* my version of a disclaimer in case I ever change my mind and venture over to the dark side…and let’s be honest, it’s probably inevitable…)

edited 10/09: I have started a twitter account, @stephanieodea on the advice of my publicist. I’m a very sporadic user, and still don’t really understand it—doesn’t it seem kind of ego centric? So there you go. I’ve succumbed to the dark side… (insert evil Darth Vaderish laugh).

I would love an iPhone—I think they’re neat, and I think I’d have an awful lot of fun with one. But I know myself, and I know that I’d be checking it constantly, and not be fully attentive when I should be. I also get annoyed when I’m speaking to someone and they interrupt the conversation to answer an email, or they respond to a question by saying “oh, let me google that,” and then they go ahead and give me a computer-generated instead of a person-generated response.

I was at a playdate yesterday, and the dad works at Apple. I asked if employees played on their iPhones during meetings. He said, “No. That would be rude.” Yes. Yes it would be. Yet I’m sure we all could rattle off instances where we’ve seen phones being used in such a way.

twitter-logo As for Twitter? I used to just not get it. Now I think I do, but I’m just not that into sharing my every little thought with the world. I’m not that interesting. And lots of my thoughts lately have to do with the annoyance I have with the little white dog from around the corner who keeps peeing on our front lawn. And some of my thoughts about that aren’t legal, so I should probably keep them inside. And since I don’t have an IPhone or a Blackberry I have to text in the old way where you scroll through the letters and I have very little patience. I’d rather just place the call.

logo_facebook Facebook. So many of my in-real-life friends keep telling me to join Facebook so I can “keep in touch.” But I’m on the PHONE with them when they tell me this! We’re obviously IN TOUCH. So I don’t get it. And I think if I signed up I’d get sucked in. And while highschool had some good qualities (I met Adam!), I’m not ready quite yet to revive friendships. I’ve heard the virtual scrabble is really cool, though.

One of the biggest concerns about the being plugged in thing for me is the message that I/we/you/the universe are sending to children. I am from the school of thought that it’s okay to be bored. It’s okay to be alone with your thoughts. It’s okay to have quiet and not have bells and whistles sounding off all the time (hey, did I ever tell you that I applied to work for Leap Frog when they were a start-up and during the pre-interview I filled out a form saying that I believed (I was 23 at the time, so I knew EVERYTHING) toys should be open-ended and not require batteries and so they never called me back. And in a twist of irony the kids’ favorite toys are the singing ABC magnetic letters?).

It’s hard to be alone with your thoughts if you’re constantly being entertained. Some of my best ideas come from long runs (no iPod) or when I unplug for a few days. I find the kids are better behaved when the TV is off and I put away the DSes (is that the plural for DS?).

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

blogherlogo The conundrum for me is that I do work for a social media company: BlogHerads. And I love it. If I didn’t do work for them, I wouldn’t have started the CrockPot blog, I wouldn’t be working on a CrockPot book, and I wouldn’t be in touch with thousands of wonderful women (and a few men. Hi Mexican Rick!) from all over the world. And I like you guys. I like getting emails saying that I am of some help in meal planning and that I helped break the chicken nuggets and pizza cycle, or that I inspired someone to streamline their bed linen and now the bed is made and that little boost was the boost needed to clean out the closet. It makes me feel good. I like helping people, and I like hearing back from them.

I’m very interested in the Mommy Blogging Panel that’s going to happen at BlogHer ’09: “Balance” is a Big, Fat, Lying, McLiar LIE for Moms who Blog (and the rest of us too) (I’m sure it will be live-blogged and live-twittered, for those who can’t make it, and the fact that I just typed that makes me laugh, yet there you go). I’m glad that the title of this panel is tongue-in-cheek. It’s got to be, right? The idea of never being able to achieve balance is such a depressing thought—-  Women need to help women. It is very helpful to be honest and say that there are days that spiral out of control and the kids climb into the pantry and dump out the cereal boxes. We’ve all been there. We know how that happens. But we also need to have a glimmer of hope that it is possible to do find a way to juggle the balls. Just a glimmer. Just a teeny tiny sparkle. something. anything. I look forward to hearing ideas about what does work, along with the fun stories about what doesn’t.

I’ve collected a few articles I’ll share below (LOVE the John Stewart video). It’s ironic that what was developed as a way to save time and make time more efficient has turned (for some) into such a sucking vaccuum. I think that the important lesson is to know where your time goes, and to be honest about the difference between work and play. I am definitely more proud of myself at the end of the day if I have a long list of accomplishments than I am when I have virtually (HA! virtually!) nothing to show for it.

Help! I’m Addicted To Facebook!

Time Management in the Age of Social Media

How to Stop Social Media Taking Over Your Day

Defining Social Media Time Management

John Stewart on Twitter

related:

 

Want even more? Buy the book! Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life is available now. This handy-dandy weekly planner will hold your hand throughout the year and will give you all the reminders and helpful prods you need to have the Very Best Year, ever. No need to wait for the New Year to start your organization mission, you can start at any time. Enjoy!

 

The Business of Blogging series:

Part 1: The Business of Blogging

Part 2: Figuring Out Your Internet Voice

Part 3: Writing for Search Engines Doesn’t Mean Selling Your Soul

Part 4: Is Self-Esteem Tied into Sitemeter?

Part 5: Patience, and Other Blogging Virtues

and other stuff:

10 Best Business-y Books

Creating a (non-cheesy) Vision Board

Working from Home with Small Children in the House

Post a comment · 22 Comments »

Comments

22 Responses to “Time Management and Social Media: An Oxymoron?”

  1. Org Junkie on March 15th, 2009 1:18 pm
    1

    What a great post this is. I definiately agree that these things can be time sucks and I’ve been caught one too many times. I am on Facebook but only to play Scrabble with my mom who lives across the country. It’s almost like we are sitting in the same room playing :) As for Twitter I do like it but try not to spend more than 15 minutes a day on it. I was signed up for Linked In at one time but deleted my account. It was just too much.

    I also have a regular cell phone and have never texted a day in my life. I have no idea how lol and that’s the way I want to keep it.

    Keeping things simple is the only way I know how to stay sane and you are right sometimes these gimmicks that are suppose to save us all this time just don’t.

    I’m not going to be attending BlogHer unfortunately (unless of course I find myself a sponsor) but will definitely be checking out the audios afterwards.

    Oh and have I told you how much I love your blog design here? It’s fantastic!!

    Laura

  2. Alison on March 15th, 2009 3:25 pm
    2

    I thought I was the only one left in the country (besides my parents) who doesn’t “get” texting! It’s so much faster and more efficient to either call or email!!

    I wonder how technology will change communications even further in the next decade or two. Will webcams/videophone become the norm? Or will IM/texting replace ALL communication? How long until iPhones are outdated, wand what will replace them?

    And how many people will have earbud-generated hearing loss?

    In some ways, it’s actually more frightening than exciting…

  3. MommyAmy on March 15th, 2009 4:07 pm
    3

    Great article! I too spend way too much time online doing things just to fill time until my kids wake up from their nap. Someday I should just say screw it and pick up a freakin’ book. lol

    Some days I do. And then I come back to a full email box from all the notifications I failed to delete.

    I find that online life can be fairly overwhelming, sometimes you just have to step back and take a break from it, and I think you did a great job of writing about it.

  4. heather jane on March 15th, 2009 5:15 pm
    4

    This article is spot on for me. Seriously. I’m getting off the computer. :)

  5. Erin on March 15th, 2009 6:31 pm
    5

    I’m 25 and I’m a sign language interpreter so I “need” to have a PDA as that is how the Deaf community communicate. HOWEVER, I have found that even though my husband works for AT&T and I initially loved my blackberry, I now can’t stand how easy it is for people to get a hold of me! If I don’t answer…they text…I don’t respond to that…they e-mail. I actually have days where I don’t even look at it because it makes me so crazy! I love my technology and am thankful since technology puts food on my table but I wish it was easier to let it go!

    By the way, LOVE the site, can’t wait for the book! My house stays so much cleaner because of the 7 chores!

  6. gfe-gluten free easily on March 15th, 2009 8:05 pm
    6

    Terrific article, Stephanie! While I am always grateful for the internet, my site, email, and friends I have made using them all, I, too, am resisting certain social networking. I don’t see how people can do all of that 24/7 and still have a life. Plus, I don’t want my life on view all the time. Last, like you said, there’s a lot to be said for quiet time. I think that’s why we like camping on summer weekends at our mountain property … no TV, no computer, no cell phone coverage … just the sounds of the white water river that flows by our property, cows and horses on the farm nearby, geese, ducks, blue herons, insects, etc. It’s really quite refreshing. Thanks for the post, Stephanie. I’m loving your new blog! :-)

    Shirley

  7. Tracy on March 15th, 2009 8:10 pm
    7

    Wow – you are fabulous and fearless! TESTIFY, girl!

  8. Sandy Cooper on March 15th, 2009 10:41 pm
    8

    I love your new site.

    And you are correct…you don’t want to get on Facebook. You are right about connecting with HS friends. Holy moly. Talk about a time-sucker! I wasn’t prepared for that when I joined. Now I find myself in conversations with people I barely remember from algebra class my sophomore year, while my three children are literally begging me (begging, I say!) to play with them. What’s wrong with this picture?

    Blessings,
    Sandy

  9. Natasha on March 17th, 2009 12:58 am
    9

    “It’s hard to be alone with your thoughts if you’re constantly being entertained.”
    I SO agree with this. And more people need the time to be alone with their thoughts. Isn’t this how we develop empathy and compassion and a sense of ourselves, by thinking? I work in customer service and it seems like each generation gets less and less able to deal with the real-life person. Manners and etiquette are harder and harder to come by. I am just so surprised at the little things that are missing. I also work in the social service field and empathy seems to me to be one of these missing links. And I’m only 26 so I’ve seen these changes happen so quickly from when the internet first became available to the masses to now.

  10. Marita on March 17th, 2009 3:22 am
    10

    I find it so easy to get sucked into the massive time sink that is the internet. Oddly if I pack away my laptop and put it in another room it is much easier to avoid because getting everything out again seems like such a hassle and it would be easier just to read a book, or :: gasp :: spend time with my family.

  11. Lily on March 17th, 2009 7:38 am
    11

    lol, reading Marita’s comment about packing away her laptop, I got this image of someone shoving a laptop into the back of a messy closet, so that the reward for cleaning it out would be reconnecting to the internet!

    It could be put under piles of laundry, at the bottom of a stack of papers, behind the unruly cans in the pantry, under a stack of ironing or mending, behind the recycling, under a drift of toys or books, behind the last bed you change the sheets on, in the box of seasonal clothes you will get out after the last season is packed away, all kinds of useful places!

    Sadly, I don’t have a laptop, so I guess I’m doomed to my current system of internet addiction and household messiness…… such a pity.

    *wink*

    love,
    Lily

  12. Ginny on March 18th, 2009 2:16 pm
    12

    Thank you thank you for saying that bit about it being ok to be bored or alone with your thoughts…. It’s not only ok, it’s GOOD. We entertain ourselves to DEATH unfortunately, and what ever is going on inside, we’ll never have language for if we don’t pay attention to it!

    so there. Now I’m off to Facebook while my kids watch PBS! haha

  13. Joanne on March 18th, 2009 7:01 pm
    13

    Great post! I’m three days behind in reading my watched blogs and getting the feeling I’ll never catch up! At first, the attraction of so much craft-cooking-garden inspiration (or whatever your ‘thing’ is) has you coming back to the computer time and again. Until you realise that rather than crafting, cooking or gardening you are spending more time reading about it.
    I tried Facebook but after a couple of sessions aimlessly tracking the friends of the friends of the friends of my friends, I left it. Better to cultivate a few good offline friendships than dozens of shallow online ones. In my opinion.
    Balance is not something you achieve and its done. Its a constantly changing thing. Life throws something at you and you have to rebalance. Or fall and get up again.
    Now I’m off to clean a room. Then read a blog. Then clean a room….

  14. jennibell on March 23rd, 2009 1:47 pm
    14

    Great post Stephanie!!! I love the internet for the connections I can make (we moved and I do not have the “in person” friendships that I left behind here) but am always wary of the time spent. Thank you for saying it like it is!! I find setting my timer helps me to realize HOW much time I’ve whittled away following link-to-link-to-link. When it goes off I allow myself to finish what is on the screen and walk away. It’s hard to do. . .but then you rediscover LOTS of time you didn’t realize you had. Years ago we got rid of our television and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done for our family (we have four children, ages 5-10). The kids play TOGETHER, know how to talk and interact with one another, and yes, they DO demand more of my time and attention but. . .HELLO. . .isn’t that what mommies are for?!? This is a short period of time in our lives. . .and we would not have discovered it without putting limits on ourselves (i.e. chucking the tube except for a DVD for weekend movies). . .so. . .thanks for reminding me that this is a good way to keep in touch but not the *only* way. . .

  15. Nicki on October 10th, 2009 10:34 am
    15

    Oh, I agree with you on so many points in this article! I do facebook, and I have to say I’ve found some long-lost friends (and others have found me!), but I refuse to take surveys, quizzes, or do Farmtown. I don’t twitter or anything else. I just blog and send emails. I have 3 blogs. That’s enough ‘online’ time for me.

    And I HATE texting. I hate to do it, receive it, or watch it. I am saddened by kids who are always facing down at their hands as their little fingers type out grammatically incorrect phrases all day. Like you, I’d much rather just call.

    My ex-husband gave my 13 year old daughter an iPhone this summer, and boy do I regret that! I am having to teach her that the iPhone is not an extension of her arm, and that she can acutally MISS a text or two now and then. It’s the first thing I ground her from if she’s in trouble. We homeschool, so it’s completely off limits during school hours (as I imagine it would be at a public school; at least I hope so).

    Thanks for being so RIGHT! : )

  16. Sandy Cooper on May 24th, 2010 3:26 am
    16

    Hi Stephanie!

    Just wanted to let you know I reprinted part of this post (with full credit to you and a two links!) on my blog today. I’m doing the unending series on balance, and this fit in so nicely.

    Thanks for your blog and all you do.
    Blessings,
    Sandy

  17. Stephanie on March 15th, 2009 1:45 pm
    16.1

    Laura, my fingers are crossed that you get a sponsor. I’d love to meet you (and you can teach me how to Tweet, lol!). The image of you and your mom playing Scrabble across the country is priceless—that’s what these sites were designed for, and it’s absolutely wonderful that you and your mom can connect that way.
    xoxo steph

  18. Stephanie on March 15th, 2009 6:34 pm
    16.1

    me too, Heather. Right after I check this last one thing… ;-)

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