I read an article a few months back that posed the question: are you productively or destructively wasting time? The article wanted to make the distinction that wasting time when it feeds a greater purpose, like re-energizing yourself, building relationships or adding important insight into your work, is actually a productive use of your time.

The author then states that when we consume our time as a procrastination tactic to avoid responsibility we are, in fact, destructively wasting time.

Ok, so enter social media and the communications field. We promote that the benefit of social media is to build relationships, which in turn will hopefully produce valuable insight into our work. I remember a time where at some offices facebook was blocked and you couldn’t download MSN messenger to your workplace computer. Now, especially in the communications field, we spend far more time each day tweeting, reading blogs, watching video posts, updating company profiles and researching new trends. So where does the line get drawn? How do we determine how much time in this realm each day is productive?

One suggestion from the article is to imagine that your boss or a well-respected colleague walked by your desk and had immediate and full access to what you were doing and thinking. Would you change your behavior? I’m not sure it’s that simple anymore . . . What do you think?



by neil

Interesting post Corey.

In a previous job I had the privilege of handling the social media of my employer, acting as the only person in the office who was expected to be on facebook / twitter etc.

To be frank, it’s my perspective that social media has replaced a great deal of the networking that happened at conferences and lunch meetings etc.

Employers now have the opportunity to look at the 5% of the day staff spend facebooking and smile as they see savings on hotel rooms, food expenses and airfare that were once crucial to growing your business network.

If actual project work is being missed or slowed as result of excessive social networking it’s a managerial issue, just like coffee breaks that last 45 minutes.

Just my two cents, which with todays exchange rate actual cost 34 dollars :)


by Doug Brown

This is a great post Corey. I like the finding at the end: would your boss approve or disapprove of the way you spend your time when you’re online? Let me flip that on its head: How do you think your boss is spending her or his time online and do you approve of that?

The rules have changed a lot. I don’t advocate lazy web-surfing, but reading up, contributing, building our reputation, watching webinars? Green light. This is where the education is happening these days. In a small market like ours (and yours) access to continued education in our field is key to keeping good people. Turn that supply of information off and you will be challenged to keep your gang.


by Corey

Thanks Doug and Neil for your great comments.  I agree with both of you and this is how we in our field continue our education.  It was funny, I was at a press check in Toronto just a few weeks ago and was waiting in the client waiting room and found that this printer had facebook blocked from their offices.  I hadn’t seen this for sometime, since my wife worked in a hospital back in Nova Scotia.  This is what sparked this post.


by margriet Aasman

I am a boss. I am ashamed to say, years ago, I did walk around the studio monitoring how much time my staff was spending on personal email… I am wiser today. I know there is educational value in spending time on the web. I also know that to get good at something takes time. Play time. I also know some are better at it than others. At a recent seminar on Social Media with Jay Baer, we were advised to encourage staff members to explore it’s potential, be involved, that were PASSIONATE about it. We need to identify those staff members, encourage them to submerge themselves in play/learning time.


by Doug Brown

Margriet I’m using the same strategy. Encouraging it really is a 180 degree rotation. Good bosses adapt like that. We have to now.


by Geof Harries

A problem, at least for me, has been how easy it is to get caught up in it. One minute you’re checking Twitter, and then an hour later, you’re still reading articles that were linked from Twitter. If you do this day after day, social media will suck the life, e.g. the billable hours, out of your consulting/agency business.

The key is likely to manage your usage by allotting a certain amount of time to use it. Perhaps, like email, you can check Facebook or Twitter at a certain time and for a certain period, each day. You can also use aggregators like Google Reader or an RSS reader to monitor and collect your social media accounts for delayed consumption.

When you’re “in” social media, it feels like the entire world. Like you can’t get by without it. Like it’s somehow really important to your success. But, once you step back and take a break from the noise, you realize how silly it all is and you learn how to moderate your usage. Real life and real relationships truly matter so much more to the bottom line and your personal mental health.


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