some addicts

Hello… my name is Paul.

I’m a social media and industry news addict.

Truth. I actually have an app installed that won’t let me open Facebook during certain hours. I can’t disable it. I can’t reboot the computer and start over. It stops me from accessing Facebook during certain hours of the day – like say – 8:00am – Noon and then from 1:00pm – 5:00pm. The app I have allows me to set it to any site but Facebook is my social media drug of choice. If you want to see some options for the chrome browser click here.  You might find them helpful… you might also experience elevated anxiety and blood pressure too.

I’m not only blocking sites, I’ve also culled my news feed reader limiting my news intake to a few major curating sites (not completely free yet – it’s a process.)

I work in the reward industry and the HR space and there are 100s of posts, tweets, emails, updates that demand my attention with wonderfully written and psychologically irresistible headlines promising career success of untold levels and help avoiding failures of indescribable horror.

YOU.MUST.READ.THEM. or you will cease to exist as a professional.

It’s not just my industry or the HR practice. It’s everyone and everywhere. I believe there are simply too many ways and too much change to communicate and the FOMO (fear of missing out) is such a strong a drug to fight.

I know you know the feeling …

…the anticipation when you see a notification of something new in your feed or email box…

…how your heart beats a little bit faster as you read the headline that makes you smirk because it is so wittily written…

…and that sweet first hit of insight when you open a new blog post that talks about positive employee feedback social media network loop platforms on a SaaS service!

Oh, yeah… that’s the good stuff… ahhhhh…. Can I have another!!!!!

So sorry… I nodded off for a minute.

Cut it Out

Advice from a recovering SoMe addict.

It isn’t helping. And I’m not alone with that advice.

Take the word of someone who lives in this always on connected economy – the cofounder of Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals) Jason Fried who recently (November Issue of Inc) wrote about his news addiction…

“Up until about a year ago, I read industry news religiously. I’d load up Hacker News a few times a day, clicking away on the top-voted stories. I’d head over to Reddit and do the same thing on its tech-news subreddit. If I saw something on Twitter linking up a tech-news story, I’d be all over it. Clickity, click click click. I was a tech-news binger.”

He has a different browsing list than me but I know I saw myself in that paragraph and I’m guessing you did too.

He talks then about his detox and the how he felt after a few months of actively eschewing industry news…

“The incredible thing is that a few months into the industry-news detox, I felt better not only mentally, but physically, too. My mind wasn’t on edge, waiting for the next big thing to hit. I was calmer, I found myself with more time, and I was far more focused on stuff I could control, like my product, my company, my person, rather than stuff I couldn’t, like the next “Basecamp killer” or hot new startup.”

That’s right – not only did Jason’s productivity increase – he experienced positive physical effects. Stress down. Anxiety down. Focus up. Sense of accomplishment high (pun intended.)

Your Turn

Ask yourself this…

If someone who’s ability to be successful and whose company impacts the success of 100s of employees and an even greater number of clients, thinks ignoring most of the signals from the industry news machine is a better way to get more better stuff done… should you consider your own news feed habit?

How much of what you do today is reaction to something that ultimately has little effect on your or your company’s success but someone else thinks is newsworthy? How much time is taken up considering things just because they are new and not because they are valuable? I can think of way too many things that chewed up more of our time in the HR industry than they should have. Big, revolutionary ideas that ended up being speed bumps and forgotten fads. Remember Vine? Yeah… that was going to revolutionize employee branding, engagement and recruiting. Pinterest too. Heck, I’m still seeing knock down drag outs over whether Twitter really has measurable (or any) impact on employee engagement, recruiting or communications.

Yet, us sheep continue to open our emails and hope for headlines revealing the new killer app. We scan twitter, Facebook and now LinkedIn Pulse posts from gurus and consultants to be sure we have the newest of the new. We can’t wait to see what the business Kardashians will be wearing next year. My best guesses… Video. After that, I’m sure Oculus Rift and google cardboard with augmented reality tours of your office will be the belle of the ball. Get on that now if you want to be a leader!

But all of that aside. Reducing your news intake frees up time and increases your ability to THINK instead of just ingest.

News is just news. Real value lies in the ability to analyze and synthesize the news.

Remember – When you’re in the stream you can’t see the current.

My favorite quote from the article was his last paragraph.

“Sometimes someone will mention something to me wondering whether I’ve heard of it. I’ll often say no and ask for details. And then he or she will tell me about it in a way that’s actually useful, not sensationalized, as most coverage of new things is. I don’t feel disconnected. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s no longer just empty calories: I eventually hear about what’s really important.”

That is what winning looks like. No empty calories.

Now… how much of your news junk food are you going to cut out of your feed?

Not counting this blog of course. This stuff is hearty, vitamin, carb, and protein-packed information. This is a staple not a snack. Right? Right.