Is Twitter The Ultimate Creation Killer?

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I’ve recently spent a lot of time interviewing some of the most productive and successful creators on the planet.

And, I’ve noticed something…many hardcore creators aren’t on social media.

Or, if they are, they tend more toward dabbling or strategic bursts than heavy use. I’m not talking, of course, about that group of creators whose creative medium IS social media either.

I’m talking about the vastly larger numbers of artists, entrepreneurs, VCs, authors, hackers, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately, because as a creator (books, businesses, products, experiences), I’m fundamentally gifted not only with the challenge of coming up with cool ideas, but getting ideas from my head into real-life.

Birthing them.

Then doing everything I can to make them succeed.

People can’t be impacted and I can’t earn a living by an idea that’s perpetually in-utero.

And, therein lies the dilemma…

Social media is great for building my tribe, seeding my creations and fanning the flames once they’re in the real world. It’s great to stay connected with friends, rant and blow off steam. But, the process of taking an idea from my head into the world requires intense periods of focus and action…and in that context, social media seems more distraction than catalyst, fueled by obsessive fits of intermittently-reinforced attention-switching.

By all rights, I should be doing everything possible to eliminate distractions, to push back against everything that pulls my focus away from my mission, save the other “important” activities and people in my life. But at the same time, I don’t want to abandon my tribes. Both, because I love them, I love engaging with them and I know that they’ll also be important in helping whatever I bring to life succeed.

Seems like a hell of a balancing act.

But, here’s the thing. That may be more illusion than reality.

Under the best of circumstances, I can’t really write and be hyper-productive more than 3-5 hours a day. And, to even get that much out of my daily creative capacity, that time also needs to happen in bursts.

So, I’m going to do a little experiment. Instead of random bouts (that turn into meandering, constant checking) of social media tribe updates, intertwined with creation time, I’m going to build my social media engagement time around more intensive bouts of hyper-focused creation.

There will be rules:

  1. A brief morning check-in of no more than 15 minutes across all platforms.
  2. Three morning bouts of hyper-focused creation of 45-60 minutes, broken up not by social media, but by exercise, mindfulness or novelty-based activities.
  3. Mid-afternoon social media snacking window that allows for more of a grazing approach during the time I tend to be organically least productive no matter how hard I try. This also mixes in with my “other business” hours.
  4. Three evening bouts of hyper-focused creation, when my ability to drop back into that mystical place seems to return.
  5. A brief social media update/sign-off window later in the evening, but only after having completed creative bouts.

I’m still getting a beat on my natural cycles (which you’d figure I’d know after four-plus decades). But, I’ll see how this works then circle back in a month or so with an update.

Curious, too…

How do YOU handle balancing the need to be hyper-focused and hugely productive with your desire to simultaneously build relationships and tribes and stay connected with friends?


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75 responses

75 responses to “Is Twitter The Ultimate Creation Killer?”

  1. Absolutely agree Jonathan. I might do this myself.
    Twitter is starting to become an distraction.
    Thanks for posting.

  2. I’ve been struggling with the same thing, and coming to basically the same conclusion — I need to organize my social media time.

    The word “rule” is an evil, 4-letter word to me (I normally like 4-letter words, just saying) – but I’m working on it. Might need to call mine “suggestions”, but I definitely have been moving toward specific bouts of social media wrapped around specific bouts of writing.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Jonathan,

    This post really resonates with me, as I’ve been discovering the same things that you’ve mentioned here.

    To create amazing things and to serve my people the way they deserve to be served requires real focus and as so many of my grade school teachers used to say, “putting my nose to the grindstone”.

    Thanks for putting this conversation out there – I look forward to following your progress!

    Cheers!
    Heather

  4. steve frank says:

    Great post, Jonathan. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, as well, especially around the idea of a brief morning check-in. I am finding that it can be a real distraction in the morning as I switch back and forth from creating content to “checking in”. For me, a lot of that “angst” centers around being engaged. If I were at a cocktail party, I wouldn’t say something/ask a question and then disappear. So, I feel this need, at times, to “hang out” to continue the dialogue as opposed to replying four or five hours later. But, reading your post gave me a great idea. Just like I set my intention for so many other things, I might start setting the intention when I check in on Twitter with a brief Tweet that announces I am checking in for xx minutes, along the lines of calling a friend to say, “Hey, I don’t have a lot of time but was thinking of you and thought I’d call to quickly check in…”

  5. Jonathon,

    I think you have hit the nail on the head in trying to schedule around your most productive creative times. I, for example, have come to learn about myself that come around one in the afternoon that no matter what, the muse seems to leave the building for about three hours. So that is an excellent time to exercise, clean the house, or catch up on social media.The muse likes to write at 6:00 in the morning for about three hours, if I squander those golden hours on social media,I’ve wasted precious time that could have produces volumes that at 2:00, I may end up with one sheet of paper with ten words on. I’ve tried for years to manipulate this natural body clock, but my most productive and creative work comes when I just shut up and listen.

  6. Annette Fix says:

    I tend to drop out for a while and when I return, I feel like the cyber world didn’t notice or care that I was gone. LOL Seriously though, it does feel difficult to re-establish connections once you’ve been off the grid. I need a better plan. I think I’ll borrow yours. =)

  7. Very good post Jonathan, and I agree 100%.

    I’ve found that when examining things from an 80/20 perspective, the social media time seems to almost always fall on the 20% return end of the spectrum while the creation time tends to always fall on the 80% end.

    I think far too many people way overblow the importance of twitter and just use it as an excuse to fritter away time that they could be using to do productive stuff which takes more energy.

    I think you still need to use these social media platforms but most of your ‘use’ needs to be automated updates when you add new content to your main site, interspersed with a little bit of dialogue when people interact with you.

    Definitely interested to hear others’ thoughts.

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, remarkablogger, Grant Griffiths, David Risley, Martin Lindeskog and others. Martin Lindeskog said: RT @remarkablogger: RT @jonathanfields Is Twitter The Ultimate Creation Killer? http://bit.ly/94UPPZ (pls RT) […]

  9. wendy says:

    Yep. I’m guilty, too. Facebook is a harlot, isn’t she?! Constantly beckoning one to spend time with her. But there’s a cost. Absolutely NO productivity at all. I can’t even take a peek if I’m working. That peek will turn into an hour…

  10. Nathan says:

    Seems like a lot of rules though, don’t you think? Just trying to remember them would seem exhausting.

    Granted, I agree with you on the reason, and I have noticed the same thing, which is why I’ve made some changes of my own.

  11. Melissa says:

    Well, I’m a creative and I hate twitter. There, I said it. I understand it’s useful and I use it and have made some great contacts through twitter, but I have found Facebook to be a far better tool for me for building a tribe and relationships. While I have found some interesting sites and inspiration through links and photos that have been posted on twitter, I don’t go to twitter for inspiration. I go on a hike.

  12. Darleen says:

    Great plan and I agree that Twitter and Facebook can cause major distractions, and loss of creativity and ‘real work time’.

    Thanks for posting.

  13. Hi Jonathan,

    If you set twitter time limits it won’t kill creativity.

    I hit twitter hard 3-4 times a day. After tweeting I go offline to enter my content creation zone. So you could say I tweet and create in bursts, followed my intervals of silence of exercise, like yourself.

    So far I’ve uploaded over 600 videos to youtube and create a blog post – with a few articles – just about daily. The strategy works so far.

    Social media is effective only if used infrequently, especially if you’re a content demon. Focus on adding value above all else and follow up with your tribe later.

    Have a powerful day!

    Ryan

  14. Kelly says:

    Reminds me of a conversation we had a while back on lessening Twitter focus… and a recent post you did about the “small tasks” in your whiteboard that were easy items to check off the list, but also serious time and energy drainers when taken as a whole. I use Twitter infrequently because of my current business model — which involves low quantity relationships + high quality interaction — and my client base of really busy women (who don’t have/make time to tweet). Subjectively, it doesn’t make business sense for me. Objectively, it often wears me out and is information overload. Definitely one of those small tasks I keep to a minimum to maximize creation, productivity and delivery. Thanks for the post.

  15. Tom Bentley says:

    Jonathan, I’ve been conducting an experiment the past 6 weeks that involves cutting back on social media time and spending more time creating, and I’ve had clear results: making significant progress on a novel that was three-quarters dead, and have written a lot of magazine pieces that were just floating ideas. I’m not a Facebook guy, so no problem there, and only use Twitter a bit, but I was on Seth Godin’s Triiibes (which as you know is a great resource of minds in action) a lot, and on several other writer’s groups. Haven’t cut them out entirely, but have significantly stepped back.

    I’m going to continue on that path to the end of the year, and then reassess. I’ve found a lot of great tactics for just the thing you describe here (and flexible ones too) from Leo Babauta’s new Focus book, which is freely downloadable from his Zen Habits site.

  16. Paula says:

    It’s truly a balancing act of time. Twitter and FB can be a huge distraction, even more of a time drain if I’m not diligent about turning it off so I can be productive.

    Focusing on productive activity first, then I can spend time on the rest.

  17. I just arrived at similar resolutions today. And after doing my first round of creative focus, went for twitter break and found this–great support. I think it helps to share-declare experimental protocol for clearing distractions and staying connected. Will be interested to hear how this plan goes for you in practice.

    Thankful for so much helpful, inspired content, even if it is ‘distracting’ from coming up with my own offerings for the swirl.

  18. Jen Gresham says:

    Good point, Jonathan. I think the idea of rules, or a consistent schedule, is wise. Maybe getting one of those programs that blocks access to certain social media sites during designated hours of the days will help too.

    When I was writing a lot of poetry, I used to set production goals. I’d say something like, “I’m not going to do anything else today until I get this piece written.” If there was something else I really wanted to do, that was a powerful motivator, even for my creative engine.

    Best of luck!

  19. Thanks for this post Jonathan! This is exactly what I needed to read after being off Social Media for most of the past three weeks… partly due to computer problems but partly due to this balancing act between creating and connection. This hast given me permission for finding what works for me and serves my dual purposes – and not trying to be like others!

  20. I have to agree that Twitter is a huge distraction. I’m ADHD and need whatever focus I can muster. Twitter is a terrific discovery and networking tool. However, I think having Tweetdeck on screen constantly is clearly a detriment to productivity for me.

    The Flipboard app for the iPad is a good way of packaging tweets in a way that I can take advantage of the discovery process at my leisure. And as far as the networking side of Twitter, I let Hootsuite on my Motorola Droid alert me to the occasional direct messages on Twitter.

    Now, all I have to do is close Tweetdeck and get out of the habit of letting it grab my attention. Click.

  21. A completely new perspective. With everyone writing about and cheerleading for social media, it was thought provoking to consider that we have lost our perspective in terms of creativity and balance. Thanks!

  22. Laura Click says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, Jonathan. Social media and creating is an intense balancing act. It’s definitely hard to walk the fine line of creating and engaging. I’m really interested to see how your experiment turns out.

    I’m grappling with this myself. In the social media world, you get chastised for not responding immediately to replies, requests or even criticisms. How do you balance that need with the ability to get things done?

    I think we all have to set realistic expectations for ourselves instead of paying so much attention to what the world thinks we need to do…myself included. Understanding our own rhythm and pace is important to achieving our goals.

  23. John Sherry says:

    It always intruiges me Jonathan how many people always seem to be on Twitter when I make my irregular forays into Tweetland. It actually has the oppsoite affect with me – the more I see of the same person the more I’m disengaged from them. I prefer short, meaningful and remarkable creative bursts by people which zing through my pysche even a few days after. Stuff that sticks and infects.

    I also practice self-enquiry (why am I doing this or what aren’t people saying etc?), then reflection to let it sit within me, finally I get insights and flashes as it bounces back from somewhere. But you can’t get that and only get overload by being online Tweeting like an off course bird. I think you’re making a wise and (creatively) bright move. Best of!

  24. Sue says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Yeah, it’s easy to get caught up in checking the emails, twitters, what have you at the expense of actually creating. My bigger concern is that Twitter as a primary means of communicating ideas is exacerbating (and feeding into) the epidemic of shortened attention spans which means the depth of communication starts going out the window. I’m more of an email checker than a Twitter follower but the same thing applies around the number of times one reasonably needs to check their emails.

    My favourite non-social media distraction from creating is doing online jigsaw puzzles. I’d like to say it helps my ability to see patterns and create a whole picture out of randomness, but even I don’t buy that story after a certain point! 😉

    I’m interested in hearing how the experiment goes. Good luck and may the force, er I mean focus, be with you.

  25. Rob says:

    I like your approach, Jonathan, I recognise a similar type of energy pattern in myself.

    Inspired by your video with Tony Schwartz, I ended up writing a post about this sort of harmony based on my more ideal days.

    Days that are broken up in to 60-90 minute segments of pure creativity peppered with 30 minutes of chores, tweeting, facebook and returning calls.

    During the creativity times, wireless off, phone in the drawer and it works for me.

    Your new rules are inspiring. I like the opportunity to ‘graze’ during times of lower levels of creative inspiration.

  26. Jonathan, stellar as always! I already follow that route. I definitely use social media for all the purposes you state (as well as for keeping up with family and friends!), but that’s done in fits. I absolutely need – and crave – my creative time. My time where it’s just me and the designs in my head and all the lovely components I use to bring those designs to life. Of course there’s a part of my day that’s marketing, too, and of course school and my sons. As you state, it’s a balancing act. However, it’s one that needs to be tailored to the individual because that is the only way in which to make it work. Recently someone gave me an acronym that’s going to be part of my next blog post: TIME = Things I Most Enjoy. Particularly at this time of year, making time and taking time out is essential.

  27. Geanine says:

    Thanks for sharing Jonathan. I’ve struggled with this as well. I’m on Twitter in the morning and then I hop on in FB and Twitter in the evening. It’s so important to protect our time so we can continue to create. But I also know it’s our duty to share our creations with the world.

  28. […] Jonathan Fields – Is Twitter The Ultimate Creation Killer? […]

  29. I’ve been on a bit of a social media cleanse myself lately. Not because I don’t think it’s great, but because it was really becoming a time suck. Leo Babauta of ZenHabits talks about this quite a bit and his new book “focus” really helped me see the importance of limiting the stream and just focusing on my creation. It’s a pretty awesome idea.

    I never post links to my stuff in comments but I thought this one is particularly relevant. It’s a comment left on one of my posts (about this very topic) that really woke me up. http://fitbloggersguide.com/2010/11/im-addicted-to-social-media-can-i-be-helped/#comment-1193

  30. Pamela Slim says:

    So true. When I was in last stages of writing my book, I had to cut everything off, lest spin off my very delicate perch of creative productivity.

    But I did allow short bursts on Twitter, especially late at night, when I questioned my sanity and needed some 140 character therapy.

    I think it is great you are letting folks know that you are going into a cave to write — that means they won’t grump if you don’t reply to every tweet, or answer every email.

    I will be totally offended if you don’t reply to my spontaneous phone calls, but think I can live with the rejection if it means reading a really killer book.

    Off to create!

    (and great picture — the sad truth is I bet it is happening)

  31. Jackie says:

    I do bursts as well, scheduling things ahead of time in one shot for each day, and then checking in periodically. Otherwise, it’s just way too distracting to me. I need to start doing the same thing on my email too.

  32. Gilllian says:

    I find Twitter and FB very amusing and useful…but also a fabulous time sucker! I need to be focused to do work and so must turn it all off if I am to get any other work done. I think these platforms are fun but I have to be very careful with them!

  33. Hey Jonathan

    I’ve been implementing this for a while and it’s what I teach in my Social Media Bootcamps. It’s way too easy to get overwhelmed on all the sites.

    That’s why I stick to the top 5 that have had the most impact for business – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Blogging.

    Then I do 3 checkins a day for around 15-20 minutes.

    I feel you need a greater amount of time to scan through your favourite blogs and reply.

    Plus I do find a lot of inspiration comes from reading updates, statuses, tweets and more. So the way I view it is it’s never a waste of my time when I’m on these sites.

    The other way to view it is every time you go on you have a strategy – connect with 5 new people, reply to all your conversations, RT or share 3 new articles etc.

    There’s no reason why being social can’t be strategic!

    Natalie

    • Stanley Lee says:

      Natalie,

      I find automating the social media feeds and streamlining it in a tool called Summify (a Bootup Labs cohort) works well for me to reduce the number of distractions yet still keeping reasonably informed.

      Note: Jonathan, if you’re interested, you can head search “Summify” on Google, and sign up for a preview to give it a try (still a lot of improvements needed though, and the team is working on it).

      Best,

      Stanley

  34. Steven says:

    Hey Jonathan, those sound like some really good rules. Over the past couple of weeks I have actually been using Twitter and other social media a heckuvalot – more as an experiment than anything else.

  35. Sarah Bray says:

    Balance? HahahahahahHA! You’re talking to the girl who is in social media heaven for about a month before going back into hibernation and ignoring everyone. I’ve come to the conclusion that my social and creative DNA are blissfully out of sync. Thankfully, nothing has exploded due to this possible impairment.

  36. susan kuhn says:

    Jonathan,

    Two thoughts:

    (1) Lets not confuse tools with relationships. The phone, the table at Starbucks where you meet for coffee, twitter, pub crawls, dinners, thank you cards, blog comments, your college alumni association: all these are tools.

    (2) Its all about the relationships, and your intent and needs in building your network. The best thinker I know on the role of relationships for entrepreneurs these days is Keith Ferrazzi — Never Eat Alone and WHo’s Got Your Back are required reading for all of us.

    Keep up the creating!

    Warmly,
    Susan Kuhn

  37. I am SO with you on this. It’s SUCH a struggle to find not only the right balance, but the right “groove” for managing social media in a productive way.

    I’m experimenting with a similar set of tactics in an effort to find that sweet spot that lets me stay in touch, build my tribe, and still have the time (and energy) to be creatively productive. One thing I’ve recently figured out is that I am not able to produce a lot of quality output later in the evening. After I get my daughter to sleep (which involves stories and then hanging in her bed until she falls asleep), my brain is toast. It’s the perfect time, then, to hop onto my social networks for some non-strenous “fun.”

    I think it’s all about setting limits and finding the right time in your daily routine.
    🙂

  38. eyuzwa says:

    Great post Jonathan,

    I wish I could offer a useful suggestion, but I’m just as stuck in your similar quagmire. I’ll definitely be watching your site for a report on your learnings..

  39. I’m an ebb-and-flow person who sometimes dives deeply into ‘sharing’ mode via social media, but lives mostly in a land of incubation and fits-and-starts of creative action alligned with my passions, purpose and joy. Rules are great, but the 2 year old in my brain refuses to play that game any more than an hour at a time – on alternating days.

  40. Monday is my creation day. I’ve reserved it.

    Later in the week I allow more business into my day and create at night. I use social media during business times. I try to read, including your blog, as my reward for creative time well spend.

    Just my thing, thanks for sharing your new experiment.

  41. Dom says:

    hi Jonathan,

    I use Twitter and Facebook to give out fitness tips and nutrition tips, with a link to my site, which sometimes produces new business.

    New clients can come from anywhere, and I guess it’s best to have a broad range of marketing tools.

    Recently the best tool I’ve used is the good old fashioned direct marketing letter, posted (in the old fashioned sense of envelope and stamp) to a targeted mailing list. Nothing to do with the internet at all, and one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever.

  42. I’m experimenting with the same thing, love reading it recently in Tony’s book, and yes, it is helping. Good to know you are there and also putting your finger on the all important stay in contact but also create. Keep us posted how it goes!

  43. It’s amazing how much more I can get done when I go with my flow–the way my body and brain works naturally. Typically, its great with a morning check-in and sweep of email, then focus on writing for no more than 60 min. Then the productivity typically goes best when I break for exercise or some other goofing off activity for 15-20 min, than back to focus, repeat. Ideally I’d work out in mid-afternoon then get back to work later in the evening, but the 7 year old enters the picture and I joyfully shift to focus on what he needs, but sometimes I wish I could get that last bit of work in at the end of the day – soon enough he’ll want me to do that, too :-).

  44. Audrey Kral says:

    I am a painter, so I go to the studio, bring my iphone, but only listen to music on it…no distractions from a computer that call out for random loss of time. I get into the flow of painting for a few hours or all day, then fall into a heap. My challenge is even looking at social media/using it to benefit my business AND keep up with my tribe..?

  45. Elle B says:

    I recently realized that period of life when I accomplished the most was in college (I didn’t go to college until age 30 and worked full-time throughout at night). Classes were 45 minutes followed by a 15 minute break (there’s a reason for this…many studies say it is optimal for absorbing information). I always made sure to leave a chunk of time before leaving for work. Then at night, I’d study for short spurts between jobs. I graduated with an MA and high honors at 36!

    I recently started working nights again, and have found a real creative groove in returning to this schedule. However, I’m now going to incorporate your idea of using the breaks for exercise or meditation. Thanks!

  46. Kathy Valade says:

    It’s definitely a balancing act. I “check in” for a few minutes in the AM and later in the PM, filtering out the noise. LinkedIn Signal (in beta) has been very useful. You can search tweets and status updates which make it a breeze when you are looking for specific real-time information. I also strive to utilize my online connections to build stronger network and business relationships offline.

  47. I’ve been trying various ways to budget my social media use too. Having a strict schedule really helps, as does closing the damned windows…

    I’ll look forward to hearing how your experiment goes.

  48. Steve DeVane says:

    Jonathan,

    I think you’ve got a good strategy going. I know I have difficulty staying focused for long periods of time. Your plan of setting aside those “hyper-productive” times sounds logical to me.

    Twitter isn’t as distracting to me as Facebook. But, to be honest, it’s hard for me to stay away from either for very long.

    I look forward to reading more about how things work out for you.

  49. “Seems like a hell of a balancing act.”

    Indeed it is!

    For me, I try and limit my interactions during the day. I’ll respond to my @ replies if someone asks me a question. I’ll limit my reading of the Twitter stream for example to only look at my “Clients” list. This way, I’m being more efficient and attending to their needs rather than getting distracted throughout the day.

    I like the set of rules you’ve set for yourself and the truth is, I could probably do a better job of adding a little bit of structure myself.

  50. […] a recent post, Jonathan Fields asked whether Twitter was the ultimate creation killer. It can […]

  51. Can be overwhelming at times being caught in between both activities. I must say I struggle with this too, not knowing when to draw back from building the needed relationships to grow your influence and when to draw back into the creative mode to sustain your credibility.

    So there I often find myself, growing influence through relationships and sustaining credibility through creativity. Still working on a solution, not sure yet how to balance both acts. With your post, I’ve got something to start working on.

    Thanks for the post, Jon.

  52. ntathu allen says:

    ummmm…thoughtful posts and good to read the other comments and tips….High Five re blocking out creative time and working in burst of 40-50 minutes time with mindful breaks etc. I am trying to write and be creative as soon as I switch on laptop (e.g, write article or blog post or create something) then i will switch to email check/update. If I go to email/twitter etc first then i find it hard to be creative and focus….
    Look fwd to you blogging your journey. OM Nx

  53. Jonathan, great post and I agree with Melissa about Twitter…I would much rather go on a hike…now Facebook is a whole different thing for me….I rely on FB and my tribes….I find it’s all about balance and spontaneity…it’s not always that I could just make myself “BE CREATIVE” sometimes it just comes;to have the flexibility to go from checking on your “peeps” and writing some great blogs….
    Nancy

  54. Lindsey says:

    I’ve been struggling with this very same issue. After starting my blog I find that more time gets eaten up by checking other blogs, going on facebook, and navigating around the internet mindlessly. This is when I need to shut the computer down and go outside and interact with the world because that is my greatest inspiration! I’m definitely going to try your schedule out because my creativity flow is very similar.

  55. I’m also struggling to juggle the social media demands with running my business. I think I’ll have to develop more of a schedule, just like you!

  56. Hello Jonathan,
    I use Twitter and a few other social media sites, but I’m intentionally unproductive with them.

    I only use Twitter through the site (and another service that sends DMs and @s to my email). I pop in a couple times a day. When I’m there, I’m there, and when I’m not, I forget about it and focus on my work.

    Also, I have deleted all message notifiers. This eliminated a huge distraction/temptation.

  57. Eurobubba says:

    Does anyone actually read this many comments? I almost never do… so I probably wouldn’t read my own comment… which is actually kinda relevant to my comment….

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking along similar lines lately, but also in terms of “managing inboxes” which include social media streams. It’s all think-in-progress, but the aspects I want to pin down include: Who gets an unconditional claim on my attention, i.e. I will read their messages no matter how busy I am? (Boss/clients, family except the ones who send chain-letter jokes, closest friends, project team members….) How can I pre-filter my streams so I don’t have to “process” every individual items, but still have confidence that nothing important will slip through the cracks? Can I distinguish between specific categories of media/inboxes that either a) need me to at least scan every item, or b) I can “dip into” if and when I have the time and/or inclination?

  58. The time suck is in chasing noise vs. value. Like eating a candy bar as a reward rather than a nourishing snack, our energy is drained by low-energy social media. Knowing and following high-value, thoughtful people add energy and thoughtfulness to one’s day.

    Thanks for adding value.

    Charles Gupton

  59. Great post Jonathan and most timely for sure. I was wondering how the social media balancing act was working out for others.

    Personally, I was getting soooooooooo lost in there sometimes, before realizing I’d been totally thrown off my game, that I had to take action and do something different. What’s worked for me is assigning “social media free days” to my work week. This actually feels like “relief”!

    I work from home and am primarily creative by nature. To get “trapped” in the bardos of Social Media – hanging in the halls of the multi-fascited twitter realm, or cruising F.B. repetitively – not to mention allowing myself to get sucked into the umteenth must watch “How To” vid – is for me equivilent to pollution via too much junk food.

    I’ve found a little social media interaction goes a long ways. Over the last year I’ve come to realize that not all that glitters out there in the land of the sound bites and micro celebs – is gold!! And even the part that is top drawer, needs to be partaken of in moderation – to much of anything is “too much”.

    My rule of thumb is “keep it real with ME” – when I start to feel full up and my time is being compromised by the social media slam and jam, I take myself out of the game. I knit for a while, paint, work out, cook, listen to music, read a book, connect LIVE in real time with my cat.

    Integrating high touch with high tech works best to keep my inspiration flowing.

    Instead of nibbling away on whatever Social Media puts in front of me, getting too full too garner the bennies of a good meal once it arrives, I’ve learned to prioritize my intake. This tends to help me achieve higher quality output with my own creative contributions.

    I look forward to employing some of your strategies too Jonathan, as well as hearing from you regarding your results with the writing of the manual for our new way of being!

  60. Balancing your activities on all these social media platforms is indeed a trick, one worth mastering though.

    The idea of blocks for each platform seems effective in theory. Practice practice!

    The key is to be at your best-or as close to it as possible-when you are performing on the platforms.

    Thanks, Jonathan!

    Peter

  61. Tom Catalini says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Beware item #1 in your plan. While you can spend just a few minutes checking email and social media services, what you encounter may have a lingering effect on your attention. It might be better to start out of the gate strictly with focused work first. I’ve experimented with this approach several times and it’s worked extremely well for me.

    Good luck.

    Tom

  62. […] Fields asks the question Is Twitter The Ultimate Creation Killer? and shares his tips for remaining productive whilst being […]

  63. I’ve been using the Pomodoro Technique for the past few months in combination with my social media balancing act. The method is based on short bursts of creativity/focused work, with built in “break” times. I use these break times as a social meandering, jotting down notes to myself along the way. I then use a mid-morning block of the technique dedicated just to social media interaction, and then another later in the afternoon. By using time as a measuring method, I’ve been far more productive and successful, both on and off the social media playing field.

  64. Tom says:

    Johnathan

    I agree I guess that why I keep coming back to read your blog.

    Artists and creative people would rather spend their time on their art than on the computer.

    Unfortunately if they want to be earn a living from their efforts then using social media to get the word out is just about a necessity today. And its getting more and more complex and competitive every day.

    all the best

    tom

  65. Wow. I am late to this conversation. Great question. We are challenged by the need to know and be in the loop and the need to find quiet time to think and create and write. Real dilemma is that if you think, create and write about the new stuff — social, digital, the people in the space, the ideas that emerge out of it — if you apply that thinking, knowledge and technology to clients and your own work, you sort of have to be there. Figuring out how to do it effectively is key. I am not sure that I have the discipline to do what you suggest. In some ways I like the serendipity of discovering what comes through the stream when I happen to check in (based on time available or when I’m not engaged with something more important.) The key, I believe, is to surround yourself with the right people. Others whose knowledge and content is inspiring and valuable. My choices for learning, staying up to speed and finding inspiration is through reading (the right books, magazines, novels) and from the ideas, content and links that my community sends me. One feeds the other and they both feed my ideas. If I ever get to the perfect formula for how to do it efficiently, I’ll let you know.

  66. Marci says:

    What a great question Jonathan. My social media time is pretty low. I spend more time reading others blogs, and this is where I have to put a limit on myself/my time or I will get lost from my face-to-face interactions. I’m actually blogging and reflecting about this very topic, so very timely.

    And, I love your birthing analogy to sharing your ideas with others!

  67. Anne Wayman says:

    Yep… social media is a horrible time sink… just awful… at least without rules. You’re not alone in this. My rules are different… well, not so much. I just have only one high creative time during the day… not several… maybe I ought to stretch.

    Good post as usual,

    A

  68. eliza says:

    A social media diet – brilliant. It’s important to note that much like a food diet, each person will have to find their unique rhythms, triggers, and motivations.

    Not everyone will have a problem with social media – perhaps it’s just screen-time. Recognizing what is standing in the way of achieving your intentions is probably the hardest thing.

    Thank you for starting the thought process!

  69. Chris Wren says:

    Facebook and Twitter put the work in social networking.

  70. Wow says:

    Over the past few years social media became a real time sink for me. I recently unplugged and you will not believe the amount of backed up projects I was able to complete. I think social networking is beneficial, but only in moderation.

  71. Thanks for writing about this – always great to see that people who I admire for getting a lot done still struggle with the balancing act themselves.

    Lately, I’ve been focusing on just getting ONE thing done each day.To this end, I have found Teux Deux’s website and app very helpful. (http://teuxdeux.com)

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  73. […] online business there’s the social media interaction that is so much part of our lives today. Jonathan Fields recently wrote about the tension he feels between being creative and interacting with his people on […]

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