What is your value system?
In February this year, when I wrote the first newsletter of the year I mentioned that I saw 2012 as the western world's year of distraction.
Nothing that has occurred during the year has changed my view of that.
As we approach the end of the year I wonder how you have coped with all of the distractions that have come your way with Email, Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube and Twitter etc.
One alarming trend for an old bloke (I am 45!) like me is that I am noticing more and more F.B.A's as I travel around the country. Face Book Addiction is a serious issue and one, like most addictions that might not be that easy to shake.
It's not my place to judge anyone for how they choose to allocate their time. My job involves helping people to perform better at work.
Everyone I work with has a different value system. If you want to perform better at work, I suggest that you need to develop a system or at least a well thought out plan for managing how you deal with social media and interruptions.
If your value system relies on staying up to the minute on the details of hundreds of people who are not really close friends of yours, then I guess it would be very important for you to be on Facebook, on a regular basis.
If your value system was one of getting the best return on your working time each day, so that you had sufficient time to allocate to the other priorities in your life, I doubt you would be spending a lot of time on Facebook.
As you start to think about your plan for 2013, I wonder what your approach to social media will be. Who will you discuss it with? Are you concerned enough to look at it in depth?
It can be very tempting to be updating your status regularly and viewing others news on an hourly basis. My concern continues to be, at what price?
There is a very simple concept that I had learnt from my high school economics teacher, Mr Weston. It is called Opportunity Cost. It is the cost of the next best alternative. So, if for example I spend 1 hour a day reading Facebook updates what was the opportunity cost? What else might I have been able to do with that time? Opportunity cost measures the relationship between scarcity and choice. What will I really gain by allocating so much time to Facebook or social media?
How will it repay me? Great, I now know that your cat has eczema, your second child came third in the egg and spoon race or you have discovered how to dance Gangnam style like Psy. Terrific. As I mentioned before, if this is of value to you and helps you cope with the world, then go for it. In fact why not double your social media time each day? Like cosmetic surgery, If it makes you feel great, fresh and up to date, then you should be doing it more often, not less often.
I imagine that you are now busier than you were 2 years ago. I don't work with many people who tell me how they are slowing down.
Like you I have to juggle my business priorities with my family, my health, my friends and my hobbies. If I allocate 1 hour a day to Social media then what I must ask myself is what will I need to forgo?
For me this might be a swim, a walk with my wife, reading a good book, calling some clients, playing soccer with my son or watching cricket on TV. This is the big question that everyone faces every day. If I do this now, what will I be giving up?
If there is one trait that I consistently see in the great leaders that I work with it is that they have developed a way for managing themselves, and hence making better use of their time each day.
They know the difference between important and urgent priorities.
As you approach 2013 I suggest that you look closely at how you choose to allocate your time. Perhaps measure the amount of time for one week you spend reading unsolicited email and catching up with your online friends. Think about what would happen if you cut your Facebook time in half, just for a month initially.
All of a sudden a window each day would open for you. What you then do with this time is up to you? You might spend it just pondering and seeing what thoughts come to the surface. Have you ever noticed how clear your thinking can become towards the end of a holiday?