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"Social media did not create the problem of distraction, but it is clearly an amplifier," writes Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, in a post on LinkedIn. "Indeed, a study [PDF] by Clifford Nass et al. at Stanford showed that heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli than light media multitaskers. Heavy multitasking may encourage even heavier multitasking because it leads to a 'reduced ability to filter out interference.' Could the part of our brain that is processing deeper cognitive thought actually be atrophying in the process?"
How can you tell if your social media use is interfering with your ability to get stuff done?
1. Look for changes in your schedule.
McKeown mentions one friend of his, a social media obsessed executive who wound up working all weekend and going to bed hours later than he used to, because of the siren song of Twitter, Facebook, IM, etc. If you're getting less done than you used to, and spending more time doing it, ask yourself if you're spending more time wasting time.
2. Try a day without.
No one would suggest getting off social networks entirely in the current environment, but taking a day off might enable you to figure out exactly how much time you're wasting. You might also find that the break makes you feel less harried and more productive. If so, you can think about blocking off time to deal with social media, instead of attempting to multitask your accounts and your job.
3. Keep a log.
Can't stand to take a day off? Write down every time you use social media, and how much time you spend on it. You might be amazed how many hours it adds up to.
If you do discover that you're spending too much of your day dealing with distractions like these, McKeown outlines a simple five-step plan for dealing with it, in his article.
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