For years, we’ve romanticized our time in the black hole vortex of the Internet by calling it “surfing the Web.” I submit that a vast majority of our lost time is more akin to aimless drifting than surfing.
One definition of “drift” that fits remarkably well is “to become carried along, subject to no guidance or control.”
The concept of a net, of course, plays on the reference of the Internet as a tool available for our strategic and timely use. The net I picture is one that catches unsuspecting drifters and ensnares them for hours upon hours.
Sadly, this captivity can be one of the unfortunate byproducts of social media — wonderful yet potentially insidious phenomena, which, left unchecked, can ensnare our emotions, time and focus.
Social media addiction is real, and the research chronicling its existence is compelling.
As agents, we wield a double-edged sword. As independent contractors, our schedules and choice of commitment is rather uniquely our own.
Little oversight of our use of technology, the absence of clocks and the advent of smartphones make the lure of the drift terribly strong.
A few years ago, the temptation of email or solitaire on the desktop was a slight distraction one could utilize on a whim. Today, the hypnotic pull of drifting can be debilitating 24/7.
What are we to do? When facing the toughest waves, even the best surfers use a leash — a cord that connects them to their board. In real estate, we need a similar kind of tether, fashioned from awareness and self-discipline. Here is my three-step plan:
1. Find your tether.
Disable social media on your smartphone, tablet and laptop. Schedule yourself two 20-minute periods during the workday when you are free to reconnect and surrender to the drift.
Set an alarm and allow that to be the tether that helps you find land when your social time is over.
2. Set goals.
Each day, identify two or three specific tasks you want to accomplish using social media. Make them extremely clear — if you can’t, you have little reason to ride the waves at all.
I suggest posting these action steps using elaborate technology — use an index card and a Sharpie. Be religious about completing these tasks before anything else.
The use of social media time — like any other block in your schedule — should be governed by the pursuit of your goals.
3. Be accountable.
Get a “sponsor” or at least an accountability partner. Surely you have peers who fight the same disease.
Imagine all the time spent on Angry Birds and Candy Crush by millions of adults. It might be a stretch, but my guess is that these games aren’t entirely played outside the work day.
More mind blowing still is that on Aug. 24, Facebook reported that 1 billion users logged in on that single day — that’s one of seven inhabitants of our planet. Powerful? I’d say so.
Have a plan and don’t get caught in the drift. The less time you are caught in the drift, the more time you have to be productive.