What if You Can't Unplug? Being Productive While Still Checking Social Media

3 years ago

In a few weeks, my kids will return to school and I will get back to work.  Sure, I've been working all summer, but at a much lighter load.  In the fall, things will pick up again, and I will have to find the discipline to tear myself away from email, social media accounts, and blogs for a few hours a day lest I get nothing accomplished.

Do me a favour and help me by not posting so many good thoughts online that I can't help reading. 

Re-entry is always rough.

Image: David Joyce via Flickr

My first few years of working were home were peaceful and productive; much more productive than working out of the house.  I found it very difficult to work around other people.  They would come into my office and want to talk, tell me about their weekend or a problem they were having with a student.  I would look up at the clock, seeing my day slipping away.  I often had to stay after, when the school emptied out, just to get things accomplished, uninterrupted.

My brain is sort of like one of those compartmentalized children's dinner plates where none of the food touches.  I don't do well with my social time mixing with my work time.  When I'm at work, I want to work.  And when I'm not at work, I want to be social.

Working from home seemed like a perfect fit.  No one stopped in to bother me.  I had trouble with people calling to chat during work hours, but I could always choose not to answer. 

For a few years, I got a lot accomplished.  And then I started noticing that email, social media, and blogs started taking the place of the talkative colleagues.  Instead of someone coming into my room to chat, I was going onto Facebook to see what everyone was up to.  I'd read a few blog posts under the pretense that I was looking for inspiration.  Or I'd answer emails as they came in so I would feel on top of things.

My productivity took a nose dive.  What I used to be able to accomplish in an hour or two suddenly took my entire work day.

I still don't have a solution.

Closing off email isn't realistic -- I need to be available and reachable, though I've created an "answer later" folder for all emails that can be answered at the end of the day.  Being completely disconnected from social media isn't realistic, either.  I write about what is going on; therefore, I need to know what is going on.

All of those life hacks that recommend closing the browser or creating quiet hours to be more productive won't work in my situation.

So I'm left with the hard re-entry; with trying to find balance.  And not always succeeding.

What are your best productivity tips if you need to still be plugged into email and social media throughout the day?  I'm looking to crowdsource this for everyone who can't unplug in order to get work done.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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