If you’re on this site you probably have a decent job where you’re managing things well enough that you can read for pleasure. I’m not going to presume that the square peg that is my personal system for managing chaos will fit the round hole that is your own way of doing things.
However, I have noticed myself repeatedly giving out these two pieces of advice. Maybe they’ll resonate with you:
Make a notification earn the right to show up
Notifications generally lack tiers of importance. An alert that someone might be breaking into your house typically has the same experience as an update that a file has been modified.
In an industry where we’re expected to do deep systems thinking while simultaneously surfing an endless wave of distractions, it is important to cut out what doesn’t really matter.
The idea here is that the fewer the things that yell at you, the louder they get. Take a moment to review the list of services that have permission to pop in to demand your attention. Ask yourself if each one is well and truly necessary to be aware of or act on immediately—chances are it is not.
If you’re feeling brave, turn off everything for a week. See what you find yourself actually needing and re-enable it.
Some of the better services offer granular controls for how alerts are dispatched. If email is an option, try disabling every other method. You can then create a personal hopper that enables you to deal with things on your own terms by writing some clever filters. As a side benefit, you’ll also get a paper trail of activity—this is especially nice if you’re into the whole “quantified self” thing.
Don’t feel guilty about the way you use social media
I’ve met too many people who suffer from some manner of anxiety because they think that not being present or notable on social media will hurt their career.
Quite frankly, this is bullshit.
Facebook, the best rolodex you’ll ever own, is all too happy to manipulate your emotions without your consent. Twitter, the hivemind of the internet, enables the widespread proliferation of hate speech for fear of deflating their engagement metrics. Snapchat, a great way to share quick, intimate moments, jocularly normalizes racist stereotypes. And LinkedIn? Yeesh, don’t get me started.
The point is social media services aren’t infallible, nor are they compulsory.
We seem to forget that becoming a “disruptive thought leader” is not a means and just one end of many. You don’t need to sit at the popular table to make it in life.
Like any other tool, social media services are there to improve your quality of life. And, like tools, your use case is the most important use case (provided you’re not being a jerk).
It’s fine to make friends. It’s fine to passively lurk. It’s fine to shout into the void. It’s fine to build your repertoire of fart jokes. Heck, it’s fine to not use social media at all. In fact, one of my favorite Twitter accounts is just a talkative bridge. I don’t even live in that city, I just admire the functionality!
Hopefully this advice helps some. If not, here is a video I quite like.