I read this cartoon, from Stephan Pastis, some time ago, and I’ve saved it as it seems like it hits a bit too close to home with that wasting time on social media thing. But rather than harp on that tired subject again — social media is ruining our lives — I’d rather take it a different direction, and talk about the one thing that helped me manage my social media as it relates to quilting: I made friends with my paper calendar.
In blogging, I used to just write blog posts at random: if I had made a quilt, or ran across something cool to share, I did. But once another blogger said she scheduled her blog posts, I realized that she thought about them, worked out when she wanted to them to show up. In other words, she used that old-fashioned tool of calendaring her posts.
I use a small desktop calendar, and circle the date and pencil (not pen) in a code word, so I know what’s happening. It helps me space out things (not always successful on this, but I’m working on it).
I came home from QuiltCon, vowing to work smarter, determined to change up how I used my favorite calendaring book, the Get To Work Book. Too often I was using it as a journal — you know, writing down the things I did, or needed to do, and crossing them out in yellow marker when they were completed. Yeah, even if I’d just written them down.
These are the project pages at the back of each month. Post QuiltCon, I
dumped wrote everything that was in my head down on paper. I then took time to break it down into tasks, slipping a few onto every week of the month. Has it helped? Somewhat. I know now what I have to work on. I don’t know about you, but I tend retreat to social media when I am bored, or perhaps, overwhelmed. I can also be easily distracted by the wonderful eye-candy on Instagram (but in some ways that’s another topic for another day.)
In his article, “Warren Buffett’s ‘2 List’ Strategy: How to Maximize Your Focus and Master Your Priorities,” James Clear makes the point that even though many things are good to do, if they are not your top priorities, they will distract you from what’s most important, and from what should be given your best and undivided attention.
He notes that “Every behavior has a cost. Even neutral behaviors aren’t really neutral. They take up time, energy, and space that could be put toward better behaviors or more important tasks.”
Some other tips:
- Simplify your media. If you do Facebook, get off of Twitter or Snapchat. Leo Babuta writes: “You can be a part of a social network and not participate all day long…I’ve consciously decided that I’d prefer to be creating rather than always connected to the social stream.” (from Zen Habits)
- Notifications (from FB, IG, etc.) are a huge time sink. Bubata recommends turning them off: “Don’t be notified everytime people post things or reply to you or follow you or email you or comment on your blog.”
- I also liked the tip from Elizabeth Grace Saunders in the article “Front Load Your Week,” when she says “To minimize stress, spend less time worrying about planning exactly how long every activity will take you to do and more time front-loading your calendar by putting your most important activities with deadlines early in the day and early in the week. For example, something due on Friday should start appearing in your schedule by Tuesday afternoon…Front-loading gives you the ability to stay on top of projects that take longer than expected without getting stressed or working into the wee hours of the night.”
- To follow up with that, front load your day. Know when your best energy level is, and stack up tasks for that time.
- My favorite focusing device is to ask myself: “What do I want to have completed at the end of this day?” That question alone has propelled me through me many a foggy moment.
- Humans come first. My husband is El Numero Uno, then my family, then friends. After my husband, the order is flexible.
- I am also a human. (Obviously I have several firsts, but it all works out.) By saying that I am a human, I need to be aware of how I feel after sitting scrunched over, reading my small screen. I need to be aware of how good a walk feels, even if it’s in the middle of the day, and only around the block. I need to be aware of how I feel when I can’t get anything done, because I’ve spent too long reading on the web, instead of getting to my work. I need to be aware of how good it feels to have my life ordered, and not frantic.
Some regular tasks help me order my month, such as:
Sewing Obligations, such as blocks for my mates in the Gridster Bee. I like jumping on it and getting it done at the beginning of the month (see tip about front-loading, above–I like to front-load my months, too!).
Turning the calendar to a new month. I believe that with all my digital calendars, at times I lose sight of how time can be structured and used. Bringing forward that new page reminds me to check my project lists, re-order priorities, bring on new tasks.
It’s not harmful to be involved in social media as many interesting and significant discoveries, as well as new friends, can be made this way. Some nights, when I’m too tired for sewing tasks, I like to read blogs. I use Feedly and Bloglovin’ to help keep my reading organized and to follow up with people on Instagram, and Facebook. It’s enjoyable to see what everyone else is doing.
Do you have tips for staying focused? If you care to share, please leave them below in a comment.