Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

Is social media too distracting to freelancers?

I know everything has an ‘off’ button, but if you stay out of the loop too long you miss what everyone else is talking about. I’m talking about Twitter.

Whereas an employee might have slightly more control over checking their Tweetdeck, for fear of losing their job if they are caught, freelancers have to exercise their own governance.

Are all types of social media devils of distraction?

Blog posts, like this one, can be read at leisure – they can be bookmarked and won’t wink at you from your taskbar.  Similarly, when checking Facebook updates, it’s unlikely you’ll be unable to find out news from that day (unless you’ve thousands of friends/fans and your computer mutinies, refusing to auto-refresh any further). 

But on Twitter, even with only a sprinkling of followers, you miss the party if you even go to the loo.

Trends change by the minute, and with all the furore over a certain Premiership footballer, even those who previously resisted the lure of the micro-blogging site have most probably taken a peek recently to see what all the fuss is about.  And that’s the thing with Twitter: once they have you interested, they have you hooked.  Even if you don’t post yourself (after all, who wants to know what you’re having for lunch?), you can become sadly agog at what others may be scoffing come noon.

“He never?”  “He did!”

Then there’s the gossip you find out. I liken it to the exchanges between neighbours over the garden fence, though it’s more about A-Z list celebs and less like what underwear next-door-but-one has hanging on her washing line.

As I write Tweets on behalf of my clients too, I do have a viable excuse for being on there.  However, what should be ‘nipping on for ten minutes three times a day’ has turned into ‘ten minutes for them, and fifteen minutes for me, three times an hour’.  Consequently, my productivity has dived.

Admittedly, this is not good news for any freelancer, though I can’t ignore social media as it’s part of my job (it’s even why I’m sat, telling you this, today).  I’m always extolling social media’s possibilities in forums, to potential clients – in fact, to anyone who’ll listen, but I tend to refrain from telling the very same people they may develop an addiction.

Tools for making your life easier, or to fuel your addiction?

One of the newest Twitter tools is an email notification that someone has replied to your Tweet, which saves time trawling through your ‘Retweets’ and ‘mentions’.  However, it still means you miss the chatter from other people; perhaps someone should invent a Tweet Radar – something that flags up in your inbox whenever a topic or phrase you’re interested in appears, so you can drop everything and dive into the midst of the conversation. 

So Twitter is the needle in my side.  What do you find distracting, as a freelancer?  If working from home, is it the housework?  If you work in the town, is it the Starbucks on the corner?  Or the clothes shop, calling you when your invoices have been settled? 

Perhaps I’m completely alone in the struggle to stay focused, when there’s so much to look at and learn online?  Would love to know what you think!

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Written by Editor on May 27, 2011 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelancers, Opinion , ,

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