If you're like me, you've worried that you spend too much time on social media procrastinating. You check Facebook, Twitter, or some other social network as a way to hit pause on a current project. You flit back and forth from website to document to spreadsheet to inbox. And you beat yourself up over it.
This week I've been reading Matt Perman's What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. A review is in the works. I really like productivity tips, and subscribe to blogs or follow experts in the field. Perman's book is really good, and I'd recommend it to anyone, not just Christians. But Christians have the most to gain from the wisdom he offers in this book, because his approach to productivity is centered on the gospel and driven by adherence to the principle of blessing. Perman understands that God has called us to steward our lives well, and to use our gifts and talents in our various vocations in service to the world.
One passage in What's Best Next really captured my interest, and I wanted to share it. It has to do with social networking and the kind of time wasting described above. Here's what he writes:
Many companies restrict employee access to social networks, personal email, and other sites, thinking that they are distractions that waste time.
This is a classic case of not trusting people and failing to treat them as adults. It also reflects an outdated notion of work. For knowledge workers, work is not just something you do nine to five. Email keeps coming long after you leave work, and good ideas come at 8:00 at night just as easily as 10:00 in the morning. Spending fifteen minutes on Facebook at 3:00 in the afternoon is not a big deal given the new nature of work as something that can happen anywhere, at any time, and when our most productive asset is now our minds rather than an ongoing willingness to create widgets.
But more than that, this attitude fails to realize that, when people are self-motivated (as the people you hire ought to be), you don't have to worry about their wasting time. They love what they do and are driven to do it. They don't want to sabotage themselves. They know the right time to take breaks--when it will actually benefit their overall energy and productivity rather than compromise it.
For self-motivated people, time spent on Facebook is actually productive. It is productive for building networks and spreading truth. Both of these build people up, and thus increase productive capacity.
Perman goes on to explain that research supports that those with the most extensive personal online networks are more productive. He writes, "Facebook and other online networks and interaction help us refine, spread, and gain ideas." Believe it or not, social media can be good for our work life.
So ease that conscience. But use your time well. If you clearly understand your role and are focused on your God-given mission, an occasional break won't sink you.