Maintaining focus amidst social media clutter

Paying attention in a frazzled world

Says Ronel Gerber, Social Media Manager at specialist digital marketing agency Black Snow Digital: “Social media is a great communication tool enabling business to have greater access to a wider audience 24/7. However, that exact audience that is engaging with social media around the clock is also supposed to be working. It is very easy for employees to become caught up in the different social media channels during working hours that they lose their focus and workplace productivity suffers.”

Hennie Vorster, Executive and Business Coach at people development company Align Solutions agrees, saying that it has become more difficult to maintain focus in the digital era. “With numerous work and life pressures, coupled with a vast array of digital distractions on a daily basis, it is easy for one to experience cognitive overload and a feeling of being frazzled. Everyone is a multi-tasker these days without realising it and it can be hard to direct attention effectively.”

“The bottom line of attention is that the more distracted, the lower your ability to concentrate and the less you get done,” says Vorster.

Social media pros and cons

Says Gerber: “On a positive note, social media has reduced communication barriers, allowing people to conveniently connect with others all over the world at any time while having instant access to information. This can make individuals feel in touch and empowered. On the down side, social media can also lead to addiction, lack of productivity and isolation as a result of a reduced level of face-to-face interaction.”

Tactics for balancing social media with workplace productivity

Says Gerber: “From a business perspective, organisations can block certain social media sites, however, this doesn’t stop employees from using their mobile devices instead. This approach can also make staff feel isolated and resentful so it’s a better idea to have a social media policy in place which stipulates usage – i.e., allowing usage before and after working hours or during set lunch break times,” says Gerber.

“Employees are the eyes and ears of the organisation,” says Gerber. “By encouraging them to make productive use of social media, organisations can also use their staff to alert them to industry issues they pick up in their social circles that may have a direct impact on the organisation.”

“Another useful tactic for social media management in the business space is to implement performance reviews and time sheets,” says Gerber. “This can be an effective method of keeping employees on track during working hours, making them accountable for their outputs and work.”

In your personal capacity, to prevent overload and mental angst, Vorster advises that you be conscious of your social media usage and set boundaries for yourself. “Being more mindful of when, where and how you use social media will enable you to remain connected with the world yet allow you to know when to break away from overuse and mental overload. This, in turn, will help you to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships with family, friends and work colleagues and ultimately allow you to get more done with your time.”