I don’t know who Justin Kownacki is. I do know that his name sounds vaguely Slavic, he lives in Baltimore, and he does some sort of social media consulting. I also know that he appears to be fairly smart. Smart people often say things that make me smarter, so I sometimes listen to what they say.
Justin posted something last month about “The Real Reason I Tweet So Much.” I just read it. It’s one of those smart things I was talking about:
Lately, I’ve been trying to understand why it’s so easy for me to diverge from my own best laid plans. Why is it so common for me to start the day with a completely reasonable to-do list, only to spend the next hour devouring links from MediaBistro? And I think I’ve figured out a few of the reasons why I willfully neglect my own better judgment.
Social media interaction is a quick, cheap win.
Yes, I could spend hours writing well-researched blog posts, or months creating original videos, or years building self-sufficient startups, or… I could tweet something and see if someone else retweets it. And sure, the emotional spike I receive from seeing that retweet is microscopic compared to the charge I would get from landing a new client or launching a new business… but that tiny buzz is also immediate.
And if I feel it enough in a day, I can almost convince myself I accomplished something.
Ah yes. I know the feeling all-too-well. It’s not unlike the feeling of accomplishment I used to get playing video games. In real life, I was a directionless schlub who couldn’t find a path to success if it was marked with neon arrows. In a game, though, I was a hero. The best driver. The sharpest shooter. The brilliant strategist. Simulated successes achieved on a “moderate” difficulty setting were far more satisfying than real successes earned through good old fashioned boring, time-consuming hard work.
Social media is a lot like that. A pithy comment gets liked, retweeted, or responded to. A blog post gets comments from people telling me how much they loved (or hated) what I wrote. Heck, just today, I’ve checked my WordPress stats no less than a dozen times. In fact, I just did it again. After almost a year of inactivity, I got 73 hits today. 73 hits after more than eight months of flatline. Doesn’t that make me cool?
Nope. But it feels that way.
Justin goes on:
I like what procrastination says about me.
Actually, that’s not true. What I really like is the illusion that I can waste large chunks of my workday and still somehow be successful in the end. Allowing myself to get distracted is my subconscious way of pretending I’m immortal, and convincing myself that spending today ___ is completely fine because I’ll have a whole new day to make up for it tomorrow… and the next day… and the next day…
What’s sobering for me to realize is that, by this rationale, I’m actually more interested in always having a second chance than I am in getting something done right the first time. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’m pretty sure I don’t like the implications. (And I’m the one implying them.)
There are days when I just write off accomplishing anything. Those are usually the days when by noon or one o’ clock, I’ve done little more than read 20 articles or blogs, responded to two or three e-mails (tops), watched at least three videos online, and peppered Twitter with the distilled wisdom/humor/insight I’ve gleaned from my digital foraging.
About a month ago, I tried to form a mantra for evaluating my working life. “Is what I’m doing making me money? If it’s not, why am I doing it?” Of course, money’s not everything. But when you have five kids and their stay-at-home mom depending on you to grease the wheels of housing, food, education, transportation, culture, and entertainment, you’d best deliver.
And yet there are plenty of days when this mantra doesn’t work. I tune it out. There might be something worth reading on Mashable. I just need one more cup of coffee. After I take that trip to the rest room, I can get comfy and get working. Wait, who just IMed me?
Real work can easily be replaced by empty busyness. You’re tired at the end of the day, but you have nothing to show for it. Except maybe the 37 Facebook notifications in your inbox.
Now that I’m blogging again, feel free to remind me of this little pearl of wisdom. I’ll make it easy by sharing it with you on Twitter.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.