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Can’t stop checking your e-mails, texts, tweets or facebook status? Then you’re suffering from the modern complaint of new media addiction. These tools are fantastic for speeding up communication and finding new information, but used to excess can be a huge time thief and distraction. As an executive coach (www.creativevectorscoaching.co.uk) I’ve worked with clients on addressing these issues and here are some things people tell me help.

Recognise what’s going on
Slot machine makers know that they need to design their machines to pay out irregularly. If it never paid out, no-one would play and if it always paid out it would soon get boring. It’s the anticipation of the next big win that keeps people hooked. New media is like that too. 80% of your e-mails are trivial or dull, but the next one could just be the big deal you’ve been waiting for. So you’ve got something in common with the fat lady feeding nickels from a paper cup into the slot machine in Las Vegas. Not a pretty image, is it?
Bread and jam
Even if you recognise this, you know that checking your status makes you feel good, or at least reduces your anxiety that you’re missing out on something. One way of dealing this is to tie your checking, which you want to do (jam) with something that’s important that you don’t want to do (bread). Behavioural psychologists call this the Premack Principle. So agree with yourself that you won’t check media until you’ve finished the first draft of that report your boss wants by Friday.
Time out
Another method is to set yourself a strict time limit. So you can say, I’m going to work on my e-mails for 15 minutes, and then I won’t look at any new messages for one hour. Use a timer function on your phone to remind you, and if you can, turn off your “you’ve got mail!” messaging, to avoid temptation.

Who’s in charge?
Being connected means you can offer instant response to your customers, colleagues or friends, and that’s a great thing, but how important is it to your own personal objectives? Unless you’re a call centre operative, you’re probably going to get more kudos from the boss if you complete that strategic review of the team’s processes than if you could answer everyone’s queries in less than 10 minutes. So put yourself back in the centre of your day. Who is going to decide what you do today? What’s your priority? Make sure you’re putting appropriate value on what you need to get done today compared with what everyone else would like you to do.

So try these out and see if they help. Of course, you should always make and exception for reading my blogs…….