At What Cost?: Social Media, Behave! Day 3

Welcome back to Day 3 of our Social Media, Behave! Series. I’m Laura Booz, the happy recipient of one full week at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee. (And those are my funtastic kiddos up there.) If you’re new, catch up on Day 1 and Day 2. When you have a minute, mine the comments: there’s some mighty fine gold in there.

Today, we’re digging into one of the most important things a human being can do: consider the cost. It’s something we do all day long in both insignificant and profound ways. It’s how we choose one thing over the other: we consider the cost and choose our investment.

Christ said it about following Him: “consider the cost…” He wants His disciples to face the sacrifices up front, and to make our decision based upon the truth. He knows that if we are surprised by the struggles, oppositions, and crosses along the way, we might lose heart and become offended by Him. So throughout Scripture, He is very open about the price of Christianity. There is no “small print” to trick us into blind faith. There’s no wondering, “What’s it going to cost me?” We know the answer: it costs everything. Those of us who are Christians have decided that it’s a deal. So we said, “yes”.

We’d be wise to apply His advice to Social Media. We’d be wise to consider the cost.

Some of the upfront costs for me are:

Every post I write takes my attention away from household needs.

Every email I send takes time away from my family.

Every facebook status I update takes affection not given in person.

Though I believe that Social Media platforms are worth some of my time, attention, and heart, they are not worth all – or even most – of my time, attention, and heart. Even if I am making money with my online work, I must be very discerning about the amount of time I am investing: does it cross the line into costing me more than it is worth? For example, as a “mommy blogger” I must be vigilant about my time online. Though adding one more affiliate link might put twelve bucks in my PayPal account, taking the extra fifteen minutes away from my children is not worth it to me. Every time I want to sign up for a new application or networking platform, I must consider: what will it cost me?

THE ONLINE BUDGET

After many blunders, I’ve finally discovered a way to consider the cost of Social Media and feel peaceful about the time I invest: I keep an online budget. This is very much like a financial budget and lets me know what I can afford to give Social Media. First, I evaluate the hours in my day and all of the things that are worth my attention. If I only have one hour available for online endeavors, so be it. My blog will be a one-hour-a-day blog. It might not pay off the mortgage or catch the eye of thousands of readers, but it’ll be as top-notch as I can make it within that time frame. Then, I divide that hour up into portions so that I can write posts, respond to comments, solicit guest posts, and work on other projects. Depending on the amount of time I have to spend on the computer, I might allow five minutes to catch up on facebook, five minutes to tweet my posts, ten minutes to browse my RSS, and a few minutes to encourage other bloggers. When the online stopwatch buzzes, my time is up.

Similarly, I’ve got to keep a healthy distance from my smart phone. I know it’s a good time to read through some emails if I’m not sneaking a peek. When I want to check in on things at the wrong time, I say, “not this time” to myself, and put the thing away.  Sometimes the sacrifices sting and I wish I had more time to accomplish all of my online dreams, but I’m confident that I will not regret my choices in the long-run. I saw the fruit of these boundaries when I was able to write and publish my first eBook during the first two months of my baby’s life.  A friend asked how I found the time to write – what with a newborn, and homeschooling, and all. The only answer I could think of was, “I had to think fast and type faster. Writer’s block was a luxury I couldn’t afford.” Sometimes a tight schedule is the secret to productivity. To tell you the truth, I’ve found that when I keep healthy parameters on my Social Media time, I have much more to offer.

For a fantastic real-time example of an online budget, check out Joy Forney‘s article, “Time for Blogging” by clicking here. She doesn’t divide her hours down into nitty-gritty details like I do, but she lets us peek into the boundaries she has established for all-things-Social Media. I bet this helps her to consider the cost – to say say “yes” to beneficial opportunities and “no” to everything else.

To do: Consider all of the people, obligations, and opportunities that make up your day. How much time do you have for Social Media? Take that chunk of time and break it down into portions for each type of social media that you enjoy. Using an online stopwatch, try it out for a week. What do you think?

Recommended Resource: Tell Your Time. In this awesome eBook, Amy Andrews teaches us how to establish a budget for everything we do in a day. Her suggestions are very practical and enormously useful.

Join in! Link-up!

See you tomorrow for Day 4!

You can learn a whole lot more by downloading Blogger Behave: Make your blog benefit your life so you can love both! You can also subscribe to my blogs: 10 Million Miles (click here to subscribe) and TheHomeschoolBaby.com (click here to subscribe). You can also subscribe to Like a Warm Cup of Coffee by clicking here (or email, here). Happy behaving!

29 Coffee Talks on “At What Cost?: Social Media, Behave! Day 3”

  1. funkyfaithgirl says:

    Thank you so much for this series Laura, I'm truly enjoying it. After Relevant I decided to take a step back from the computer and devote more time to family. Your ebook and your wonderful guidance are a great help along this new path for me that I know God wants.

  2. Stacy says:

    Yes! Laura, this is so good and important.

    Saying no is hard, but I am finding that saying yes to small things, builds up to big things fast. I haven't used a stopwatch yet, but plan to this coming week.

    Thanks so much.

  3. Love it once again Laura. I am in awe of how God works, I just finished up another post and then came over here. I am ending up with a 3 days series! I guess you have inspired me to share what is working for me and all the mistakes I have made!. The coolest part is to see how much we are thinking alike and I think what you are writing here speaks to many of us women. Thanks again for this beautiful reminder to count the cost. My latest post is here. http://www.deniseinbloom.com/keeping-my-blog-in-i…
    Blessings friend!

    • Laura says:

      Incredible! Readers – be sure to bip over to Denise in Bloom sometime today!!

  4. Diane says:

    When I first started blogging, I was super strict about my time, had all my posts spiffed up and ready to go at least a week in advance, and had time slots in my day for responding to comments, blog hopping, etc, etc etc. It worked out really well… but as my blog grew (we're talkin' astronomical growth here… I've been blogging for 4yrs and I have maybe a coupla hundred followers. On a good day;-]) As I became more and more involved and invested in my online life, I found myself doing dopey things like sitting in front of the computer for hours, just flitting aimlessly back and forth. Checking for comments, checking my sitemeter, endlessly editing posts and looking for "just the right" pictures, then going back and checking for responses to my comments. (ACK! So embarrassing.) Other things in my life were suffering and I felt much less happy about the whole blog thing. Sooo anyway, I gave up blogging for the most part (wrote about it here: http://tomatosoupcake.blogspot.com/2011/06/im-thi… )

    Anyhoo, in the wake of that choice a friend of mine (who is an actual real live published author) dropped a nugget of wisdom in my lap. She shared that often, when things in her life are not in place, she feels the tug to give up her writing. But over the years she has come to realize that in those out-of-balance times, her writing is not the problem. It's the scapegoat. The problem is within her… her priorities, her (lack of) diligence and self control are the problem. *gulp* Point taken, dear friend… for me, blogging/social media isn't the problem. I'm the problem, lol. I recently feel as though the Lord has so graciously given me back my blog and I am trepidaciously receiving it as a gift. Trusting that He will help me to keep things right within myself, to set appropriate boundaries for my time and emotional energy…. and to maintain them!

    So yeah, all that blathering to basically say… I totes agree with ya, Laura! And I am really appreciating this support.

    • Laura says:

      "Blathering"?! That's more like "wisdom", Diane! :)

      You are exactly right. Everything in our lives is connected. When we are exercising self-control, we see the fruit of it everywhere – including online.

      And, by the way, you are not alone in the "flitting aimlessly back and forth"… I've been there and done that… It is as yucky as you say. That's why this series is so important to me.

    • Dayna says:

      Diane, I can relate with the scapegoat issue! Self discipline is something I've always struggled with. Thank you for sharing your point! :)

  5. journeytoepiphany says:

    This is great advice. There is a time for everything.

  6. Sonya says:

    Laura I THANK you for this series. With every word I am getting more and more covicted which tells me that social media is taking over my life. My whole intention to blog was to glofify God through my own walk as a wife, mother, homemaker & homeschooler, somewhere that has gotten lost trying to keep up with everyone else, wanting people to like me, wanting to connect with other bloggers. I am SO blessed that the Lord has used you to bring this message of me doing a check with myself and blog. Much love to you sweet Laura! ~Sonya at Becoming a Strong Woman of God

  7. Brianna says:

    My favorite so far.

  8. hislovenduresforever says:

    I have thought of setting a timer to help me limit my time online, but I haven't had the guts to do it yet. I feel like there are so many good ideas out there on the web that I want to read and partake of as many as I can. But, sometimes I find myself reading about parenting and not actually doing the parenting thing. Sigh. I might start with timing how much time I actually spend online and then decide what is reasonable from there. Though I'm sure I'll be appalled at the numbers!

    PS Your kiddos are adorable!

    • Trina Holden says:

      I had a revelation in this area last month – as I was struggling with finding the time to search out and read all the great stuff online. I finally realized, 1) I don't have enough time to read it all anyway, why am I trying? and 2) Do I trust God enough to bring me the links He wants me to see, and let the rest go? I have to ask myself that last one nearly every day. I keep in touch with a few, big blogs that speak directly to the areas of my life that need growth and that frequently share 'cream of the crop' links with their readers. That and my close friends on FB who send me links, I get plenty of good input without spending a lot of energy sorting and sifting myself.

  9. Flamingo says:

    hearing your voice in my head has kept me in check several times. and don't worry. I don't hear voices often. I guess just yours from time to time:) lol Great series Laura!

    • Laura says:

      Ha! Only keep me around in there if I'm saying nice things, ya know! :)

  10. Sabrina says:

    I pulled up this page so that I wouldn't forget to read it, then I went about doing my other morning "rituals" on-line. My internet mysteriously went out on me, so the only thing left to do was read this blog because I couldn't pull anything else up. Hmmm…..Well, I found it very convicting and very timely. I will be timing myself this week to see how much more time I can give to my husband and 5 children. Thanks. :)

    • Laura says:

      Don't you just love when things like that happen? I hope that you discover even more peace and contentment as you continue to surrender your decisions to the Lord.

  11. I struggle with knowing where to spend my time. Obviously if I'm going to blog I need to produce content, but beyond that, what's the most beneficial? Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest? My google reader? There is so much competition for my time and attention online!

    I definitely need a better plan for fitting social media in my life. I read Amy's ebook a couple of weeks ago and am still thinking through how to implement it. I think that's going to be one of my New Year's resolutions. :) The holidays are just making everything too crazy to put a new plan in place.

    • Laura says:

      I totally understand! Let things simmer for a few weeks and then, after all of the holiday celebrations, settle in for some positive choices. I have a feeling that tomorrow's post will be extremely relevant to your questions… I hope you stop back.

  12. Stephanie says:

    So good. My 10yo and I just had this conversation this morning. Both of us could let our lives get swallowed up in writing and editing if we let it. I was especially challenged to be a good example in this department since she is getting old enough to have an online life to manage.

  13. Jenn says:

    I just finally sat down to read all three posts in this series. I've really enjoyed some of the "aha" moments I've had while reading them–thank you, Laura! I read "Tell Your Time" and "Blogger Behave" a couple of weeks ago. Now with this series (which I stumbled across quite by accident, while looking for ideas for a blog design of all things!) I'm getting my butt kicked…in a good way :) I'm pretty sure it's some nudging from the Lord through these things I've been reading too!

    I especially loved how you tied together Christ's command to consider the cost with considering how social media can either encourage us or bring us down. It's been bringing me down a bit lately, and I find myself wondering at the end of the day, "Where did the time go?" or "Why can't I find time to do thus and such?" The bottom line is that I CAN find the time, I just need to buckle down and say "yes" to just chatting with hubby or doing my meal plan or doing crafts with the kiddos and "no" to FB or Google Reader more often. Whew!

    • Laura says:

      You said it so well, Jenn. May you receive the courage to walk in freedom.

  14. Colleen says:

    While you had LOADS of great content, I am still stuck on that picture of your adorable kids! Love it. What fun ages! You must be loving life right now!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Colleen. I really do love life right now. These are such precious days with such precious people. I included their photo because they – along with my husband – are great motivators for my boundaries.

  15. Jeri Taira says:

    I don't know when I stopped using my timer, but I have been getting frugal with my online investments. The dog is happier…lol. I'm beginning to have more time for reading and relaxing too.

    I think this is a great idea. I'm going to re-evaluate my time and set that timer. I can apply this to other areas in my life as well.

    Thank You so much Laura. These comments are awesome too!

  16. Dayna says:

    Laura,
    I'm glad I stumbled across this blog and found your series! One other area I must count the cost is in weight. As I've gotten older I'm gaining weight more easily which isn't a good thing. The more I'm sedentary in front of my computer, the more weight I gain! Eek!

  17. Joy says:

    Lovin it girl! You are bringing some truth and I am so appreciative!! Thank you for speaking truth in love and making it fun too! And thanks again for the linky love…wowza! :)
    Blessings to you and on this series.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    WOW, this post speaks the truth, I myself struggle with balancing how often I am online, not just on social media but in general. I also find I compare myself to others often, despite my not wanting to.

  19. Pam says:

    Great post. Time limits are a good thing. My son is 21 now and was 4 years old when we got our first computer. (Internet was a dirt road back then. Kind of cool, actually.) I am sometimes grateful that those first few years of my kids life were computer free.

  20. Stacy Buck says:

    This is my first time on your blog -heard Sally Clarkson keep referring to a book that she is writing with – I kept thinking, "Who is Sara Mae?"
    Husband and I were just talking about facebook/blog time today. I love the idea of a "time" budget. I am looking forward to getting his input on this and coming up with a plan that he holds me accountable to. You are right, there is a cost.

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