Social media technology moves extremely fast, and there’s a real fear out there that if you’re not all over the latest network announcement, trend or thinking, you’re behind the curve. In many cases, it leads to what I call ‘Progression Paralysis’, where the task of keeping up seems so overwhelming that an individual doesn’t even know where to start and so does nothing.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the fear of falling behind leads to doing precisely that. Well, there’s bad news and there’s good news.
The Bad News: It’s going to get worse…
In short, the rate of change and development in technology and communications is getting faster and faster.
Moore’s Law describes a trend where, in terms of technology, the number of electronic chips on a circuit doubles approximately every two years. This leads to the performance of computers, mobile phones and other communications devices increasing at exponential rates.
In the early 21st century, Ray Kurzweil proposed ‘The Law of Accelerating Returns’, stating that “we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century; it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate)”.
He says that whenever technology approaches a barrier to progress, a new technology is invented to cross that barrier. As we invent better technologies, we also discover more effective ways of doing things – like communicating.
So if you’re finding it difficult to keep up now, I’m afraid it’s only going to get tougher.
The Good News: …for everyone.
I’ll let you into a secret: everyone feels the same about trying to keep up. And I mean EVERYONE. All of those people you look at and think ‘how do they do it?’; we’re all in the same boat.
The difference between those who ‘do’ and those who don’t, is that those who ‘do’ try. And we’re actually fine with it when (not if) we miss things because we know that unless we sit in front of Twitter and the tech and social media news sites all day, we cannot possibly be on top of everything. Some things will pass us by. And we’re OK with that.
We’ve mastered FOMO (fear of missing out) and we don’t have a brain aneurism if we miss the news for a day or three. I do my best to skim social tech news and blog headlines on a daily basis. But when I’m really busy, I may go a week or more without doing so.
The way I see, if anything really important happens, the news WILL make its way to me somehow.
How can you avoid Progression Paralysis?
Here are my five top tips:
Establish a process that enables you to check social media in super quick time using relevant tools. I use Currently to check Twitter trends, Google trends to check search and Facebook Trending Topics for Facebook. It takes five minutes to cover off social media.
Research and subscribe to blogs in your niche using their RSS feeds. The benefit of RSS over email subscriptions is that you can skim headlines in double quick time. I use Feedly as my RSS reader of choice as it works equally well and syncs across desktop and mobile devices. You can read blogs in 15 minutes using RSS.
Spend time playing with the tech that you read about. Curious about Ello? Then login and have a look around. Heard about a promising app, like Feedly or Currently? Then set up an account and test it out for a week or two. You’ll soon learn to pick out the the good stuff from the bad.
Set aside 30 minutes per day to do this stuff and be disciplined with it. Or if you really don’t have half an hour and can’t make half an hour, then 20 minutes. I do this first thing in the morning. But maybe it’d suit you better on your lunch break? Or after the kids are in bed? Doesn’t matter, but make it part of your routine.
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss something. The simple act of building, subscribing, experimenting and planning means you’ll catch far, far more than you’ll miss. And that’s better than being paralysed by FOMO, right?
At the end of the day, it’s up to you. You can make a start today…or you can leave it until tomorrow. Or the day after. Or the day after that. It’s your career.