Facebook as a productivity tool -using the distractions


As the popular internet meme goes .. “Facebook wasting lives since 2004”. Prima facie it is very hard to argue otherwise, facebooks offers an amazing medium to its users. A place to connect with your friends , spy on your ex, oogle at your secret crush etc , no wonder we are all hooked. As a person trying hard to improve my productivity I keep reading stuff on this topic and almost everywhere the advise when it comes to time management is to cut down on wasteful time which invariably includes facebook. Although I agree to some extent with the above but what if i say facebook can, under the right circumstances, act as a productivity booster ? Yup you read that correctly , before going up in arms allow me to share an anecdotal reference that lead me to this conclusion.



Cheeeeeeeeck meeee please


It all started when me and my colleague Ani(ok not his real name but close enough ;)) got inspired by the mobile app revolution and and decided to try out an  idea to test the waters . To facilitate execution I was looking for a agile based tool similar to pivotal tracker (which was not free any more) and settled on Planthat. Now Ani has quite a disdain for tools, processes, documentation and anything that is auxiliary to writing code, to him all this was an unnecessary overhead especially when only two people were involved Sigh!!. I tried real hard and manged to convince him to use PlanThat.

Now for a few days , he did work (or may be feigned ) with PlanThat.  Slowly (well not really slowly just after a couple of weeks) the updates became very infrequent. It kind of irritated me that while I was trying to keep the things in order while he showed very little interest in the process . He was actually doing OK with the coding part but since he implemented features a bit randomly and didn’t document at all so it kind of slowed things down. To add insult to the injury he didn’t replied to mails that I sent him , and when questioned he nonchalantly told me that he hardly checks his mail but is very active on facebook so I should message him there. Initially I was appalled at this idea , facebook to me was the very anti thesis of work , how could he suggest such a thing, nevertheless I agreed in the hope that if he does not respond there I will at least have a case against him. So we started updating each other on facebook and guess what it kind of worked. Ani’s engagement level increased and work started flowing . Now facebook messaging is a linear thread so it becomes difficult to search so after a while it became cumbersome to look for past messages , the solution was even tighter facebook integration , facebook groups. We created an invite only group for us and where we listed down important stuff and continued our discussion over FB messaging. One awesome feature in Groups was the ability to store files along with version control and drop box integration , this really helped managing and iterating. Before long PlanThat was completely abandoned and all I can say is that moving to facebook proved to be a very good idea so far.

On hindsight it is not very difficult to see why it actually worked . It is actually the factors that serves as distractions turned out to aid the cause .Between Email and facebook , the latter always won as we are checking it every now and then,sometimes after logging in  we had a message or notification waiting for us regarding our projects status and nobody ignores notifications , which actually got us thinking about them . So quite ironically surfing facebook actually acted as a constant reminder that work is pending.
It has been working quite well so far , worth a try !!!


Siyanatullah Khan

Siyanatullah Khan

Mobile Software consultant with a penchant for blogging.

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