How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive.

Posted by truecreek on February 24, 2010 under More Dam News | Be the First to Comment

By Brendan I. Koerner.

Your random tweets about Android apps and last night’s Glee are stifling the economic recovery. At least, that’s the buzz among efficiency mavens, who seem to spend all their time adding up microblogging’s fiscal toll. Last year, Nucleus Research warned that Facebook shaves 1.5 percent off total office productivity; a Morse survey estimated that on-the-job social networking costs British companies $2.2 billion a year.

But for knowledge workers charged with transforming ideas into products — whether gadgets, code, or even Wired articles — goofing off isn’t the enemy. In fact, regularly stepping back from the project at hand can be essential to success. And social networks are particularly well suited to stoking the creative mind.

Studies that accuse social networks of reducing productivity assume that time spent microblogging is time strictly wasted. But that betrays an ignorance of the creative process. Humans weren’t designed to maintain a constant focus on assigned tasks. We need periodic breaks to relieve our conscious minds of the pressure to perform — pressure that can lock us into a single mode of thinking. Musing about something else for a while can clear away the mental detritus, letting us see an issue through fresh eyes, a process that creativity researchers call incubation. “People are more successful if we force them to move away from a problem or distract them temporarily,” observe the authors of Creativity and the Mind, a landmark text in the psychology and neuroscience of creativity. They found that regular breaks enhance problem-solving skills significantly, in part by making it easier for workers to sift through their memories in search of relevant clues.

That doesn’t mean that employees should feel free to play Minesweeper at will, however. According to Don Ambrose, a Rider University professor who studies creative intelligence, incubation is most effective when it involves exposing the mind to entirely novel information rather than just relieving mental pressure. This encourages creative association, the mashing together of seemingly unrelated concepts — a key step in the creative process.

More about How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive here.

Add A Comment

*