Since leaving my employment of 23 years to set up my own business, it’s not surprising I’ve been needing to, and enjoying LinkedIn a bit more (understatement!). These past 10 days I’ve been learning how to get even more out of it by doing the LinkedIn challenge. Actually, writing an article was challenge number 9, yesterday, only a day behind!

LinkedIn Curfew

It’s a 10-day challenge, but I’m creating a ‘Day 11’ task – setting my LinkedIn curfew. It’s time for me to work out how to use it more mindfully.

Essential to Raising Profile

There’s no doubt I’ve found LinkedIn to be a great tool, obviously the connecting and raising your profile bit is so essential as a start up business. In fact, where I initially found it most valuable was to fill a bit of a professional void I felt, on leaving my work family after 23 years as a loyal employee. Ok, so the novelty of not having to do the daily commute, sitting on the floor of the train on a good day, has NOT worn off. However, I used to get a buzz from my daily workplace conversations and really missed the banter. LinkedIn helped me feel connected to a professional world, with endless opportunities to explore and learn from and I’m very grateful for that.

I must confess I’m not a Facebook user (shock, horror), I can see the real benefits of connecting with family and friends abroad, but have shied away from the showcasing of ‘perfect lives’ and noticed the sense of FOMO (fear of missing out – forgive me, I’ve got teenagers!) experienced by those around me who dare I say overuse it. I also find it keeps me more disciplined at keeping the personal connections going, even if it’s just a quick text to a friend.

Social Media Traps

Yet here I was, falling into some of the classic social media traps. I’m not immune to that sense of validation I can feel on LinkedIn, that dopamine hit when your post or article gets a ‘Like’ or when someone accepts or asks to connect (unless their a recruitment agency, sorry!).

And what I noticed as I started to use it more, especially as I snatched moments with it in between cooking dinner, or doing another task, or even on holiday on the other side of the world, was the less comfortable side. You know the silly thoughts we have: ‘Why did hardly anyone Like my post/article’, ‘why has he got way more Likes and interest in his post?’ ‘There she goes again’ – when you see someone doing well in a similar field to you, successfully generating interest but then their post says, ‘strictly no suppliers’ so my opinions don’t count!

Unchecked Negative Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty emotionally intelligent balanced person and not known for any extremes, and by acknowledging this was how I occasionally felt there was no harm done (one of the benefits of mindfulness, honestly, I’ll save that for another article – I’m not paid to plug it though I do love my Headspace app!). But can you see how negative thoughts could go into a downward spiral if not checked?

Other warning bells for me are the temptations to check LinkedIn when you should be unwinding before bed, why do we do it? Does it help us get a refreshing night’s sleep, obviously not? In fact I can attribute a lot of my tension headaches as LinkedIn generated. It sends our brains into a frenzy of fascinating and stimulating thoughts and connections which, quite frankly, I’d have been better off having the next day.

So here are 3 rules I’ve set myself:

  • My curfew – I have a 9 o’clock watershed, ideally 8 but less likely to get broken!
  • Don’t check it while doing another task that deserves your attention – don’t leave it open on your computer so you can find any excuse to check it
  • Set up LinkedIn time in your calendar if you’re not waiting for anything urgent. I haven’t started this yet, but now I’ve written it down I have to! I’m also going to put the timer on so I can check how long I’m spending posting/writing articles…

What about you?

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