At the APM conference last year someone asked our panel what project managers should be doing less of, if they were going to spend time doing social media related tasks like updating wikis or communicating on instant messaging.
It’s a question I’ve been mulling over for some time, especially as I wanted the chance to examine my own time – how do I fit social media into my own day?
It’s not like I’ve stopped doing risk management to spend time using social media tools during the working day. In fact, accessing an online workspace, or using web conferencing tools, or checking my Twitter account on my smart phone feels like it’s making me more productive. I am better connected now. I don’t spend time working out who to talk to about certain problems – I have a wider network, and I automatically know who to get in contact with. And I normally have their contact details to hand.
I’ve not done any statistical evaluation of time spent on any activities, but I certainly haven’t added any extra hours to my working day to get everything done.
This is an area where it would be beneficial to do more research. But my feeling is that social media tools make you more productive. I can use unproductive time on my commute or between meetings to catch up on what is happening. Web tools mean I can collaborate with colleagues in the U.S. and we both get to work at times that suit us. Online workspaces help me keep track of a lot of projects, tasks and milestones, and give me a view of my calendar from wherever I happen to be.
You shouldn’t have to choose between doing things in a ‘social media’ way and not doing something else. If you approach social media as adding yet more project management tasks into your day, then you are approaching it from a position which will not help you be productive. Instead, consider how adding new technology tools into your project team can help. My book, Social Media for Project Managers, discusses how new technology can add value to the way in which you do projects. If the tools don’t help at all, don’t use them. It’s that simple.