Making Social Media Soulful II: Starkness and Beauty

wintertree2In the beginning of this new year in Boston, as the trees stand bare and the ground freezes solid, I’m reminded by nature of the beauty of simplicity. What is the message in the beauty of the stark barrenness of winter for me? What is essential? What can be pared away? To what do I pay attention?

When contemplating the clutter in my life, I see that not only does my physical space fill quickly with clutter, my electronic space does the same. Realizing that this outer clutter reflects my inner clutter, I ask myself, how can I experience social media in a way that allows room for my soul to flourish? How can I use social media to help friends and colleagues de-clutter their inner space, so that their souls can flourish?

This week’s focus in Ryan Eliason’s excellent coaching program in which I’m participating is the 80-20 rule and David Allen’s Getting Things Done. The 80-20 rule teaches me to focus on the 20% of the tasks that yield 80% of the results. For me, this is easier said than done. I find myself distracted by less important tasks, procrastinating on doing the 20% that I know in my heart are most important. The 80-20 rule applies especially to my use of social media: what is the 20% I need to read on Facebook and Twitter? What 20% of blogs do I read? What 20% of my email do I read now, and what can I save for later or simply delete? Can I write blog and Facebook posts that will qualify as the 20% that my friends and clients need to read?

Getting Things Done, similarly, teaches me to focus on what is most important now and save the rest for later. David Allen points out the importance of de-cluttering our minds, hearts, and souls, so that we can be fully present to the task at hand. By getting details out of my head and onto lists to be done later (some in the near future, some in the distant future), I can be much more creative and productive. Again, this is embarrassingly easier said than done for me. I allow myself to focus on the less important tasks that should be on the “later” list (or maybe the “not do at all” list) and avoid being fully present to the task at hand, out of fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of exposure.

Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible, by Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson, applies these same principles and more to the use of social media in ministry. They help me consider the questions: What forms of social media most authentically represent me? What are my deepest values? How can I speak from my soul through social media? Drescher and Anderson teach me to do 2-3 things consistently and well, offering my audience quality pieces that they can count on regularly. Again, as I seek to put this simple and powerful advice into practice, I find it easier to say than to do. I am challenged and transformed in the process of learning to communicate from my deepest place.

The stark beauty of the winter trees reminds me that less is more. Social media is soulful when it makes the 20% cut, when it speaks from one heart to another heart, when it represents the reader’s and the writer’s deepest values. May we all find ways to make social media more soulful in the new year ahead.

10 Responses to “Making Social Media Soulful II: Starkness and Beauty”


  1. 1 susanloucks January 30, 2013 at 11:38 am

    it’s a tricky equation…I want to connect more deeply (that’s one of my deep values) but the internet gives opportunities for infinite connection to infinite subjects and people – is engineered to use techniques that tantalize and distract – and (especially in the case of politics using social media) is great at producing a sense of guilt when I say “no”.
    I’m glad to connect to you in your thinking about this, Margaret!

    • 2 executivesoulblog January 30, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      A tricky equation indeed, Susan. Just like so much of television is designed to manipulate and distract, yet I still want to sort out the wheat from the chaff and watch what is good there, so I want to sort out the wheat from the chaff in social media and use it to serve my values. Easier said than done, huh? Especially when I am tired and my defenses are down, or when I am procrastinating.

  2. 3 Kenneth Haase January 31, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Great practical suggestions for managing the social information firehose. Thanks!

  3. 5 Mona Silipo February 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    One of the most powerful skills we can develop is the ability to say, “no.” Sometimes it’s terribly difficult to say no, even when we know that, whatever it is, we will/can not comply. This applies to social media as well. I used to “like” or “share” all the items that my friends post on Facebook. Then I realized how annoying it is to go through all the “likes” with no other comments. So now I don’t “like” things as often, and, if it’s important enough an item to share, I do that and skip like. Every stroke of the keyboard or click of the mouse takes time . . . The other thing is, I drew the line at Facebook. I don’t do Twitter; I hardly ever do instant messaging any more. I have a blog, and I’ve stopped using it for random thoughts and post with more focus, less frequently. Time is the commodity that we can never get back, and measuring the importance of something by deciding if it’s worth the time it takes is a good way of letting go of the least important things.

    • 6 executivesoulblog February 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      The “no” muscle is one I continue to exercise, Mona, and I think I’m getting a bit better at it, though it’s an ongoing challenge for me. Your last sentence I find especially helpful: “Time is the commodity that we can never get back, and measuring the importance of something by deciding if it’s worth the time it takes is a good way of letting go of the least important things.” Thank you!

  4. 7 Nicolette Wellington February 4, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I appreciate this topic. Also your resources are wonderful. Thank you.
    This is so helpful.

  5. 9 Jason February 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Excellent reminder! It is easy to get lost in the Social Media black hole and sometimes difficult to distinguish what is the 80% and what is the 20%. So, how do you distinguish what will pay off and what simply will not?

  6. 10 executivesoulblog February 7, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Great question, Jason. I think a lot of it is experimentation. For myself, I find that sometimes I avoid centering and checking in with myself about what I sense is the 20% because I’m afraid it will feel risky (which it often does). Once I actually take the time to get clear about what seems most important, I can experiment and see what pays off and what doesn’t. I’d love to hear your experiments with what you think might be the 20%


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