My 3 rules for social media use

Balancing the benefits

Hi everybody,

Hope you’ve all had a great week.

This week I’ve been reflecting on my social media use; in particular, how I can use it to help my content reach an audience while also keeping my sanity and avoiding procrastination. A written reflection is below if that’s your kind of thing.

In other news, I’ve released the third video in my ‘Machine Learning for Healthcare’ series (link at the bottom). I found it pretty tough to balance not getting bogged down in technical detail while also not dumbing down the concepts too much. Would love any feedback on whether I achieved, which I can incorporate in to future videos.

As usual, links for best stuff I’ve come across on the internet this week below.

Have a good one!


🌎 Rules for social media

Social media and I have a love-hate relationship.

I love the fact that through Twitter I can directly tweet professors, academics and other interesting people. I love that I can share a LinkedIn post which can be seen by thousands from a like-minded community. And I love that I can record a reflection, share it on Youtube, and have people watch it months later.

However, as we all know, social media is not without its downsides.

More social media

I recently recorded a video series on “Machine Learning for Healthcare”. I put many, many hours into creating the material and am now spending many more editing the videos to the highest standard that I can.

To encourage this to reach as wide an audience as possible, I’ve become very active on social media this last month or so. I’ve been sharing 2x/week on LinkedIn and even did my first ever ‘Tweetstorm’.

I normally have several rules and boundaries in place regarding my social media use, but I decided to relax them for this period.

(I’d estimate I’ve seen around a 10-fold increase in frequency of checking various accounts; where previously I may check once or twice a day, many days I’ve recently been hitting 10-20.)

Less focus

This week, I started to notice some impacts that I attribute to this increased use. I’ve noticed a marked reduction in my ability to ignore impulses and to maintain attention. I’ve observed my mind wandering more in meetings. And when a “ooh I should just check this”-type thought enters my mind while I’m working, I’m less likely to put it to the side for later.

I was listening to a podcast with an academic I admire recently, and he said something along the lines of:

I don’t know what’s happened to my attention. I used to be able to read for hours. Now I struggle to even finish a book. What’s the internet doing to my brain?

I do believe the internet and social media are adding a lot of value to our society, but they are also altering our brains in ways we perhaps don’t fully understand.

3 rules for social media use

As part of my on-going quest to utilise the benefits of the internet without succumbing to the adverse effects, I decided to create some personal rules to guide my actions. I’ll share them here in case you may find them helpful:

(1) If there’s a chance it will lead to procrastination, don’t do it.

At the moment when I am about to do something (“I’ll just check my emails” or “I’ll just see what the football score was”), I ask myself: Is there a chance this will lead to procrastination?

I find the context is more relevant than the task itself. If I’m really enjoying a project and want to get back to working on it, checking Sky Sports Football probably isn’t going to cost a huge amount of time. However, if I’m really struggling with some writing, or with a piece of code, then even banal tasks can be an attractive escape.

I often find impulsive procrastination starts out as a small task (“I’ll just check X”) which then builds into procrastination momentum. I find that by asking myself this question before I actually do the procrastination-type task, I can curb the impulse before any momentum is built.

(2) Write it down before logging in

There have been many occasions where I’ve logged onto one or another social media account with a ‘legitimate’ intention of sharing something I’ve worked on, but then forgetting it for long enough to get swept up in all the juicy social media on-goings.

A simple approach that I’ve found helpful for this is to write down exactly what I’m going to do before I log in. If I’m sharing a post on LinkedIn, for example, I will have written everything out in advance - so that I’m not typing into the compose box with a news feed below and notifications popping up. I will simply log in, copy and paste, then log back out again (at least, in theory).

(3) Save it for later

When I’m working on a particular task, I’ll keep a sheet of paper on the desk within arms reach. When an idea for something enters my mind that’s unrelated to (or at least not a core component of) my current task, I will make a note of it on the paper.

Then, at an appropriate time later in the day, I will just batch process all the tasks that I wrote on that sheet of paper.

So all-in-all, nothing super ground breaking. Mostly just small habits that I’ve found have reliably reduced my probability of impulsive internet-based procrastination.

I’m definite not ‘there’ yet with this and am still looking for ways to improve. I would genuinely be really interested to hear what sorts of things you have tried or found helpful, any recommended books or blogs you may have, so feel free to reply.

This week’s links:

(1) Atomic Habits (a book)

Following on the theme of this weeks newsletter, this book talks about identifying core habits that can lead to significant results.

(2) Indie Hackers (a podcast)

This is a great podcast for people interested in using coding and tech to build businesses and add value. I enjoyed this recent episode with someone called Sam Eaton, and hearing about he focusses on coding what he is most interested in at any moment in time.

(3) A productive professor (a podcast)

I absolutely loved this episode of ‘The Big Picture Medicine’ podcast. It was an interview with Prof Neil Sebire who is an academic professor and clinical informatician. It was so cool to hear advice from somebody who’s done a lot of things that I would love to do, and hear how aligned our views are on things like productivity and innovation in healthcare.

This week’s video:

This video is the most technical so far. I talk about some different approaches that machine learning algorithms take to learning and walk through some examples of gradient descent.

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About Me

Hi! I’m Chris Lovejoy, a Junior Doctor and Data Scientist based in London.

I’m on a mission to improve healthcare through technology (particularly AI / machine learning), but along the way I want to share learnings that are relevant no matter your career choice or background.

In this weekly newsletter, I share my top thoughts and learnings from each week, as well as links to the best things on the internet that I come across.