It all started with Charlie Brooker. As someone who was frittering away much of his time on Facebook and Twitter (there are many of us - mea maxima culpa) he needed something to focus his attention on the paying job in hand. If you haven't read it already, his article on the Pomodoro Technique (the solution he discovered) is almost painfully sharp and funny. As he put it, "I was trying to write a script in a small room with nothing but a laptop for company. Perfect conditions for quiet contemplation - but thanks to the accompanying net connection, I may as well have been sharing the space with a 200-piece marching band."
Ouch. The article, Google Instant is Trying to Kill Me, was all over the writery part of Facebook in the time it takes to get up for another cup of coffee and idly check Twitter.
I already know people who are trying it out, and swearing by it. Kathryn Evans, fellow children's writer, has not vanished from the online world - not at all - in fact, she's posting just as often. But she's only visiting the gossipy virtual water cooler every twenty-five minutes, when her chicken timer tells her she may. For five minutes. And then it clucks again.
She's getting a lot of work done.
I don't think Twitter and Facebook are a waste of time. They're sanity-saving, they're mines of research and news and ideas, they're wonderful places to meet and talk about work, and they're places where I've met some of my very best friends.
None of which stops them being vampires of work-time. I'm going out today. I may be some time, but I'll have more of it when I get back. I'm going to hunt for my very own chicken.