Social media is incredible. These platforms allow us to communicate with people in all corners of the globe, stream videos with the click of a button, and see the world without ever leaving our house. With that said, it has a dark side: social media distraction.
The average user spends nearly 2.5 hours per day scrolling through updates, vacation photos, and all manner of other content.
Social media distraction can disrupt your personal life, ruin your work productivity, and steal the time you could be spending on hobbies or improving yourself. But social media doesn’t need to be banished from your life for good; it just needs to be contained. Like everything else in life, it’s all about moderation.
How do you ditch social media addiction? Try these 12 approaches to ensure you’re using it in healthy, productive ways:
1. Set a Goal
What do you want to accomplish by limiting social media distractions? Your answer to this question will influence your plan of action.
Maybe you want to stop staying up so late, surfing social media. Perhaps one particular platform is putting you in a bad headspace. Or maybe you need to stop checking social media at work.
When you’ve decided on a goal, write it down where you can see it. Put a sticky note on your work computer if checking social media at the office is the issue. If before-bed usage is the problem, place the note next to your comfy chair. Make sure it’s visible wherever you have issues.
2. Pick up on Patterns
Usually, social media distractions start with a specific cue. What emotions trigger you to explore your favorite platform? When do these typically occur? You’ll likely find a behavioral pattern you can work on.
Identifying this pattern allows you to concentrate your efforts. Trying to fix your entire schedule at once can be overwhelming, so start with your trouble spots.
3. Change Notification Settings
You’re most likely to check your device when a notification pops up. The more notifications you get, the more distractions you’ll face. The good news is that you can customize your notification settings.
You can opt for occasional notifications or cut them out entirely. And if you really need to know when your BFF posts vacation photos, you can always turn notifications back on later.
You can also change how your device is situated throughout the day. Leaving it face down while at work, for instance, will stop the screen from lighting up and drawing your attention away from the job. If your device has a Do Not Disturb setting, feel free to enable it.
4. Start a Morning Routine
Is your gadget the first thing you check in the morning? You may need to read some emails, but checking it as soon as you wake up can lead to a less-than-productive morning of social media scrolling.
Try to steer clear of your device for as long as possible in the morning. Break this rule only for emergencies or appointments, such as confirming the time of a morning dental visit. Spend the rest of your morning exercising, preparing a nutritious breakfast, or engaging in another screen-free activity that energizes you.
To make things easier, consider using a real alarm clock instead of what’s on your phone. When your device wakes you up each day, it’s a lot easier to get drawn into using additional apps that waste your time.
5. Limit Your App Usage
On your smartphone or tablet, you can monitor your app usage to see precisely how much time you’re spending on social media. Use this as a benchmark to look for improvement. Some devices even let you set time limits so that you never go over your daily allotment.
Another approach is to delete social media apps from your device entirely. Force yourself to go to the trouble of booting up the computer any time you want to check your social media profiles. Without notifications burning a hole in your pocket, avoiding social media distractions becomes doable.
What if you’re not ready to go whole-hog? Placing your apps in a hidden folder on your device can keep them out of sight, out of mind. When you use your phone for something else, it will be more difficult to get sucked into social media.
6. Use a Web Blocker
The possibilities of the internet can be too tempting some days. It’s so easy to move from work to social media in the same browser, and recovering from a distraction can take nearly half an hour. Why not block yourself from accessing social media in the first place?
Web blockers stop you from going to certain sites on your device. You can activate this feature during work hours so that you can’t turn to social media when your mind starts to wander. This final line of defense is effective if you need it.
7. Establish No-Tech Zones
You can designate specific areas in your home or workspace where technology is or isn’t allowed. If you keep your devices away from the places you need to focus on, you’ll be less likely to get distracted by social media.
The bedroom, bathroom, dinner table, and home office are all examples of places where a device might end up being too distracting. Limit yourself to only using your devices in other rooms, and you’ll cut down on idle scrolling time.
8. Implement a Rewards Program
If you can’t help but resort to social media at every turn, it’s time to make yourself earn your social media time.
A classic incentive method is to give yourself a list of tasks to complete before indulging in less productive activity. These can be work tasks, household chores, or more positive activities, such as getting outside or developing your talents.
Reward yourself with social media time when you finish each activity. Vacuuming your room, for example, can earn you a five-minute social media break. Don’t let yourself log onto any platforms until your task is completed; otherwise, it nullifies the entire exercise.
9. Try Timeboxing
Timeboxing is a time management technique in which you block off sections of time to dedicate to singular activities. Say, you can block off the first hour of work to reply to emails. As soon as that hour is up, close your email and move on to the next block.
By using this method, you can block off the sections of time when you can and can’t use social media. Stick to your time boxes, and you’ll train yourself to only check social media when it’s called for. Every other block will be dedicated to a different distraction-free activity.
10. Pick up a Hobby
If you can find something worthwhile to fill your time, you won’t feel the need to turn to social media often. Engaging in a hobby keeps your mind trained on what you’re doing, which is half the battle.
Hobbies can be as simple as reading a book or as complex as woodworking. Whatever you like to do, fill your time with productive activities that you can turn to instead of social media.
11. Attempt a Social Media Fast
Sometimes, serious problems call for serious measures. If you really need to reset your brain to stop getting distracted by social media, try social media detox for a full week. It will be difficult, but it will help you see that you don’t need social media to live a full, productive life.
What should you do once the week is up? Remember how you felt when you weren’t constantly scrolling through tweets and Facebook posts. If you’re worried you’ll forget, schedule a monthly or quarterly fast to remind yourself. Here’s one example of what you should do: Lifehack Challenge: 24 Hour Digital Fast.
12. Post Less Frequently
Many people use social media to document their lives and achievements. While this is a great way to get loved ones involved in your life wherever they live, it’s also a chance for distractions to find their way in.
Start by limiting yourself to one post per platform per day. That way, you can still stay in touch without giving yourself as many opportunities to get distracted.
Mastering your social media habits will take some time. Don’t get discouraged if you still get distracted every once in a while. When in doubt, look back to your life goals. Achieving them will feel so much better than spending your extra hours scrolling through social media.
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Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com