Do you ever doom scroll or constantly pick up your phone to check your social media profiles? If the answer is yes, you aren’t the only one. A recent study reported that, on average, people touch their phones 2,617 times daily, with the top 10% touching their phones more than 5,400 times daily, providing a stark reminder of how much time we spend on our phones and how easily distracted we can be due to social media. Not only is social media taking away from our in-person interactions, but it’s also lowering our levels of productivity and focus.
According to data, social media reduces productivity: 1 out of 4 employees find themselves distracted during the workday by browsing social media sites. But why are we so drawn to social media as a distraction? A study describes social media’s strong pull factor as “hedonic appeal” or flat-out temptation, which makes users “drawn to distraction” and leads them to minimize and avoid their primary goals and tasks. Unfortunately, social media users tend to actively leverage the platforms to fulfill specific needs and gratifications, such as belonging, connection, and stress relief, although it may be a distraction.
Users may also use social media to unknowingly procrastinate on their tasks, as they may be overwhelmed, stressed, or tired – social media can serve as a release or escape from everyday life and work pressures. However, self-control and overriding impulses to achieve a higher-level goal are crucial to resist the temptation of social media distractions.
But how can we limit our time on social media when our peers, colleagues, and loved ones are active? Here are some tips to help guide you.
Set a time dedicated to working on projects without your phone nearby.
We all know that social media is engaging and fun at times, but that makes it distracting and challenging to stay away from. However, you can stop indulging in social media activities by creating a distraction-free zone. It’s as simple as placing your phone away from your workstation or turning it off. You don’t have to do this practice for the entire day, but you should try it for at least 2-3 hours to see how much work you can get done and to assess how much of a difference it makes.
Download a social media blocker.
If the tip above doesn’t work, the next step might be to download a social media blocker on your device or desktop. Unfortunately, having social media platform tabs open on your desktop is tempting, causing you to spend endless hours scrolling without noticing how quickly the time went by. A social media block will end the temptation for you by not allowing you to access the platforms for a set amount of time, from 15 minutes to several hours.
Turn off those notifications.
While it may be nice to see who left a flattering comment or liked your photo of the project you worked so hard on, notifications on your device can easily be a distraction. To not check your phone, turn off your social media notifications entirely to limit further distractions and gain productivity.
Curate a schedule for checking social media.
Although social media can be distracting, that doesn’t mean you need to give it up altogether, as it can be a healthy outlet for connectivity and belonging. Try using social media within the set limit by setting a schedule for checking your platforms. You choose a time after working hours or set 15 minutes aside to engage on the platform; this practice will teach you how to contain your social media usage.
Change your phone settings to reflect “quiet hours” for social media apps.
If you’re anything like me, you appreciate rest. Try changing the settings within your social platforms to have a time limit. For example, you can decide not to receive notifications by 10 pm.
Delete social media platform apps off your phone to only have web browser access.
Deleting social media platform apps from your phone will limit the amount of scrolling, allowing you to be more productive. You don’t have to give up social media entirely, though; instead, you can still have access via your web browser.
Post less frequently
Positive reinforcement is always good, but not to the detriment of your focus and productivity. Think about posting less frequently to limit the number of likes, shares, and comments to review.
Limiting your participation on social media platforms is never easy, so reward yourself if you notice a shift in your behavior and patterns.
If you can’t curb-kick your high social media usage immediately, that’s okay. Be kind to yourself, but continue to monitor your participation for your productivity and peace of mind; you deserve it.