Let me start with a confession: I really like to use social media. I don’t like to use news websites or watch the news on TV, so social media is my main source of information. Working as a content writer, I also use social media to find out the challenges people face.
However, there have been times where I been a little too engaged with social media platforms. I have gotten bogged down in the many different forms of content available. I’ve even found myself wasting my time.
Not only were these social media platforms distracting me from my work, they also added a superficial vibe to the communication. I chat with dozens of friends on a given day and comment on their photos to feel closer to them.
When social media becomes obsessive and more important than offline communication, it’s time to snap out of the indulgence. Is it possible to use the potential of these networks without allowing them to rule our lives? Of course it is! We just need some moderation and few lifestyle shifts that will get us there.
My Strategy For How I’m Scaling Back Social Media
Because of the reasons above, I’ve decided to reduce my social media use. Having less social media in your life is not as scary as it may seem. Most importantly, scaling back can give you space to boost your productivity and even make you more fulfilled. When you do your tasks without distraction, you will often find you have more free time. Suddenly you can call your friends when you simply want to talk, not when you solely need a favor from them, right?
I feel like my approach is quite effective, so I’m ready to share it with you. This is what we need to do if we want to get away from social media without feeling like we’re missing out on something important:
1. Track the time you spend on social networks. I use RescueTime for that purpose. When I realized I was spending over 3 hours of my working time on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, this was the clear wakeup call I needed. In most cases, you are spending more time on social media than you think you are. Don’t guess how much time you’re spending; know. Then you can form a plan and be intentional. If you really want to save time, you can always use a social management platform like Hootsuite, which allows you to see posts from all platforms in a single feed.
2. Exercise your mind (and your body). Be intentional with social media. I found that Instagram photos were a distraction for me. I would follow other people who were in great shape but never exercise myself. Instead of spending time on Instagram, now I wake up and I exercise. This is just my example, but here’s the principle you can apply: use social media as a way to accomplish your goals. If it inspires you, it can be a positive thing to help you move forward.
3. Connect with a purpose. Do you want to see how your friends are spending their vacation or get the daily news from news agencies on social media? Once you get your information, close the tab and carry on. Don’t suffocate your feed with irrelevant sources of information. Again, intentionality is key.
4. Limit the number of networks. I know it may sound counterintuitive, but when you establish boundaries you’ll find they actually give you more freedom. If you need social platforms to connect with your friends, then you only really need one or two of them. Think about it: isn’t using Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Tumblr too much? Think about which networks you enjoy the most. Then select one or two and see what happens. If you want to leave a social platform altogether, that is fine.
5. Connect like you did in the past. If you want to contact your friends, instead of writing a Facebook message, pick up the phone. What if you went old school and sent a card or even a letter? If possible, meet in person. The maintenance of your friendships should not be dependent on social media. Real life is always best.
6. Recognize procrastination and avoid it. Procrastination is a tricky thing, and social networks make it easier than ever. I got much better at doing my work after I started using Strict Workflow and StayFocusd – a browser extension that limit my access to distracting websites.
7. Establish priorities. When I noticed I had a lack of control regarding social media, I realized my main problem was in how I established my priorities. I started making lists of mandatory daily and weekly tasks. I now have specific time boundaries in place for how I use social media. And whenever something (or someone) on social media becomes a distraction, I simply edit my preferences and hide those items from my newsfeed. Feel free to prioritize your chats and what you read.
For many, I understand it’s impossible (and possibly even silly) to stop using social media. But it is time to rethink the role social media plays in our lives.
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Do you have a tip for how you help manage social media?