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Two Simple Ways to Avoid the Social Media Time Suck

I wanted to share today about a super simple change I’ve made that is having enormous impact on my state of mind and on my productivity and it has to do with social media. I don’t know anyone that says “Oh I wish I had more time to spend on social media.” LOL! People spend over 2 hours per day on social media. 2 hours!!!! That's 5 years and 4 months of your life! Think of everything else you could do with that time!

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Not only does that seem to be a waste of our precious time on this planet, research has also found that it interferes with our cognitive functioning. "Regular intrusions into ongoing cognition present a challenge to the self-regulatory, cognitive control processes that support the maintenance of goal-directed behaviors" (Wilmer & Chein, 2016). In other words, it keeps you from getting shit done! It is also associated with weaker impulse control and weaker ability to delay gratification (Wilmer & Chein, 2016). For me it’s always a huge time suck and I often feel drained afterwards. So I recently made two changes, both inspired by Marie Forleo.

What is your intention?

1)    Before opening any social media app or website ask yourself, “What is my intention?” Why are you going on the site? Do you need to contact someone? Do you need to look something up from a group to which you belong? Are you putting off doing something else? Are you killing time before some other thing is coming up? Do you need to just zone out for a bit? None of the answers to these questions are right or wrong. The point is to be honest with yourself and to be intentional about your actions and bring your mindfulness to how you are spending your time and energy.

Move the apps

2)    This one has been even bigger for me and is even easier to implement. I moved all my social media apps off the first screen of my phone. They now reside on the very last screen of my phone. This has helped in a number of ways. First, I don’t see the annoying red notification circles every time I open up my phone. Whatever psychological genius designed those circles was onto something. Maybe other people have a greater tolerance for it but I CANNOT stand seeing those. I have to open whatever app it is and make them go away as soon as possible. So then I ended up opening my social apps just to get rid of those annoying red circles. By moving them to the back page I simply don’t see the notifications.

Second, it helps me implement #1 above. By having to consciously scroll to the last screen on my phone it forces me to take a few seconds and be more intentional with my actions and ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” Again, not from a judgmental place, but from a place of self-awareness.

I also re-organized my apps so that the only ones on the first screen are the ones I truly use the most frequently. I moved other apps to the second page, utility stuff is on the third page, and less frequently used stuff is on the last page.

I also changed my background to one of my favorite pictures of my daughter that instantly relaxes me and makes me smile every time I look at it. And what’s the point of a cute wallpaper photo if you can’t even see it?

And that’s it! That’s my teeny tiny productivity trick that has been making me feel so much more peaceful, clear, and productive in my life. Let me know what you think. Have you tried this? Any other tips for staying off of or making better use of time on social media?

References

Wilmer, H. H., & Chein, J. M. (2016). Mobile technology habits: patterns of association among device usage, intertemporal preference, impulse control, and reward sensitivity. Psychonomic bulletin & review23(5), 1607-1614.