Preventing Social Media Time-Sucks

posted by Andrea | 02/28/2014

social media time sucks

A few weeks ago, I posted a question on Facebook asking what topics people REALLY wanted me to blog about. Not surprisingly, many of you requested more information on how to prevent social media time-sucks.

I’m sure time-management has always been an issue for many many years, but the many forms of social media have made time-management just that much MORE difficult.

Obviously, I use social media for business purposes — but even for personal use, I have highly benefited from social media (Facebook in particular). I love how easy it is to stay connected with family and friends — share pictures with relatives across the country, and read interesting articles from around the web.

That said, I have a bunch of ideas, tips, and tricks that have helped me to better manage my time spent on social media, but before we get too far into this post, I want to offer 2 things to think about if you’re struggling to manage your social media time.

Social media is NOT the one to blame.

Honestly, I don’t want to sound rude, but it’s not social media’s fault if WE are addicted to it and spend hours and hours each day glued to our screens.

Just like everything else, social media is a tool — how we choose to use that tool is up to us.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I think social media is an amazing resource that I’m happy to have in my life. I’ve benefited a lot from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. so it’s not the tools that are the problem.

It’s US! 

I know that, and I’m pretty sure you know that too — it’s just a good reminder before we get too far into a post about preventing social media time-sucks.

WE are the force of change behind all of the preventative measures I list below!

It doesn’t have to be “all” or “nothing”.

I’ve come across SO many people lately who decide that they are wasting time on social media and their solution is to simply cut it out of their lives completely.

While I realize this is how some people function, I’m a huge proponent for “everything in moderation” and I think that by totally cutting social media out of your life, you’ll eventually start craving it so much that you’ll regress back into your obsessive ways and be addicted all over again.

Just like eating, smoking, or any other other bad habit, you will usually have more success if you take things slowly, in moderation, instead of just trying to “quit cold turkey”.

In my opinion, social media is NOT bad. But just like anything else, we can’t let it consume ALL our time. In moderation, social media can be very good, very fun, and even very useful.

.

OK, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about 5 ways we can all better manage the time we spend on social media.

1. Track Your Current Usage:

I think one of the first steps you should take if you feel like social media is eating up mass amounts of your time is to simply track your usage.

Every time you log on, look at the clock, and then pay attention to how much time you spend logged on. Write that time down and keep track for a few days or a few weeks.

Just like you track your income and expenses when you’re trying to set up a financial budget, tracking your time is an extremely useful concept when you’re trying to set up a “time budget”.

Sometimes, I’ve found that the simple knowledge that I am, in fact, tracking the amount of time I spend on social media (or any other activity) makes me more aware of what I’m doing and helps me waste less time.

2. Set a Timer:

This might sound very juvenile — but it DOES work!

I know many parents who set timers to tell their children when it’s time to get off the computer or step away from the TV — so why not do something similar for yourself?

There are even Apps you can download and web-based programs you can install on your computer to literally lock you out of your social media accounts for set periods of time if you’re trying to be productive (I can’t think of the names right now but feel free to leave them in the comments!)

3. Have a Plan:

Along with setting a timer, I think it’s a good idea to have a general “plan” of when you will (and will not) let yourself visit your favorite social media sites.

For example, during working hours, you might limit yourself to 15 minutes during your lunch break, or 10 minutes right at the beginning of the day. Then at home, you might limit yourself when the kids are sleeping or during their “quite time”.

Another idea is to use social media as a reward for finishing tasks or meeting deadlines. If you complete a big project or finish XX number of items on your to-do list, then you get 20 minutes of social media time.

4. Focus On Your Favorites:

With the insane number of various social media sites (and new ones popping up all the time) I think it’s essential to only focus on your favorite sites.

For me, Facebook is the one I enjoy using the most — both for business and personal uses — so that’s the one I spend the most time on. I use Twitter occasionally for business and only go on Pinterest when I’m looking for specific ideas or inspiration. I basically never use any of the other multitude of social media sites.

I realize I COULD do a lot more with social media (especially from a business stand-point) but I just don’t.

5. Don’t Beat Yourself Up:

Honestly, I never let myself feel bad for ENJOYING social media — or even for sometimes “wasting time” on social media.

Yes, there are days I could spend more time being productive, but the fact of the matter is, if you guilt yourself for using social media, it will become something you continually obsess about to the point where you end up thinking about it MORE often.

For example, when you’re on a diet, you might tell yourself, “I really shouldn’t eat that but I really want to” and you’ll keep thinking about how you really SHOULDN’T eat it… but that you really WANT to eat it. Then, instead of eating just one, you eat the whole plate full because you’ve been thinking about eating it for so long.

Similarly, with social media, if you constantly tell yourself “I shouldn’t but I want to” you’ll end up thinking about it all day and spend way more time on social media than if you just had a plan (like I mentioned above).

I could go on and on with various tips and tricks  to prevent social media from taking over your life — but I feel like these 5 offer a good place to start.

And, going back to the points I made at the very beginning of this post, it all starts with US and our personal will-power to resist the temptation to LET social media suck all of our time :)

So as you set out to better mange your time spent on social media, just remember that it’s a TOOL — we are in control of how we use (or abuse) that tool!

Do you have any other tips to prevent social media time-sucks?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: ProductivityWork

 
 

Leave a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

17 comments

  1. Donielle

    02/28/2014

    I downloaded a PC app called RescueTime that logs what you do on your computer each week and emails you a summary. I was shocked to learn where I was really spending my time!

    I’ve also used a LeechBlock for Firefox to block me out of social media sites while I was working. Otherwise it was too easy to quick click over a tab while I waited for something to load.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Donielle — I’ll need to check out those applications and see if they work for Macs :)

    [Reply]

  2. Sherry

    02/28/2014

    I have Rescue Time installed on my computer. It’s a free download and it tracks how much time I spend on the computer, where I spend it and then sends me an email at the end of the week. It can be a real eye opener! However, I now know that on average I spend approximately 20 minutes each week on andreadekker.com (which unfortunately Rescue Time sees as non-productive work).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh boo — you need to tell Rescue Time that your time on AndreaDekker.com is HELPING you :)

    [Reply]

  3. Sharyn

    02/28/2014

    Social media is an excellent example of the phrase, “A good servant, but a poor master.”
    Your suggestions are sensible, and helpful!

    [Reply]

  4. Ruth Dekker

    02/28/2014

    I find it helpful to have software that blocks social media – or internet altogether – when I’m trying to get something done on the computer. The names of the apps/programs I use are freedom (macfreedom.com), which blocks all internet access, and anti-social (anti-social.cc), which blocks whichever sites you want it to. They’re not free apps, but worth the investment. I also have a little program installed called focus booster (focusboosterapp.com), which lets you set a digital alarm which goes off every 25 minutes, allowing you to focus during those 25 minutes. Yes, a bit childish, but it works great!

    [Reply]

  5. Jessica

    02/28/2014

    I have a slight obsession with re-checking Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. throughout the day to see if anyone has posted anything new. I wake up and need to check all of them. I get in my car and need to check all of them. I finish at the gym and need to check all of them. Etc. It’s bad. And! Then, often once I check them I get distracted, obviously, and stay on longer than just checking to see if anything is new.

    Anyway, I feel like my best “technique” lately is to stop and think about it before I pick up my phone. Do I REALLY need to see my friend’s latest selfie RIGHT NOW or will it be okay if I don’t see it until tonight? Do I REALLY need to see my friend’s new pin for the “best smoothie ever” RIGHT NOW or can it wait until tonight? It’s not like it ever really makes a difference if I see those things now or later, you know? I’m not going to suddenly decide to make the smoothie.

    Now, instead of thinking, “What if someone posted something new during the twenty minutes I was in Target?! I’d better check!” I try to keep it in perspective and realize that social media is fun, but it’s never anything earth shattering and it’ll be okay if I don’t see the picture of my sister’s lunch or my friend’s new boots until later.

    [Reply]

  6. Melissa Thorpe

    02/28/2014

    My main social media suck has been Facebook. Since the beginning of the year, I wanted to be more conscious on how much time I spent scrolling through the newsfeed, so I started removing friends, unfollowing friends (those I want to stay connected with, but don’t need to see every status update), and removing myself from pages, groups or stopping the notifications. Now – my newsfeed is less cluttered, I see what I WANT to see, and I spend less time on Facebook because there’s not as much stuff! It’s been awesome!
    Oh I also have all my notifications for Facebook turned off on my phone. I did that over a year ago and it was one of the best decisions I made!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes — you MUST stop the phone notifications! the ONLY notifications I get on my phone are for voice messages and text messages — otherwise my phone would be buzzing and dinging all day long!! :)

    [Reply]

  7. Katherine

    02/28/2014

    Here’s another dynamic to consider:
    http://www.gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2012/10/back-by-popular-demand-are-you-an-abstainer-or-a-moderator/

    Moderator versus abstainer. I’m a moderator- I agree with your perspective that it does not need to be all or nothing, and abstaining often leads to “bingeing” later. But I’m married to an abstainer. Strict rules and “all or nothing” works well for him. For example, he thrived during our Whole30, which is very restrictive. I was aching for moderation and some sort of sustainable way of eating (which Whole30 did not provide).

    All that’s to say- I think if you tend toward being an abstainer, signing off for a month at a time might be a better solution than trying to curb yourself throughout the day, every day. Does that make sense?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for this Katherine — I’m definitely a “moderator” but can see how some people just need to function differently!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    Yes, when I read this post I was thinking back to that exact article as well! I’m a moderator too, but know people who need the abstaining instead.

    [Reply]

  8. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    02/28/2014

    Those are great tips, Andrea. I especially like the fact that you pointed out that social media isn’t the bad guy – it’s us. We are responsible for how much we use it and it can be a very good tool.

    I’ve managed my social media use by limited the outlets I use. I’ve had several people suggest other things I should do but I’ve held off because I just can’t fit them in. I focus on Facebook and Twitter and don’t bother with the rest. That helps.

    I also will use a timer, like you suggested, if I need to. Time does fly when you’re on-line so the timer can keep you on track.

    [Reply]

  9. Brenda

    02/28/2014

    I have friends on Facebook who give it up every year for lent. They do a big build-up and leave their ‘last’ status as see you on Easter. It would be easy to try right now…lent starts next week!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I know people who do this too… not a bad idea!

    [Reply]

  10. MomofTwoPreciousGirls

    02/28/2014

    I have a twitter account but don’t truly get it! I still laugh when I get an email that tells me someone is following me! WHY?!

    I did have Fb (still do but it’s a fake account). I spent a lot of time on it and miss SOME of the people I was able to connect with but the reason I left it was privacy. I got very sick of having to constantly update my settings to keep my page to just the people I approved. Then when the graph search came out and it had 30 pages of instructions on how to keep your page private, I was done! I also took issue with my friends/family that didn’t have any privacy on sharing my posts and pics of my kids. I also had my account hacked two times. I just don’t need to share so much of family in a place that is out there for eternity.

    I do still like to follow bloggers and read on there sometimes but I don’t get involved in conversations bc my name is so stupid!

    [Reply]

  11. Angie Fann

    03/02/2014

    Dude. No kidding. I was annoyed at the negativity social media can generate if we’re not careful, so I tooted around on the web and found Happier.com … yes, a social network, but NOT a time sucker and TOTALLY dedicated to encouraging positivists. Check it out and find me if you wish! :-D

    [Reply]