Advertising

Last Updated on February 16, 2021

How to Quit Social Media for a Happier and More Focused Life

Advertising
How to Quit Social Media for a Happier and More Focused Life

I’ve noticed that when I catch up with a friend, family member, or colleague, the other person will at some point ask if I saw what someone posted on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. My permanent reply: “No, I didn’t see it.” I’m sure some of you think I’m bragging about my lack of social media activity. There are certainly people who wear quitting social media as a rebellious badge of honor.

The fact, however, is that I’ve recently realized that by limiting social media, I’m leading a much happier and more focused life. Despite the curious looks I get when I tell loved ones I didn’t see that latest video to go viral on Facebook, I never once experienced a sensation of missing out, and here’s why.

The Upside to Life Without Social Media

I was recently reading an article about the cost of debt on happiness[1], and it reminded me of how certain things have a taxing effect on happiness. Similar to debt, there’s certain things that can be so distracting that it can influence your personal life and how you work in a negative way.

Less Distraction

At work, I’d stop what I was doing any time I received a social media notification. While one way around this would be to turn off notifications, use an app that blocks sites, or completely turn off my phone, I’d still feel anxious about having to check my social feeds.

FOMO is a very real thing. In fact, research conducted at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight found that even if you turn off notifications, you still feel anxious that you’re missing out.[2]

Advertising

These distractions may seem harmless, but they play a part in your productivity as well. Joanne Cantor, PhD, professor emerita of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of the book Conquer CyberOverload, said:[3]

“When we stop ourselves to check social media again and again, it really becomes another form of multitasking, and multitasking makes whatever you do take longer, and you do it in an inferior way.”

Greater Productivity

The American Psychological Association reports that multitasking, such as going back and forth between social media and a work-related task, can actually reduce your productivity by as much as 40 percent.

After quitting social media, you’ll find that you’re able to focus on a given task until it’s done, which will inevitably make you more productive and efficient with your work.

Enjoying the Present

Outside of work, social media distracts you from enjoying the present. For example, let’s say you’re having dinner with your family. Instead of spending quality time with your loved ones, everyone’s faces are glued to their smartphones like mindless zombies. That’s definitely not going to strengthen the relationships you have with one another.

Advertising

Here’s another example. You go to a concert or a baseball game with a friend or business acquaintance. You’re not deeply involved in this activity or, worse, enjoying the company you’re with because you’re too busy posting social media updates — or checking in to see what everyone else is posting.

Besides these distractions, I’ve also noticed that I actually have more free time. I’ve been able to use this time to read, write, or learn new skills that make me a stronger person, both personally and professionally.

Without social media, I’ve been more productive and able to truly enjoy the company of the people I care about. Also, I have felt less stressed and am sleeping better.

Sleeping Better

Research has found that social media is linked to poor sleep, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.[4]

This shouldn’t be surprising. We lay in bed scrolling through our feeds, comparing ourselves to others. On top of that blue light from our screens stimulating our brains, we get jealous and wish we were lying on a beach instead of preparing for work in the morning.

Advertising

How to Realistically Limit Social Media

I’ll be the first to admit that quitting social media isn’t easy. The fear of missing out, of course, plays a role. Even if you aren’t addicted to social media, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when you limit. That’s actually the first step in being able to successfully limit social media: realizing you’re going to miss out on certain things.

Eventually, you’ll realize you aren’t as isolated as you believe. In fact, you may have even stronger relationships because your main communication methods are more intimate, like texts and phone calls.

Here are some steps you can take when building up to quitting social media.

1. Eliminate Push Notifications

This is a good first step to take when quitting social media. Constantly hearing the distracting beeps of notifications can create anxiety and cause you jump back on social media. Eliminating those notifications will get you used to staying away from your social media for longer periods of time. You may even find you don’t check it for an entire day!

2. Uninstall Social Media Apps

You should uninstall all social media apps from your phone and log out of them on your computer. This is just a simple way to remove the temptation to view your social channels with one click or tap. Though it will be a rough start, you’ll eventually experience the benefits of not being tied to social media.

Advertising

3. Find New Distractions

When quitting social media, start looking for other ways to distract yourself so that you can avoid dwelling on the anxiety of being away from your feed. Pick up a new hobby, meditate, exercise, volunteer, read a book, or actually meet to catch up with a friend face-to-face.

Not only do these activities give you something else to focus on, but they also allow you to strengthen your existing relationships and establish new, more meaningful ones.

As you’re learning to live a life without social media, you can check out Lifehack’s free Fast Track Class – Overcoming Distractions to help you train up your focus muscle. Join the free class today!

Final Thoughts

If you feel you need social media to stay in the loop, seek out alternatives like newsletters or RSS feeds that are relevant. If you have to establish a social media presence professionally, set boundaries, such as logging in once a week to check messages and schedule the following week’s content. You can also delegate or outsource your social media responsibilities so you can remain free of social media.

You can live without social media, and it’s probably for the best. However, it is an adjustment. You’ll miss out on certain things, but you’re also going to be happier and more focused because you’ll be less distracted and stressed. You’ll also be more productive and fulfilled.

Advertising

To ease your way into this, don’t go cold turkey. Limit your time on social media, and then suspend your accounts for a week, then maybe two, then possibly permanently. As you’ll see, it’s not the end of the world and will do wonders for your mental health.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

John Hall

John Hall is the co-founder and president of Calendar, a leading scheduling and productivity app that will change how we manage and invest our time.

How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur: 6 Practical Tips 10 Reasons Why You Have Trouble Concentrating (and Their Solutions) How To Log Your Daily Activities And Manage Your Time Better Have a Short Attention Span? 15 Ways to Improve It What Is Deep Work And How It Helps You to Stay Focused

Trending in Focus

1 The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home 2 How to Increase Attention Span If You Have a Distracted Mind 3 10 Reasons Why You Have Trouble Concentrating (and Their Solutions) 4 How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1 5 How to Become Indistractable: 4 Powerful Tactics to Help You Focus

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 5, 2022

The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home

Advertising
The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home

Suppose you finally took the plunge: resigned your corporate job, decided to follow the passion of your life and (by lack of a new office space, of course), you started to work from home. Welcome to the club! Been there for a few years now and, guess what, it turned out that working from home is not as simple as I thought it would be.

It certainly has a tons of advantages, but those advantages won’t come in a sugary, care free, or all pinky and happy-go-lucky package. On the contrary. When you work from home, maintaining a constant productivity flow may be a real challenge. And there are many reasons for that.

For instance, you may still unconsciously assimilate your home with your relaxation space, hence a little nap on the couch, in the middle of the day, with still a ton of unfinished tasks, may seem like a viable option. Well, not! Or, because you’re working from home now, you think you can endlessly postpone some of your projects for ever, since nobody is on your back anymore. You’re your own boss and decided to be a gentle one. Fatal mistake. Or…

Advertising

OK, let’s stop with the reasons right here and move on to the practical part. So, what can you do to squeeze each and every inch of usefulness and productivity from your new working space and schedule (namely, your home)? What follows is a short list of what I found to be fundamentally necessary when you walk on this path.

1. Set Up A Specific Workplace

And stay there. That specific workspace may be a specific room (your home office), or a part of a room. Whatever it is, it must be clearly designed as a work area, with as little interference from your home space as possible. The coexistence of your home and work space is just a happy accident. But just because of that, those two spaces don’t necessarily have to blend together.

If you move your work space constantly around various parts of your house, instead of a single “anchor space”, something awkward will happen. Your home won’t feel like home anymore. That’s one of the most popular reasons for quitting working form home: “My home didn’t feel like home anymore”. Of course it didn’t if you mixed all its parts with your work space.

Advertising

2. Split Work Into Edible Chunks

Don’t aim too high. Don’t expect to do big chunks of work in a single step. That was one of the most surprising situations I encountered when I first started to work from home. Instead of a steady, constant flow of sustained activity, all I could do were short, compact sessions on various projects. It took a while to understand why.

When you work in a populated workspace, you behave differently. There is a subtle field of energy created by humans when they’re in their own proximity, and that field alone can be enough of an incentive to do much more than you normally do. Well, when you’re at home, alone, this ain’t gonna happen. That’s why you should use whatever productivity technique you’re comfortable with to split your work in small, edible chunks: GTD, pomodoro.

3. Work Outside Home

In coffee shops or other places, like shared offices. It may sound a little bit counterintuitive, to work outside your home when you’re working from home. But only in the beginning. You’ll soon realize that working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay there all the time. It basically means your home is also your office and you’re free to go outside if you want to.

Advertising

I know this may not apply to all of the “work from home” situations, but for those related to information processing, when all you need is a laptop an internet connection, that usually works beautifully. It adds a very necessary element of diversity and freshness. It can also be the source of some very interesting social interactions, especially when you have to solve all sort of digital nomad situations.

4. Go Out!

Working from home may be socially alienating. After almost 3 years of doing it, I finally accepted this as a fact. So, apart from balancing your home time with consistent sessions of working outside of your home, you should definitely go out more often. Our normal work routine, the one that is performed in an office, that is, makes for an important slice of our social interaction needs. Once you’re working from home, that slice won’t be there anymore. But your need for social contacts will remain constant.

So, my solution to this was to grow my social interaction significantly over what I was having when I was working in my own office. Going out to movies, running in the park, meeting for drinks or just chat, whatever it takes to get me out of my home/working space. On a one to ten scale, my social life before was around 3 and now is at a steady 7.

Advertising

5. Thoroughly Log Each And Every Day

It goes hand in hand with keeping a personal journal, but this time it’s about work, not personal feelings and experiences. Keep a detailed log of each project and be always ready to pick up from where you left one day or one week ago in just a matter of minutes. It’s not only a productivity enhancer, although it will help you be more productive, but it’s more on the accountability area.

When you work from home you’re your own boss. And, for any of you who are (or have been) bosses, this is not an easy position. You gotta keep track of all the information about your team and of every advancement in your projects. That’s what a boss is supposed to do, after all. When you work from home you have to perform this bossy role too, otherwise you will be lost in your own unfinished ideas and endless project stubs faster than you think.

Featured photo credit: Ian Harber via unsplash.com

Advertising

Read Next