Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 27, 2020

How to Beat Social Media Distraction Effectively

How to Beat Social Media Distraction Effectively

Social media is incredible. These platforms allow us to communicate with people in all corners of the globe, stream videos with the click of a button, and see the world without ever leaving our house. With that said, it has a dark side: social media distraction.

The average user spends nearly 2.5 hours per day scrolling through updates, vacation photos, and all manner of other content.[1]

Social media distraction can disrupt your personal life, ruin your work productivity, and steal the time you could be spending on hobbies or improving yourself. But social media doesn’t need to be banished from your life for good; it just needs to be contained. Like everything else in life, it’s all about moderation.

How do you ditch social media addiction? Try these 12 approaches to ensure you’re using it in healthy, productive ways:

1. Set a Goal

What do you want to accomplish by limiting social media distractions? Your answer to this question will influence your plan of action.

Maybe you want to stop staying up so late, surfing social media. Perhaps one particular platform is putting you in a bad headspace. Or maybe you need to stop checking social media at work.

When you’ve decided on a goal, write it down where you can see it. Put a sticky note on your work computer if checking social media at the office is the issue. If before-bed usage is the problem, place the note next to your comfy chair. Make sure it’s visible wherever you have issues.

Advertising

2. Pick up on Patterns

Usually, social media distractions start with a specific cue. What emotions trigger you to explore your favorite platform? When do these typically occur? You’ll likely find a behavioral pattern you can work on.

Identifying this pattern allows you to concentrate your efforts. Trying to fix your entire schedule at once can be overwhelming, so start with your trouble spots.

3. Change Notification Settings

You’re most likely to check your device when a notification pops up. The more notifications you get, the more distractions you’ll face. The good news is that you can customize your notification settings.

You can opt for occasional notifications or cut them out entirely. And if you really need to know when your BFF posts vacation photos, you can always turn notifications back on later.

You can also change how your device is situated throughout the day. Leaving it face down while at work, for instance, will stop the screen from lighting up and drawing your attention away from the job. If your device has a Do Not Disturb setting, feel free to enable it.

4. Start a Morning Routine

Is your gadget the first thing you check in the morning? You may need to read some emails, but checking it as soon as you wake up can lead to a less-than-productive morning of social media scrolling.

Try to steer clear of your device for as long as possible in the morning.[2] Break this rule only for emergencies or appointments, such as confirming the time of a morning dental visit. Spend the rest of your morning exercising, preparing a nutritious breakfast, or engaging in another screen-free activity that energizes you.

Advertising

To make things easier, consider using a real alarm clock instead of what’s on your phone. When your device wakes you up each day, it’s a lot easier to get drawn into using additional apps that waste your time.

5. Limit Your App Usage

On your smartphone or tablet, you can monitor your app usage to see precisely how much time you’re spending on social media. Use this as a benchmark to look for improvement. Some devices even let you set time limits so that you never go over your daily allotment.

Another approach is to delete social media apps from your device entirely. Force yourself to go to the trouble of booting up the computer any time you want to check your social media profiles. Without notifications burning a hole in your pocket, avoiding social media distractions becomes doable.

What if you’re not ready to go whole-hog? Placing your apps in a hidden folder on your device can keep them out of sight, out of mind. When you use your phone for something else, it will be more difficult to get sucked into social media.

6. Use a Web Blocker

The possibilities of the internet can be too tempting some days. It’s so easy to move from work to social media in the same browser, and recovering from a distraction can take nearly half an hour.[3] Why not block yourself from accessing social media in the first place?

Web blockers stop you from going to certain sites on your device. You can activate this feature during work hours so that you can’t turn to social media when your mind starts to wander. This final line of defense is effective if you need it.

7. Establish No-Tech Zones

You can designate specific areas in your home or workspace where technology is or isn’t allowed. If you keep your devices away from the places you need to focus on, you’ll be less likely to get distracted by social media.

Advertising

The bedroom, bathroom, dinner table, and home office are all examples of places where a device might end up being too distracting. Limit yourself to only using your devices in other rooms, and you’ll cut down on idle scrolling time.

8. Implement a Rewards Program

If you can’t help but resort to social media at every turn, it’s time to make yourself earn your social media time.

A classic incentive method is to give yourself a list of tasks to complete before indulging in less productive activity. These can be work tasks, household chores, or more positive activities, such as getting outside or developing your talents.

Reward yourself with social media time when you finish each activity. Vacuuming your room, for example, can earn you a five-minute social media break. Don’t let yourself log onto any platforms until your task is completed; otherwise, it nullifies the entire exercise.

9. Try Timeboxing

Timeboxing is a time management technique in which you block off sections of time to dedicate to singular activities. Say, you can block off the first hour of work to reply to emails. As soon as that hour is up, close your email and move on to the next block.

By using this method, you can block off the sections of time when you can and can’t use social media. Stick to your time boxes, and you’ll train yourself to only check social media when it’s called for. Every other block will be dedicated to a different distraction-free activity.

10. Pick up a Hobby

If you can find something worthwhile to fill your time, you won’t feel the need to turn to social media often. Engaging in a hobby keeps your mind trained on what you’re doing, which is half the battle.

Advertising

Hobbies can be as simple as reading a book or as complex as woodworking. Whatever you like to do, fill your time with productive activities that you can turn to instead of social media.

11. Attempt a Social Media Fast

Sometimes, serious problems call for serious measures. If you really need to reset your brain to stop getting distracted by social media, try social media detox for a full week. It will be difficult, but it will help you see that you don’t need social media to live a full, productive life.

What should you do once the week is up? Remember how you felt when you weren’t constantly scrolling through tweets and Facebook posts. If you’re worried you’ll forget, schedule a monthly or quarterly fast to remind yourself. Here’s one example of what you should do: Lifehack Challenge: 24 Hour Digital Fast.

12. Post Less Frequently

Many people use social media to document their lives and achievements. While this is a great way to get loved ones involved in your life wherever they live, it’s also a chance for distractions to find their way in.

Start by limiting yourself to one post per platform per day. That way, you can still stay in touch without giving yourself as many opportunities to get distracted.

Bottom Line

Mastering your social media habits will take some time. Don’t get discouraged if you still get distracted every once in a while. When in doubt, look back to your life goals. Achieving them will feel so much better than spending your extra hours scrolling through social media.

More on Avoiding Social Media Problems

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel 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.

7 Ground Rules of Setting Goals (And Reaching Them) How To Focus on the Positive To Achieve Your Goal In Life How To Log Your Daily Activities And Manage Your Time Better 9 Simple Ways to Delegate Tasks and Get More Done 10 Ways to Find Your Focus When You’re Stressed Out

Trending in Focus

1 How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus 2 How to Eliminate Distractions for Achieving Your Goals 3 How To Log Your Daily Activities And Manage Your Time Better 4 How To Protect Your Focus From Being “Robbed” By Notifications and Social Media 5 13 Things to Put on Your Daily Checklist for Boosted Productivity

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 21, 2021

How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus

How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus

You sit at your desk, ready to finally get some work done. “Okay, lets do this,” you think to yourself. You scroll over to Word (or Excel, or Office, etc.) and open up a fresh document. You have some idea of what needs to be done, but what happens next?

You write a few words down but just can’t stay focused. Then you say “Maybe I should wake myself up with something fun.” You go to Facebook, 20 minutes gone. Then comes Youtube, 60 minutes gone. Before you know it, lunchtime has come and half the day is gone.

Does this seem familiar? Do you ever find yourself wasting your day?

Well it doesn’t have to be this way, all you need to do is focus on finishing this article to find out how to not get distracted easily.

But before we move on to the tips, here’re some important notes you need to know:

  • Avoiding distraction is tough. You’re not alone when it comes to distractions. It’s not easy staying on task when you need to work for hours at a time, but some people are able to do it. The question is: why them and not you?
  • You were never taught how to focus. It’s funny how all throughout our school days we were never taught HOW to learn and be focused, even though that’s all we did. It was just assumed, and ultimately it was hit or miss on whether or not you ended up knowing how to do those things at all.
  • The tools to help master your ability to focus. Since everyone’s left to their own devices, it’s up to you to find ways to master your focus ability. That’s what these tips are for, so you can finally stay focused and on track with what we want to accomplish for ourselves.

So without further ado, let’s get started. 

1. Keep Your Vision and Goals in Mind

First things first, why do you even need to focus? Do you want to become a skilled guitar player? Do you want to write a novel? Do you want to start working from home?

Think about it.

Knowing why we need to stay focused can help us push through the tough and tedious parts of accomplishing our goals. That’s when our ability to focus is really tested and when it’s most needed.

2. Reduce the Chaos of Your Day by Focusing on 2 to 3 Important Tasks

If you have 20 tasks you need done everyday how effective do you think your focus ability will be? Terrible, right?

Advertising

You can’t expect to do those things with sophistication if you’re too scatterbrained to focus. You need to break it down to the essentials.

Focus on only doing 2-3 important tasks a day (even one is okay), but no more than that. It’s all you need to take steps towards accomplishing your goals. Slower is much better than giving up early because you took on too much, too early.

3. Do Those Tasks as Soon as Possible

In order to make sure you get those 2 to 3 tasks done, you need to do them early. This means as soon as you wake up, you’re already plotting how to do them.

So get up, use the bathroom, eat breakfast, and do it (Yes, BEFORE work is the best time to do it).

It’s tough, but waiting to do them only invites distraction to take over. Those distractions WILL come, and they will drain your willpower. This makes working on your goals harder to do, so don’t wait do work on your goals, do them as early as possible.

4. Focus on Only the Smallest Part of Your Work at a Time

An easy way to kill your focus is to see a goal for the big giant accomplishment that it is. Most goals will at least take a few weeks to months to accomplish, and knowing that can make it feel like it’ll take FOREVER to do.

This will cause you to do one of two things:

  • You become discouraged because the goal is too big; or
  • You fantasize about what it’ll feel like to achieve the goal

Either way is terrible for your focus and always a potential problem when focusing on the big picture or using visualization.

So what should you do? Focus on doing a very small, minimum amount of work instead.

For example, which seems easier:

Advertising

Writing 200 words per day or writing a minimum of 2 sentences per day?

20 pushups per day or a minimum of 1 pushup per day?

The key here is to use minimums. Chances are you’ll push past them.

Eventually your minimum will increase, and you’ll slowly improve your ability to stay focused on the bigger tasks.

5. Visualize Yourself Working

I briefly mentioned in tip #4 that visualization techniques can hurt you more than help you sometimes. But there is a proper way of using visualization, and it’s by visualizing yourself actually WORKING (not as if you’ve succeeded already).

Champion runners use this technique to great effect, usually by working backwards. They imagine themselves winning at first, then they act out the whole process in reverse, feeling and visualizing each step all the way to the beginning.

A quicker and more relevant way to apply this would be to imagine yourself doing a small part of the task at hand.

For instance, if you need to practice your guitar but it’s all the way across the room (let’s assume maximum laziness for the sake of this example), what should you do?

First, imagine standing up (really, think of the sensation of getting up and then do it). If you really imagined it, visualized and felt the act of standing up, then acting on that feeling will be easy.

Then repeat the visualization process with each step till you have that guitar in hand and you’re playing it. The process of focusing so intently on each step distracts you from how much you don’t want to do something, and the visualizations “ready your body” for each step you need done.

Advertising

All you need to do is apply this process to whatever it is you need to focus on, just start with the smallest motion you need to do.

6. Control Your Internal Distractions

Internal distractions are one of those problems you can’t really run away from. You need to find ways to prepare your mind for work, and find simple ways to keep it from straying to non-essential thoughts as well.

A good way to prime your mind for work is to have a dedicated work station. If you always work in a specific area, then your mind will associate that area with work related thoughts.

Simple enough, right? When you take breaks make sure to leave your work station, that way you’ll know when you’re “allowed” to let your thoughts roam free as well.

Deadlines are useful here also (use Pomodoro method for example, see tip #9). This method helps keep your mind from wandering around since you’ve got that looming deadline coming along.

Ultimately though, silencing those unwanted thoughts is all about getting some traction going. So instead of focusing on what’s happening internally, focus getting something done (anything!). Once you do that, you’ll see that all your thoughts will be about finishing your task.

7. Remove External Distractions

This tip is straightforward, just get away from things that distract you.

Is the television a distraction? Work in another room. Are the kids distracting you? Get up earlier and work before they wake up. Is the Internet distracting? Turn off the modem.

It’s usually obvious what you should do, but you still shouldn’t overlook this piece of advice.

8. Skip What You Don’t Know

This is a tip I don’t see often enough, if you hit a snag in your work then come back to it later. Focus your attention on what you CAN do, keep working “mindlessly” at all costs. All this means is that you should focus on the easy parts first.

Advertising

Eventually you can come back to the more difficult parts, and hopefully by then it’ll have come to you or you’ll have built up enough momentum that it won’t break your focus if you work on it.

9. Improve Your Discipline With Focus Practice

There’s a few focus exercises you can do to improve your overall discipline.

The first one is meditation, which is basically the definition of focus in practice. Think about it, you’re literally just sitting there doing nothing. It’s a great method for building focus ability, de-stressing, and giving you greater control over your emotions. You should definitely give meditation a shot.

The second exercise is the Pomodoro method. These are basically “focus sprints,” and each one is followed by a solid break. Like real sprints, you’ll get better and better at doing them over time. Each interval improves your ability to stay focused when it matters, so it’s more than worth your time to try this out.

10. Manage Your Momentum

Momentum is like a discipline lubricant‒it helps ease the process of sticking with goals. That’s why I think it’s important that we never take true breaks from our goals; we end up losing momentum and relying on discipline to get back on track (not an easy thing to do).

This means each and everyday we need to do something significant to further our goals (yes, even weekends and holidays). And when I say “significant,” I don’t necessarily mean a big task‒but rather, any task that brings us closer to our goals.

For instance, if your goal is to be a freelance writer, then write one single pitch on a weekend. If your goal is get healthy, then go for a short 5 minute walk even on Christmas day.

Nothing big, nothing crazy, only stuff that is significant enough to contribute to the success of your overall goal.

More Tips on Staying Focused

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Read Next