Advertising
Advertising

Published on September 21, 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.

How to Complete Any Task in the Most Time Efficient Manner 8 Reasons Why You Have Trouble Concentrating How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals social media distraction How to Beat Social Media Distraction Effectively Have Short Attention Span? 15 Ways to Improve It

Trending in Productivity

1 The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance) 2 How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day 3 How to Start Delegating Tasks Effectively (Step-by-Step Guide) 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

Advertising

As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

    Advertising

    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

    Advertising

    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    Advertising

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next