Do you spend too much time on social media? Whether it’s TikTok, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, we’re all constantly bombarded with information, and it can be easy to get stuck in a loop of endlessly scrolling. Finding memes or funny videos makes our brain feel like it has done something rewarding – but when you look back at the end of the day, how much time have you spent on the things you truly wanted to do?
Towards the end of last year I thought a lot about how much time I spend on social media. Sometimes when I was only supposed to take a break to check an important email I’d take a detour on Twitter or Instagram. I’d find a funny post, send it to a friend, scroll to see if I find something else – and suddenly 15 to 30 minutes would have passed without me even realizing. And the worst part is – it didn’t even make me happy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for spending 15-30 minutes of break time doing something you truly enjoy, but watching the same type of silly videos for the hundreth time or getting annoyed at what someone commented on someone elses Twitter post is probably the lowest form of entertainment for me. Sometimes it almost felt more like a compulsion rather than something I chose to do.
So over the last few months I decided to do something about it. Instead of being caught in the feedback loop where my brain rewards me for this pretty ridiculous behavior, I’ve put a limit to how much time I spend on social media – or at least on how I use it. With this new “online diet”, I’ve been able to find a lot more time for truly rewarding projects, and I’m finally going to bed at night feeling proud about what I’ve done throughout the day.
invite all of you who wish to get more things done in your spare time to do the same. So here are some general tips, and what has worked for me:
- Set a time limit. Make a plan of how much time you want to dedicate to your media feeds each day. This can of course be anything from 5 minutes to several hours, depending on your preference. Watching fun and silly videos can be a nice way of winding down after a long day – so long as it doesn’t go on for longer than you’re comfortable with.
- Schedule your time. Turn off all notifications for social media apps and only check it when you’re ready. Make sure to schedule the time so that it doesn’t conflict with other important tasks or suck away your attention from them for too long. For me, this means I’m only checking my feeds at night before bed, as a way to relax.
- Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe from all emails from social media sites and stop following accounts that don’t bring you joy. Using Twitter as an example, this means I’ve unfollowed or muted pretty much everyone limited selection of people that I know will only post things I’m interested in.
- Take a break. Take a break from social media for a few days or weeks, and use that time to focus on other activities you feel are more rewarding. These alternatives of course depend on you preference but could be things like reading books, going for walks, or spending time with friends and family. When you finally allow yourself to come back, you might realize you haven’t missed it at all, and continuing to limit the time you spend on your feeds won’t be a problem.
It’s important to note that if you feel like spending hours on social media is what you really want to do, then you don’t have a problem, and I won’t judge you for how you spend your time. The most important thing is that you’re happy with your choices.