Are you spending too much time on social media? Scrolling down on Instagram to see if you’ve got any more likes? Just wanted to flick quickly through for a couple of minutes, but before you know it half an hour has gone by? Do you find it really difficult to control yourself and to stop wasting your time on social media?
Did you know that it’s actually really easy to stop these habits?
Because that’s what they are!
The key to *really* stop wasting your time on social media is to become more conscious of what you’re doing.
And then to break that habit.
Because when you are on social media you’re mostly on auto-pilot.
And before you know it you have spent again too much time online.
These habit-breaking tricks are surprisingly easy. You might even think that they won’t work for you. But they do!
I learnt about some of these simple tricks from the very exciting book Atomic Habits by James Clear. In his book James explains in detail how we create both good and bad habits, and how to break them. I highly recommend this book if you struggle to stay on track with your business or life goals, or if you want to save more money or loose some weight too.
Based on this book I want to share 7 habit-breaking tricks that I personally use too, and that you can implement too to stop wasting your time on social media:
1: Switch off all your notifications and bleeps
Did you know that every time your phone does its little bleep your cortisol (hormone) levels go up? And you’ll need to be a super determined person to be able to ignore that bleep for long. “Who is it? Is it important?”
Just switch off the audio beeps in the settings on your phone or computer to stop that ‘happy hormone’ release each time you hear it.
It’s that simple.
Because let’s be honest: If you don’t know that there is a message waiting for you then you will be much less inclined to check it. Why fight against it if you can switch it off so easily?
2: Switch your phone off or hide it
Yes, I know this sounds silly, but again it really works!
I used this insight myself when I was writing my Dream Plan Do book. Although I was really determined I regularly started to procrastinate by ‘just checking Twitter for a moment’. Instead of keeping my phone next to the kettle to check in each time I made a cup of tea, I would (at the start of the working day) hide my phone in our bedroom, which is three stairs up from where I work. So if I wanted a bit of distraction it was a lot more hassle and often I decided it wasn’t worth it.
And guess what? I believe this little action saved me about 45 – 60 minutes every day. It kept me a lot more focused on my job of writing and finishing my book.
Very simple but very effective indeed. You might be surprised how easy it actually is to break your social media habit. Try it. It works.
3: Create & stick to some social media rules
When do you become especially engrossed in social media?
Become more aware of how and when you are using social media and the impact that is having on your life and business. Do you use social media to promote yourself, to research, to stay in touch with friends? Or, is it more of a distraction, and a bad one at that? Does social media actually get you down? Do you get a little envious and compare yourself negatively, and give yourself a dent in your confidence? Do you worry about missing out?
If that’s the case then setting rules for yourself around your use of social media can be extremely useful.
Three years ago I decided to leave my phone at home during our two week family holiday. I had realised that my mind needed a break too. It was actually a lot easier than I had expected! I had no access to my emails or social media accounts. But it was the most calming holiday I’ve had in a long time. My mind got that rest because I wasn’t following all the negative news or check emails during my much-needed break.
As we have a teenage daughter in the house we had to set some rules around social media anyway and I’ve just extended those rules to myself too.
- We don’t allow phones at the dinner table or in the bedroom.
- I minimise mobile phone use in the evenings. Especially not in the hour before I go to bed. (Do you know that the blue light of screens actually disrupts your sleeping patterns?)
- No phone between 8pm till 8am – so wake up slowly without social media overload first thing in the morning. My teenage daughter is actually better with this one than me!
- And I’m now trying to have a detox-social-media-free-Sunday on a regular basis.
I’ve seen the negative effect on my mood when I spend too much time on social media, and I now try to be more conscious of why I am online.
It’s not just the time I literally spend online, but also the negative energy I create myself, sometimes impacting for a long time after I have gone offline.
Often feeling less confident and more argumentative then I normally am. Is that worth it?
Setting these online media rules for myself has had an impact on my daughter’s use of social media too because she sees her mum using social media more wisely. She realises she has the choice to put her phone away and have a real conversation or hug.
Which social media rule would work for you? Let us know in the comments box below.
Setting social media rules can also work while dealing with your emails by deciding to only check your emails only 2-3 times a day. Many people start with checking their emails and social media first thing in the morning and then respond. Instead: group your email-reading and -writing in to half hour blocks around lunch time and the end of the working day. That way you won’t be scrolling down your emails and then having to come back later when you have time to actually answer them, this often doubles the time you need.
Also a big problem with emails is that if you send them then people respond to you!
The more emails you sent, the more emails you will get. This is an ongoing cycle.
Creative business advisor Mark McGuinness recommends in his free e-book Time management for Creatives not to email before 1 o’clock. I think that’s a great idea because the morning is often the best time of the day to do jobs that need more brain space because your energy level is at its best. Mornings are perfect to think, plan, work on strategic projects, or work on more tricky or intensive creative projects too. If you manage to work solidly three or four hours uninterrupted most mornings then you’ll get a surprising amount done. And it will make you feel good about yourself too. But instead we often waste this energised morning period with busywork, such as emails and social media. Why not try Mark’s tip out for yourself and see how it could work for you?
4: Schedule proper social media time for your business
This is the tricky thing for creative entrepreneurs: Social media blurs the boundaries between work and play.
Social media use makes you feel good, because it feels like you’re working, that you are productive, that you’re promoting yourself, or researching.
In reality you’re often just browsing, liking your mates’ pictures, being dragged into the rabbit hole that is social media.
Of course you can just set an alarm and give yourself only 15 minutes or so to browse on social media and then stop. But that might feel a bit childish, and frankly you need to be pretty determined to do this each time.
Instead start to set specific social media goals and schedule specific and proper social media time for your business.
What do you want to achieve with your social media use?
- Want to research other creatives or potential retailers or journalists? Then set a time limit or aim to identify and follow 10 contacts each time only.
- Do you want to raise your profile? Then follow 5 people or businesses that need to know of you each week, and leave comments or questions with 10 each week.
- Do you want to get more credibility? Then show images or videos of your creative process, or show the logo or promotional material of awards or events you participate in.
- Do you want to get more sales? Then drive more traffic by including a specific page link to your website or product.
Spent one dedicated hour every week to schedule posts on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or whatever social media you are using. Be more strategic with what you post. Find out here how to create a specific social media strategy and calendar to stick too instead of doing a bit of everything.
Create images and post around themes that are relevant for the time of year and for your clients. Focus a lot more on what you want to be known for. This can save you a lot of time and make you much more effective, and you will stop wasting your time on social media.
By taking a series of pictures at the same time, with the same lighting and atmosphere you will create a more consistent image too.
We also often recommend that creatives spend less time broadcasting on their own time line talking about themselves, and connecting more on the timelines of people who would buy from you or could help you.
Be more targeted and focused. Ask questions and leave useful comments. Start more meaningful conversations that create relationships.
5: Use automation where you can
We’ve found it very useful to use automation tools to manage The Design Trust’s social media. Use an automation tool for 1 or 2 hours each week to post strategic social media posts to increase your profile and traffic to your website more purposefully. This will cover the basics and you can still check in regularly to respond to posts during the week.
For Instagram we recommend an app called Later. It’s free to get started with and again allows you to plan and automate when your Instagram posts get published.
6: Do you know how much time you actually spend on social media?
There are now very useful tools and apps such as Social Fever, OFFTIME and Moment that can show you how much time and where you are spending your time on social media. Installing and checking your numbers can help to become more aware of what you are really doing, and even to shame you into action and leave your phone alone!
I have downloaded ScreenTime on my i-phone, and each week it informs me how much time I use. It also allows you to limit the daily use of specific apps, and gives you insights into how you use different tools. It’s pretty eye-opening to me and is definitely encouraging me to waste less time on social media.
7: Stop typing. start using voice-enabling software
Are you a good typist? Do you find it easy to write and develop your ideas at the same time as writing the blog post or social media article? Many people find this really difficult and therefore spend a lot more time than they needed.
This is the first time that I wrote a blog post using the voice-enabling software on my phone. You can find it often in the ‘notes’ section on your phone. So rather than typing this blog post I talked to my phone which then transcribed it for me. It can be really useful if you are unable to type, are dyslexic but also if your writing is a little ‘wooden’ and you haven’t found your writing voice yet. By simply talking to your phone about a topic you often start to sound a lot more natural! Having said that … I am not entirely sure if it actually saved me time but it was fun!
What are your top tricks to stop wasting your time on social media? Did you try any of our suggestions here? Do share with us in the comments below. We love to hear from you.