As a business owner myself, I know how tempting it can be to spend a lot of time on social media: posting content, connecting with potential clients, setting business meetings, and so on, and so on.
Here’s the problem, though: once you start spending more than 1 hour a day on social media, you easily get sucked in. As a result, you miss out on many great opportunities to do something productive or go outside and grab a bite with your friends.
Before we get to the tips on how to spend less time on social media, let’s dig a little deeper and try to answer the ultimate question:
Why do we spend so much time on social media in the first place?
We, humans, are biologically programmed to make sure that we belong to a group. Social media provides us with a sense of security and belonging. It’s so easy to belong to a tribe when you’re on social media. All those groups, pages, posts, photos, videos. Comments, likes, hearts, and interactions with others. But try to separate yourself from that constant stream of content… And then comes the fear of missing out (a.k.a. FOMO).
What if you miss an important update from a friend? Or a post about the hottest news from your favorite outlet? Or yet another contest from your go-to brand? Once this fear kicks in, we start feeling anxious, checking our phones, and being driven by a never-ending urge to check what others are doing.
The other factor in play is the fact that, every time we get some kind of approval (be it likes, comments, or messages), our bodies release dopamine and we become addicted to the activity that’s directly linked to it, in this case: checking our phones constantly. Just like to binge-watching TV shows, eating junk food, or smoking cigarettes.
How can we learn to spend less time on social media and instead find the time and energy to do more enjoyable and productive things in life? Well, while there’s no magic bullet, here are 5 game-changing tips that actually work:
1. Turn off Your Notifications
If you’re addicted to checking your phone at all times, one of the quickest and easiest ways to deal with it is to go to your phone’s settings and disable notifications from the apps that are distracting you the most. Be prepared: your mind will try to trick you into checking them anyway, so you need to be aware of your behavior.
Turning off notifications sounds good, but what if that’s just not enough? In that case, you can do something a bit more radical, like deleting your social media apps from your phone. If you’re running a business and need to have social media apps easily accessible, that’s probably not possible. But you can still try to make it a bit harder to get in if you log out every time you’re done using Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for that moment.
By logging out, you will make it a bit harder on yourself to make the decision to scroll mindlessly on social media—and will only log in if you really have to use it. Another radical (and really, really effective!) way to deal with social media is to install an extension on your browser called the News Feed Eradicator for Chrome. What it does is block your Facebook newsfeed so that, whenever you hop on Facebook, you’re not bombarded with 4274 pictures of your neighbors’ newborn or 717 videos of your friends’ pets.
2. Check in Only Once or Twice per Day
If you make the conscious decision to limit the time you spend on social media, try setting a new routine for yourself. For example, I only check my social media for business needs once a day. I’m a horribly late message replier because I simply don’t have the time or energy to chat. Luckily, all of my friends know it and message me only if it’s really important or if we have agreed to see each other later that day.
To be honest with you, first I tried to check my social media twice a day: once in the morning to see if there are any emergencies or important messages, and once at night to keep an eye on any comments, messages from potential clients or business proposals that require my attention. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. Here’s why:
Checking my phone in the morning made me anxious. I felt pressured to read hundreds of messages from tens of friends or new contacts, and quickly realized that the social media buzz was preventing me from going after my goals as a business owner. Checking on my social media accounts at night was also not a good idea: it got me too excited over potential opportunities and sometimes I felt too energetic to go to sleep.
So, what did I do in the end? After lots of experimentation, I found my sweet spot: checking social media once a day, only when I post some type of content and never spending more than 5 minutes per social media app or site. Of course, everyone has a different rhythm and there are days when you’re flooded with situations where you need to react fast, so I advise you to experiment and see for yourself what works best for you.
3. If It’s an Addiction, Work on It'Awareness itself is curative.' - Leo Gura Click To Tweet
This is one of my favorite quotes—and for a very good reason. When I first stumbled upon it a couple of years ago, I thought to myself: wow, that’s brilliant because it answers the never-ending question: how do I become more conscious of my behavior? By raising your awareness.
Here’s what I mean: when you go on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or whatever your favorite social media site is, I want you to notice what happens in your mind:
Do you have any repetitive thoughts that pop into your head? Are there any sensations in your body? Do you feel the need to scroll endlessly, so you don’t miss out on something? Or is it a way to avoid talking to the person next to you? Are you putting up a wall, so that you distract yourself from the pain that you’re feeling? Or is social media something you resort to when you’re bored?
Answer these questions and get to know yourself better. Watch out for signs of addiction, such as the need to check your social media accounts constantly and immediately when you get a notification. If you’re struggling with addictions, I’ve made a video that will help you get rid of them, and I advise you to watch it after you finish this article.
4. Hire an Assistant or Use a Social Media Scheduling Tool
If you’re sucked in social media not as a person but as a brand, one of the ways to spend less time is to hire a virtual assistant to handle your social media accounts for you. Post an ad on Upwork or find someone on Fiverr, test them out for a couple of days or a week, and see if they’re a good fit for your social media profile’s needs.
If you’re a small business owner and you still don’t want to delegate this work to someone else (although I highly recommend you do so), try with social media scheduling and automation tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, IFTTT and many others. Scheduling your posts from one place, once per day will make your digital life much easier.
By delegating your social media tasks to an assistant or an app, you’re going to make room for the bigger things in your life: such as coming up with the right strategy for your business, improving your product or service, and keeping a better work-life balance.
5. Remember the Big Picture
We sometimes get so sucked in to social media, that we forget what matters most: life is short. Zoom out from the present moment and put things in perspective. When you’re on your deathbed, I seriously doubt that any of the likes or comments will matter.
Probably none of these social media platforms will even exist anymore. You’ll only regret how much time you’ve wasted on your phone instead of doing the things that made you actually happy.
You have to make a choice: to waste your time scrolling, binge-watching videos, and distracting yourself from your own life, or to live it? So what’s it going to be?