Social platforms are built to be addictive. Of course, that doesn’t make social media an unalloyed evil. Many of us depend on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn not just to stay in touch with our friends, but in order to do our jobs and advance our careers. So even though social media may be affecting you negatively (whether through a barrage of distractions or doomscrolling current events) quitting cold turkey still might not be the best option.
Outlined below are a few tips to disconnect from social media, without quitting entirely.
Tips to Disconnect
Turn off notifications
Social media apps are designed to hijack our attention and entice us to spend as much time as possible on them. When we get a notification, our brains release dopamine and we feel good. And since our brains crave dopamine, we’re wired to find fast fixes of it, like those from notifications. As a result, we subconsciously keep checking for notifications and obsessively review them when they come through.
It starts innocently enough at first, with a desire to look at people engaging with our posts. Between the big red numbers and the incessant dinging tones, soon we find ourselves shifting our focus away from what we were doing before. Five minutes quickly becomes 30. The Netflix documentary drama The Social Dilemma discusses this phenomenon at length, encouraging individuals to turn off notifications.
Delete social apps from your phone
Deleting an account altogether can feel like overkill and is a step most people aren’t willing to take. One way to protect time, productivity and mental sanity is by deleting apps like Instagram from our phones. By removing that easy access, we create a healthy barrier between ourselves and the endless scrolling available on social media.
Secure news from other sources
Social media is becoming a home for businesses and news outlets, making it easy to follow all our favorite news sources online and keep track of current news in one place. It might be hard to give up the current events available on social platforms. One alternative is to subscribe to newsletters. An email will hit your inbox (typically) once a day with recent news updates. There are a variety of newsletters from which to choose – from national news to industry news in tech, education, lifestyle, manufacturing, and much more. Outlined below are a few newsletter suggestions to point you in the right direction.
Tips to Stay Connected
Dedicate a specific amount of time to social media
One way to regulate time spent on social media is to map specific windows you can log in during. For example, setting a 15-minute timer at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday to look at what’s happening on your social platforms of choice. Once the timer expires, log out. Avoid the temptation to keep scrolling or to log in outside of your daily or weekly scheduled time.
Have a purpose
Time is better spent when it’s purposeful – a principle that also applies to social media. Instead of getting on just to look at what’s happening, write down what you want to accomplish before you get on. For example, you might choose to share two posts and like/comment on three others. Or you might extend invitations to connect with three colleagues on LinkedIn and follow two new reporters on Twitter. You might also use the time to respond to messages, review notifications, etc. By setting goals, social media becomes a productive tool, rather than a waste of time. Remember: When you’re online, stick to your goals. Once you’ve completed them, sign off.
Taking a step back from social media can positively impact our productivity and mindset. Though useful in the world of PR and communications, it’s important to have boundaries that prevent social media from taking up too much space in our lives.
*This post was originally published on March 18, 2021 by our US partner, Communiqué PR.