Over the years I had built a strong habit of checking the latest trends on Twitter, my friend’s news feeds on Facebook…And we all know how it ends: you go on Twitter for 2 seconds and BOOM 30 minutes later: you are watching a “How-to-train-your-cat” video on Youtube, and you don’t even own a cat!
Kristian, the CEO of Luxafor company, is sharing his experience with trying to quit social media.
The negative effects of social media at work
The habit of “just quickly checking” social media is something we all are guilty of. And all would be good if “quickly” would actually mean “quickly”, but it rarely does.
Social media is a form of entertainment and, unless a part of your job, becomes a major distraction. And the whole world knows that one of the biggest threats to workplace productivity is distractions (our research shows that online distractions are #2 challenge to staying productive).
Not to mention this distraction can slowly grow into a bad habit. And bad habits tend to turn into an addiction. And you don’t want social media addiction controlling your work day, do you?
Why I decided to quit social media
I look at social media as this supermassive black hole that’s sucking you in with more and more content. And in most cases, the content is really not that valuable. Then somehow you get distracted by more and more useless content and waste your precious time.
One day I caught myself watching cat videos on YouTube instead of “quickly” checking the latest TED talk…Then I looked at my watch and realized I had done this for one hour. That’s 60 MINUTES OF CAT VIDEOS! What’s even worse – I was sitting at my desk in the office during WORK HOURS doing this.
This is when the reality hit me and I realized how messed up this was. And I felt awful, spending the rest of the day resenting my precious time being lost. FOREVER.
So I went on a hunt for a solution.
How to put a stop to it
I must admit, it took lots of hours of research and adjusting my mindset to prioritize correctly, where “quick” social media checks are now at the bottom of my priority list.
After years of building the habit, breaking it within a period of one month did not come easy. And I’m not saying it will be for you. But I can guide you through my exact path and maybe inspire you to prioritize better and break the social media addiction.
1. Set yourself an actionable limit.
Firstly, I limited myself to just 6 times during the office hours. And each time I allowed myself to spend just 5 minutes on socials.
If you think about it, this is not an unrealistic goal, totaling up to 30 minutes to spend on social media out of 540 minutes of a 9-hour workday. Considering this was only a third of what I used to spend on socials, this was not a bad start for me.
After the first two weeks, when I had established a good way to track my progress (which I will explain in the next step), I decided to limit myself to only 3 five-minute social media breaks a day.
And consequently, after two more weeks, I was ready to stop checking socials at all. It kind of came naturally to just stop there. So that’s exactly what I did and I couldn’t be happier about this decision.
Now that you know there is a need for goals and limits to be set, I would like to tell you how the tracking actually went in the next step, so keep on reading!
2. Figure out a system to track your progress.
For the first week I was tracking myself with notifications on my phone that I had set up like alarm clocks. I understood this is an extra step only later on, as at that moment it felt like the best possible way.
The only way to really find a system that works for you is through trial and error. So I kept looking for a better system.
During the second week, I set myself a new way of tracking these social media breaks: I would check social media during the last 5 minutes of my long break after 3 Pomodoro sessions. (I use Luxafor for that, as the visual indicators allow me to see when it’s time to get back to work)
You can read more on Pomodoro technique here. I do 25 minutes of intense work (Pomodoro), then take a 5-minute break. After the third Pomodoro, I take a longer break of 15 minutes, only 5 of which would be allowed to spend on socials. When the Flag goes red again, I would immediately close all social tabs and go back to intense work.
3. Share your progress and findings with others
During week two of this experiment, I noticed a great improvement in my ability to focus thanks to fewer distractions from socials.
I also started talking more with my colleagues during my breaks instead of staring into the neverending Facebook feed. This is just one more proof that real-life socializing is very often a key to success.
By telling my colleagues that I’m experimenting with social media block I held myself more accountable. Because that’s just the way we humans are – as soon as someone else knows you’re up to something, they will ask you about your progress. And it’s more exciting to reach your goals if you know someone is following up with you.
Eventually, everyone (including myself) was surprised by my success, so I implemented social media limitations into our company culture. No, I don’t force my colleagues to stop using socials completely. But we have found a good balance with the help of DeskTime app, a social media blocking tool, which allows more control over potential time-wasters. Everyone is allowed to use socials during work hours, as long as the total time doesn’t go over 30 minutes a day.
The benefits of social media block
The most obvious benefit is regaining back the amount of time I would otherwise spend on social media and thus becoming more productive.
Another great benefit of this experiment was the ability to inspire my colleagues to block socials as well implement social media limitations into our company culture.
I also caught myself being more aware of things and people around me. This was a very beneficial discovery, as I constantly strive to become more mindful.
I must admit – this experiment was a tough one, as the first two weeks of trying to limit myself with socials felt a bit forced.
But I managed to achieve a complete social media block by setting a realistic limit, tracking my progress with Pomodoro technique, using the DeskTime app for blocking socials and most importantly – sharing my experience with others.
You can do it more gradually over a longer period of time and by using different techniques than Pomodoro and DeskTime to track your time. But as long as you set yourself realistic goals and do everything to achieve them, I believe you can gain higher levels of productivity and mindfulness without socials distracting you.
I hope my tips will inspire you to take control of your time and make you waste less of this valuable currency on social media.