Social media is a huge time sink.
5 minutes here.
7 minutes there.
It adds up, and before you know it, you’ve wasted hours every day.
Here are my tips on how to avoid distractions and be more productive from the time management books and content I’ve consumed.
First, increase the hassle that starts a bad habit.
This concept applies in many areas of life. You simply make it difficult to do something.
Examples include removing the batteries from your TV remote, uninstalling your computer video games, going a different route home to avoid fast-food restaurants, and installing social media site blocking extensions to your browser.
Why do these tactics work?
Science has shown that willpower is a limited resource. See the book Drive by Dan Pink for details. A study showed that even something as small as resisting a freshly baked cookie can cause a noticeable decrease in math test scores.
Studies show that we’re most susceptible to bad choices and temptation when our willpower drains at the end of the day. Stress, overwork, lack of food and rest, and temptation all drain willpower.
I’m not the only one who understands the power of limited willpower. President Barack Obama has admitted to letting others decide what he wears and eats every morning to reserve his willpower for the best decisions.
But what if social media is essential to your life? I know not all of us despise social made. Some people find certain platforms like Facebook as crucial for keeping in touch with others.
Limit your time on there. Reserve it for the end of the day once you’ve got your most important to-do list items checked off. When you’ve already done what’s most important, and you can use the rest of your time as guilt-free, do what you want time.
Another thing I’ve explored deeply is figure out why you do what you do. Most people never ask why they do what they do. Why do you procrastinate? Because you aren’t passionate about your tasks. Why aren’t you passionate? It’s not fun. Well, why can’t you do something else that you enjoy more that makes you money? Because it’s hard to transition. (*ding *ding, you’ve uncovered the limiting belief.)
This exercise isn’t about always finding limiting beliefs, but finding your core motivators and traits. These discoveries will help motivate you and move you towards success. I learned that material success and approval drove me. I found these drivers to be unsustainable and frustrating, so when I switched to doing things for myself, I found myself happier.
It seems to be a natural reflex to open a new tab and go to YouTube.com or Facebook.com when you’re bored or frustrated .
Exploring that deeper may mean you’re not interested in your work.
I will continue experimenting with social media site blockers. They’re almost necessary when you work on a computer, like most people do. I bought an app and chrome extension called Forest that plants trees for a set amount of time while blocking websites of your choice. You can earn coins the more trees you block, which you can use to donate to charity or buy different designs of trees to grow. That app is one way to make it a game. It also combines well with the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management technique where you focus for 25 minutes and take 5 minute breaks.
Frankly, website blockers don’t solve everything, nor does making it harder to watch Narcos or Breaking Bad on TV. When I really want it, I’ll find those batteries and put them back in your remote or turn off the site blocker.
What’s made the most impact for me is carving out time in the day to play, and getting the two or three most impactful things done first when you wake up. That way, you can waste all this time later in the day without shame.
What most people don’t realize is that solving for procrastination can be a short-term fix to a large issue.
If you’re hate your job or work, you will continue to fight that dread for a long time. Eventually, it’ll eat away at you, and you will end up quitting. It’s much better to solve for the big problem, which is to find ways of making it more fun. There are thousands of things you haven’t tried that you can do, whether that’s for exercise, work, or errands. You can try boxing, krav maga, yoga, pilates, barre, stunt acting, cycling, triathlon, running, CrossFit, and more if you wanted to find a fun way of exercising.
Next, respect the power of the siren’s call. In the epic, Ulysses tied himself to the mast of his ship because he knew he couldn’t resist the sirens’ temptation. Therefore, he made it impossible for him to escape. In a similar way, people don’t respect the fact that millions, if not billions, of dollars, impressions, and clicks have been invested into making social media platforms, fast food, and video games as tempting and addictive as possible.
It’s not your fault. These things are designed psychologically to keep you there. The engineers are doing everything they can and using all sorts of tricks to get you to stay on that website or keep playing that game. Content creators are doing everything they can to keep you watching their videos and engage with their photos.
So, to tell yourself or others that you can just “willpower” through it shows a lack of respect or awareness for the sheer power of these “sirens.” Instead, strap yourself to the mast.
Delete them. Block them. Set time limits. Or give yourself that allotted “guilt-free” time to go crazy on every week or day once you’ve done your most important tasks.
Being a YouTuber, I’m one of the few people who would voice these opinions. They won’t tell you to get off or unsubscribe like I do. That’s because they want to make money and put food on the table. They want you to stay there to build their audience and get more advertising money.
In conclusion, try these things:
- Use website blockers
- Find other sites or other less addictive things to go to
- Increase the difficulty it takes to start a bad habit
- Have allocated “guilt-free” time to waste and put it after you’ve finished your important tasks for the day
- Respect the power of these massively addicting things. Don’t rely on willpower.
- Understand that willpower is a limited resource. Put your greatest temptations during the times of day when you have the most reserve. Or at least avoid those temptations during the moments when you’re most depleted.
- Find your why. Keep asking yourself why you do what you do. If it’s a job you hate, then try new stuff. You’ve probably haven’t tasted everything that’s out there.
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