Gaining More Focus Through Disciplined Social Media Use
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re distracting yourself or mindlessly scrolling. Heck, maybe you don’t even know how you got here. Social media is distracting by design so it’s not your fault. But you can make a positive change with a few smart tweaks.
- Uninstall the apps off your phone. Don’t just log out. Actually uninstall the apps. You’ll notice that most of the time you go to open the app it is completely mindless and this is a big enough barrier to stop it completely. Only redownload the app if you need to post something, then uninstall it immediately after.
- Turn off unnecessary notifications. Do you really need to know someone liked your Instagram post the moment it happens? Or maybe you have apps you accidentally approved notifications for. Go into your settings and turn them all of. These type of notifications are the worst thieves of focus.
- Stop checking your email every 10 minutes. This can feel scary if you’re in college expecting important notifications from your professors. But emails are not instant messages. 99% of the time you don’t need to read a professor’s email right when it’s sent. Set a time to check it such as morning/night or before your classes in case there’s a cancellation.
- Mute text notifications from distracting people (or all together). This might sound harsh, but I think we’ve all had those friends that text us at the wrong time, always distracting us. Set that contact to “Do Not Disturb”. You might also consider muting sound for ALL texts because in true emergencies people usually call (I do this).
- Set some tech-free time for yourself. Maybe it’s putting it away an hour before bed or not touching your phone for an hour after you wake up. Set some time and respect it. Reward yourself if you need to. Make it into a game to see how long you can go without picking up your phone.
- Create designated social media time. This will be the most helpful for those who feel truly addicted and consumed. Let yourself use your phone or laptop for non-social media or productive time the rest of the day but only check social media at specific times or if you complete certain tasks.
- Get a real alarm clock. I know your phone is probably your alarm, but A LOT of time is wasted scrolling before bed (and possibly too late into the night) or right when you wake up. But if you really refuse to get an alarm clock (even though they’re really cheap), at least put your phone far away or outside your door.
- Block it. There are plenty of browser extensions and apps that do this, but my personal favorite is Cold Turkey. The free version does basic blocking but Pro is only a one-time fee of $19 and you can do so much more like block apps and set schedules to automatically block at certain times (a GAME CHANGER for me because blocking was the hardest part). That’s like an expensive pack of pens. You can do it on multiple devices and you can’t stop it once it starts. tbh I’m obsessed.
- Start a meditation habit. Set a schedule that works for you but try to meditate at least once a day. Add it to your morning routine or take a few minutes between study sessions. This is the best way to train your focus. I personally use the HeadSpace app but Calm is also popular.
- Reflect on how and why you actually use social media. If you’re a Cal Newport fan this won’t be news to you, but there are plenty of arguments out there to why social media is not worth the cost. Try a social media detox for a week (or better yet, a month) and see if you might just be better off without.
- Find some accountability buddies. If you have the right person as an accountability buddy this can be really effective. Have your buddy stop you if they find you scrolling or otherwise enforce your other habits. It works best if both buddies are doing it but your best friend might also have fun policing you around.
- Set a calendar reminder to check if you’ve fallen back into bad habits. Even the most disciplined fall of the wagon occasionally so don’t beat yourself up. Set yourself up for success by making sure you don’t fall off in the first place with a little “are you scrolling social media?” reminder. Maybe add some helpful resources to the calendar event notes (like this post) if you need inspiration to get back to it.
Hope this helps!
– Melissa ( @quantumheels )