If you’ve ever looked at your screen time and felt horrified at the hours you’ve spent on social media, you’re not alone. Social media is an incredibly useful tool, until it then feels like your life is consumed by it, in which case it becomes no longer useful, and detracts you away from your actual life.
I run my business online and often have clients find me through social media, so I too have struggled to strike a balance between work and play. Below you will find my ten top tips that helped me to reduce my screen time and enabled me to have a better relationship with social media.
At the end of this blog I have suggested an exercise for you to try; let me know how you get on in the comments or feel free to email me!
1. Delete the apps from your phone
To initiate taking a break from social media you might find deleting it completely the best way to really disconnect (I certainly do). You can turn notifications off, set timers for usage, put your phone on do not disturb mode/sleep mode until your blue in the face, BUT, you can easily get around these functions by simply pressing *ignore*. For me personally, not having the app on my phone home screen felt like I was truly committed to the cause.
Also, not having the app really helped me to break away from constantly having my phone in my hand. I often find now that I haven’t touched my phone for hours, I even forget where I’ve left it, whereas before I’d always have my phone to hand.
Taking a break from the apps being on your phone will help you to establish boundaries for when you do re-install them (if you reinstall them completely).
2. Use the website versions of the app on a laptop/computer
The idea of deleting social media apps from your phone may seem like a good idea, but, it’s not practical if you run a business online. Therefore, I suggest using the web versions. Hopping onto the web version of Instagram or Facebook on your laptop/phone/computer doesn’t have the same ‘relaxing’ feel to it as it does on your phone, they don’t flow as nicely and it feels a lot more like work (which is the aim here right). The user experience on the website versions requires a lot more effort.
I found completing deleting the apps helped me break the addictive scrolling cycle, from then I set times within my day to use web versions of the apps that I needed to reply to messages etc. This really helped me to differentiate work from pleasure.
3. Set STRICT boundaries – Work VS Play (part one)
Quitting social media completely might be where you start, but eventually, you realise it’s not practical regardless of whether you run a business online or not.
Social media is there for a reason, to keep in touch with friends and family who aren’t at arms reach. It’s perfectly acceptable to want to see what your loved ones have been up to. Also, from a business perspective whilst it might be ok to quit social media for a week or two, later down the line you’re going to have to use it, therefore setting boundaries around when you use it is important. Firstly, you will need to identify what kind of boundaries you want.
- Do you want to still be able to have time to sit and scroll?
It’s perfectly fine to still want to scroll, this might be called your “play” time.
- Do you need to put time aside for replying to messages, notifications, for posting content?
Think about when and what time of day is better suited to this. If you’re not sure yet, test things out. If you own a business you might call this your “work” or “marketing” time.
4. Set STRICT boundaries – times and days (part two)
If you are using social media for business, having an understanding of the difference between “work” and “play” is essential. Setting boundaries for work and play will enable you to get the best out of both worlds, without it feeling addictive again.
When planning out your week you might want to set the days and times in which you use social media for business/pleasure that includes what you hope to achieve. For example;
- Monday 1-130pm, WORK: Social Media Admin (respond the messages etc)
- Monday 4-4:30 pm, WORK: Content Post (I will come on to this in point 5).
- Tuesday 7-7:30 pm, PLAY: Scroll and catch up with your feed.
I know all of this may seem a bit pedantic to begin with, but, sometimes you do need this kind of structure in your life.
Setting boundaries will help you to build a better relationship with social media.
5. Create written content on another platform & schedule
Content creation can be done very easily on a Word document, an Email to yourself, or on the Notes section on your phone. I prefer to use Word/Email as I’d rather not be on my phone when writing content, however, saying this sometimes when I’m out walking something will spring to mind that I don’t want to forget, in which case, I will take a few moments to scribble some written/voice notes on my phone.
If you do decide to pre-write your content you could use a website/app to post it for you (there are plenty out there!). As a side note, if you have a Facebook business page you can actually connect your Instagram and schedule posts for both without needing to touch the apps once!
If I’m posting a video this might require me to reinstall the app. When I have reinstalled the app I will clock watch and ensure I don’t spend any longer than 30mins on the app. Honestly you’ll be surprised at just how you can quickly fall into the trap of scrolling, “work” time soon ends up becoming “play” time.
6. You don’t need that much on your story to keep your audience engaged
This section is probably targeted more at those who own a business online.
How many times have you watched your favourite IG/FB influencer and skipped through their “ramble” because the topic they’re talking about isn’t relatable to you?
If your stories are what catch you out, for example you find yourself constantly picking up your phone to take pictures or videos using the app, stop using the app. Simply take pictures or videos for your camera roll instead. Then when you reinstall the app for “work” time just upload them all in one go, your audience will be none the wiser. Your audience don’t care if you post what you ate for breakfast at 3pm, they care about what you ate for breakfast.
If you have opened up a “questions” box on your story, put “work” time aside time to answer them. Don’t fall into the trap of answering them ad hoc.
On a final note, don’t worry too much about your stories.
How many people do you follow?
Do you see every single story every day?
Probably not no!
Whilst I do enjoy watching the odd story here and there, when you delete the apps off your phone you realise how much time you were wasting watching them. A lot of people are becoming more aware of their phone usage and time spent on social media now. So if your audience are spending less time on social media, you can too.
7. Stop checking up on your best friends through social media
One thing I realised when I deleted social media apps was that I engaged with my best friends way more. I was messaging, calling and meeting up with friends more and it felt great. Also, because I wasn’t sharing my life every day via my stories I had more to talk about, I felt like I had a life.
I think sometimes, we all get sucked into this void in which we feel like we have to share our every life experience on social media, when in fact we don’t. We have a choice, share your life experiences with the world, or, keep it private and special for yourself. It’s nice to do things without everyone knowing what you’ve been up to. It’s nice not having to get your phone out at every social occasion to “tag” where you are or “@” the people you’re with, you don’t actually need to prove to anyone that you have a social life to have a social life.
On a final note here, stop checking up on your best friends through social media. How many times have you posted on social media when you’ve been really struggling mentally? Maybe you’ve posted a funny meme to cheer you up, maybe you’ve posted a picture of a “throwback”? For some people this can look like numbing their emotions. It’s not uncommon to hide emotions through humour, indirect quotes, nostalgia etc.
Just because your friend has posted on social media don’t assume they’re ok, check in with them on a personal level.
Social media is one huge highlight reel, so if you use it often and your best friends have gone quiet, call them, whatsapp, text, whatever….don’t just presume they’re ok because they posted a picture of their cat looking cute.
8. Allow yourself to have “Play” time
You should allow yourself to have “play” time or some like to call this “procrastination” time where you do sit and scroll. I typically find on the weekend it feels quite nice to catch up on social media.
However saying this sometimes I take the weekends completely off social, it really depends on where my head is at.
I guess where this is where you get a good understanding of where you are in terms of your relationship with social media. When you can take a step away from it and actively choose when to use it, it feels a lot less addictive and you can take it or leave it.
Setting boundaries around your play time might be key for you, depending on the level of play you do right now (go back to point 4 to structure this).
9. Unfollow/mute the soul suckers, the red flags and the people that trigger you.
If social media leads you to feel;
- Underwhelmed by your life
Etc….it’s probably time to take a look at who you follow.
You can unfollow or mute whoever the hell you want to. If your feed isn’t a nice place to be right now, do something about it. The great thing about the “mute” option is that you don’t have to offend or upset the other person.
10. Reassess & adapt if you slip up!
Once you’ve taken a break, deleted apps and started to get back into your own flow of social media ‘balance’ again it feels WONDERFUL.
However, two weeks later you might be back at square one again.
Remember it takes time to change habits and you won’t always have everything figured out straight away. How I do things might work for me, but it might not work for you.
Be kind to yourself, be aware and notice when your social media usage has gotten out of control, just don’t beat yourself up for it.
Asses where you are, reassess what needs to change and develop a system that works best for you. This might take a day, a week, a month or even a few years. Systems will change over time and you will need to adapt, especially as apps are always evolving.
- At the end of this week check your screen time and social media usage (or check out last weeks)
- Try 1 (or more) of these tips above for a week.
- Then on the week following, check to see if you have reduced your social media & screen time!
That’s all from me folks, I hope that was helpful and do reach out if you try the exercise,
let me know if any of the tips above help you to reduce your social media usage!