Three BILLION people. That’s around 40% of the world’s population and they all use social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat… Our world is full of weapons of mass distraction, that on average we spend 2 hours a day liking, tweeting, sharing and updating on these platforms. That broken down is around half a million tweets and Snapchat photos shared every minute.
Some of the brightest minds in the world constantly work to make these platforms as addictive as possible – bad news for your productivity and sometimes even for your health! But with those statistics, It’s no surprise that a lot of people are pretty much… hooked.
Think you might be one of them? Let’s find out!
So, You Think You Might be an Addict?
How do you know you’re addicted to social media? It isn’t always easy to tell! Like any obsession or addictive habit such as a phone addiction or porn addiction, becoming absorbed doesn’t just happen overnight. Here are a few red flags which might suggest you take social media a little too seriously…
- You struggle to get things done. Do you find yourself writing to-do lists but struggling to check things off? Find yourself procrastinating or maybe just feel like you’re falling behind? Could be too much time spent on a social platform.
- You scroll without realizing. We’ve all been there – just a quick sneaky peek at Instagram and suddenly you’re a few hundred photos down. If your autopilot heads straight to Facebook or any other network, that’s probably a warning sign!
- The thought of life without social media makes you uncomfortable. If the idea of deleting the Facebook app from your phone seems kind of scary then you might be relying on it a bit too much. Don’t worry – life goes on without it! Beating your addiction doesn’t necessarily mean going off the grid completely.
- You can’t sleep. Researchers have found a link between sleep disturbances and social networks. How often people logged on, rather than time spent on social media sites, was a higher predictor of disturbed sleep, suggesting “an obsessive ‘checking’” disorder.
Why do we Love Social Media so Much?
There are countless amount of reasons that these networks are so popular – they really do make us feel better about ourselves. Like some substance addictions, using these websites and apps releases dopamine in our brains – a chemical that inspires us to take action because of how we feel when we are rewarded for it.
It’s pretty easy to see how social media fits into the equation. We post tweets on Twitter, photos on Instagram and status’ on Facebook, knowing that we will feel good about the ‘likes’ that start flooding in. Dopamine is released in our bodies due to react, which excites us more than the actual reactions.
Not to mention how we use these platforms to vent about everything from customer service to politics. The downside to this is that our feeds often resemble an endless stream of stress. The anticipation of how other people will react.
Facebook and Twitter are literally designed to ensure that users repeatedly check-in. They’re engineered to ensure we spend as much time at our computers or on our phones as possible. This means that your social media addiction isn’t entirely your fault – but don’t panic. With a little help, you’ll be over it in no time!
Breaking the Addiction
When you think about it, social media is a harmless addiction – which makes it difficult for us to tell how much better off we’d be without it. Whether you just want to take a little bit of time out to get back on track or you’re looking to have a total digital detox, these tips and techniques are bound to help.
It’s so easy to justify a quick five minutes on a platform that it sometimes happens almost automatically. Taking a quick five-minute break? Suddenly Facebook is open. A bit of time to kill before you have to leave? You check Instagram.
Blocking apps is a good idea – if anything, you’ll quickly realize how often you use social media whilst on autopilot. Block Site for Chrome is a good option if you’re desperate to limit app usage, features like scheduled block times and syncing blocked sites across devices will help break your addiction!
Come Back to the Real World
It can seem like the digital world is all there is to life. Time to unplug! By making more of an effort to live in the moment you’ll rediscover how good life is offline.
So, if it’s someone’s birthday give them a call instead – or even better, try and meet up. Get the members of your group-chat together for lunch at the weekend. Go for coffee with a co-worker during your lunch break instead of sitting on your phone. You’ll quickly realize that it’s much more rewarding!
When we post a photo or a status update, we quickly lose focus on our experience and begin to think about how people will react to it instead. One of the best ways to become unplugged is to reflect on our experiences in different ways. Keep a scrapbook of your favorite photos or write a journal with your thoughts – this way you’ll treasure the moment instead of worrying about what other people think!
Get a Handle on Procrastination
If you’ve reached the point where your own addiction has begun to frustrate you, chances are that procrastination might be playing a role. You’ve got to hand it to social media – it’s the perfect way to dawdle and put off tasks.
So how do you avoid procrastination? You face it head-on!
For every task procrastinated there’s a reason. Maybe the task is too big and you don’t know where to start – why not split it into smaller steps? Or perhaps you’re lost under a mountain of assignments – list them in order of priority so that you know where to begin.
If you’re struggling to get stuck in and maintain concentration levels, you might find that the Pomodoro technique can help. It’s a popular time management technique that involves working on a task for twenty-five minutes before taking a five-minute break to stay focused. After four twenty-five-minute sessions, take a longer break of half an hour – this will help refresh and rejuvenate you.
Once you’ve suppressed your tendency to procrastinate your productivity is bound to increase. Even if you still find yourself checking social media during your five-minute break, you’ll still feel better with twenty-five minutes of concentration already under your belt!
Reward Yourself for Quitting
Okay – so you don’t have to quit social media altogether. It’s still possible to be super-productive without going completely off the grid! A key technique when overcoming your addiction is to ensure that if you do feel the urge to check, you do it with purpose. In other words, ask yourself why you need to check – if there’s no clear reason then suppress the urge.
Rewarding yourself for breaking the habit will help you overcome your addiction. It can be something as little as a bar of chocolate for a day without using social media to procrastinate, or a bigger reward – like Saturday night takeout after a long week of no scrolling. Giving yourself an incentive or diversion means that you have something to focus on and look forward to.
Why not make yourself accountable to someone by telling them that you’ll share your reward with them? Not only are you more likely to stick to your promise but you’ll feel better hanging out with them – in the real world!
Enjoy Your Digital Detox
There’s no magic formula for breaking your social media habit. In fact, it’s pretty hard work!
However, by blocking apps, rewarding yourself for cutting down, taking pride in your newfound productivity and reconnecting with the non-virtual world you’re more likely to severe your addiction to social media for good.
What are your favorite tips for setting a limit to your social media use? Let us know in the comments!