The scrolling and the clicking and the liking — it adds up! And it’s seemingly harder and harder to disconnect. Something that once started as a great way to keep in touch with faraway friends has morphed into a one-stop shop for information overload, with multiple hours worth of content on any subject your heart desires right at your fingertips, 24/7. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
It makes sense that employers are growing more and more concerned about how much time their employees spend on their smart phones throughout the workday. Like it or not, social media can be a bit of a time suck. Sure, it can be a really lovely, meaningful time suck at times, but often, it’s a lot of mindless wandering and exploring other people’s highlight reels. I mean, raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten lost scrolling through Instagram!
The next thing you know, you’re fully up to speed on what your boyfriend’s cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s coworker did on her 2016 summer vacation. Yikes.
And if that was, say, while you were at the office, there’s a good chance that your time could have been better utilized by completing tasks on your to-do list, or interacting in in person with colleagues.
Now that’s not to say that using social media to take a mini breather during the middle of a stressful day is negative, because it can be a helpful release, and an easy way to turn the page in our brain for a moment. But for some of us, it can become a tempting distraction that’s tough to ignore…. especially when we’re staring into the face of another spreadsheet, or fighting anxiety from a client email.
If you feel like you’re losing yourself to social media during the workday, here are a few easy ways to impose some discipline and create new habits:
1. Delete your favorite social media apps from your phone.
This is probably the easiest way to avoid social media during the workday, like ripping off a bandaid. It forces you to go cold turkey; unless, of course, you feel comfortable visiting the sites from your work computer. Word to the wise — that’s probably not the best option regardless of wasting time, especially if it’s a computer issued by your company.
2. Create boundaries.
Decide ahead of time for how long and when you’ll check your personal social media accounts. For example, maybe you’ll only check them on your lunch break plus once in the afternoon, during a five minute break to step outside.
3. Put your phone away.
Simple, right? Leave your phone in your bag, or place it in a drawer at your desk. Out of sight, out of mind. You could even go so far as to turn it off, unless you have other responsibilities that require it stay on (children, a job that necessitates receiving and making calls, etc.).
4. Set calendar reminders for work tasks.
Use your work calendar to strategically remind you about priorities or projects you have to work on during the day. If you happen to be perusing social media when they pop up, you’ll be reminded of the millions of other things you have to do, boss lady.
5. Use a timer.
If all else fails and you feel like you must see what’s going on over in social media land, use a timer (such as on your phone) to keep track of however long of a break you want to take, whether that’s five minutes or 15. Once that buzzer goes off, though, it’s back to the grindstone.
Trust us — social media will still be there when your workday ends.
Joelle is a writer, editor, and registered yoga teacher living in southern California with a passion for celebrating the messiness of life through storytelling. She holds a MA in Journalism from New York University and loves a well-written sentence, brunch, and staying active. To read more of her writing, visit her website www.joellezarcone.com.