Social Media Procrastination
Keeping the good, removing the bad
Social Media is an incredible tool. When harnessed correctly it can be a power way to do many things like never before, including:
Keeping those you care about informed
But it can be easy to use it to much and procrastinate. Aside from unproductive and annoying, the extremes of this can also have serious negative impacts on our life, resulting in:
So how do we make sure we are making the most of social media without falling into its traps?
I am not a psychologist. If you are facing serious effects of social media addiction, I suggest you see a professional. I personally see a psychologist for many different parts of my life, as do many functional young adults. Like most things on this site, I have written this guide as a tool and experiment for myself. It is based on my own experiences and what I have found works for me.
I am starting by breaking down how I use social media into the good and the bad. With the hope that this awareness will help me manage when I should be making use of the technology.
My positive use of social media
to connect with people
to build community
to organise events
to share my life
to get help
My poor use of social media
To zone out
To feel connected
To feel productive
To escape (to stop thinking about something)
Force of Habit
Most of the good uses of social media can done locked into an hour or so of "planned social media time" in my day. So immediately that separates the positive from the poor with one question. "Am I using social media when I planned planned to?"
From here it is a matter of identifying why I am using poor use of social media and strategies to stop that.
This is when my brain is dead. I am tired / exhausted and just want to not think for a while. I turn to social media to switch off for a bit.
Instead I have come up with some other activities that allow my subconscious to take over, that are more healthy for me:
Go skate / Exercise
Clean the house
When picking an activity, I am looking for something I am good, I can do largely subconsciously. Something I don't need to think and/or uses a different part of my brain. Something that is healthy for me that can be considered practice and/or self care.
Looking for Connection
While using social media for connection is not always bad, often it can provide so little that I invest more time into it than it is worth. Things including 'likes' and comments on photos is an example of small amounts of connection.
The first question I ask myself here is: why do I need connection?
For me, this is most likely it is because I have not gone outside and spoken to anyone today. Particularly in the world of social distancing.
So maybe organize lunch with someone, an activity after work or just give someone a call. I find hugs helpful in these moments.
Sometimes being on social media can feel productive. Like you are contributing to your online profile, networking or something else. This is not always the case.
I think the big question I need to ask myself in this case is Why are you not doing something actually productive?
Often I am facing a particularly difficult challenge that I don't have energy to face. In this case, move onto something else or treat this as a time to Zone out
Sometimes it can be because I have something on my mind that is simply to draining to keep thinking about. Perhaps a tough problem I am working on, or something negative I don't have energy for. This is a really important one, as I think this is often what has the largest negative consequences.
For this I find the best thing to do is to get those things off my mind.
I do this by writing the draining thoughts down somewhere. Perhaps a Diary Entry, or a To-Do list.
Force of Habit
I most often end up on social media out of habit. It is just what I do when I am not actively thinking of what I should do.
What is triggering the habit?
Figure out what subconsciously triggers this habit, and try to recognise and stop it when it is happening. It is likely one of the others: Zoning Out, Escapism, Productive, Validation
I find it helpful to turn off all notifcations, kill my newsfeed and uninstall some apps
This post has me thinking about a device called Time Chi made a friend of mine by Sean Greenhalgh. A button that helps you focus by blocking all digital distractions and physical interruptions. Its built around the idea of Timeboxing, the act of allocating fixed time-frames to tasks
Through timeboxing, large complex tasks are broken down into smaller, more manageable ones. The fixed time-frame also helps curb procrastination, and getting lost down a rabbit hole on a single task.
"Blocking Digital Distractions That Make You Unproductive
Instagram. Facebook. YouTube. Twitter. Buzzfeed. Netflix…"
I just ordered one! Check out his Indiegogo, currently 1310% ending on 8th of August.