How to Spend Less Time on Social Media

How to Spend Less Time on Social Media

by: Emily Thomas

One of the most common goals in the PowerSheets® community is spending less, or more intentional, time on social media. Not only does spending less time on social media give you more time back in your day for things like working on your goals, but it can:

— make you happier
— help you connect more to the people around you “in real life”
— give you the space to process events and daily life
— help you make better decisions and find better solutions to problems big and small, independent of what the internet thinks
lessen feelings of comparison, guilt, and jealousy

But how to stop spending so much time on social media?! The evidence is mounting that social media is addicting (the apps are designed using best practices from things like casinos!), and so for most of us, it takes more than just willpower to make a change in our habits.

The good news? There are SO many effective ways to lessen your time on apps like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. No matter what your motivations, circumstances, or weaknesses, we’ve got an idea for you, sourced with the help of Team Cultivate and the CWM community. Choose just one of these to try. If it works, great! Consider layering in another next month. If it doesn’t, come back and try another.

All of these ideas are perfect to add to your monthly PowerSheets Tending List to hold yourself accountable!

Reduce the number of people you follow. I personally swear by this! The fewer people you follow, the less content there is in your feed, so you’ll feel less of a need to check constantly for new posts. In addition, you’ll probably care more about, say, the 100 people you continue following than the 1,000 people you previously followed, so your time on the app will feel richer and more meaningful. Quality, not quantity!

Mute people or Stories. For those you don’t want to unfollow, consider muting their posts or Stories - again, this will reduce the amount of content to consume each day and sidestep those who trigger feelings of “less than.” (Maybe it’s a friend whose posts you enjoy, but whose 20+ Stories a day are not adding value to your life.) On Instagram, simply click to their profile, click the “following” button, then click “mute” and toggle their posts or Stories.

Quit the Explore tab. Pretend it does not exist. Again, this is something I implemented last year and that has been a game changer for me. Unlike your feed, the Explore tab is endless, so it’s easy to get sucked in to the scroll for much longer than planned.

Take in some cold, hard facts. Sometimes, a wake up call is what moves us to action (or gives us the motivation to stick with a new habit!). On an iPhone, to see your daily average of time spent on the platform, click the three bars in the top right corner of your profile, then “your activity” in the dropdown menu. Or, watch a movie like The Social Dilemma on Netflix, or read a book like Digital Minimalism to learn more about the intersection of our neuroscience and these apps’ designs.

Set a daily limit. In the same place you can see your daily usage, you can set an in-app daily reminder to sign off once you’ve hit your (self-appointed) daily limit.

Sign on just once a day. Again, this is something I tried at the beginning of 2020 in a fit of “new year, new you” zeal, and loved so much I have continued to this day. By signing on just once a day, I cut off almost all decision fatigue around whether or not to open the app. And, when I am on the app, my time is much richer, because there are no feelings of guilt, and I was more likely to engage (leaving comments, etc.) with the people I follow, and enjoy my time spent there! I wrote more about this here.

Only access Instagram on your desktop (and delete the app from your phone). This tip comes from my friend Kelly, who says “viewing Instagram on the web is a much less enjoyable user experience. I still scroll through daily, but not nearly as much as I did on the app.” This tip also has the benefit of removing access to Instagram unless you’re sitting at your computer, so you’re less likely to start scrolling in the idle pockets of your day.

Put your phone to bed in another room. Are nighttime scrolling sessions your Achilles heel? Charge your phone in another room, not on your nightstand (bonus points for “putting it to bed” at a set time each night - say, 8pm or 10pm). If you’re worried about getting up on time, you might find this thing called an “alarm clock” handy :) 

Worried about not hearing an emergency call in the middle of the night if you don't have a landline? Try leaving your phone in your room, but plugging it in away from your bed. 

Decide on a rhythm of social media “fasts” and put them on your calendar. You might take one day off a week, one week off a month, or one month off a year - or all of the above! Whatever you decide, put it on your calendar in advance as a commitment to yourself, delete the app when it’s time, and be sure to pre-plan something fun to fill your new-found time.

Use the News Feed Eradicator. An extension for the Chrome web browser, this nifty widget replaces your entire Twitter or Facebook news feed with an inspirational quote. You can still access the functionality of these platforms (groups, search, etc.) but without falling into the biggest attention hole.

Ask yourself questions before posting. If your time is spent (over)sharing, a simple post-it note on your desk might help. On it, try writing some of these questions: Why am I sharing this? What am I feeling right now? Have I regretted sharing something like this before? What unmet needs could I be trying to meet by sharing, and could I reach out to a friend to meet those needs?

Sign off completely. Yes, the nuclear option is always on the table! Jessie on our team has chosen to sign off social media for 2021 in its entirety, and just a few weeks in, she says she’s astonished by how much more time, energy, and clarity she’s felt in her days.

If you’ve successfully lowered the amount of time you’ve spent on social media, we’d love to hear what worked for you! Tell us in the comments!

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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