Mobile apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and Quora can be real distracting and a huge time suck. If you are out and about, you would notice a majority of people checking their social media accounts while in the train, commuting, waiting in line or sometimes at boring meetings.
Perhaps at one point of time, you would want to be the minority of city dwellers who want to drastically reduce the time you spent on social media like Facebook and Instagram because you find you are spending waayyyy too much of time and mental energy. You may want to free up time to accomplish some goals or work on some side hustle for additional income.
Yes, you may have conscious effort to reduce your time spent on these apps but the phone setup is such that it works against you!
I know because I have found myself being in this situation too. What started innocently as browsing some interesting looking videos shared by Facebook friends turned into hours and days of watching other videos as I discover more and more channels. My Facebook and YouTube video watching came to the peak on the last election where the heated debates and inspiring talks made me spend days hooked on to it like an addict. And right about that time I also discovered The Big Bang Theory and Little Sheldon which I absolutely love (perhaps because the characters are as weird as me).
It is the same for Quora…. some notification made me go to Quora to read some interesting questions and answers. The next thing, I find myself reading the hundreds of replies on some questions.
Willpower itself does not work because most mobile phone settings worked against you. New updates from social media or apps would pop up on your phone’s notification screen. You basically need to consciously go in there to view it before you can clear them off. And some notification continue to pop up in the top bar of your phone or you get notification sounds if you do not go into the app to view them.
How to win against this?
Even if you set yourself to only look at your social media account once a day or at certain time of the day, the notifications are very distracting. And you know what…. if you have multiple Facebook accounts which you have logged in using that phone…. you would get multiple notifications on each account even though you are not logged in.
Some people go through the extreme measure of totally eliminating social media from their lives altogether. You may do so if the time you spent on social media gets out of control.
However for some of us, it is not viable to totally disappear from social media because we may be in the sales and marketing line, a public figure or running a business and need to maintain our social media profiles.
How I drastically cut down my time spent on social media
I had to juggle a lot of roles in my life and at the same time try to build my blogs. Hence I don’t really have the luxury to indulge in too much social media.
How I did it: When I changed my phone, I did not install the apps on my new phone. I kept the apps on my old phone which I only access at certain times.
It is only a very simple and seemingly no brainer but it works! With this method, I was able to drastically cut down the time I spent on social media.
I discovered this a little by chance. What happened was that I have an existing Samsung phone which I had problem charging and at the same time the battery was draining very fast. There is some issue probably with the charging port- when I put in the cable from the charger, it does not charge. I had to move the phone around till there is a position where it could charge. I realized the issue is not with the cable or charger because the same problem happened even after changing cables/charges. And, it is impossible to charge in my car or with a powerbank regardless of what cable I use.
I use the Waze application which I need to get me to unfamiliar places and back. Few times, my phone almost went out of battery when the app was running even though I had managed to fully charge my phone prior to leaving home. The final straw came when the phone ran out of battery when I was trying to get home at night. Fortunately had it not been for a friend of mine who was with me, I had no idea how I am going to reach home.
So I switched to a Redmi, which is much lower price compared to similar specs on a Samsung or Huawei. When it comes to time to install new apps, I purposely omitted from installing social media apps like Facebook, Pinterest and Quora. I also did not enable emails that have mostly junk and marketing emails coming in.
And I am greeted with…. peace. No more non stop notifications pouring in.
I kept the apps on my old phone which is most of the time switched off. My old phone no longer have a SIM card and runs on Wifi. Therefore, I don’t even take the phone when I am going out. When I want to go to social media, I just switch on the phone, wait a while because the notification would continue to pop up non stop. Then I just do what I need to do and then switch off the phone again.
What you can do:
If you are like me and have an older mobile phone lying around somewhere, you may want to consider:
- uninstalling all the social media apps on your current phone
- having these social media app enabled on your older phone which you set a fixed time to access it
If you do not have an extra phone or another mobile device, you can try accessing to your desktop on certain timing of the day instead for your social media account. And keep the apps off your phone.
Social media is useful and it is something that I do not want to eliminate from my life. I do not want to avoid it altogether just because I am not able to resist the temptation at times to mindlessly surf over my newsfeed.
It is a cheeky way of doing things but it worked and do help me to free time and mental energy mindlessly going through my social media. Hope this is useful to you as well 🙂