Welcome to part 2 of this month’s posts about dealing with distractions. If you didn’t read part 1, it’s available here. This week’s post will focus on how to deal with online distractions, with an emphasis on social media.
The majority of distractions most people encounter during the day come from social media. In an era of ever refreshing newsfeeds and blinking notification lights, you can be caught at the mercy of your phone. There are so many people making posts that there is absolutely no way you could read it all. Social media companies rely on you being online to make money. They need data about your social media habits so they have designed their platforms to catch your attention and keep you coming back. Do you have a report to write this morning, resist the urge to pop into facebook? Turn off your notifications, exit your email client. A friend of mine once referred to social media as “weapons of mass distraction.” It sounds like overkill but If you have ever found yourself laughing at a funny video when you were supposed to be working yet can’t remember how you got there, you understand the danger he was referring too.
Social media is here to stay. Unfortunately, no one taught us to develop healthy social media habits. Some people are so used to checking their phones every few minutes that if they lose internet connection, they start to experience anxiety. Does that sound like you? Could you go a week without social media? If the thought of not having a connection for a few days makes you tremble, you may have a problem with how you use the internet.
The first step to conquering distractions from social media is to designate social media free hours during the work day? When are your most productive hours? Are they in the morning before your lunch break? Or in the afternoon afterwards? Identify those hours and log out of all your social media accounts during that time. Make a commitment to sit down and work on your most important tasks without social media. Leave your tablet alone, put your phone out of sight and just work. Your laser focus during those times will drastically improve your productivity.
If your resolve keeps weakening and you find yourself reaching for your phone or subconsciously opening twitter for what you hope will be a five minute surf, you might need to take more drastic actions. Social media distraction has become such a huge problem that some banks take steps to block social media sites from being accessed on company internet. There are apps that you can use to deny yourself access to a particular site for a period of time. Some of these apps are so extreme that if you try to deactivate them prematurely, they block you for an even longer period of time. The apps can be a good way to start reducing your social media consumption.
If you think about it, we have already established it is impossible for you to read everything that gets posted on social media. It seems counterintuitive but even if you log out of your social media handles, you are not likely to miss anything important. If a person really needs your input on a subject matter, they will find a way to reach out to you. If there is a post that is so important that you need to read it, a friend will eventually bring it to your attention.
To recap what you need to do to deal with distractions from social media:
- Log out of your accounts when you need to focus on important tasks
- Designate social media free hours during the work day
- If all else fails, use a site blocking app
Do you have trouble logging out of social media? Do you feel you are spending too much time online instead of working on your goals? Leave a comment below. Next week I shall write about how to deal with distractions from coworkers and friends. Don’t forget to follow this blog if you aren’t already.