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Disability Resources & Educational Services

Tips for Social Media Distractions

Ever look at the clock and realize you’ve spent the last two hours surfing the Internet, reading Twitter posts, snapchatting on Snapchat or pinning on Pinterest?

10 ways social media is distracting:

  1. You seemingly have to watch what everyone else is up to: liking posts and following the live feeds. Otherwise you might miss something – right?
  2. You find yourself stalking people… wondering what they’re up to at any given time…
  3. You get drawn into content that might be interesting, but isn’t relevant to your studies or purpose.
  4. You end up taking Wiki walks, even if you didn’t mean to. (Randomly following Wikipedia links (or others) and reading articles, which ends up wasting a lot of time) The longer the walk, the more unrelated the articles become.
  5. You end up watching each account in case anyone contacts you directly
  6. If anyone does contact or mention you, you drop everything you’re doing and respond instantly to any comment or communication that comes your way.
  7. There are too many accounts and feeds to focus on.
  8. There are too many people to follow.
  9. You find yourself wandering the social mediasphere aimlessly, looking for relevant content.
  10. You ended up looking at what your friends were up to all day instead of doing your work.

Sound familiar?

I know people who have punted and just said no to using social media. While that is a solution, it’s not a very relevant one for those of us who do want to be effective in connecting with people near and far. A better one is making a conscious choice about how you use your time moment by moment. Here are some actions for avoiding social media and personal technology distractions:

  • Turn off alerts and notifications (do not disturb for iPhones and there are apps for Android users).
  • Check e-mail only three times a day.
  • Use a second monitor (to decrease window-switching time).
  • Schedule regular blocks of time to turn off your phone.
  • Try creating a “3 Most Important Things for Today List” at the start of your day. Then at the end of the day, look at it, reflect on what you did – and plan for tomorrow. The hard part is to not go online or check email until you get your three things done. We can practice this in session.

We all face distractions on a daily basis. Distractions not only lower our productivity; they also increase our stress. You probably already know what distracts you the most—phone calls, emails, selfies, texting, Internet browsing, interrupting co-workers (fellow students or friends) and so on. Strategies like scheduling email checks, turning off your phone and leaving the office (your dorm/room) for a quieter environment may eliminate distractions so that you get more done.

10 ways not to be distracted by social media:

  1. Close news and social media sites. A helpful tip is to create an aggregated feed of all your favorite news sites. This helps you avoid wasting time wandering the Internet for headlines and updates.
  2. Close your Internet browser when you’re working. The precious seconds it takes to load the browser when you feel tempted to go online may be just the moment you need to become conscious of the time you’re wasting. If you must be logged in on a continual basis, try restricting yourself to three or four browser tabs for work-related sites. Close everything else.
  3. Plan times to interact with it. You may need to schedule when you will use social media, check Facebook or post selfies. If you allow yourself scheduled time each day to do this you can focus more on getting your work done instead of wondering where that time went. Stick to those times!
  4. Stick to the plan. Be disciplined, trust your plan, stick to it and review how it’s working, when you said you would. (It’s ok not to be on IG (Instagram) all day, really!)
  5. Reflect and adjust. You will want to closely monitor yourself on a daily and weekly basis and make adjustments. You should regularly ask yourself the following questions. While these are related to your studies and how to better acquire new skills, you could just as well use them in any work or life situation.
    • What is my main goal?
    • What is my goal for the week?
    • What do I need to do today?
    • Where am I at the moment?
    • Is this technique/schedule/place/relationship/situation working?
    • Is it worth improving? How can I improve it?
  1. Find the right place to study or work. Picking the right place to study is crucial because it has a major influence on the efficiency of the learning process. While you might like to study in your room, you’ll easily be distracted by TV, video games, or fashion magazines lying next to your bed. A coffee shop might seem like a good option but it can be noisy at times. Be sure to find a quiet and well lit place. If you are planning on spending long hours working or studying, it’s a good idea to make sure that your chair and desk are ergonomically designed for greater productivity. A bad physical setup can mess up both your posture and your work efficiency. And don’t forget snacks!
  2. Managing Physical Space. When you see clutter in your physical work spaces, try to take that as a sign that you need to hit a pause button. Usually it is because you are doing too much.
  3. Try online quarantine. For extreme measures, install Freedom, Anti-Social, SelfControl, Cold Turkey, or RescueTime, which put a temporary barrier on your access to certain websites on the net. Add all your social media sites to the blacklist. We can do this in coaching!
  4. Cut down. Choose and use the right types of social media. You don’t have to have or use every one. digmytwitfaceplusstumbleblogtube…!
  5. Just Say No (#YOLO). Maybe you are going to say no to social media for a day and go to meet with people, read a book, or take a walk. When I’m feeling most overwhelmed, I take a break. Even if it is just to get up and walk around my desk. The important thing is to disconnect every now and then so you can re-center and focus.

Social media is awesome but when it starts interfering to the point that your grades are suffering, you can’t or aren’t getting anything else done it is time to try some of the above techniques. If you feel your social media use is to the point where it is really out of hand (see below for a few signs) please let me or someone else you feel comfortable with know.

Some Signs Your Social Media Use is Out of Hand

  • Losing track of time online
  • Having trouble completing tasks at work or home
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Feeling guilty or defensive about your Internet use
  • Feeling a sense of euphoria while involved in Internet activities