In this 5th installment of a series on productivity, I want to throw out some ideas for you on how to moderate social media. While there are so many positives concerning social media, it can turn into an addictive time-waster like no other.
Minutes turn into hours. Hours turn into days. Days turn into weeks. It is mind-boggling to guesstimate how much of our lives we can spend on social media.
Is social media evil? No. Social media is amoral. It is without morals. It can be used for moral things, but it can also be used for immoral things.
For those of us who really want to make our lives count and be zealous for good works (Titus. 2:14), we must keep social media in check. “I just don’t have enough time” can’t be an excuse if you have been scrolling mindlessly for hours this week.
Social media can keep us from some of the most important things in life. John Piper stated:
One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the last day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.
Ideas to Moderate Social Media
Here is a list of ideas that might help you stay productive regarding social media:
- Apps for Blocking Distractions. Did you know that there are apps to help limit your time on social media sites for those who think they engage on it too much? Stay Focused is a plugin for your computer that allows you to limit how much time you spend on sites or when you will allow yourself to view certain sites (stay off during work hours, stay off during family time in evening, etc.). Zero Willpower is an app for your mobile device that does the same but it would require some app deletion (which may not be a bad thing). There are many other options out there like those two, but a tool like this can help you dramatically.
- Schedule Posts. Spoiler alert: if you found this post from a link I provided on social media, I wasn’t on there when it posted. I learned that I can be more productive if I schedule posts and don’t manually put them up. I use a free service called Hootsuite which allows me to schedule posts at any times in the future and keeps me more freed up from distractions in social media. My blog posts are scheduled and then my status updates are normally scheduled. In addition to the benefits from resisting distractions, this tool also allows me to remind people in our church of events but doesn’t keep me tied to the phone or computer. I will schedule numerous announcements of an upcoming event at once and then they come out at specific, intentional times.
- IFTTT. If This Than That (IFTTT) puts the internet to work for you. Create simple connections between the products you use every day. This free service lets users make “recipes” to consolidate and simply online activity (and honestly so much more). You search for things that could save you time and simply add it to your list. Some of the recipes I use are “If I change my Facebook profile pic, then change my Twitter profile pic,” “If I post a link to Facebook, then post it to Twitter,” “If I post a picture to Instagram, then post it in Twitter as an image and not a link.” There are too many recipes to get your head around. There are recipes that deal with Evernote, calendars, cloud based home security, you name it, it might be on there and it is growing. Some of these recipes might save a minute, but minutes add up to so much more down the road.
- Reduce Notifications. I used to have email notifications for a lot of my social media activity. So when someone would comment on a post, I would get an alert, and it would suck me back in to the conversation. What happens is you feel like you have someone in your ear all day and can’t focus on other real-life people in front of you. I now have zero notifications coming to me regarding social media and it is fantastic. So, in those moments during the day when I allow myself on social media, I address the conversations and get off.
- Learn to Say “No.” You don’t have to be on social media to be a functioning member of society. You don’t have to utilize all forms of it either. I decided when I used Instagram that I would use it as a tool for a mini-blog post to try to encourage people’s affections towards God and their families. I signed up, and I found a WordPress plugin that takes my pictures and imports them onto my blog so I don’t have to do it manually. Since discussion on email, text, Facebook, and Twitter is about all I can handle from a productivity stance, I decided I wouldn’t follow anyone on Instagram (something some of my friends have expressed their disappointment in :(). I just decided there had to be a limit to distracting social media sites and so that is an example of how I am using a tool but trying to avoid another distraction.
- Set Yourself Up for Success. If the first thing you do in the morning is pull your phone up and go to your favorite social media site to see what you missed in the last few hours, you might need to readjust. It is easy to go mindlessly to that favorite app and then all of a sudden your morning is gone, and you haven’t had any time to spend in the Word, prayer, working out, etc. Don’t try to have the willpower or clarity to think in the morning, set yourself up for success as you go to bed at night. Open up your Bible app or your Scripture memory app or your prayer list on your phone. Have it up on the screen and then close your phone for the night. When you wake up in the morning and open your phone out of habit, the first thing you see will be the first thing you need to see. Make it a rule that you hear from God before you hear from anyone else.
There are probably more, but I don’t want to waste any more of your time on a social media site (like this blog) when there are some important things you need to get to today. I would encourage you think through these tips and maybe some more. Putting in some work now could save time later!