Nearly every weekend, I stay in on Saturday night. I tell myself I’m going to get ahead for the upcoming week. But midnight rolls around I’ll have accomplished nothing; gripped by the familiar horror that I’ve wasted an entire night social media cycling. Again. Social media cycling – You know, when you hop from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and back again? Maybe if it’s a slow night, you might even check your LinkedIn account a few times.
Which is why I was surprised by this Big Think piece from January discussing studies that show social media isn’t really a productivity killer. I suppose it’s easy to blame social media for keeping us from our goals, but really if we weren’t double-tapping on our besties’ selfies, we’d find other ways to distract ourselves. I mean naps pre-date the Internet by like a billion years.
But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your social media use, there are some things you can do to reduce your time typing Tweets and increase your time typing the next great American novel.
Ditch Your Smartphone
When I’m working from home, I do most of my writing in bed. But when I want to switch it up, I’ll take my laptop downstairs and write at the kitchen table. And when I’m really trying to crank out some copy uninterrupted, I’ll leave my iPhone behind. I’ve found that I’m a lot less likely to social media cycle on my laptop. I guess it’s more of a hassle to jump between browser tabs than it is to hop between apps on my phone.
If you want to try this out, you don’t have to leave your phone on a different floor of the house. Just put it far enough out of reach you’d have to stand up and walk over to it to use it.
Set a Timer
When I’m writing for clients, I often charge by the hour. So, the last thing I want to do is get caught up in an endless social media loop while I’m supposed to be working. I can’t invoice my clients for that time and it means I have to work later to make up for it.
Even if you don’t bill by the hour, you can get a similar effect by setting a timer. Make a list of all the things you’d like to do for the day. Block out the amount of time you can dedicate to your writing. This will help you see that your time is too precious to fritter away reading tweets from faux celebrity accounts. Set your timer, then get to writing. If it’s a big block of time, you should break it into chunks with breaks in between.
Make a Social Media Date
Okay, I suspect the real reason I waste my Saturday nights not being productive is because I’m a brat. I get all passive-aggressive with myself because Saturday nights are for fun and I’m trying to force myself to work. Which means I don’t go out and have fun but I also don’t get any work done. This past weekend, I decided I was going to start making my Saturdays a work-free zone.
I shopped, saw some friends and spent my night binging the newest season of Bojack Horseman. And I spent time on social media. I didn’t feel guilty about any of it. I think sometimes you just have to be honest with yourself. Saturday just isn’t ever going to be a super productive time for me, so I might as well use that time doing things I enjoy.
Another option: I have friends who allow themselves an hour or two of social media a day. One in the morning and one in the evening. They get their fix without burning minutes during the day gawking at their friends’ status updates.
What are some things you do to keep your social media use at a minimum when you’re trying to write? Tweet us.
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