6 tips to tame your social media addiction

Six Tips to Tame Your Social Media Addiction

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Part of the “Crazy” in Adrian’s Crazy Life is my interest in all things social media-related.  Well, maybe “interest” isn’t really a strong enough word, although I don’t think I’m quite as media-addicted as some of my friends are.  Some are completely glued to their screens no matter what the cost.  

I think the reason for this is because social media is designed to be massively addicted and our brains simply aren’t wired to deny the lure of the constant reinforcement of Likes and Shares and funny videos, etc.  It’s particularly harmful for pre-teens and teens because their brains aren’t developed enough yet.  

Here are some tips specifically for teens – Get Your Teen Off Their Cell Phone – Cell Phone Addiction and 5 Tips to Get Teen Boys off their Video Games

I have some techniques that help me keep my social media activities within some kind of reasonable limits.  Between my full-time job and all the dozens of other things I do in the average week, I just don’t have the leisure time to sit on Facebook or Twitter all day or check my Email every 5 minutes, yet I still want to stay connected and keep up with my blog and all the other fun stuff that is going on.  

6 Tips to Tame Your Social Media Addiction

This means I need to be very strategic in how I use my time and attention.  One way I do this is through the use of what I call “fences”.  You know the old saying “Good fences make good neighbors”?  That is absolutely true when it comes to social media.  It’s all about putting a virtual barrier between you and the things that tempt you – like your phone, your iPad and your computer.  Here are some of the tips that work for me.  

1.  Lock it up!

I bought a simple .99 cent pencil box – like for a little kid.  When I have a big project at work and don’t want to be tempted to check my Emails or Facebook for a while, I just pop my phone in the box for an hour or two.  It actually works pretty well.  And I can always catch-up on Emails at lunch or on the way to the restroom – oops!  

2.  Post-it Notes

Another thing I’ll do is leave myself post-it notes – it’s almost like being my own Mom.  It’s actually only fair because I leave them for everyone else in the house!  If I have some housework I want to get done on a weekend morning, I will put a post-it note on my computer that says “Adrian is not allowed on this computer until 11:00 AM.”  I know it’s silly, but it WORKS.

3.  Turn down the fire hose – unsubscribe, cut back notifications

I also engineer my phone to work in my favor.  I’ve shut off almost all notifications, so I’m only seeing the things I need to see.  The only thing I allow to interrupt me is my text notifications because it’s usually my family.  I also set up my mailbox and my Facebook notifications by priority, so I the important stuff floats to the top and I can ignore most of the rest of it.  I use a service called Unroll.me to consolidate most of my shopping and notification Emails into one daily digest.  Like everyone else, I get a ton of Emails in a day and that’s a great way to manage them.  

Gmail also has some great features to be able to mark conversations as Important, Starred, or Not Important based on the sender.  Emails from friends and family – Important, To-do items from Scouts – Starred, Facebook Emails from all my different online groups – Not Important, so I can dig through them at my leisure.  Almost everything else goes into my Unroll.me digest.  

4.  Set a specific time to check social media

Another fence technique I use is to structure my time well.  I think you just about have to when you are a busy working woman like I am.  Even our weekends are super busy with multiple Scout and church activity every.single.weekend.  So I have a few general rules that I live by.  One is NO TV EVER in the mornings.  Everyone in the house has some amount of ADHD and I view the TV as a huge electromagnet waiting to suck up everyone’s time and attention.  So it’s just a no.  Computers are the same, although I’d have to put their phones under lock and key to keep everyone from checking them.

In fact, I try very hard to segregate most of my online time for late at night, when my son is getting ready for bed and the house is starting to quiet down.  We do manage to have dinner together almost every night and we usually will watch TV together for a while – we all have favorite shows that we love to watch together.  That’s our relaxation and family time during the week.  After that, it is “ME time” which usually means that I stay up ridiculously late to get my time in.  It’s not great – I’m working on it….  But it is a good way to have some work time, some play time, some family time, and THEN some time for me to run my vast social media empire – ha!  

5.  Use your online time well and have a purpose.  

Social media can be an enormous whirlpool that sucks in your time and attention if you don’t set strict limits on it.  It’s so easy to end up reading post after post and following link after link.  Pinterest is my favorite – I just love to sit on there for hours and pin all the pretty pictures.  Sometimes I will set a timer to only allow myself a certain amount of time to spend on a particular site or doing a particular activity.

6.  Use games in SMALL doses

Games are something I mostly avoid.  I enjoy them as much as the anyone else does, but I know myself and I can get really sucked into them.  I’ve played some of the online games in the past but honestly, they are so rigged and full of ads, plus such a huge waste of time, I finally gave them up completely.  

I see people who are all wrapped up in Candy Crush or Words with Friends and I just don’t want to go there.  I would much rather spend that time checking up on my friends and family on Facebook or updating my blog.  If I really need a little veg time, I keep a couple of solitaire or Sudoku games on hand that I know I can play in moderation. 

So, those are my tips.  It’s definitely not perfect, but I think they work fairly well for me to keep my crazy life somewhat under control.  What kind of strategies do you have to manage your online time?  

Here are some other posts you might enjoy:

Smash Those Bad Habits that Keep You Stuck

Get Your Teen Off Their Cell Phone – Cell Phone Addiction

5 Tips to Get Teen Boys off their Video Games


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  1. Wonderful advice. I find it is amazing how effective something like a box for your phone can be. Sometimes I go to the library for the same reason. One of the most efficient places I work is on the airplane where I literally can’t go online (unless I pay for it, which I don’t.) Routine is also a helpful tool; windows we dedicate like your Share-fest give us permission to be online, and then we can turn it off.

    1. Thank you. I’m so pleased when you enjoy my tips. Building routines is definitely something I struggle with – my life has a high-level of chaos in it, which is part of my I named it Adrian’s Crazy Life, but that gets old after a while. Sometimes I would love to be the type of person who remembers to water the plants and knows what she is going to fix for dinner the next day. I tried a menu plan like a year ago. It lasted about a week and a half and then we tuned it out. Other times, I kind of like the variety and unpredictability of my life.

  2. These are great tips – I think the most important point is to have a plan, and stick with it. Otherwise, you can spend hours and not know what you did during that time heh

    1. That is SO true! I finally had to “break up” with Twitter because it was just an endless whirlpool I would get sucked into. I’m the same way with Pinterest. I could spend days on there if I didn’t set a limit on how much time I can spend looking at the pretty pictures and creating fabulous new boards. Most days, I’m pretty good, but sometimes it is nice to use for a little relaxing treat at the end of a very looong day. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. I know. I really believe it is actually addicting. I think we get a little hit of dopamine every time we check it. But it does feel good to feel like you control it rather than it controlling you, I promise!

  3. Great tips, Adrian! Love the post-its, I keep several of them in and around my computer but like the reminder to leave computer turned off. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective 🙂

    Sharing to my FB page now. Hope you have a great week!

    1. I think that’s what we all need is patience, followed closely by MORE TIME. But hopefully some of these tips will help you out.

  4. Great tips! I also use the Stay Focus app for Chrome where I can set time limits for certain websites like Facebook, etc. for the day. Once my time is up I’m locked out of the site until the next day. It has made me much more productive when I am online and it’s a great reminder to get what I need to get done first!

  5. I love all of your ideas but I seriously think I need someone like a personal trainer, who can follow me around and hold my phone so I can’t use it! I prefer he be really cute too! hehe! jK! love this post though.

  6. These are all good tips. Balancing my time is something I definitely struggle with when it comes to social media. You can get so involved that it’s hard to believe how much time you actually have been sitting in front of the computer. I try to do most of my computer time in the day-time hours while my kids are at school.

  7. I’ve just recently started to think about this more and more.. You’ve got some great insight here around social media. I’ve got a post brewing in my head about how you can’t ever “win” the internet.

  8. I SO need to get a handle on my on-line stuff. It seems to have gotten worse in the last week or so. I had a conversation with husband and 19yo daughter this weekend (I started it) about it sucking up my time. Liked your suggestions. Now to get off-line.

  9. I had to give up games as well. I used to play Farm Town (okay, it’s been a while). I found myself obsessing about it. To the point of scheduling my life activities around when I could harvest and plant. (Just talking about it now I got a twinge of wanting to play again.) Seriously, those games are of the devil. I am also very selective about what I start, knowing I can get hooked. I don’t do Pinterest. I know so many others do and there are wonderful things there. But as it was becoming popular, I heard so many people talking about what a time suck it is and how addicted they were. Knowing myself as I do, I knew it wouldn’t be a good thing for me.

    I think it’s about identifying our own weaknesses and protecting ourselves from ourselves, like you said. Sometimes we have to be our own mom.

    Thanks for the nudge. I’ve got a few other areas of social media behavior to clean up. I’ll get on that this weekend.

    Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  10. I am addicted as well. I thought when I had my foot surgery I would have more time to get caught up on paperwork and my reading. Nope – I spend more time on-line. Fortunately I don’t play games and only allow myself to go on Pinterest when I am posting something. I also have a weekday cut-off of 9:00 p.m. that I stick to most nights. During the day though I’m a total fail checking me readers, emails and stats many times throughout the day. I’ve tried to restrict myself, but so far it hasn’t worked.

  11. Honestly, I am not controlling myself enough. I don’t work outside of the house, so I don’t have to account to anyone for being on my cell phone. I do have a bad habit of checking statistics on my phone, but I am trying to resist more.

  12. I love the idea of fences. I have found that I cannot get on the computer before everyone gets out of the house in the morning. 🙂

  13. Great tips. I agree completely about the games. I made the mistake of downloading Bejeweled Blitz and it quickly became a problem. I’ve deleted it and put it back numerous times. Something interesting, though. Not only did I find that it wasted my time, but I found it made me lazy overall. I’m a pretty productive person but the more time I spent playing the game, the less productive I was. I’m not sure why it works that way and maybe it was just me.

    I’m not addicted to social media – just that silly game. But I’m working on it.

    Visiting from SITS.

  14. I need to put up some fences. I spend more time working on networking and social media than I do on creating content!

  15. I am definitely addicted to social media, but I don’t play any games on there! I need to check out Unroll.me – thanks for the tip!

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