How to Stop Wasting Time on Social Media

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Social media is a huge time suck. There. I said it.

How many times have you opened your Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or other social media app to check in for “just a minute” – and ended up scrolling for an hour?

That time is lost – you can’t get it back. And what do you have to show for it?

It happens to all of us.

Social media is designed to pull us in, hook, line, and sinker. It captivates our attention and keeps us entertained.

You might think you have good control over it – but even 10 or 15 minutes a few times a day can add up. Four 15 minute sessions is an hour!

Think about all the things you could be doing with that time.

If you are frustrated with yourself for wasting time on social media – here are some strategies you can use to curb the distraction, set some boundaries, and find more time in your day.

girl on bed using iPhone

1. Figure Out How Much Time You Are Wasting

The logical first step is to figure out if this is really a problem for you.

The best way to do this is by keeping an old fashioned log book or journal – this way, the data that you collect will be very intentional and more meaningful.

Track your time on social media for a week – and determine whether it seems reasonable or excessive to you.

If you use Apple devices, you can also keep track of your time on social media by using the Screen Time feature. This is definitely an easier method than keeping a log, but if you use your devices for work or leave the apps open and walk away – then the screen time number may not accurately reflect the actual personal time that you spent on social media.

You can find the Screen Time feature in the Settings app on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Mac computer.

This is how to set it up on a Mac and here is how you set it up on an iPhone or iPad.

I am not familiar with Windows and Android – but there might be a similar app or function on those devices that you can look for.

2. Give Yourself a Daily “Social Media Time” Allowance

Now that you know how much time you are actually spending online – it is time to decide how much time you want to spend online.

Checking in on Facebook or watching TikTok videos might be the way you like to wind down after a busy day.

But you run into problems when the time you spend online becomes a form of procrastination.

You know you should be cleaning the house or doing your taxes – but watching a few reels is so much more fun.

The way to avoid this is to give yourself a daily social media time allowance.

To do this – work backwards to find a reasonable time budget.

For example, a day has 24 hours. If you sleep for 8 hours, work for 8 hours, commute for 1 hour, take 1 hour to get ready, and spend 2 hours on meals – that leaves you 4 remaining hours.

During these 4 remaining hours you may need to do all kinds of things, like:

  • run errands,
  • spend time with friends or family,
  • pursue a hobby,
  • take care of paperwork,
  • organize your home,
  • and so on.

This probably brings your available time down to about an hour or two.

So, how much of that free time do you want to spend on social media? The answer is totally up to you.

Figure out what makes sense and write down your social media time budget to keep yourself on track.

3. The Opportunity Cost of Sneaking In Social Media Time

After you break down the hours in your day – it is easy to realize that you really don’t have much time for social media.

Which is why most of us sneak it in during periods of down time.

It is easy to scroll through our phones on our lunch hour or while we wait for our kids during their activities.

Right before bedtime, it’s really tempting to just pick up the phone and mindlessly watch some shorts.

But the real question is – could you have been doing something more productive and purposeful instead?

At lunch time – are you missing out on getting to know a co worker, reading a good book, learning a new skill, or taking advantage of the time to do other online tasks like cleaning up your email inbox, organizing your digital photos, or paying a few bills?

When you are waiting for kids at their activities – could you be spending the time with your other children, getting to know other parents, or taking care of some personal business?

Remember that jumping on social media is easy – using your time to complete some of your personal projects or to do items takes more effort and planning.

4. Designate a Time for Social Media Use

To keep yourself from sneaking in social media time – assign yourself some screen time each day.

If you decided that an hour per day on social media is reasonable, decide when you are going to use it.

Will it be a half hour at breakfast or lunch? A full hour in the evening after dinner?

Pick a time that works best for you and stick to it.

It may seem counter intuitive but you want to make sure you use your time allotment.

If you decide that after dinner is your social media time – but you get busy and don’t use it, then you might try to squeeze that time in at bedtime instead.

And guess what will happen?

You may go to bed later and cost yourself a good night’s sleep. And without the structure of a time budget – you may spend way more than hour in the online rabbit hole.

5. Keep a Running To Do List

Another strategy to combat spending too much time on social media is to keep a running to do list – and have it with you at all times.

Hopping on social media is an easy way to pass time and you usually do it when you have a few minutes with nothing to do.

Meanwhile, you probably have a lot to do – but since it is not front and center, you don’t think about it in the moment.

Try and get in the habit of checking your to do list before you open your Facebook app.

To do lists are a very powerful productivity tool. When you review the things you need to get done regularly – you are more likely to act on those items and accomplish more.

You don’t need anything fancy for this. I use the Reminders App that came with my iPhone for keeping a running to do list – any list making app will do.

If you prefer pen and paper – it is fun to use a pretty notebook like one of these from Erin Condren.

6. Keep Your Goals In Sight

Finally, next time you find yourself wasting time on social media think about your long term goals.

What is it that you want to accomplish this year? Could you be using that time for self improvement instead?

Stop Giving Away Your Time!

Your time is your most precious resource. Stop giving it away to social media!

To use your time more wisely –

  • set long term goals
  • keep track of your to do list
  • determine how much time you actually spend on social media
  • decide how much free time you actually have to be on social media
  • look at your opportunity cost of being on social media
  • set boundaries for your social media time.

At the end of the day social media should be a tool for you to communicate with others, to get information that you need, and to provide some entertainment. But it should not get in your way when it comes to accomplishing what you want out of life.

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