One of the most important skills when it comes to social media is time management. You need to be careful not to overdo it; spending too much time on social media can have myriad negative effects on your mental (and physical) health. Even aside from the adverse impact on your wellbeing, social media can give you unrealistic expectations about how life works and what you should expect of yourself.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to limit your exposure to social media of all kinds. No matter what platform, social media should be consumed in moderation. However, it’s not always easy to ensure that you spend the right amount of time with social media apps. You can easily get caught up scrolling through your feeds or watching the TikTok For You algorithm, so we’ve put together a handy guide on how to manage your time spent on social media.
1) Uninstall the apps from your phone
Let’s start with the “scorched earth” option. Deleting all social media apps from your phone will put you well on the way to spending less time with the platforms you want to get away from. It might sound a little drastic, but more often than not, idle scrolling is what leads us to spend so much time on social media. In many cases, it’s muscle memory; we simply open the apps because we’re used to doing so, whether or not we actually want to browse our feeds. Uninstalling them, or at the very least disabling them if your phone doesn’t allow you to uninstall them, will go a long way towards helping this.
2) Set timers and stick to them
When you browse social media, try creating a timer for a certain amount of time – fifteen minutes, for example, or half an hour. When the timer has finished ticking down, switch away from the social media app and do something else. This requires a great degree of self-discipline; it’s all too easy to ignore the timer and say you’ll have “just a few more minutes”, which can quickly turn into hours if you’re not careful. Try setting up a series of timers, so that when the first one expires, you can turn to the next one. If you get yourself into the regime, you’d be surprised at how well this can work.
3) Go for a walk
The health benefits of simply going outside and taking a walk are well-documented. Not only does doing so have a tremendously beneficial effect on your physical health, but it can also improve your mental wellbeing as well. In addition, walking can curb your social media use, especially if you don’t take your phone with you. If you must have an accompaniment to your walk, try buying a second device that doesn’t have internet connectivity so you can load it up with podcasts but you can’t access Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms on it. This will help to wean you off any kind of absentminded scrolling habit you may have developed.
4) Download social media limiting apps
Believe it or not, there are actually a range of apps available online to help you curb your social media usage. It’s worth looking into apps like the rather entertaining Forest, which tasks you with growing a plant while you’re not using social media (or any other apps you designate as “forbidden”). If you start using those apps during the period of time you allocate in Forest, then it will tell you your plant is going to die. This proves remarkably effective; even though it’s just a digital plant, the feeling of responsibility you develop for it is quick and powerful. There are a plethora of other apps available on both major mobile stores to help you limit your social media use, too.
5) Pick up new hobbies
If you’ve got something else to do while you’re idle, then you’re less likely to grab your phone and start mindlessly scrolling. Why not try picking up a musical instrument, for example, or indulging your creative instincts? There’s never been a better time to take up writing, painting, or creating music, so give these hobbies a go if you’re looking for a way to better occupy your time. While you’re doing this, make sure you don’t have your phone to hand, and if you do, put it in airplane mode so that you don’t check social media idly during downtime. This will help to train your brain away from scrolling during “off hours” and towards indulging in your hobby instead!
6) Charge your phone outside your room
Some of our longest and most involved scrolling sessions have been while we’re in bed, waiting for sleep to claim us. Unfortunately, scrolling through social media may actually be a big part of why we can’t sleep. That’s why it’s a good idea to charge your devices outside your room, so you don’t feel tempted to get up and go get them. If you know you can control yourself, you can charge them in your room, but not on your bedside table where they’re in easy reach. You could also consider picking up a Kindle or another device that can’t access social media, but can give you access to books or other media to help you sleep.
7) Deactivate your accounts
This last option is even more scorched-earth than deleting apps from your phone. Deactivating your social media accounts permanently means you’ll never be able to access those feeds again, unless you create a brand new account and add everyone you had as a friend on your old profile. This is, of course, hugely time-consuming, so you’re unlikely to want to do it. Don’t deactivate your accounts unless you’re absolutely sure you’re completely done with social media, though; you don’t want to do something drastic and then regret it afterwards. Start with apps you no longer use, then work your way through if you’re determined to deactivate. Ask yourself at each juncture whether you still definitely want to do this.