It’s nearing the halfway point of the term, and the motivation to power through summatives is beginning to cease for the most of us. Procrastination is at peak hunting season, and we’re the vulnerable lambs with weak immunity. This is not helped by the attractive passivity that social media offers us; as our focus becomes more short-sighted, the entertainment offered by Instagram’s limitless Explore page and the chaotic hilarity of Twitter’s trending topics becomes more consuming and inescapable. It’s almost no surprise then, when scientific research tells us that social media isn’t actually an effective way of taking breaks; it fails to replenish the tired mind and instead feeds it with more information and mental strain. If you’re struggling to keep yourself from succumbing to scroll-fever, here are some ways you can achieve a detox from social media:
- Turn off notifications for selective apps. For apps like Snapchat or Instagram, it’s unlikely that you would miss much if you checked on them just once a day. Realistically, turning off notifications might be counterproductive and make you check those apps more often because of the paranoia of missing important notifications, but eventually you will realise that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t respond instantly.
- Use apps that actually inspire you to be productive. If for some reason, you do use apps like Instagram to look at inspirational quotes or follow people who add constructive value to your daily life, allow yourself to continue using them. It’s more likely that your detox will be successful if you don’t quit cold turkey and instead modify your usage of such apps. Websites like Pinterest and Tumblr can actually be opportunities for creative catharses, so by customizing the sites that you visit, you may find that you slowly regain control of your procrastination tendencies.
- Find substitutes for social media. It’s more likely that you will be able to reduce your social media usage if you find an alternative activity that you can practice when you feel the urge to pick up your phone. Pick up a hobby like doodling, do some light reading, or listen to a podcast. By replacing the empty gratification that social media offers with something more creatively enriching, you’re more likely to return to your work with a refreshed mindset.
- Allocate a daily/weekly time limit for social media and treat yourself when you don’t exceed it. Positive reinforcement works! Also, use apps like Forest or Self Control (also available as extensions on Chrome) to make sure you have uninterrupted productivity sessions. If you have an iPhone, use the Screen Time settings to restrict your phone usage, and if not, use the always handy Airplane Mode and your own discipline.
These are tiny ideas that you can pick and choose from to help curb the instinctive urge to pick up your phone or spend hours looking at YouTube videos. Perhaps by making little changes to the way you take breaks from work, it will become a little easier to resist your screens, and a bit less impossible to get cracking on those approaching deadlines. However, if all else fails, hang on to the hope that you’ve made it to week 5, and you’ll only have to hold on a little longer!