I’m not ready to give up on social media quite yet.
Years ago, platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter really changed how I communicate with my coworkers, friends, and family.
In my writing career, Twitter in particular has made a huge difference because I can share links to articles and connect with readers. I’ve also relied heavily on Facebook messaging and groups to help me keep track of colleagues. I use LinkedIn on a daily basis as well, mostly as a way to stay up-to-date on business trends.
Yet, as the years go by, I’ve noticed how hard it is to find something useful on social media. I “doom scroll” like everyone else, although I’m also aware of the problem and tend to stop after a short time. I see other people doom scrolling as well and it reminds me how we’re all wasting time.
Fortunately, I found a solution.
As with anything that lures us in and gets us hooked like a fish, social media provides an illusion of productivity. You are scrolling constantly because your brain likes to stay active. We also like to search for things that seem elusive.
Sadly, this “illusion of elusiveness” is what makes these platforms so hard to give up and hard to throttle. I’m not saying we should set them aside entirely, but I do strongly advocate for a daily routine to help you manage usage.
MORE FOR YOU
Here’s the basic idea behind my approach:
Instead of doom scrolling, I recommend setting a timer for seven minutes, either on your phone or maybe with a stopwatch you carry around with you. That seven minute timeframe is important. It’s about how long most of us can stay focused on a task before needing a break. I recently found out it is also the exact timeframe radio hosts will talk or play music before making another comment on air.
Okay, so check your social media feed for two or three minutes, browsing a little here and there. After a few minutes, post your own update. Lastly, think about what you’ve learned and what you’ve accomplished. When you come to the end of the seven minutes, stop what you’re doing. Close the app and stop looking through your feed. By timing this activity and ending on time, you control your doom-scrolling.
Even more importantly, it sets a pattern of behavior and helps you form a habit. You are aware of time passing, and then you become a person who is more intentional with your time. A short routine where you only check social media for seven minutes teaches you to maintain focus in other areas of life as well (such as checking email or browsing the web). It’s similar to how a basic routine in the morning like brushing your teeth sets a good routine for hygiene. Similarly, when you get into your car, you always put on a seatbelt first and adjust the mirrors.
Good habits like that are how most of us stay productive.
I once followed a basic journaling routine in the morning as well, which taught me to think about what I wanted to accomplish that day. It’s amazing how routines form habits which then turn into good productivity.
Maybe you knew this was coming, but here’s my challenge to you if you struggle with doom scrolling on social media: Try the social media routine just once or twice today. Don’t try to make a lofty goal about controlling all social media usage and don’t quit the platforms. But try timing yourself and only check your accounts for exactly seven minutes. When you’re done, set the phone down and don’t check your feeds again for a few hours. It’s an easy, simple way to stop doom scrolling.
I’m really curious if this approach works for you and if you find it helps you focus on other things during the day. If you take me up on this challenge, send me an email directly. I’d love to chat with you about whether it worked and even report back on who took the challenge and why. Also, keep up to date with my book on productivity. You’ll find more routines like the one I’ve described.