There’s no easier way to stay in touch with friends and family than through social media.  And since so many people are on social media it is a great place to market your business.

Social media is one click away at all times, on our work computers, home computers, and even on our phones. You can reach out to your friends instantly via text, images, videos, and even emojis — in a virtual environment that never sleeps.

The downside is that it can be an enormous time suck.  You pop in for a second and “wake up” from the continuous scroll 45 minutes later, when you get an alarm that you have a meeting in 15 minutes.

Why is social media so addictive?

People are social animals. Being in touch with other people, having a sense of connection and belonging has proven to have an evolutionary advantage, since people who managed to organize themselves in a community had better chances of survival than people who faced the wilderness by themselves. In this sense, social stimuli light up the same reward areas in our brain as food or water.

This is why social connection has become, in itself, a delicious reward for our brains. We use social media to find out about the news, strengthen connections with other people via humor and information sharing, and we are constantly being flooded with posts by other people who are trying to do the same.

Furthermore, instant communication has increased a sense of immediacy, so that we feel compelled to take action instantly when we receive a message or see a notification. A lot of pressure builds up and gains ground over our attention resources, while depleting our sense of control.

Why is that happening? It appears that the use of social media directly affects our brain chemistry, creating a dopamine high when we get any alert, even before we check the notifcation, thus reinforcing the behavior of constantly checking. It’s the mechanism of conditioning and it’s working very well.

While the dopamine high makes you feel good short-term, it seems that social media usage is related to lower levels of well-being and life satisfaction overall. In this study, participants were prompted to reduce or to cease social media activities for set periods of time. During those time intervals, not only did participants report increased life satisfaction overall, but they also reported reduced levels of procrastination.

That “endless scroll” also works to keep you on social media.  There was a study with a soup bowl that automatically refilled as people ate.  With the bottomless bowl, people ate 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimated how many calories they ate by 140 calories.  

We’ve all experienced that moment of disbelief — “What?!  I was on Facebook for how long?!”  Tech companies exploit this principle by purposely designing the never-ending scroll or auto-refill to eliminate any reason for you to pause and consider leaving. Like a casino without clocks, it’s scientifically created to addict us.

What can you do?

Social media is a tool — like a knife. It’s not good or bad per se, it all depends on how you choose to use it. A knife can be “good” if you use it to slice your bread, but “bad” if you accidentally cut your finger in the process. Let’s see how you can make the best out of social media usage, while avoiding the negative impact it may have on your productivity.

  1. Monitor

Use an app like Rescue Time on your computer or the Moment app on your iPhone.  Having real numbers of how much time you are spending on social media will make it easier to make changes.

  1. Create a Plan

If you are using social media to grow your business, have a specific plan written out.  For example; post in 3 groups, comment on 3 posts, answer any messages.  When you write out your plan, it is harder for your unconscious mind to be hijacked by exciting things in your feed.

  1.  Set a Timer!

Your brain will enter the time warp when you are in the social media zone.  Protect yourself from the endless scroll by setting a timer every time you log on. You’ll be surprised by how quickly that timer seems to go off.

Left uncontrolled, the apps and software you use to run your business will end up stealing your time and robbing your focus … leaving you with a full task list and no time for the important stuff — like relationships, your health, and taking action on the things that will create even more success for you.

Take our quiz to see where your technology is stealing your time so you can get started with reclaiming it.

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