How to Overcome Social Media Distractions and Focus

Social media platforms are designed to keep you distracted from meaningful work and fall into the bottomless pit of scrolling and swiping. A few tricks can help you overcome these disturbances and focus more easily despite the temptation of instantaneous gratification.

How to stop social media distractions? Whether you’re a student or a working professional, most of your work has to do with technology.

You can polish your group project on a laptop or edit your thesis on your phone.

Today, the devices you use for work or school are the same devices that entertain you. How to overcome distractions and focus on what you have to do?

When making a presentation or doing research on the internet, we’re inundated with countless stimuli competing to catch your attention.

Be it notifications or ads, various apps and websites are designed to keep you interested in their content and engage in not-so-meaningful tasks such as scrolling, watching videos, or texting.

In a way, it’s not really your fault that your mind keeps wandering off when you’re trying to focus.

To some extent, the blame could be put on the companies that design the greatest distractors of the modern era: social media.

These apps are to be addictive and hard to resist by design.

Each time you check your feed or receive a notification, your brain releases dopamine, desperately looking for instantaneous gratification.

There are a few tricks that will help you focus in this ocean of badges, colourful logos, and distracting sounds.

Whenever you’re about to take up an intellectually-demanding task and you need to focus on what really matters, follow these steps which will guide you to avoid social media distractions to maximize your efficiency and limit distractions.


How to Overcome Social Media Distractions and Focus

Turn Off Notifications   

The first step is a relatively easy one. As we’ve already established, virtually every social media app on your phone is supposed to be addictive. One way of achieving this goal and grabbing your undivided attention is through notifications.

Those banners, badges, vibrations, and high-pitched sounds are guaranteed to vehemently kick you out of your zone and make you distracted.

For many, it’s an irresistible temptation to check their phone once they hear a notification.

No surprise, we want to see who has messaged us or tagged us in a photo.

Turning off the notifications on your device, regardless of whether it’s a computer, a phone, or even a smartwatch, is the first crucial step of creating a distraction-free environment for you to work. 

Some devices allow this with a single click of a button.

Turning on a ‘don’t disturb’ mode on Apple devices or the airplane mode on any other phone will do the job just fine.

In some cases, you might want to turn off notifications for specific apps only. To do so, make sure to go to your device’s settings, where you can usually manage the notifications for specific apps.

In fact, this is a trick you can find useful not only when trying to get in the zone and focus on a specific task or project.

Try exploring the settings on your devices and ask yourself: Do I really need these notifications?

Spoiler alert: In most cases, you don’t. Taking control of your notifications makes you the master of your phone, not the other way around. Keep it in mind when using your devices – you’re the boss here.


Block websitesBlock Certain Apps, Websites, and News Feeds

If turning off notifications isn’t enough to keep you away from social media platforms and other time-consumers, you can try blocking certain websites or apps. On your browser, for example, you have the ability to add an extension that eradicates news feeds and suggestions.

This option is available for most social media websites, including Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

When the feed blocker is on, even if you find yourself on the homepage of these social media platforms, you won’t be able to fall into the abyss of endless scrolling.

Some news feed eradicators give you the opportunity to get rid of distractful news feeds within certain time periods. Of course, you can set it up all yourself.

It’s up to you to decide when to keep away from your friends’ posts and comments. 

When it comes to mobile devices, such as phones, you might be familiar with the so-called ‘screen time’.

This option is accessible on both Apple and Android smartphones. In the settings, you can set your own time limits. For instance, you are able to set a daily limit for entertainment apps, including all social media apps. 

If you set the daily limit to half an hour, after this time you won’t be able to use a particular app unless you enter your passcode or give yourself some more time. Usually, you can ignore the time limit for a quarter of an hour or get rid of it for the rest of the day. Then, it’s your decision whether you can allow yourself for additional minutes (or hours) of scrolling.


Give Yourself a Break

Having rest

Staying focused on hours on end is not an easy task. Even if you rid yourself of the distractions of social media and technology, your brain needs a little reset from time to time.

 Don’t be a dictator on yourself – for your own sake. Timetables and schedules are a great way to maximize efficiency of your work and keep your mind clear. There are a plethora of methods that help you work in intervals.

 What is certain is that different things work for different people. Make sure to tailor your working schedule to your own individual needs and preferences. You can try out various methods and time intervals to make sure which one suits you best.

 After a long time of intensive work, especially in front of a digital screen, your body requires a couple minutes of reset. Whether it’s reading a few pages of a book or taking a brief walk around the bloc, give your brain time to regain energy for further work.

 If you decide that 15 minutes of social media is your break of choice, then fair enough. In fact, it might be beneficial to do so. You won’t constantly think about checking what’s new on social media when you know that you’ll be able to do it after a certain time of working. It’s a way of rewarding yourself for staying focused.

 Be careful not to forget yourself during a break. If you tell yourself that after 20 minutes of mindless scrolling you’re getting back to work, then do it no matter what.


Keep Your Tabs to a Minimum

This last tip is applicable when working on a computer or a laptop. Whether you’re writing in a document or doing online research, keep the number of open tabs to a minimum.

Open tabs are dangerous distractions. Once you’ve got rid of notifications or blocked certain apps and websites, then stick to your schedule and don’t let yourself get distracted. There’s no use keeping websites you don’t need at the moment lurking at the top of your screen.

In simple words, they won’t do any good but tempt you to get out of your zone. In the tabs row, keep only the things you need to complete the project you’re working on and nothing else. Easy as it may sound, it’s a great life hack that is going to help you stay focused and keep away from the distractions of technology and social media. 


The Bottom Line

Surrounded by technology, notifications, and other kinds of distractions, one may find it quite troublesome to stay focused on a project. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to increase the efficiency of your work and keep distractions at bay. 

First of all, turning off notifications will cut you off from apps trying to grab your attention. Blocking certain websites and applications is another way to protect yourself from disturbances. Keeping tabs to a minimum when working on a browser might be helpful as well. 

Keep a schedule and allow yourself to take a break from time to time. You’re not a machine, and it’s not your fault that social media platforms are designed to interrupt you from what really matters. Remember about these tips the next time you enter a timely race with deadlines.

Photos: Shutterstock / Edited by: Martina Advaney

Need some help organising your life? Here are some apps that can help to avoid social media distractions. Just don’t spend too long on that phone…

10 Free Apps to Track and Organize Your Life

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