Balancing Social Media: 8 Ways to Keep it From Sucking Up Your Time

“What you pay attention to becomes your reality. If you watch and read the news all the time, you will become obsessed with the latest crises. If you watch and read about celebrities, your life will revolve around them. If you socialize on social networks all day long, this will become your world.” Zen Habits

I’ve resisted writing about Facebook because, well…I like it. There are lots of ways to rationalize this irrational thinking: “I don’t want to give up all my ‘friends.’” “In my line of business, social media is a means of marketing and I must have it.” “How will my old friends find me.” “How can I keep up with what’s happening with everyone in my family.” “What if I miss a tagged picture of one of my kids.”…Really, these are excuses and the bottom line is Facebook wastes time.

Facebook has become the closet of my computer. It opens up and it is so crowded and jammed with stuff that junk starts to fall out all over the place. Then, cleaning it up becomes time consuming. It’s computer clutter with a capital “C”.

“Facebook is the most popular social networking site in 100 out of 127 countries, reaching over 350 million users across the planet.”

What has become uncomfortably evident is that Facebook is starting to factor into many of my friends’ lives. When I came face to face with this statement, I almost deleted my FB bookmark and started to “defriend”:

“Consider what you give your attention to each day. It’s a precious resource, and determines the shape of your life.” Zen Habits

Does this strike a chord with you? If your attention is being pulled in too many directions, how can we possibly focus on the task at hand? Should you shut your computer right now and take a hike? Or, can the two live in harmony?

8 Ways To Balance Your Social (Media) Life

1. Limit your friends. Not real-life friends, but social network and blogging and forum friends. Not that these can’t be good relationships, but having too many makes them meaningless. And each friend will take up a little bit of your attention — when you read their updates, click on their links, reply to their messages, look at their photos, and so on. The more you have, the more attention they’ll require. Limit them to just the essential.

2. Limit your feeds. Blog subscriptions, newsletters (not Care2!), other updates and news subscriptions and so on. Limit them to a handful of essentials, and let the rest go. The more you have, the more attention they require.

3. Limit your communication time. Going into your email inbox? Just give yourself 10 minutes to read, reply, delete, and get out. Going to do Twitter? Give yourself 5 minutes. Seriously, set up a timer. Don’t let these things take up all your attention.

4. Give up on news. It’s a never-ending cycle. And if you’ve paid attention to the news for a long time, you know it’s all the same, year after year. Unless your job depends on it, the news is usually a waste of your attention. Even if your job does depend on it, keep it limited.

5. Be brief. Write brief emails, tweets, updates, blog posts. With some exceptions, of course. But, make brief your de facto.

6. Give your attention to the important. This is the crucial part: choose what you give your attention to, and do this choosing carefully. What is important to you? Writing? Photography? Design? Coding? Creating a new business that helps others? Your kids? Figure this out, and give this the majority of your attention.

7. Become conscious of your distractions. Once you’ve decided to focus your attention on the important, become more aware of distractions as they come up. Make note of them, and as you get the urge to be distracted, learn to pause, breathe, and return to the important.

8. Surround yourself with the positive. If you want your life to be positive, let the positive have your attention. This applies to blogs, people, projects, and more.

For more information on this subject, check out: Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction

Does social media factor into your life?


Nimue Pendragon

The only social media site I go on is Care2, where what I do actually counts for something and makes a difference, the others are just a waste of time.

Nimue Pendragon

The only social media site I go on is Care2, where what I do actually counts for something and makes a difference, the others are just a waste of time.

Loesje vB
Loesje Najoan1 years ago

Don't worry I use social medias with limit.

Julia Grace
.1 years ago

Nicest information!!! I'll be enchanted to greatly help due to what I've learnt from here.

Jess No Fwd Plz K.
Jessica K.2 years ago

I like number 8, but number 4 I'm not sure of. Thanks.

Darren Woolsey
Darren Woolsey3 years ago

Scary suggestion maybe: go without your cellphone for a day... or longer...

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Susan A.
Susan A.4 years ago

Thanks for very nicely written article....explains why I got myself out of Facebook after the first week I tried it!

Ela V.
Ela V.4 years ago

Thank you, already figured out all these points but there is a real difficulty in applying them. Besides this issue can be applied to care 2, too.