Want to Be Happier? Stop Checking Social Media at Work

We live during very interesting times. Technology continues to change the world in ways we never could have predicted. Each day, we make choices about how to utilize that technology in our lives. The decisions we make change the way we navigate our day, connect with each other, and experience the world. Sometimes it can feel as though making the choice to check in with social media doesn’t really feel like a choice at all — instead, it feels more like a habit, or maybe even just a fact of life.

social media
Image Credit: Pete Simon/Flickr

Of course, we know that the way we engage with social media is a decision, and one that should be made (or maybe turned away from) consciously. Actually, there are lots of reasons to consider not engaging with social media at all. But, if the very idea makes your FOMO start to flare up, don’t worry — you don’t have to quit social media forever-ever. Just simply consider these reasons for skipping it during the workday, at least for the most part.

  1. You’ll get more done in less time.

Because technology is with us wherever we go, there is almost always the option to check in with our social networks. When you are at work, the opportunities abound, and let’s be honest, the desire to enjoy a momentary distraction is often kind of present as well.

So, before you start responding to emails, you decide to “quickly” breeze through your social media sites. Here’s where the productivity problem starts — it’s never just a minute. Often, we spend more time on these sites then we mean to or even realize. But, there is also another layer to this problem. There is something about the way in which checking in when we know we shouldn’t breaks down our resolve because it makes distraction the norm and just generally lessens our willpower. When you make the decision to do away with social media while you’re at work, you gain back both the time and the energy you usually give to social media as well as what you lose when you struggle with resisting it. The time benefit alone is reason to consider changing habits — we could all use more time.

“I’m a freelancer, so I make my own hours,” writes PayScale blogger Jen Hubley Luckwaldt in a piece for Rodale’s Organic Life about her week away from social media, “but I generally work a normal day, 9ish to 6ish. My first day of working without taking social media breaks, I finished all my work by 3 p.m. I felt like a genius who’d actually discovered how to put more hours in the day.”

  1. You’ll feel better.

If you’re in the habit of checking social media multiple times per day, the urge to tune in to your social networks can cause anxiety. But, while logging on might relieve that feeling, it doesn’t actually make you feel good. Even if it does provide a little shot of dopamine, know that there is a difference between feeling excited and feeling happy. Actually, anyone who has ever been on social media will confirm that, when you log on, there is often a post or two from an old “friend” that makes you feel a little angry or even depressed. Research suggests that those who stop using sites like Facebook are actually happier (39 percent of the time) than their peers who continue. Although, the only way to know for sure how you’ll respond is to give it a try. Maybe experimenting with cutting back during the work day is a good place to start.

  1. You’ll realize how little you’re missing.

Many have made the decision to pull back from social networking almost entirely, at least for a period of time. There have been pieces written for Lifehack, The Huffington Post, and CNBC about the topic, and every single one of these pieces has one thing in common — the author says something about how they were surprised by how little they felt they were missing out on once they adjusted to the change. And, if social media isn’t adding to our lives in a significant or meaningful way, then there really isn’t much reason to invest so much time into it.

“My 30-day detox taught me I don’t have to be connected to everything and everyone all the time. The world will not stop rotating if I don’t see the cute baby photo my relative uploaded or the passive-aggressive status updates after a favorite sports team’s disappointing loss,” writes Jordan K. Turgeon of The Huffington Post. “I can use social media as little or as much as I want; but when I choose to stay away, I come out much happier.”

  1. You’ll be better able to focus on what’s best for you.

Social media can cause us to compare ourselves and our circumstances to others, and this simply isn’t good for us. Life is not a like a hill we’re all trying to climb as fast as possible and the first one to the top wins. We’re all different, and there is no right or wrong way, or path, through life. By letting go of checking in with what others are doing quite so much, you might find that you’re better able to check in with yourself. Let go of bouncing your own identity off of others during the workday and just focus on doing what’s best for you.

You’ll experience the world a little differently if you stop using social media during the workday, and you will almost certainly learn something interesting about yourself as a result.

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