How much time do you spend on social media? If you've never added it up, the numbers might surprise and scare you.
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Let's say you check in to the most popular social media sites — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn — an average of seven times a day. Each. And let's say that you spend an average of five minutes each time you visit. (But who are we kidding? We spend more than five minutes clicking on all of those cute kitten videos that George Takei posts.)
Here's the equation:
4 sites x 7 visits each x 5 minutes per visit = 140 minutes
That's more than two hours spent on social media each day. And those numbers are conservative. They also don't take into account any time you might spend playing games such as Words With Friends or Candy Crush or Scrubby Dubby. So it's entirely possible that you are investing maybe three to five hours that could be spent hanging out with your family, exercising, or doing other things that you never seem to fit into your day.
So how can you streamline this precious time? For those of us who lack the self control to avoid the wormhole of trending tweets and click-bait links, there are thankfully a number of apps that can help. Here are a few to try:
SelfControl. This app will keep you from wasting hours on those social media checks. Load SelfControl and set the timer for up to 24 hours and your computer will not allow you to visit any social media sites for the allotted time. But be warned: No amount of rebooting or deleting this app will undo the block. You will just have to wait until the timer runs out before you can get back to those kitten videos and Twitter trends.
Freedom. Want to take things one step further? This hardcore app will block out the Internet entirely for a set time period.
RescueTime. If you want to know how much time you spend on social media and other applications without actually blocking any of them, you can use this app to keep track. Then you can make a decision about which sites — if any — need to be blocked.
Focus Booster. Fans of the Pomodoro technique will like this app that lets you focus on a single task for 25 minutes before letting you know it's time for a 5-minute break. It's a good way to work on increasing your attention span and your ability to concentrate on one task at a time.
StayFocusd. For those of us who aren't quite ready to give up those social media sites cold turkey, the StayFocusd Google Chrome extension can be used to limit the distractions. You set the sites you want to limit and the amount of time that you can spend on each site. Once that time is up, your access to those sites will be blocked.
FocusWriter. If you need to focus on writing, this app will allow you to visually block out everything else on your screen to help you concentrate. Those websites will still be available with a swipe of the mouse on the right side of the screen. But while you are writing, you will see nothing except a distraction-free gray background. You can even set a writing goal (such as a word count or timer) and utilize the optional typewriter sound effects.