4 useful tips that help me achieve minimalism on social media, so Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and other tools can stop pulling my leg, and I can start living fully and stop procrastinating
I love social media… Too much. It’s super useful to stay in touch, share ideas, learn, reach the world with our work. But it can take away time I’d need to make more inspiring material, finish books in writing at last, stronger social connections in person, or do other activities I love. It also keeps me away from my desired lifestyle using minimal wifi (not good for health) since I use a versatile tablet, and stay rooted in nature using minimal technology.
When I became aware of the problem 2 years ago, I tried to unplug for a month. Bye Facebook, see you later maybe! I said. This kind of rehab was not for me though because social media are nice tools anyways. They blend my work and life, that’s why I don’t close my accounts.
I now take a minimalist approach, and it’s working great. I just use it for my close tribe, close family and friends , and my inspiring-inspired tribe, colleagues such as other bloggers, and you, my readers.
It’s still useful for work, I love the distraction to step aside work mentality when needed, but as anything in the real world, our online world can become cluttered as well and foster habits we don’t love. Like not working on the French novel I’m supposed to be writing (I started it today, great!) Or cleaning a much needed closet.
Social media are tools, like the phone, or snail mail, to stay in contact and be informed. But, I prefer talking or writing directly to people. If we want to talk to people and have their latest news, we can connect a bit online AND, more importantly, go to them directly.
Here is what I’ve done using minimalism for social media.
1. Keep a tribe, cherish relationships offline then online in our free time.
Social media is powerful to stay in touch with members of my close tribe who don’t live near or travel a lot, though for my minimalist intention I put emphasis on emails. Lots of people don’t go often on social media, but read their emails everyday. This tribe consists of family members and close friends I meet, write long emails, or snail mail in the current year.
I don’t unfriend people, it happened to me and even though I can comprehend I find it a bit rude. I genuinely care about people I got to know through time, I love when I know they have a life they love, but anthropological studies show we can’t have meaningful relationships with more than about 150 people. I just check updates on close friends (you can select them in Facebook, and read the Close Friends feed separated from the main one). I understand it’s the same with other people, that’s why some attempts to connect weren’t successful, as well as living in modern society people are usually super busy. If we come together again, we can just add one to our close friends again.
My other tribe I keep contact with is with people I work with on projects (and may become close friends too). This is very useful for me since we have Facebook work groups for a common blog with a dozen of writers, and we’re writing novels together too.
I don’t really follow anymore on Twitter, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, and the like. If I like a blog, I’ll follow it directly, and comment on it. If I want an information, I’ll search it directly in Google.
I try to go only a few minutes once a day during the week, and however I like on the weekend, but not too much. A study has shown that anytime we go on Facebook we lose track of what we’re doing and efficiency.
2. Spend a fixed amount of time for our sanity.
This rule has been flexible for me, but now I intend to check it as often as I check emails. For personal and professional life, that is a quick check everyday to see if anything’s urgent, and a go through once a week erasing all that I don’t need, for emails, or notifications of statuses of people that aren’t on my list for Facebook.
For my professional life I now use the app Pages, with them I’m in a work mentality and don’t get distracted. I deleted the Facebook app, so when I go via a web browser, it’s more a pain and I’m not tempted to stay long. But I might delete the Pages app, because Facebook is moving more and more towards paid advertising and people aren’t usually able to see all that we post unless they have the page notifications. I might post on my personal timeline more specifically, where friends and followers can be updated better than with pages.
3. Keep distractions and information to the minimum we can tolerate.
I also keep mentors and interests as pages and groups. I just skim through them quickly. Reading on Facebook took a lot of my time and I got stuck in everything, now I go through quickly and subscribe to websites via RSS instead (I keep time for reading my favorites everyday).
I just found I was sucked up in a lot of futile conversations. I love to be of help, but I feel sometimes my comments aren’t needed and I think I’m more useful in real life, on the blogs I have, or via the books I’ll publish. I still have groups on the look to learn, help if really needed, and meet potential close friends. I keep groups to a minimum now, those where I don’t feel like an alien – where my values fit and there is reciprocal help and friendliness.
We can turn off the Facebook timedrainer chat too, and pickup that old phone instead, the quality of conversation is often better.
One friend I have only reads Facebook notifications in his emails and doesn’t use the website. I think it works really well if we only use our account for personal motives, it’s just harder for work, but it could be done if needed.
4. Use shortcuts to our advantage.
To let the world know I posted something, an email is automatically sent as well as notifications to Facebook and Twitter (and whenever I post from Facebook’s app Pages, it links to Twitter). This way readers interested know it, and I can focus on content and responding to comments on the blog.
It keeps my purpose simple; I love to focus on inspiring with the blog and writing.
I can also post to other social networks via buttons on the blog, and not use the actual websites or applications.
So with minimalism on social media I can focus on the blogs and truly respect readers, share inspiration, have my interesting readings at hand via a quick Facebook look, and rss, and my need for introversion with few conversations in society and more profound ones with my tribes. I stop procrastinating on projects. I end my love/hate relationship with social media. Loving it!