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How Lessons Learned During October's Social-Media Blackout Can Fuel Future Success

Social media gets a lot of flak, but it's also a powerful tool that allows us to connect and learn on-demand.

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So, you survived the seven-hour social-media blackout on October 4, 2021. It was probably frustrating; you wanted to scroll endlessly to get through another Monday of sending emails and strategizing.

Social media gets a lot of flak, and there's no shortage of studies to back up the criticism. For example, a 2018 study out of University of Pennsylvania found a significant decrease in depression, anxiety and fear of missing out (FOMO) when research participants decreased their social media use to 30 minutes or less per day. 

But social media is also a powerful tool that allows us to connect when we want and learn on-demand. And the events on October 4 reminded us that we have to be intentional with our time and use of social media. 

Related: Facebook Explains What Happened in Massive Blackout: 'We're Working to Understand More'

What the social-media blackout on October 4 revealed

Here’s what probably happened throughout your day when most social-media sites were down.

You felt anxiety: “Is this only happening to me?” You went to Google or Twitter for answers, then felt a sense of relief to see everyone was offline. Maybe you caught your breath; you wouldn't miss any trends or updates. With nothing to scroll through, you refocused on what mattered: your work, projects, communication and real life.

And as a result? You probably experienced a wave of productivity and excitement. Maybe you felt like you could finally keep up, and things were moving freely, not bogged down by rapid-fire social-media posts and alerts. It makes sense: In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to focus and let your ideas flow.

Flow is the optimal state of functioning and happens when you’re fully immersed in an activity and able to focus without self-doubt or distraction. As entrepreneurs, we try to hack our flow and cultivate conditions to access flow on demand. But with social-media distractions, finding flow is an uphill battle.

The most successful entrepreneurs lock into their zone of genius. You need to do the same; that’s how you’ll find your flow. Social media won’t break most Mondays, but if you pretend it’s broken or act as though it doesn’t have much power, your creative energy will flow effortlessly.

And that’s why you became an entrepreneur after all, right? You're an innovator who wants to do things differently. You’re shifting how we conceptualize business, work and lifestyle. And the world is counting on you.

Related: 8 Simple Ways to Make Social Media Work for Your Business

How to effectively spend less time on social media

Here are six ways to continue paying less attention to social media so that you can unlock more success today. 

  1. Block off time to be off social media for the first half of your day. Start by scheduling it for five minutes. This can be time to breathe, daydream before waking up, read three pages of a book, draw a morning doodle or make an extra delicious tea.
  2. Block off time to be on social media, ideally in the second half of the day, to optimize your focus earlier on, allowing your highest-level thinking windows to be dedicated to you and your goals. I have an alarm that goes off at noon to check-in with the world. If I hear the alarm and don’t feel motivated to go on social media, I don’t. Be kind to yourself, as you’re training your brain to adapt.
  3. Identify what your goal is with social media and place that reminder front and center above or by your desk. This is your main reason to log on — again, after you’ve focused on non-social-media tasks. Have this as an easy-to-view reminder: It can sound like a general affirmation like “Focus on what matters” or be very specific like “When I post I showcase my business.” Being focused with a clear goal and intention helps you also feel better about the time you do spend on social media
  4. Make spending less and less time on social media a contest with a colleague or family member. Make the prize something meaningful and check-in daily. Sometimes talking about social media helps us laugh out loud and realize it’s well, not technically, real life. This might be a way to ensure you’re happy with how you’re spending your time. 
  5. Trust yourself to focus on the work that matters. Create a system of positive affirmations you repeat to remember that social-media growth and engagement aren't your end goals.These can include the following: My time is valuable. My business growth is counting on my focus. Limiting scrolling will accelerate my revenue. I scroll with a purpose. Scrolling for 30 minutes a day is helpful. 
  6. Delegate social media to a team member or a few team members that are excited about the task. You’re an entrepreneur and innovator, not a solopreneur. To stay in your zone of genius, you’ve got to perfect delegation. Social-media delegation allows you to be in flow for days and weeks instead of just when the apps crash.

Social media will be around in one way or another forever. As entrepreneurs, we want to optimize it for success; however, taking intentional breaks more often leads us to trust ourselves and channel our zone of genius so we can create from an innovative mindset. Our businesses are counting on us to be in flow, and minimizing social media is a fast track to success and mental clarity.

Related: 7 Creative Ways to Boost Your Social Media Strategy

Dr. Julia Colangelo

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Dr. Julia Colangelo is an award-winning educator of flow and mindfulness at Columbia University and the founder of Hello Flow, a Maui-based company, where she helps thought leaders, public figures and celebrities align their lives and find their flow through creative strategies.