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How to Create a Social Media Diet

Every Friday, I post a Simple Living News Update that includes links to some of my favorite articles of the week. In addition to the news update, I answer a reader question via video.

Sarah emailed me a few days ago and asked:

How do you limit your time on social media sites? What are some ways to set boundaries, so that I can get a little more work done?

For those of you who can’t watch the video, below is a summary of my talk.

5 Ways to Put Yourself on a Social Media Diet

1. Set a timer when you are on Twitter or Facebook.

2. Do one thing at a time.

3. Remember Twitter and Facebook are streams of information and you don’t have to keep up with everyone.

4. Work from a location that doesn’t have an internet connection or unplug the Internet from your computer.

5. Take a weekly sabbatical.

Now onto the simple living news update. . .

A tiny house in Idaho

“At the time we made the decision to move to Idaho, we were already brainstorming about a plan for our long-term happiness. We knew living where we did, downtown, wasn’t going to work for the dogs much longer and we ourselves needed more nature-interfacing. I’d researched alternative living arrangements (modern-day communes, etc.) near Portland, Ore., where we lived at the time. But the economic reality was that we had a better chance of making this happen if we lived near my family.”

Stop Sucking Up

“You suck up when you have little confidence in your work. That’s the primary reason. That’s why I did it.

When I have real confidence in my work, I approach perceived people of power differently. I approach them as a peer, a peer they don’t know about yet.”

Free Work vs Paid Work (or How To Give and Get Paid)

“Free Work Must Also Add Value.

Just because something is free doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t add value. In fact, if your free work doesn’t add value, you won’t sell any of your paid work.

Note: if you’re wondering why your paid work isn’t selling, take a look at your free work. Maybe it sucks.”

Minimalist Home: Adding Warmth Without Adding Stuff

“Remember: adding warmth isn’t about adding stuff. An empty room with weathered wood floors and a single vase of flowers can be absolutely delightful. Rather, it’s about choosing our stuff with care, so that our homes are welcoming havens for our families, our guests, and ourselves. When you come home at the end of a long day, your space should always make you smile.”

Update on the PDX Meet-up

Last night, Tyler Tervooren, Sean Ogle, Jonathan Mead, and little old me hosted a reader meet-up in Portland! It was a blast.

I got a chance to hang out with some amazing people including: Heather from Mile73, Dave from Dave Knows, Natalie from SweetPea Bicycles, Dusti from Minimalist Adventures, Mark from the Donating Drummer, Tomas Quinones, and a lot of readers.

Thank you for coming to the meet-up!

Cool Stuff

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Katherine February 18, 2011, 11:59 am

    I love the idea of a sabbatical from the media. For 2011 I am trying one new resolution per month, and one suggestion I have gotten is to abstain from facebook for a month– it is a huge time-suck for me. I think reigning in my screen time is always a great idea. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Kiki February 21, 2011, 4:38 pm

      I deactivated my facebook page earlier this week after a hack and spam attack. That attack left me investing a would have been a free-isurely evening contacting friends. I wanted to let them know that my vulnerability did not mean that I was the one who got the great deal on the iPad despite a facebook email to the contrary.

      Now after four days I do not miss it in the least. I had good contacts from former friends and students and the photos would distract me ad nauseum.But it’s just like back when I was in college and still getting high sometimes: one day I asked myself how much longer I wanted this to be part of my life. It was a proverbial no brainer. TV –same thing. Ditto mascara and any foot gear with a heel.

      Enjoy! It’s not a flatline moment. Maybe it’s not even forever. But it is free-isurely, and that suits my lifestyle most.

      • rob February 21, 2011, 6:11 pm

        @Kiki: I had the same reaction to mascara and heels 🙂

        Seriously, I realized on my most recent birthday that I was older than my mother ever managed, and it kind of freaked me out. In a good way, as it inspired me to start stripping away the less significant things that had crept into my life. I like your analogy to college life. Lots of things that I did (and seemed important) then don’t matter any more. I find that not keeping up with the news, or politics, or anything else that I can’t control directly contributes to my happiness. Life is to short to worry about what’s happening halfway around the world. What’s happening in your garden is much more relevant!

      • Tammy February 21, 2011, 7:45 pm

        @Kiki – That is awesome! I’m impressed. I’ve considered deactivating my facebook account, but haven’t had the courage to do it. At least not yet. 🙂 Although, I’m glad I gave away all my heels and no longer wear make-up. Like you said, “it’s a proverbial no brainer.”

        Thanks for stopping by! Wishing you all the best.

  • Becky Lerner February 18, 2011, 3:04 pm


    Great video and great tips!

    I need to take your advice on the internet detox.


  • Patrick February 18, 2011, 3:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing Tammy. But I wonder…when I am actually installing a timer to restrict my time on social media…shouldn’t I just go to a clinic? Do I really need to flee from home to avoid being tempted to use my wireless network? Honestly, such measures are like putting a glass of water on a sheep. If you think you are using too much social media, you should change radically or the habit will stick anyway.

    Personally I would say: limit your access to social media to one device only, whether it be a phone, iPad, laptop or PC. If that doesn’t cure the addiction at least a bit, then restrict your access to the social media tools on them by settig some rules like “no more than 1 peek-per-day”.

    In the end it’s just a matter of character and having the guts not to fool yourself. Your number 3 is a very good one though. The belief that information retrieval is optional instead of mandatory is key is establishing self-discipline.

    By the way, I like the way you enrich your blog with video’s.

    • Tammy February 18, 2011, 7:03 pm

      @Patrick – Remember these are only suggestions. I’ve used these ideas and they have worked really well for me. Personally, I’ve found social media sites to be very addicting and while I have “self-discipline” and “strong character,” I fall off the wagon. So for me leaving home and totally unplugging has helped my productivity.

      Thanks for reading and adding a few tips. Have a great weekend!

      • Patrick February 19, 2011, 12:05 am

        I realize it can be difficult indeed and of course everyone has her own way of dealing with social media. Once again thanks. Your blog has been in my RSS reader for quite while now. Enjoy your weekend and the many days that follow.

  • April February 18, 2011, 4:41 pm

    Sweet! We’re the tiny house in Idaho peeps and I love Rowdy Kittens!

    • Tammy February 19, 2011, 1:09 pm

      @April – Sweet!!!! Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. 🙂

  • rob February 18, 2011, 10:28 pm

    So… I just took a 5-week sabbatical from facebook, twitter, e-mail and most anything internet-related that didn’t have to do with my vacation travel. It was freaking awesome. Enough so that re-connecting feels a little unnecessary. I actually do feel like I get a little bit of value from facebook, although most due to its ubiquity and thus its utility as a tool for reconnecting with old friends. Twitter’s minor allure was lost in the 5 weeks I was away. In fact, the allure of “being online” was lost. I still haven’t plotted a continuing path, but I have to say I’m not likely to be as “social media” interested as I was. Being outside, reading, and enjoying the freedom to just think was very very nice..

    • Tammy February 19, 2011, 1:11 pm

      @Rob – Sounds like an amazing break to me! I felt the same way after my 1-week sabbatical in August. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ayngelina February 19, 2011, 5:15 am

    The hardest thing for me is to only do one thing at a time. I tend to have multiple tabs and applications up and I constantly have to remind myself to stay on track or else I’ll just double the time doing the same amount of work.

  • Brad February 20, 2011, 2:26 pm

    Thanks for this post. I am in serious need of a social media diet, which I have found to be needlessly eating up way too much of my time. I like the idea of a sabbatical.
    Also a fan of your blog & simple lifestyle efforts. Have read your blog for some time, and was disheartened to read the nice Oregon news article you linked and see all the negative comments. I don’t understand why people have to attack your lifestyle so much. It’s a personal decision, it’s not like you’re criticizing everyone who isn’t doing what you’re doing.

    • rob February 20, 2011, 4:03 pm


      There seems to be a lot of “attack” reaction build into people. I’ve given up telling people I eat vegan, as so many take it as a personal attack and immediately leap into justifying what *they* eat.


      • Tami February 21, 2011, 9:52 am

        I agree with Rob…I was really surprised at how the readers reacted to that article. They are obviously not regular readers of your blog. There has to be balance in everything; being a minimialist is no different. When you get to the point where you have to rely on other’s welfare, you’ve gone to far, the same as when you are in over your head with bills because you’ve gone too far the other way.
        But, I have to be honest, would I like someone coming to my house to bake their cookies (and using my resources I pay for)? No…I wouldn’t. And I am thinking it was that line that set other people off. They invisioned their kitchen all messy with flour everywhere and “another cook” in the kitchen…got that possessive feeling…and the negative, insecure comments commenced. lol!!

        Keep up the good work Tammy and don’t let the negative people get you down. 🙂

        • Tammy February 21, 2011, 12:22 pm

          @Tami – Folks mistook the cookie line in the article and made a lot of assumptions. I bake with friends frequently and there is nothing wrong with sharing resources. It’s not like I’m going to a friend’s house and making a mess or taking advantage of their generosity. If someone offers me a resource I give something back, like money, time or a favor. The same principle goes for parking the tiny house. We will be renting a piece of land, buying our own piece of property, or living in an intentional community with the ideal being contributing more than we receive. I have to say I’m very disheartened by people’s assumptions and judgments.

        • rob February 21, 2011, 4:18 pm

          This is a response to Tammy’s response. But the blogging software won’t allow that many levels of response.

          I assumed that you would be “sharing” with your friends in a rational manner, much as you described. I think the comments in the Oregonian come from a few directions:

          1. It’s a newspaper, and thus attracts a broader range of people than a blog.

          2. 50% of the population is below average intelligence, which doesn’t prevent them from owning a computer.

          3. “Internet courage”. People say things online that they’d never imagine themselves saying in person. Few of the rude comments would have seen the light of day had the commenter been physically present with the article’s author or with Tammy.

          4. Envy/fear. This relates back to my no longer telling people I eat a vegan diet. People get defensive when you tell them you’re working towards a very simple (yet fulfilling) life. In our society we’re trained to attack when we feel defensive. Couple that with points #1,2 & 3 above, and you’ll get all manner of odd and aggressive comments to an article in an online newspaper.

          🙂 Rob

        • Tammy February 21, 2011, 7:43 pm

          @Rob – Thanks for all the thoughtful comments on this thread. I know I need to ignore the mean people but sometimes it’s so hard! I appreciate your insight and encouragement. 🙂 You rock!