If you want to be productive and happy, you should limit your time on Facebook. That's according to countless studies that have found a link between overuse of social media and decreased mental health. For instance, according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, study participants who limited their use of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat reported significantly reduced levels of loneliness and depression, compared with participants who used social media without limits.
It makes sense that you might feel worse about yourself if you spend too much time looking at curated versions of other people's seemingly perfect lives. Fine, but if you're accustomed to scrolling through a social media feed whenever you're bored or looking for a reason to procrastinate getting work done, what are your alternatives (other than chatting with others around you, or staying on task, ahem)? Here are a half dozen great apps to use instead.
If you're the kind of person who's bent on self-improvement, this app is for you. It offers 15-minute audio or written summaries of more than 2,500 popular nonfiction books. The only downside: It's expensive. While a free version will give you one book of the app's choosing a day, if you want to pick your own books and read as many as you want it will cost $12 a month or $70 a year.
More than 300 million people use this free app to learn a foreign language. It's designed as a game in which you're served a handful of questions in various formats, but they're grouped in small chunks so you can play a round in just a couple of minutes. The app instantly shows you if you get a question right and motivates you with a green progress bar that shows how far you are in a lesson.
Even if sports aren't your thing, knowing sports news and scores is a valuable tool if you want to be a better conversationalist. If you are a sports fan, keeping up to date necessitates a commitment of time, but this app makes doing so simple. In addition to the top headlines you should know, you can scroll through schedules, results, stories, and videos relevant to the sports categories and teams you're following.
Keeping up with the news is a habit successful people practice and certainly is time better spent than looking at photos of other people's kids and vacations on Facebook. The magazine-style design of this news aggregator is visually appealing, and flipping through stories according to your interests feels gratifying.
Instead of wasting time on Facebook, how about making a to-do list and keeping it updated every time you find yourself in line or waiting for an appointment? Google Keep is simple to use and lets you make lists, take photos of things you need to remember, make notes transcribed from your voice, and color-code notes for easy identification of categories. Find a recipe on your phone's browser that you want to save? Just use the share button to capture the link within Google Keep.
OK, this one won't make you smarter, but it may make you smile. You can amuse yourself with trending photos and stories or choose from more than two dozen categories including goofy animal photos, good news (that's a switch), or images of DIY projects such as a cool-looking guitar constructed of 1,500 pencils.