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Social media: Stop scrolling, start learning, and unleash your potential

File image.

File image.

Published Oct 11, 2023


Johannesburg – DataPortal’s 2023 report found that 28% of South Africans do not have access to the internet. However, for the rest of the digital population, the temptation to spend time on social media is all-consuming and can waste time and life-enhancing opportunities.

“Social media can be a source of connection, inspiration, and knowledge sharing,” said Michael Gullan, CEO and co-founder of an eLearning consultancy. “However, the line between productive and aimless scrolling is increasingly blurry.”

Meanwhile, research by shows that adults spend at least two-and-a-half hours on social media every day. “Imagine what you could achieve if you redirected half of your time from social media toward learning a new skill that you could apply at work.”

Time is on your side

Gullan said that you don’t need a full digital detox, but simply diverting some time and energy towards elevating your personal and professional life can be profound and rewarding.

“Learning new skills is an investment that pays off,” he said. “It enhances personal growth, advances your career, and can benefit your and your family’s financial well-being.”

Gullan added that learning also stimulates the brain and improves memory, problem-solving skills, and creativity. And compared to prolonged time on social media, that can result in cognitive fragmentation as attention dwindles and information retention declines.

“The internet offers many opportunities to develop your skills, and many organisations offer eLearning programmes for their employees,” Gullan said. “Rather than scrolling through posts, ads, and memes, use some of that time to master a new work skill or build on your existing skills and apply them in the workplace. Your managers will take note, and it will pay off in the long run.”

Better skills, more opportunity

The pursuit of new skills can have a profound impact on your career, Gullan believes.

“The job market is evolving, jobs are scarce, and many more people are competing for those jobs and employers want people with versatile skills.”

He added that the ability to adapt and acquire new competencies is increasingly valuable. “Employees with additional skills, or the willingness to acquire more skills, broaden their career opportunities and buffer against obsolescence in an ever-changing job landscape.”

In control and happier

Gullan explained that beyond professional prospects, acquiring new skills can enhance your well-being. “The act of setting goals, working towards them, and achieving milestones fosters resilience and perseverance – qualities that are transferable to various aspects of life.”

Just one hour

Sixty minutes invested in learning a new skill can yield substantial progress and significant mastery over time, Gullan said.

An hour a day of learning and development at work will result in substantial benefits:

Learn new skills adjacent to your role and apply them in your department – your managers will take note.

Improve your performance in your current role and offer to mentor your colleagues – your department will be more effective, and you’ll enhance your reputation and future prospects.

Upgrade your soft skills, like communications, writing, and people skills – your peers, managers, and customers will take you more seriously, and it will build your reputation.

Learn to improve your physical and mental health – happy people perform better at life and work, which will pay off in the long run.

Complete all your learning tasks set by HR and challenge your colleagues to do the same. Become a learning champion and a force for good at work.

He added that the key to success was consistency and deliberate practice.

“By dedicating just one hour a day to learning a new skill, you'll be amazed at the progress you can make over weeks, months, and years,” Gullan said.

“Don’t let instant gratification obscure your potential to learn, evolve and excel. Redirect a portion of screen time towards workplace eLearning, and you’ll enrich your personal and professional life.”

The Saturday Star