Social media is clearly a massive blessing to many ministries, but it is also the source of much distraction, idle talk, and even anger. Have you participated in Facebook comments thread about theology lately? It doesn’t take long for it to disintegrate into something much less than Christian love and charity. Here are five ways to regain control of your social landscape and start using it instead of it using you.

1) Turn off notifications on your mobile device

This is the first thing I do when I get a new social account or app. I don't need flashing lights and bleeps to let me know every single time something has been "liked," "poked," or "replied to." This helps me to focus on the task at hand keeps me from constantly taking my phone out of my pocket to see what's new.

2) Schedule time for reading and responding

Instead of always checking your social media accounts and responding to replies and comments as they come, schedule two or three times during the the day to go through these tasks. Not only will this give you time to cool off and think before responding, but it will keep your day from being interrupted when you need to be focusing on other tasks.

3) Automate posts and status updates

I'm rarely actually at my computer when my status updates and articles are published to social media. I use a website called Buffer to create a queue and schedule my Tweets and other posts. This way I can write status updates for two or three days in a single creative session.

4) Set a time limit for social media

I've achieved what feels like tremendous success with this simple strategy. I often limit my time on social media each day to one hour, usually accessing my accounts 3 or 4 times throughout the day in 15-minute increments. This is a great way to force yourself to work more efficiently, and will keep you from being sucked into the never-ending cycle of scrolling and clicking on links.

5) Practice a sabbatical from social media

Pick one or two days a week and give yourself permission to not check or update your social media accounts at all. I often do this on the weekends, sometime unplugging from the Internet all-together (except for Netflix, of course!), You'll find yourself refreshed and ready to hit the ground running the next day. Remember you can still keep publishing content via automation during this time.

How do you keep the social media beast under control?