Whether we are on our computers, phones or tablets the rise in popularity of social media has shockingly become an issue. When Facebook and Twitter both hit the scenes I don’t think anyone had imagined the effect that they would have on family, work and even school life. Now there is Pinterest, Instagram and so much more and I don’t know about you but I find them highly addictive and overwhelming. I will be the first to admit that I’ve lost a few hours hooked to my screen checking my social media feeds.
Many of us spend a lot of time at a computer for work and in our spare time we’re checking our social media feeds and interacting with others online. The problem that I’ve found is that I end up mindlessly scrolling through my feeds before bed and sometimes it’s the first thing that I check in the morning. I’m always ‘plugged in’ to the online world and because my business is online, it’s hard to just switch off and set some boundaries.
Frankly, I think the mindless scrolling of my feeds is more out of habit than anything else. I’m really trying to be more intentional about cutting down my social media usage because I don’t want my two-year-old to think that it’s normal to be glued to your phone. I had these horrible images of us sitting around the dinner table with our faces glued to our phones instead of communicating with each other. Instead, when I can I’m swapping screen time for ‘me’ time or for quality time with my family, which I think makes better use of scrolling for no good reason.
Let’s be honest, cutting down on screen time is hard, but by spending less time on your phone it means that you’re creating more space for other beautiful things in your life. Today, I’m sharing a couple of tricks that have helped me to become more deliberate around my social media usage.
Time restraints and a social media ‘schedule’
Limiting the amount of time that I now spend on my social media has really helped and has stopped any aimless checking just for the sake of it. Also, having a ‘schedule’ or specific times in the day when I check or update my social media restricts the amount of time spent on them.
Getting out of bed and doing something else
To stop myself reaching for my phone first thing, I try and use distraction techniques like doing something else such as meditating, fixing myself a drink, reading or even work. It really helps to ease that overwhelm that social media can have so early in the morning.
Hide your phone in a draw
On tough days or when I’m feeling distracted, I know that my hands will be reaching for my smart phone to get my fix. Now I tend to hide my phone away in my desk drawer so that I don’t have to see it. The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mantra is actually working for me.
Turn off notifications
The notifications are the worse at drawing me in and leading me astray. I’ve now turned off my notifications on all my social media apps (except for Whatsapp) and sometimes put my phone on ‘do not disturb.’ Therefore, I’m not distracted and can stay focused on what I’m doing, checking in on one of my specified time slots to catch up.
Have a social media free weekend
Totally switching off your computer and staying away from social media for an entire weekend helps to reset your mind and refind that balance. I’ve done this a few times and personally, I didn’t find this one easy but after sticking with it, it’s really helped me to disconnect from the online world. Afterward, I felt more in control in checking my social media as opposed to doing it out of habit.
Try to stay away from any form of social media a few hours before sleeping
This one was a must for me as I’ve suffered from a rubbish nights sleep because my brain has been too overstimulated before going to bed. Now I try to not check my social media a couple of hours before I plan to sleep so my brain gets a chance to unwind and relax.
Being so connected to the online world is what surprised me so much about myself. Of course, this is almost expected when you have a blog, but it was more the amount of screen time and aimlessness of my checking that started to worry me and the effect that it was having on my wellbeing. Certainly, I’m no angel and there are days where I catch myself scrolling aimlessly, especially when I’m bored. It’s a work in progress, but it’s definitely a challenge. The mindset shift of creating more space for me and my family rather than being glued to a screen has been a massive help and I know I’m not on my own with this one.