Taming social media

Here’s an interesting fact: the average Briton spends 2.8 hours a day on social media*. That’s an extra day a week that can be devoted to hobbies, sleep and play. So, if you tell me you don’t have time to exercise, the first thing I would ask you to do is to remove Facebook from your phone’s screen.

Tackling your addiction

The two worst offender groups for our digital habits are social media streams (Youtube, Facebook, etc) and email or text messaging. The first can be termed as an “infinity pool” as there’s an endless amount of material constantly refreshed and updated for you to consume. Unlike a book or TV programme, there is no precise end. It’s digital junk, designed to lure you in.

The second group – emails and messages are actually worse as they are set up to specifically claim your attention with phone notifications.  It’s true digital distraction and pushes our stress levels up as our bodies think we act immediately. However, there is a big difference between a reply -which can wait a few hours – and a response that requires your immediate attention (e.g. a baby crying).

It’s time to take conscious control of your technology.

  1. Stop notifications. Unless you need them for work, turn switch notifications to silent for text messages and whatsapp. For Facebook, Instagram and any other social media, go one further and disable it all. To avoid mindlessly browsing, remove the apps from your home screen, so you don’t instantly click on them. I personally keep them all on a separate space and confine my browsing to a timed session in the evening.
  2. Enlist your tech as an ally against digital distraction. You can download Flipd or Forest on your computer and phone that deliberately restricts your browsing habits. 
  3. Make a phone space. Our smartphones are main culprits for digital distraction. If they are not to hand, you don’t use them. Have a designated phone box or stand for them by the front door, so their default is away from your hands. If you are using them (for exercise, or music), put them back as soon as you have finished. If you are suffering sleep deprivation, like me, it also cuts down on the time you spend looking for them, around the house. 
  4. Make plans with your child. We default to screens when we don’t know what else to do. Make a conscious choice to play with your child and plan ahead to do it, from nursery rhymes to colouring. They love your attention and time. You will feel better for it. 
  5. Start your bucket list. We spend up to seven hours a day on our TV and phones. That’s enough time to complete a degree course over the space of a year, write a book in three months or take up training for a marathon. Heck, even if you just use it for extra sleep, you are still boosting your health and sanity. By truly valuing your time, you can craft the live you dream of living, instead of one mindlessly consuming.  

* https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/01/decade-smartphones-now-spend-entire-day-every-week-online/