Here's the thing, when you work in social media - the line starts to get a little blurry between work and personal life. I might open up Instagram to check on competitor activity for a client, but after I do that, I might also consciously or unconsciously start scrolling and looking through other things. I've also opened up my phone to check or do something, only to be distracted by something else and completely forget what I was going to do in the first place! We all know that feeling too well.
For a few days, I decided to manually record down the times I would check my social media when it wasn't work related. The amount was alarming. On average, I probably checked my phone about 40 times a day for personal reasons like checking notifications, looking at other people's pages, watching videos, replying to something, or just simply feeling a little bored and scrolling. The times spent during the day were shorter but during the evening i.e. before bed, I could scroll and watch things and engage for at least half an hour to an hour.
So what do I mean when I say I work in social media but I'm using it less? I've essentially weaned myself off a little to make sure that it doesn't dominate my awareness and attention. After a week or so, I began to:
- Stop feeling the pressure of needing to post all the time. I decided only posts, photos and moments that I truly love will go up on my Instagram.
- Stop following people and pages that made me feel less in some kind of way. Being inspired is one thing, wanting something that someone else has is another and we're all human to feel this way sometimes.
- Close my eyes, breath and relax whenever I realised I was going on social media for no reason. Your brain becomes a little bit "hooked" to that activity so time to unhook.
- At night, if I went on social media because I couldn't sleep, I'll force myself to do a meditation program from my Smiling Mind app instead.
- Allocated more NO-PHONE times with my friends and family. I might still take a sneaky photo or two if we're having an amazing time or eating amazing food, but then the phone gets put away again.
After almost a month of being more self-aware, I'm...
- Less of a scatterbrain and much more present in my surroundings.
- Sleeping better at night - thanks to less screen time before I shut my eyes.
- More confident in being calm in a situation where you might need time to pass e.g. commuting, eating lunch alone, waiting for something - usually I'll stare at my phone instead of doing "nothing" but I now try and treat it as some downtime for the brain.
- Waaaaay more productive and I feel like I have so much more time now to do things that I felt like I never had time before - like make breakfast, get ready to go out etc.
- Selective on what I choose to follow, see and engage so I actually enjoy the things I see and learn when I am on these channels.
I'm not saying social media is bad for you, but we do need to become more aware of our behaviour in the long-term. It's still a fantastic way to connect, stay in touch, share your ideas, be inspired, get creative and so on. But it is easy to get caught up in the filtered versions of everyone's life or be distracted by the different types of entertainment you find on these channels. Some people also do unfortunately get caught up - losing self-esteem, getting bullied, becoming a keyboard warrior, feeling like your life sucks when it actually doesn't. It's super easy to get caught up in things that aren't what they seem. As long as you become aware of what you like, what you don't like, what you want to see and what you don't, then the experience is so much better and healthier for you.