Phone and social media eating up your time? 4 strategies for a healthy balance

Recently, I cut down on my social media use. I’ve been managing time efficiently. I’ve been enthused about life.

I’m not surprised.

However, I didn’t expect to find the email, Wikipedia, and the weekly forecast taking up my time. My web surfing looked like this:

It will be sunny the next two weeks –“I already knew that. I checked earlier.”

Bob Weir is seventy years old –“Why do I care?”

My email is ninety percent spam – “Why am I rechecking this?”

Ten minutes wasted.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but consider how that adds up over time. I need to continually remind myself of one thing.

Say this a few times. Let it sink:

“Time is sacred. It is my most valuable resource. Once it is gone, I will never get it back.”

Why do so many of us waste time on our phones then?

What is something you’ve always wanted to do in your life?

You probably can’t do that in five minutes.

You could talk to someone new, take in your surroundings, or call your crush in five minutes.

Whether it is five minutes or five years, time is equally important. Your habits now, determine the long term.

If your attention is always on the phone, who knows what you’re missing?

Maybe it’s a friend walking down the street you haven’t seen in ten years, a networking opportunity that leads to professional growth, or a long-term partner.

The most beautiful moments in life are unexpected.

Small amounts of time we are present with ourselves and others, our moments lived fully.

Looking at our phones obsessively is saying: “I’m checking out. Catch you later.”

I know how hard it is to resist the urge to “check in.”

It’s like having a cigarette craving. I used to smoke.

We want to see new comments and likes. We check our daily blog stats too many times (I’m guilty).

The craving is temporarily eased. We keep checking.

This is the norm.

I’m not saying your phone is terrible, and you should never use it.

I’m saying our obsession with phones is unhealthy.

We must cultivate responsible ways to use technology.

Habits that honor our time, relationships, and health.

Here are four strategies I use, that will help you cut back on your phone and social media use:

1. Setting Intention

The idea is simple. Doing it takes practice. Before you pick up your phone, remind yourself why you’re on there.

If your answer is: “Writing a professional or personal email.”

Great. Write the email, and log out. You’re done.

Now, if you’re intention is: “Pretending to text.”

What about the situation makes you want to pretend?  Is it yourself or others?

Take the situation as a learning experience, instead of an opportunity to turn off.

Often, are compulsions to “check” are not productive. There reasons to escape. We’re bored, irritated, upset, angry, jealous, or resentful. Maybe one emotion or several.

Pause before grabbing your phone. Be aware of any emotions or thoughts.

Understand whether your intent is time resourceful or wasteful.

2. Purpose

Identifying a long-term goal for using social media has helped me allocate time more efficiently.

Currently, mine is sharing and promoting my blog. After I share a post, I log out. I don’t entirely need it for anything else.

What’s your purpose for using social media?

If it helps you stay in contact with your network of friends and colleagues, that’s great.

Make sure you’re using social media for contacting, planning events, staying in touch, etc.

The key is to avoid being logged in and floating down the news feed.

The same idea goes for the phone. Am I using it stay in contact with people, or am I merely wasting time?

A purpose will make you aware of your productivity and time management.

 3. Triggers

Try to label environments that you tune out on your phone and social media.

Keep a journal of your habits.

By writing, you’re more likely to find patterns.

Let’s say the check-out line at the grocery store is a trigger for you.

Now that you’re aware of it and have a plan of action when you go in.

This can be a simple fix. Bring a magazine you like to read.

Or, you could use your phone.

Have a clear intention: “Oh yeah, I need to send that email to my boss.”

Great, that’s mindful and productive.

Know your triggers.

If you don’t have anything prepared at the time, be present.

Take deep breaths and view your surroundings.

If you’re feeling the compulsion to check your phone, don’t give in to it.

Build and release tension in your muscles, stretch out.

Get your mind off the craving.

4. Reward

To start, it’s easier if you gradually lessen your phone and social media use.

Every week, start with a goal for each day.

“After work, I’ll check Facebook and browse for twenty minutes. Then, I’ll log off.”

If you set this goal and follow through on it, that’s great.

Maintain that schedule for a week. If you stick to it for the week, treat yourself.

It can be anything. Give yourself credit.

The next week, set another challenge for each day.

“I’ll limit use to twenty minutes per day, using this time to catch up with friends, and planning time to meet up.”

If you reach this goal, superb. Reward yourself.

If not, don’t be hard on yourself.

If one week is too challenging, do one day at a time.

Having goals and rewards builds discipline.

This discipline will help you maintain productive habits.

As you manage time effectively on your phone and social media, you will become more present in your daily life.

Life is more fulfilling when we’re no longer focused solely on technology,

Technology is a fantastic tool.

Put it back when you’re done with it.

When we let it run our lives, we no longer honor our time and well-being.

Make it simple. Decide today to take action.



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