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  • Writer's pictureMadhura

How to reduce social media time?

Hello my dear friends! Welcome to yet another episode of Morning Cup of Sunshine. How are you doing today? I was planning on recording a completely different episode today but I got a call from one of my friends yesterday. We were talking for a long time and during our conversation she mentioned that these days she feels she spends way too much time on her phone. At the end of the day, she feels as if she has gotten nothing done but the day went by quickly and she feels it was a busy day. Wondering where the time went? After listening to one of my episodes, she started checking the time she spent on social media apps and she found the culprit. She asked if I can make a dedicated episode on how to reduce the phone usage or more specifically the time we spend on social media. I jumped on the opportunity because even though I have talked about it in several episodes, sprinkling tips here and there, I never made a dedicated episode on this topic. Also, I have been trying to reduce my own phone usage for the past several months and I am successful in reducing my phone usage time by more than 75%. So, I have a lot of tips to share. It is going to be a fun episode, trust me because the trouble I went through to change my habits is hilarious. Alright, shall we start?

Tip 1 : Mindset over willpower

Am I kidding? Am I still on the same topic? Yes, I am. I told you, this episode is going to be a shocker. Let me explain. When you are ultra motivated, everything seems pretty easy. Every Monday morning, when you have a heightened willpower, waking up early, working out seems pretty easy and achievable. Tell me, is it the same for you on Friday? No , right? When you plan to start something new, maybe a gym or a new course or a new habit, you are charged up, motivated. But does that motivation last forever? When you hear someone talking about not using their phone, you tell yourself, “Enough is enough. I am going to stop using my phone for any kind of social media scrolling from today.” You keep your phone away, you try to get busy with something. Your willpower is at peak. You feel totally in control. But at some point, in a few minutes, in a few hours or in a few days, that willpower starts to fade away. Do you know why this happens? Is willpower all bad and not of any use? I am absolutely not saying that. But willpower can be useful just to start a habit but if you want to be persistent then the only thing that you need is a shift in a mindset. One day you were using your phone to scroll through Facebook and Instagram every free minute and other days, you are stopping yourself from even looking at those apps altogether. You are swinging from one direction to another without stopping to think about your why, your reasoning behind that. You are not spending time thinking about the replacement mechanism. I suggest first of all try to find why you want to reduce your phone usage. For me, I noticed that my stress levels were heightened when I used my phone too much. I noticed that I feel sluggish and lazy when I scroll through social media posts mindlessly. I noticed that my neck and my back was hurting from looking at the phone for a long period of time. I decided that I had to make a change. First, I had to change my mindset. I had to be in sync with my brain and my mind. I wanted to feel okay when I use my phone and I wanted to feel refreshed when I use my phone rather than feeling sluggish. I didn't want to go cold turkey. You know me, step by step, day by day is my mantra. I started small. So, what did I do?

Tip 2 : Start small

Imagine you have been working on something, maybe a project at work or cooking some delicious meal. You are engrossed in your activity and suddenly, a notification sound chimes on your phone. It is hard to ignore right? You pick up your phone, you check that message and maybe in a few minutes you start working again. After a few minutes, again your phone chimes, giving you a notification that someone commented on your photo that you uploaded on Facebook. Hard to ignore right? You open the app, check the comment, reply to the comment and then you see your friend’s post so you now go and comment on her post, then one more post seems interesting and the wormhole of Facebook sucks you in for the next 15-20 minutes. You lose those precious 15 minutes of your day. Time is very precious. We don’t give the deserved importance to time. It is finite and it is a commodity. It is the luxury that we have but we spend it so mindlessly. Is there a simple solution to this? Yes there is. Turn off all the notifications from your all social media apps. No chiming sound, no popup on screen. I have even started to mute all my whats app groups during my work hours. If someone has something urgent to tell, they either message me personally or call me. I started adding downtime to my phone. From 9 pm to 7 am all my apps are locked. I added the time limit on my social media apps. You pick your limit, it could be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, anything that you feel correct for yourself. Of course, calls and whatsapp calls are always on for me as I need a way for other people to reach me. Another small little change that helped me a lot was to declutter my phone. Go through all the apps on your phone and see which ones bring value to your day. Value does not mean it has to be useful in a certain way. It has to be right. It is okay to have few apps which you use purely for entertainment. I understand that we need entertainment. I am not saying that you should completely stop using any social media app. I am not claiming that they are bad. But I don’t want to give them the power to control my day, I would rather control my day. These small changes go a long way. I have talked about it several times, I do not check my phone for the first hour, hour and half of my day. It is not that difficult my friend, but you have to be convinced and really shift your mindset. Did you know that almost 80% of the people take their phones to the washroom? Really? You can not spend 8-10 minutes of your day in peace without any distractions. Are we glued to our phones? Are we that addicted to our phones? Is it that hard to spend some time alone without any kind of brain stimulation? Think about it. If it is so habitual for you to bring your phone wherever you go, how much dependency you are creating over a simple gadget. I am not even going to go over the impact it creates on our kids, our own social skills because that is Pandora's box. I have seen so many people who keep looking into their phone when someone is trying to have a conversation with them. Have you noticed in a train or in the waiting area of a doctor's office, almost everyone is busy looking into their phone? Everyone has their heads buried in the phone. As if our hands are glued to the phone, our thumbs permanently kept in a position to scroll through the screen, we are evolving to be completely non-social animals. Is this where you want to go? Do you think a phone, a social media app can become an ultimate companion? But tell me why this phone, social media is so addictive? That brings me to the last tip.

Tip 3 : Boost your self worth and replace not avoid.

Sometimes, I feel these apps know us better than we know ourselves. They are able to recognize what kind of products you will be interested in. They are able to tell what kind of posts you will be interested in seeing. They even know what kind of new friends we might like to make. Really? What a weird way to know yourself? Have you ever thought if we spend little time away from the phone and with your own company, how much will we learn about ourselves? Instead of scrolling through the phone first thing in the morning, if you spend just 5-10 minutes with yourself, without any kind of distractions, how much peace of mind can bring it to you? I have been doing 10 minute meditation consistently for the past several months. I know I have been stuck at 10 minute for almost a year, but that is a different story. But initially I used to play some kind of guided meditation on my phone and do my meditation but I stopped using the phone for the last 6 months. It was very difficult initially. I felt uneasy.I found myself checking the time multiple times. I had a burst of thoughts rushing through my mind. But I kept on trying. Finally, I replaced my need for a phone with breathing technique, square breathing. It helped me stay calm and focussed for 10 minutes. I was trying to avoid the phone but when I replaced it with a better option, I had a breakthrough. If you are using your phone because you are getting bored or you have nothing better to do, try to replace that emptiness, bored feeling with something that you love. Do you like reading a book, but don’t have time for reading? Start carrying a book with you. Do you like to draw, carry a small doodle notebook? I always carry a small notebook with me, because you don’t know where a new topic idea might strike. Try to replace your old habits with new one, one at a time. As I said, don’t swing like a pendulum, from one end to another. This will not only give you a chance to get a lot done but will also boost your self worth. Don’t know how? Tell me what you get from scrolling mindlessly that same old instagram feed? But just imagine you used that time, pen a poem that’s been on your mind for several days. Just imagine the feeling. You have been telling yourself that you want to clean that kid's closet before their school starts but somehow, you don’t get that pocket of time. How about using social media time to complete that long pending task. Won’t it feel good? Just imagine how much you can accomplish in those small pockets of time. I am not saying that you have to completely stop using social media. How about using it as a reward at the end of the day or using it only at the designated time? Or even better use it whenever you want to, but use it mindfully. Use it because you want to use it and not because you have nothing else to do. Having free time is a luxury, just imagine how much time you can free up, if you just start spending your time more mindfully. Rather than investing yourself in a social media post, invest in yourself. Read, meditate, spend time in nature. Be mindful of what you consume, what you read, what you see on social media. Don’t judge yourself based on someone else’s perfect looking pantry, rather embrace the difference you are creating in the world. Social media puts a lot of additional demand, additional burden on you to be a certain way, to look a certain way, to do things in a certain way, but you are you , you are amazing in your own way, you are unique in your own way, why to compare and complain? You have got this beautiful life, the life worth living, worth cherishing, the life worth learning new things, experiencing new things, why on the earth are you wasting this beautiful life by spending hours on the internet seeking validations from strangers? What do you say? Sometimes you need to take a break to be alone with your own thoughts and to rejuvenate. Shall we?

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