Social media has definitely changed the way we interact and access information. Some people think it’s a waste of time and others complain about the garbage that fills their newsfeeds. However, I think we determine our social media experience. For me, it has become a valuable way of staying in touch, learning, and networking.
For the purpose of this post, I will be using a lot of Facebook jargon since that is the social media platform I use most. Even though the terminology may be different, many of the ideas apply to other outlets, too.
I once heard someone describe his smart phone as an electronic leash. I wish I could remember whom so I could give him credit for this apt metaphor! I can relate to feeling tied to this device. I often feel compelled to check my phone every time I hear a beep, ping, or vibration. Sometimes I even check it when I didn’t hear anything- just to make sure that I didn’t miss one! This can really affect focus on important tasks and important people! There are different ways of handling this. Some people get rid of their social media or smart phones altogether. That option is not for me at this time, but I have found two simple actions to be extremely valuable.
First, I turned off all of my notifications except for telephone calls and text messages. I decided that nothing else needed to be attended to instantaneously. Instead of me jumping to check my email or Facebook whenever they went off, this allowed me to take back control and check them at my leisure. It’s a small change that made a big difference right away. There were far less interruptions during the course of my day. I’ve found myself more present with whatever I’m doing and whomever I’m with without the anxiety of waiting for the next interruption that would require my attention.
Turning off my notifications was a good move, but I still found myself checking the Facebook app on my phone constantly whenever I had a moment of downtime, and sometimes even when I shouldn’t be. This prompted me to delete the Facebook app from my phone which put a couple more steps between me and checking my notifications or scrolling through my newsfeed.
If I want to use Facebook on my phone, I have to reinstall the app or use it through the web browser. These both take a little more time and therefore I do it far less often. Now it’s generally something I do when I’m relaxing at home. I have to admit there are times when I have reinstalled the app on my phone, found myself back in my old habits, and deleted it again. This is an ongoing practice that requires conscious effort and action. It’s easy to slip back into old habits, especially when they’re right at your fingertips. Luckily, we can always get back on track.
For some people, giving themselves limits works well: no phones at the dinner table, no technology an hour before bed, etc.
Whatever social media time management strategies you choose to use, just make sure that you are using your social media in a way that benefits you.
Now that we’ve talked about the potential pitfalls of social media and some strategies to address them, my next post will focus on some of the perks! Oh, the places you can go! (Sorry, Dr. Seuss! I just couldn’t resist!)
I hope that you’ll join me!
*Images courtesy of nenetus and David Castillo Dominici (respectively) at FreeDigitalPhotos.net