Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why I Limit my Social Media Time

I don't know when it became the most common response to "How are you?" but everyone claims to be pretty "busy" these days.  I am not exempt from giving this answer more than once.  But really, that's not an accurate answer for me.  I work 3 hours a week, go to church, sleep at least 7 hours most nights, workout 6 days (most) weeks, and have read 89 books this year.  I keep myself busy but I'm not "busy".  

I have long been a believer in "if it matters you'll make it happen."  Like, if you want to train for a marathon even while having a family and a full-time job, you'll make it happen (clearly, I don't want that one).  My sister had her 5th kid in 5 years 5 months ago and she's running her first half-marathon this week.  That's a great example of getting something done.

There are some legit busy people in the world.  I am not one of them and I'd wager that the majority of the people I spend time with aren't as busy as they like to think they are (read 168: Hours, You Have More Time Than You Think and I Know How She Does It, both by Laura Vanderkam, for some great examples and perspective).  That's not to say we don't all have things to get done and I definitely realize most people have more requests for their time than me.  But there is also plenty of time for real life, beyond the daily grind of working, commuting, and taking care of those things that have to be done (feeding yourself and family, keeping your house from become a complete dump, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.).

All that said, I have been making a real effort lately to use my time better.  Part of the problem with having few "musts" in my day is that it's easy to slide into not much getting done.  That's why I have a cleaning schedule for my house and Luke and I follow basically the same schedule every week day.

A big way to cut some of those wasted hours was to limit the time I spend on social media.  We all know what a time suck the internet can be.  When I have crafts I want to do and dishes in the sink but then spend naptime in a blog/Instagram/Facebook rabbit hole?  Not a good use of time.  I have life to live, not to observe others.

My schedule I stick to 95% of the time:

1) Check Twitter during my morning workout cool down, before Luke is awake.
2) Check Instagram during naptime.
3) Check Facebook after Luke's in bed.
4) Only check e-mail, weather, and texts when at the lake, on vacation, or on other overnights.

That adds up to about 25 minutes a day which might still be too much but it's certainly an improvement.  Ten minutes on Facebook is enough to see what's going on without falling down any rabbit holes.  Same with Instagram (Twitter doesn't take nearly that long).  That also means when I'm bored I don't just refresh feeds, I find something else to do.  And there are usually plenty of other things to do. 

I do think there is value in social media, namely seeing other people's kids who I wouldn't normally see on a regular basis.  I like seeing vacation pictures and what other people are up to, but it doesn't need to consume my life.  Living my life should consume my life.

Also making it easier to limit my time?  Keeping it a little difficult.  I use bookmarked mobile sites on my phone for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, none of which work quite a smoothly as the apps.  Pinterest especially isn't much fun to browse on my phone now which means I don't do much of it.  Plus, you can see Facebook messages through the mobile site, not the app so that's slightly more handy anyways.  Slightly, the rest of the site doesn't run as smooth as the app but it still does enough for the few nights a week I check it on my phone instead of computer.  

And just to finish all my big "soapbox phone issues" at once...when you are with other humans you should interact with them, not with your phone.  This sounds obvious but, my golly, it doesn't seem to be.  We've probably all either done it or witnessed people scrolling through Facebook feeds while surrounded by actual human beings.  WHY is that acceptable??  I'm not talking about if you are hanging around with your family on a lazy Sunday afternoon and you pull up something.  You know, Mom is reading, Dad's watching football, you check Instagram or whatever.  I think this behavior is more acceptable when you are at home with the people you live with (but I don't really know because I was married and moved out before texting was really even a thing, much less most social media and phones that can do everything).

I understand keeping your phone in your pocket but that doesn't mean you have to use it for more than the camera.  I've yelled (in a quiet voice) at people for having their phones out (for something besides texting or picture taking) at wedding receptions and wanted to when I saw someone checking Facebook at my Grandpa's 90th birthday party this summer (and not because I was being nosy, but could easily see it when walking past and the person was sitting in a crowded room with other humans capable of speech).  We could get internet at the lake for the summer but I am not volunteering to pay for it when I don't think anyone needs to be on their phones anymore there.  It might sound shocking, but it's really nice disconnecting from all that for a few days, or even a few hours.  If anything truly important happens (your sister had a baby! type of things) you will probably find out in a way besides social media.

I'm not saying I'm perfect in any of this but that it takes some effort to put the phone away and once you've set the limits they are easy to follow.  Reducing my social media time over the last few years has had no negatives.  Sure, it might take me 24 hours to respond to a Facebook message but that's ok.  We don't always have to be connected.  Make your own life interesting instead of observing others'.  Get something done instead of refreshing the feed.  It's freeing.

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