Once you start using social media and you find yourself using it more and more, things can easily swing out of proportion, especially if you have a rather diverse group of contacts you communicate with. Some of your business contacts might prefer LinkedIn to keep in touch, and regularly publish posts there, others limit their social media presence to a facebook page or twitter messages. Some of my friends prefer to communicate through WhatsApp, others use Messenger or text message.
For one thing, I would recommend a ‘social media audit’ on a regular basis, but especially at moments when you feel overwhelmed by the sheer barrage of messages coming your way. It’s simple, really: all you need to do is become conscious of your use of social media. The easiest way to achieve this is to keep a log of your use of social media during a given period, and I would recommend at least a week! Beware: this means jotting down times all day long, for all kinds of interactions, be it time on facebook, playing games online, writing emails, reading and replying to text messages, phone calls (yes: the phone is part of social media, too), and so on.
It’s important to do a quick once-over before you even start taking notes, and you’ll likely be surprised how much social media have become part of most of our activities. You might say that a week is a long time, especially once you have started taking notes and realised how much time you actually spend on social media, but it’s important to do one full circle at least: our days tend not to be the exact same according to the day of the week, and not every week is quite similar to the previous one or the next one. However, let’s do a week and take it from there.
The interesting things here is that the exercise itself will hone your brain to be more aware of your involvement with the social media you use, and it will become abundantly obvious very soon how much time you really spend, and what you do during those times. The lesson will be very personal, but also very revealing, trust me! Once you have determined that you need to cut down on all those hours in your notes (and you will, I’m sure), the time has come to decide where you want to apply the scissors and how to keep yourself under control. Setting time limits is fine, of course, but will you really be able to stick to your limits?
Is there an app for this? Indeed, there are apps to keep track of social media use: “Antisocial” is one for Android phones, and there are lots of tracking tools on your phone, but they don’t usually split the information up by application. Meh. You’ll find that you are pretty much limited to your own devices. Also, isn’t using an app to limit your use of apps a little bit too much ‘inception’ for our own good?
PCs and Apples are better in that respect, because on a computer you can install things resembling child safety tools that allow to set a time maximum or specific times for specific uses. Takes some time to set up, but could be worth your while if you are serious about tracking yourself all the time.
That brings us to another question: does your use of social media affect your social life when you are face to face with your friends, colleagues and business partners? Check in with yourself: don’t you hate those situations when everyone suddenly dives deeply into their phones and conversation comes to a standstill? Are you guilty of the same thing? If so, it’s really up to you to keep this from happening!
Set your own rules, just like you would for the time spent on social media: maybe your rule could be to stay off social media while interacting with other people directly? On a personal note: I have been known to leave the restaurant after sitting there for 15 minutes ‘on my own’ while my friends were so entranced by their phones (before even having looked at the menus in front of them). They couldn’t even understand why I left and gave me a lot of grief afterwards!
Another potential rule would be to implement certain areas in your home where social media are acceptable, and others where you do not want to engage: maybe the kitchen, dining room and the bedroom could be off limits, while the lounge is open space for social media? And that could even be augmented by time limits: e.g., no texting or chatting online during movie time, or similar ideas.
What counts is that you become consciously aware of your use of social media, and ensure that you tune your time spent in cyberspace to the level you can afford to spend there, without limiting it to a level that makes you a social outcast. Good luck!
Please find below a complete list of the five elements of the “social media week”. Some of these are short videos, some are blog posts. Have a look at:
Links will be added to the items as they are published during the week of 19-23 February 2018.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.