I don’t know about you, but the one thing I can always cut back on is my time spent on social media. It’s just one of those things that becomes a time suck when you would be doing a hundred other things with your time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do like social media. I manage social media as part of my day job and I am also a blogger, so it comes with the territory. But, I don’t think we have to go off the deep-end and let it consume our lives. I think we can interact with social media on a daily basis in a mindful way. Based on my experience of simplifying my own social media usage, here are my top five tips on how to do it.
1) Know Your Numbers
Similar to any good personal finance advice (aka know your numbers), it pays to know how you’re spending your time on social media. I use an app called Space (Moment for iPhone), to track my phone usage every day. Once you know how you actual spend your time on your phone (versus how you imagine you spend it), you’ll have a better idea of what you want to change about your habits.
2) Pick Your Platform
At this point, there’s as many different kinds of platforms out there as there are people who want to be on them. Does that mean you need to be on every single platform? Absolutely not.
I don’t use Facebook or Snapchat – I’m an Instagram and Twitter only gal. I love Insta stories, and Twitter is my sass outlet. If you want to be on social media and be able to engage with it mindfully, I am of the opinion that less is better. It doesn’t really matter what platform(s) you pick, as long as you choose ones that you enjoy that doesn’t make you feel guilty or terrible when using it. If a platform makes you feel terrible about your life, kick it to the curb (exhibit a of why I don’t use Facebook anymore).
3) Unfollow and Delete
Once you’ve picked your chosen platforms that you want to focus on, it’s time to declutter. For starters, you can delete the other platforms off your phone (or close your accounts altogether). You’ll be amazed how great it feels to not have them instantly available to you anymore. Seriously, it’s a game changer.
Step 2 – go through the remaining accounts you have and do a follower/friend purge. I used to follow a ton of Instagram accounts that made me feel like my life wasn’t good enough. You know the ones – perfectly pristine, staged shots of someone’s life (or at least what they want you to think their life is like). After a while, I realized how much I didn’t like logging into Instagram because it made me feel like garbage. A quick purge of who I was following completely changed that.
If it’s hard for you to unfollow or unfriend someone, think of it like this – every person/account you follow takes up a tiny piece of your time every day. Make sure everyone on that list is worthy of your time and awesomeness.
4) Give Yourself a Break
As much as social media is a great tool for staying in touch with people we don’t get to see on a regular basis, it can also become a time suck of epic proportions. How often do you look up from your phone and realize you’ve been engrossed in cat memes for an hour? It can’t just be me.
In order to have a more mindful and sustainable relationship to my social media I take regular breaks. Pick a day or time every week where you switch off, like a mini social-media detox. Maybe you pick an entire day where you stay offline. Maybe it’s just one hour a week. Whatever it is, if it gets you off your phone, it’s good enough.
If the temptation is too strong and you need help to stay off your phone (I am right there with you), there’s probably an app that can help. I use Flipd when I want specific chunks of time to be social media and phone free, but there’s lot of other apps out there that do the same thing.
5) Remember, You Have A Real Life
I know we want to think that what happens online in social media world is the be all and end all. But, if we’re honest, we know that’s not true. We have real lives happening every day all around us. Our lives on social media are just one facet of that. How many times have you missed something meaningful in real life because your face was glued to your phone? I’ve personally lost track. That’s not a habit I want to continue.
Social media is an escape when we’ve had a long day and just want to relax, but it can come at a cost to our real-life relationships. Remembering this can help put the time you spend on social media into perspective.
Social Media is Not the Enemy
I do truly believe that social media is a useful tool for connecting us to the larger world around us. We just have to recognize when enough is enough for our own personal usage and create some healthy boundaries. Use the five steps above to engage with social media in a mindful and meaningful way – I promise you can do it.
Do you have a positive relationship to social media? Or, do you want to change your habits?
Britt is a minimalist, a simple living advocate and a tiny house enthusiast. You can follow her simplifying journey over at Tiny Ambitions.