Last week I decided to cut back on the time I spent on social media, in hopes of lowering my overall time looking at screens. My goal was to spend only 20 minutes on any type of social media website for the whole day and 30 minutes each night for videos. I was relatively successful on this journey and I ended up learning a lot about myself. Here is a recap of my experience:
I made the mistake of using all my social media minutes at once. I found myself sending a text and then automatically going to open an app. It was like a natural reflex that happened any time I used my phone, which I never really noticed myself doing until now when I had to consciously stop myself. I was also hoping that it would be easier for me to work on homework and things of that nature, but I still found ways to procrastinate! But when I did finally start it was easier to stay focused without being distracted by my phone.
Today I spread out my 20 minutes throughout the day, into four sessions of five minutes which was much easier and even nice. I used to open Instagram only intending to spend a few minutes in the app and would unknowingly end up wasting a lot more time in the app then I intended. Being aware of the time and when I needed to close the app was very helpful. I am getting my homework done much faster which I really like. When I feel bored or like I want to take a little study break, I just put on some music which also helps me focus. The thing I miss is my video time because I have so many different shows I have started on Netflix so choosing just one is sad. I now realize I must have spent at least two hours every night watching tv on my computer. With the 30 minute limit, I am guaranteed to get to bed on time.
The times I really crave spending time browsing the internet are when I am really tired, like when I just get out of class or I come home from work. It’s nice to be able to turn off my brain for a while and just scroll through posts and relax. Now I will literally just stare off into space for a while and put on some music that I’ve already listened to a million times. It turns out that I actually prefer that as my decompression activity! It allows me to think over things with more clarity. It’s like having a moment to just clear the clutter in my head before continuing on with my day.
Even though I am able to limit my screen time by cutting down on entertainment based activities, I still find that I am looking at screens for a lot of my day. Especially today because I had to watch two movies for class. I spend a lot of time checking emails, doing online homework, and reading articles that my teachers have posted online. We also use iPads at work instead of traditional cash registers, which is becoming more and more popular. Even if I didn’t use any completely unnecessary time looking screens, they would still take up a large part of my day. Going into the future, will there be any way to avoid this?
It is easy. My head feels more clear. I feel less stressed even. I only spent 10 minutes today on social media and I did not even use my 30 minutes of video time. I went out and saw my friends and never felt an urge to take my phone out of my pocket.
In conclusion, I think I will continue with this type of structured use of social media in the future. It was a relatively easy habit to break and I was able to get so many more things done. Perhaps I will even lower my time limit for certain days, and maybe be more lenient on other days. I would suggest trying this challenge to anyone who feels like they want a break from technology, or even just to see if it was a significant change. In the end, our time is very important and we want to make sure we are using it to better our lives instead of stalling it.