Recently I’ve been on a one-person experiment of social media use and separation. As a self-identified Xennial, I recognise the intrusion of modern technology in my world. So I initiated a separation of sorts. The balance in the relationship needed to tip back to the mobile phone as a tool, and not an extension of self. Here are the five things I did to support my digital separation and the five things I did to spend my time healthier and happier without it.
As parents, we consider ourselves ‘low tech’. We don’t have a DVD in the car. We don’t own a tablet. I schlep a bag of toys and colouring in into cafes rather than hand over my phone for an impromptu side of Bananas in Pyjamas. I had to stop and ask myself, if the boys are expected to ‘play’ or, to ‘entertain’ themselves without a device then really, so should I.
How I engage with the mobile is entirely up to me. In an effort to be as engaged with the most important distractions in my life, my children, this is how I initiated a healthier relationship with my mobile phone.
First I considered how I use my mobile phone.
How do you use your mobile phone?
Is it for information (recipes, news (fake or otherwise), visual inspiration? Or, is it for communication (so and so is doing x and y, eek FOMO, thumbs up emoji, smiley face)? Time wasting by any other name.
Second, I needed to actually manage the mobile phone.
Manage your apps or programs
Set aside a little time to do the following:
Remove any apps that don’t need to be there. Yes, I mean, go into Settings and Uninstall the games or social media applications that take your time away from the important things in your life.
Facebook – gone. Instagram – went but I bought it back. Email -gone. Games – never had them.
Third, I turned the Mobile Data Roaming off. Yes, turned it OFF.
Turn OFF Mobile Roaming Data
That way you have to consciously log into the Interweb via Settings and open a browser. It gives you just a few extra steps to choose not to follow through (or be distracted by other things like your children, the dishes, a basket of washing – yeah, I know, Instagram sounds wonderful about now). Positive side effect; it’s amazing how much longer the battery will last if the mobile phone isn’t constantly roaming for Wi-Fi and switching between networks.
Fourth, if you do log into Facebook, Instagram, or email, set a timer.
Set a timer
Use your phone as a tool and set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes before you choose to log into Facebook, Instagram or, your email. Set the timers for strategic times throughout the day. Then respect the timer. If you haven’t caught up on the gossip or latest food-inspo in th allocated time, you might not find what you’re looking for today. Be choiceful.
Ask yourself, is now really a good time to be surfing the web or, could it wait until later?
Fifth, Unfollow. Stop Notifications. Unsubscribe.
Remove notifications from email, Facebook, Instagram or whatever flashes up on your screen telling you someone somewhere is notifying you of something. Unless a real person wants you, quit the notifications. Otherwise, you’re answering to a computer.
Do you really need notifications from a rarely visited or unknown page? Use the opportunity to unfollow pages that no longer meet your needs, interest you or offer you inspiration. Yes, Old Codgers Drinking Schooners might seem like a harmless ode to appropriately used ‘Occa Strine but really, do you need it?
No more behaving like Pavlov’s Dog. It went ding, I must respond, ooh, my reward, an email for 70% off…
Be a critical curator of your information gathering and entertainment sources.
Make sure that what you see in your feed is what you want to see.
The average email inbox is a pit of loss and inspiring greed. We get bombarded by advertising, sign up for this, 10% off that, get my newsletter or latest blog post (I don’t’ mind if you don’t read it but do allow it to clog up your inbox because its good for my Google Analytics).
Take the time to be choiceful how you engage with the digital world. We so rarely question our time spent in cyber-space but, if you take a moment you realise just how it has permeated our daily life, it’s quite frightening.
OK so you’ve unsubscribed, stopped Facebooking, Insta-wasting and Twittering so what could you do with the time instead? It’s not as easy as just putting the mobile phone up on the shelf and walking away. Well, it wasn’t for me. Creating this space in the day meant I had room for alternatives. These are just five. Find your own best way to spend time in the real world.
One. Have something else to flick through in the house. A good quality magazine is hours of reading. Even better if its one that you can read and pass on to a friend and then chat about. I don’t mean emagazines either! Try Dumbo Feather, Peppermint, The Weekly, Muse Australia, Frankie, AG Outdoor, Better Homes and Gardens, whatever is your taste. Shout yourself a subscription if you really enjoy the articles. This has a trickle-down effect on children. It is a physical reminder of the presence of books or reading matter in your home.
Two. Join the colouring in phase late. If you have children, it’s amazing how quickly they will join in and show their creativity and style.
Three. Break out a hands-on hobby that you haven’t touched in an age. Crochet is having a comeback; knit a Weasley-esque jumper or scarf, just for the heck of it. Keep your hands busy doing something that allows you to still chat and be in the present moment.
Four. Pick up a journal and jot a few things down that you are grateful for or, that have made you smile today. A gratitude journal is a sure fire way to find a reason to stay away from the comparison of social media.
Everyday life is full of happy wonderful if you look.
And finally, Five. Why not play with the kids? Get down and build that sky-high Lego tower and laugh as it comes toppling down.
Do something together. You’ve got two hands to do it with now.
See how you go.
Different methods will work for different people. This is what worked for me. I’m not saying I’m free of the millstone that is my mobile phone but, I can at least say I’m receiving a ton less advertising emails, only seeing notifications from what I’m truly interested in and only seeing what I want to see and all in a limited time (18 minutes is my preferred timer).
That can’t be a bad thing either.