Why are observations about time flying crawling into our conversations lately? What’s changed that a day goes by like an hour, a month like a day, and a year like a month? Technology is one major culprit, or more specifically, social media. We shed copious amounts of our precious time by scrolling our lives away. We scroll up and down Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit, or any other social media site that commands our thumbs to dance.
And let’s not get started on the comments section. What’s so fascinating about reading other people’s reactions to videos or articles that we set up camp in these comments, scanning hundreds of replies, most of which end up as tagged names anyway?
We go to sleep with social media at our fingertips and we wake up with it in the morning, all while ignoring the negative health hazards of practicing such behavior.
So, why do we do this?
Is it fear of missing out? Being disconnected? Fear of silence or spending time with our own thoughts or *gasp* other people?
Is it boredom? A need for entertainment? Loneliness? Lack of purpose? Laziness? Or an unhealthy obsession with getting constant validation from our peers or strangers?
Or do we use it to escape our less than rosy realities? Escape the truth of our lives? To procrastinate and put off the hard work required of important projects?
The list of reasons differs for each person, but one point remains the the same: we lose time, the most valuable gift we receive from life.
As a creative, a writer aspiring to become a successful author, effective time management is one of my most important tools for transforming my dreams into reality. Unfortunately, like a good number of other creatives, I get easily distracted and squander time on “breaks”.
The creative process can oftentimes be mentally and physically draining, so I have to hit the pause button to recuperate. One of the worst ways I would do that was through social media, engaging in the happenings of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Since I’m pretty determined to get a book published, it didn’t take long for me to realize I had a problem. I had let social media occupy too much space in my creative life. Something’s definitely wrong when your life’s work has to compete for time with status updates and hilarious Buzzfeed videos and lists, or even serious topics like hard news and every day social injustices.
My “breaks” were more like one hour escapades into social media land, which tired my eyes out even more instead offering rejuvenation. The result? My motivation for writing would get cut in half, and it became a struggle to climb up to my word count goal. Not cool at all.
Some introspection on my part helped me figured out how to end these toxic social media disruptions and get moving forward to what mattered the most, producing a book worth publishing. Here are five pieces of advice I gave myself, and I hope they can help you too.
1.) Find the real reason for why you spend so much time on social media.
In life, it’s easy to set our minds on autopilot mode and proceed through our every day habits, including the unhelpful ones, without a single critical thought. However, if we’re going to make major changes to our actions, we have to first start with our minds.
Before we can rescue our time from social media, we need to ask ourselves this question: Why do I spend such an excessive amount of time on [insert addictive social media site here]?
For me, it had a lot to do with living alone in a foreign country without my family and friends close by. Spending time on Facebook connected me back to my loved ones, but I soon started spending way more time than necessary on the site, scrolling, liking, reading and even responding to comments on news and movie pages and so on. Thirty minutes would evaporate from the clock, sometimes even an hour or more.
The lack of the familiar made me fill up on it as much as I could through Facebook. I also feared missing out on people’s happenings and being disconnected from everyone else.
Several important truths popped up from answering this question. First, I don’t need to know what all my three hundred friends on Facebook are doing to live a happy, fulfilled life. It’s an illusion that I need to be in the know all the time. Second, I need to make a list of my closest friends and family members and focus on contacting them individually to find out what’s new in their lives (oh my, what a novel concept). Third, I need to admit that most of my newsfeed is news and videos anyway, and that I’m looking for an alternative way to be entertained.
Once I shook my brain out of its zombie mode and better understood why I spent so much time on Facebook, I felt ready to set down some concrete solutions for dealing with my problem.
But you’ll have to wait for Part II for those four solutions. Until then, talk to me! What social media site are you addicted to? Have you figured out why you’re on it so much?
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Be sure to look out for my e-book, The Passionate Dreamer’s Notebook: For Those Who Refuse to Quit, coming out soon!