8, is the average time people access their FaceBook account, with 76% of their users reportedly accessing it daily. This does not include the other internet channels or social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp or the more popular WeChat and Line in Asia Pacific. How did everyone end up spending so much time on the internet or social media?
This is going to be a 4 minutes read.
After this, get your ass off the chair, your hands off the screen and do some work!
A comprehensive study by Smart Insights, illustrates the metrics of social medias and the users who access them. It is no surprise that the amount of time we can spend in interacting with another person, or doing anything productive, is spent on browsing the newsfeed of, well, other people. We continue to let ourselves to be brainwashed by the news of other people and the marketing gimmicks (I believe they call it influencer marketing) of the advertising or branding companies hoping to get our most finite amount of resources, attention and time.
And we wonder why we have lesser energy to perform what’s needed of us in our lives – to write, to finish a project, to perform at work, to be present as a friend, partner or parent.
When the internet has been shrunk to the mere size of our mobile phones, we have unknowingly given almost all of our power to this device we store in our pockets or bag. We use it to do almost every single thing, even as ironic as it being a productivity tool with applications to remind us what to do next or our to-do-list.
But what is troubling is not the use of these devices to be more productive, rather the use of them simply because of excuses such as we are tired, we are uninterested, we are bored!
We need interesting news from other people to spice up our lives!
The number of times we reach out to our phones indicate how dependent we are to these devices and we can hardly ever function without our phones with connectivity.
How can we take back control?
Glad you are asking.
1. Find Your Pattern
If you start being aware of every single time you reach for your phone when you have “free” time, record that number down and the scenario/environment, you will soon realise your pattern.
Many of us have lost our focus and awareness to these devices because we always unknowingly reach out to them. It can be the waiting time for your friends or partner to be here; it can be the time spent in the washroom; it can be waiting for your next meeting. Being aware of your trigger allows you to make necessary adjustments and it is the first step for your to start taking back control. As Peter Drucker says, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
2. Set Blocks of Browsing Time
Now that you know your pattern, it is time to set the amount of time you want to spend on social media or the internet. It can be a strict block of time before you leave for your work, middle of the day during lunch or end of the day when everyone’s asleep. It can also be every few intervals of 2 hours. Make it a trial and error for a start, determine what’s the best fit and gradually reducing them to the most productive use of your browsing time.
You can also jot down the necessary items you need to check on the internet or who to look for on social media for inspiration so that you can make the full use of your block of internet browsing time.
For me, I subscribe to a few regular youtube channels that I get my inspiration and fuel for the next day. I spend roughly 30 minutes on these youtube channels at the end of the day and browse what is needed to write or reach out to.
3. Stick to the Block of Time, or Lesser. Never More.
Sure, there are cheat days that we need to spend more time looking for the things we want. Or maybe we have been distracted to other channels, shopping items, news articles, reads etc. and we did not realise how much time we have lost. This is almost inevitable for a start.
But as time goes by, we become more aware of what we need to find, what we need to move ahead of and what we need to stay focus on our paths. Then, we would have given up the distractions that are stopping us from getting what we want in the first place.
I always believe that the internet is like the layout of the supermarket – They never let you get to the things you want in the first place without having to walk through the things you do not need. But with the focus and understanding of your needs, you will be able to manoeuvre to what you want amidst the distractions.
4. Never Associate Your Mobile Devices to Your Emotions
The internet and our mobile devices are invented and produced, with the idea of complementing our daily struggles of life, having to scowl through the endless items in our bags or requiring to carry items that we seldom use. They are never meant to replace our lives.
Yet, many people start to associate their daily negative emotions to the use of their mobile devices. Whenever we are bored, whenever we do not want to interact with others, or whenever we want to bring up certain topics of interest, we reach out to our phones to look for things to validate our cause.
And we wonder why more and more people are looking out to find their purpose or seek avenues of happiness.
Yet, Internet and Social Media is Here to Stay
The internet and social media are now part of almost every business. We use them to generate interest and awareness with our customers and consumers. For many of us, we use the platform to stay connected with our friends, to stay in touch, to be updated in what’s happening in their lives, and in turn, do the same for them. We are all social creatures and hardly any of us would want to disappear into the wilderness without a single trace nor connection to whosever (I would gladly do, actually…).
Yet, we must never attribute the use of social media or the use of our mobile phones to being interesting/interested in life. We should never allow that to take control of our primary and most powerful tool, our choices.
The key idea here towards the use of social media is really, letting it go if it is not serving you to a greater purpose.
Cal Newport dedicated an entire chapter on social media in his book, Deep Work. It is a great read if you are looking to establish work or activities that actually give you the sense of fulfilment and purpose, or even simply finishing your work and spend more time with the people and stuffs that value most.
All in all, the internet and social medias are means to complement what we already have in us. Never let them take control of your life.
Be present, be there – for yourself, your friend, your partner and your family.