Remember when we didn’t all have cell phones? The big huge social media world was not on our kitchen counter while we prepared dinner, in our pockets while on a walk, and by our nightstand as we brushed our teeth. It was not too long ago, but today it is hard to imagine life being so unconnected. Social media has its definite perks of inspiration, meeting new friends, and growing a business. It also is a catalyst for comparison and feeling inadequate. And those numbers…..while we know the number of likes and followers do not define our self-worth, it is hard to tell our emotions that. The social media world never goes to sleep. Learning how to limit our time thinking about and being on social media is key to navigating this world with balance. Social media is life as we know it today. It is valuable to embrace it, enjoy it, and be present on it while learning how to keep it from taking over your life and mind. Rebecca from A Daily Something, our recent Master of Their Craft feature, has an incredible instagram and is here to share tips that she has implemented keeping social media from taking over her life.
This is a photo of her adorable daughter on their pretty front porch…
When Karen asked me to write a piece for Char Co about navigating social media or how to keep social media from taking over your life, I had to stop and ask myself….how do I keep social media from taking over my life? This is a difficult question to answer, and believe me, I have not mastered this art. Having a family has really opened my eyes to the importance of not living a life for social media. I have a husband and two precious little girls who demand a lot of my time. On the flip side, I also have an almost-exclusively social-media based business that I am trying to run.
Social media is addicting. And I [feel like I] have a good excuse: it brings me about 90% of my work and has in effect, become a real-time portfolio. I tell myself things like “people expect updates” and “I can’t let this week’s Facebook stats go down from last week’s” and “Twitter growth only happens when you’re posting to Twitter” and you get the picture.
This all might be true, but there is a balance, and here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned (or, am trying to learn) to keep social media from taking over my life (and the life of my family).
1. When the kids are awake, I get off the computer (or phone or iPad or whatever).
There are a few exceptions…Sometimes I’ll check & respond to important emails first thing in the morning while Zoe is playing on her own. And I usually keep my phone close by during the day in the event something urgent comes through & needs immediate attention. Because my “brand” is partly lifestyle in nature, there is a need to document life as we live it. So, with discretion, I take photos throughout the day and share online when the kids are occupied or napping.
2. I can’t master them all.
I’ve tried to pick three social media outlets to grow/master and forget about the rest. I don’t have time to maintain all of them (why on earth do we now need to share videos and live video feeds) and I chose to focus my attention on Instagram (it’s easy and visually rewarding), growing my Facebook, and Pinterest. I occasionally tweet (and send all my Instagram photos to twitter) so I’m halfhearted twitter user. I know there are sometimes benefits to being an “early user” on a new social media outlet, but since my time is limited I can’t let myself worry about it!
3. If I’m in the car, put the phone away!
This is embarrassing to admit, but I’ve recently made myself put my phone in my bag when I’m behind the wheel. It’s too tempting otherwise. Just a quick glance at email/instagram/facebook could result in something catastrophic. Nothing is more important than being alert and 100% focused on driving while behind the wheel. Now that I’ve put my phone away, I’m realizing just how addicted I was and how much I think about my phone when I’m driving. This is a great piece of advice, I think, because you don’t realize how much social media controls your life until you do ridiculous things for it.
4. Designate time for responding to emails.
Rather than sitting down to write emails 20 times throughout the day (and being interrupted 20 times), I’ve been trying to give myself two 20-minutes blocks. Sometimes I need more time, sometimes I don’t even need that much. But when I have that designated time (and tell myself that’s all I have, for the most part), I’m so much more productive. And I’m able to be present with my children throughout the day.
5. I’ve gone dark for dinner.
This is another one I’m really embarrassed to admit the need for this, but I’ve started going “dark for dinner,” thanks to Oh Joy! Admittedly, my phone is almost always on the counter or kitchen table … not very far from my reach during the day. It’s so easy to just keep it around at dinner time and randomly (habitually/obsessively) check for status updates or emails. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s ridiculous, and I want to be present for conversation & communion around the dinner (breakfast, lunch, etc.) table, especially since dinner is the only meal we eat together as a family. When Zoe is old enough to have a phone, she certainly will not be allowed to have her phone with her at the table, so why am I setting such a horrible example of that now?
Thanks, Rebecca, for your insight!
What are your tips on how you keep social media from taking over your life? Please share!