Why let your phone rule your life?

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Being totally present in a world full of Tik Tok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and WhatsApp can be hard.  However, shutting it out completely doesn’t seem like a particularly realistic option for most of us.  It’s why finding ways to balance your social media and your offline life are actually super important for a meaningful existence.

According to Statista Research Department who published an article in July 2022, during the third quarter of 2021, internet users in the UK spent an average of 372 minutes per day accessing the internet via any device; and UK online audiences spent approximately 108 minutes per day on social media.  Basically, we are spending nearly half our days plugged in, instead of being present in the physical world around us — whether that be going for walks, talking to others, or just looking out of the window.

I know that many people say that technology is our friend and makes everything more convenient and even makes people and ideas even more connected than before.  While that’s definitely true on some levels, deep down I think most of us wish we were maybe just a little more present in our lives.

If any of this is ringing true for you, here are some tips for balancing social media with real life that will help you get the most out of both worlds.

Buy A Real Alarm Clock

Who would have thought that using a real alarm clock — as opposed to using the alarm on your phone will help?  But think about it — how often do you turn off your phone alarm, only to find yourself compulsively checking your e-mail or Instagram before getting up and starting your day? If you use an alarm clock, you might just find yourself with a few extra minutes of tranquillity.

Make A “No Bedroom Allowed” Rule

According to an article by Mark Gurarie in Health.com, we should all banish our mobiles from the bedroom entirely.  Message goodnight to your friends, and then spend the last 30 minutes before bed reading a book or writing in a journal.  If you try this, you’ve already given yourself at least two hours of extra mental space a week.

Dedicate Time For Face-To-Face Contact

In a recent blog on Work.Life the importance of making time for face to face interactions was stressed.  Ideally, social media complements the relationships we have in life as opposed to replacing them, and it’s important to carve time out for real conversations and interactions because of it.  Arrange to have coffee with one of your colleagues every week, or make a point to see a good friend every Sunday.

Call — Don’t Text — A Friend

And talking of face-to-face, it’s also worth picking up the phone and actually calling friends and family. In an interview with Everyday Health, Louise Hawkley, a research associate in the psychology department at the University of Chicago, said that research shows people seem to feel best when their relationships happen face to face or over the phone rather than just through social media.  So next time you’re feeling like connecting, try making a call to a friend instead of WhatsApping or posting online.

Put Aside Specific Time For Surfing The Web

It might be worth considering reserving an hour every morning for binging on social media. Try reserving a concentrated hour — no more, and no less — to social media every day and see how it feels.  It can change how productive you are.

Use Blocking Software

It may surprise you to know that there are actually apps you can use, like Self Control or Cold Turkey, that will actively block your computer or phone from specific websites, meaning you won’t have to rely solely on your own willpower to stay off social media. This is potentially a useful tip for the workplace or for when you really need to be efficient with your time.

Take A Day Off

And lastly you could consider implementing little technology holidays every now and then, in which you keep your phone/tablet/laptop off all day.  Just having technology inaccessible makes us able to be all the more present in the moment.

Technology should ideally enhance our lives, not take anything away from us, and yet it can be incredibly hard to strike a healthy balance between our online and offline lives. The good news it, it’s not all that hard a problem to fix — you just need to be a little proactive and have a desire to change.  I’m going to join you and put some of these ideas into practice myself.

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