I’m an entrepreneur in residence that means most of my work is carried from home. Having worked in office for a decade, I can say that office culture inculcates or imposes a certain kind of discipline in you. Reporting or punching card on time; working in cubicles in full public glare; chasing deadlines and metrics. You hardly get a time for breather. In such situations, using a smartphone in office hours for leisure (WhatsApp chat, checking social media updates) is infrequent and usually done during lunch breaks or outside office.
But once you are out of office or during weekends smartphone addiction takes over. Particularly in my case, I found myself checking my Facebook account on my smartphone, few times every hour. I did not track the frequency of it initially as I dabbled with work alongside. So I felt its just in between the work I take a short break or a breather to go on Facebook. Unwinding is as much necessary.
But in last few days, I noticed that its not the usual Facebook break but that break is frequently happening in less than 10 minutes. I also lagged in my work as I was not able to finish the expected work during that day. Entrepreneurship is all about self-motivation and self-discipline.
I then decided to start keeping a tab on how frequent I check my Facebook account and I was stunned to find out that I check my Facebook account 2-3 times in 10-15 minutes. I realized that I have become addictive to social media. The impact of this social media addiction was, I lost out on work, peace of mind, and increasingly became anxious to check red notifications and scrolling purposelessly on timeline. I decided to do something to curb my indulgence in social media. Here’s what I did and it helped me:
I decided the time duration when I would not use Facebook – To start with, I checked the time as 10:05 am and decided I will not check Facebook before 11:05 am. It was a matter of only an hour but believe me, I struggled to curb my urge to check my mobile. If not for Facebook, I tried to reason my stubborn mind to check WhatsApp, Gmail or even a Google. I realized that over time, I have grown addictive to a lot of social media alternatives. It is not addiction to one channel but a host of them, either this or that.
But determined I was this time, I resisted all urges and continued doing my work,none of that required Facebook, WhatsApp, Gmail, or Googling. But as the clock inched towards 10:50 am, I urged to keep a quick track of minutes decreasing. 10:51 am, 10:52 am, 10:53 am. My eyes were fixated on the laptop time displayed at the bottom right corner. The last 10 minutes was real hard but I managed to do it.
Can you see, how difficult it was for me to keep myself off from social media even for an hour. I exhort you to check if like me, you have not fallen in this social media addictive trap. And if yes, it’s high time you must do something to reduce and eliminate this addiction. Basis my experience, I recommend some tips that will make it easier for you to do this.
Find if you are social media addictive : There is a different thing about using social media (WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram,Google, Gmail) for work and for leisure. If you see that you are using it more for non-work purposes than it’s time to become alert.
Establish non-screen time : To start with, you can work around small chunks of time, like an hour and gradually increase it to 2-3 hours. You have to be conscious about adhering to non-screen time in the beginning because your brain is not used to keeping off from social media. Also do not set high benchmarks such as you will not use social media for a day. Believe me, social media is much more calamitous than you have thought. Defining small targets makes it easier on your vulnerable mind to complete them. Neither set qualitative benchmarks such as I will use “less” of social media. Your social media-istic vulnerable brain cannot follow blurred targets.
Engage in an interesting work : To keep yourself sticking to non-screen time, you should use this time to do something that you are passionate about. It can be cooking, reading a book, talking to your son, going out for a walk without mobile, hitting gym etc. On the contrary if you use this time to do something that you loathe like closing a work deadline; doing official paperwork, making a business presentation; or anything else, you are likely to have a difficult time disengaging from social media. I used that time to read my favorite author Simone De Beauvoir.
Follow non-screen time with a relishing activity: Wow! It seems you have been able to complete the above 3 crucial steps to positively disengage yourself from the addictive social media and now you want to celebrate. Like I did, when the clock chimed 11:05 am. I wanted to go back on my smartphone to check those mind assuaging, mind massaging social media updates.I urged to quickly open my Facebook app on my smartphone at 11:06 am. But hold on. That defeats the purpose. Isn’t it? Social media de-addiction is all about you becoming unaffected from the life inhibiting pull of social media. What purpose would it serve if you immediately go back to become a Facebook prisoner from being a victor? For me, I resisted the urge to go back on Facebook immediately after my non-screen time was over and followed it with working out in my neighborhood park. I donned my track pants and went to the park for 15 minutes of running, followed by push-ups and pull ups and other aerobic movements.
Practice and practice : Don’t make this entire effort a one day phenomena and forget. Your brain needs time to absorb things and get accustomed to it. Follow the same line-up again and again, till you know that you are out of this addiction.
I found in time, that indulging in excess, non-productive time on Facebook (my fav social media channel) is causing me huge loss in terms of work, time away from real life, from real connections, and made me overly anxious due to obsession towards the red notifications, messages, and ceaseless scrolling. When I went to the park post completing the non-screen time, I looked at the marvel of nature. The lush green trees, soft carpet like grass, mushy mud, fluttering butterflies, dried leaves, kids frolicking on swings. Oh I missed so much of real life because of this technology addiction : ( Believe me, technology can never replace human interaction. I’m glad I have made an effort and now I’m working ‘consciously’ to disengage me in parts,one step at a time.