The Single Most Important Thing I Learned From Minimizing Time on Social Media and My Phone

Intermittent social media and phone fasting simplifies my life -- including my authentic train of thought.

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Turn off the phone.

Put down the phone.

Is there an app to help me do this?

I don’t know because I put down my phone.

As magical and creative as I can be on my phone, I have found that minimizing time feels a little bit like going on vacation! I do enjoy quality creative time. For example, I have a video editing app, image creating app, meditation app, and special calendaring app. I enjoy all of these.

It may seem counterintuitive to set limits on phone and social media use. However, being present in the moment can offer a satisfying connection in offline in real time.

After feeling stretched thin to having seemingly normal conversations with my family, I realized that I just need to allocate more time for my family. How do I cut out the unnecessary time-sinks? What are the extraneous activities that zap my time?

After sitting down with my calendar to carve out the time necessary to support the family and friends who I value, I have found that I expend a great amount of energy engaging on my phone and social media. The energy spent with online socializing needs to be added to the time needed for meaningful in-person conversation.

I decided to approach this as creating my social media and phone time to being “meaningful” conversation and engagements that truly add value to my career and personal life. This has completely shifted my interaction with social media to be driven around my focuses. Before this tech audit, I was engaging as more of a consumer of social media and my phone.

This sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts. I stopped and took time to take a deep look at my schedule, my behavior around the schedule and how it was affecting the people I love in real time. Now. In the present.

To see deeply, we have to first learn the art of stopping. 

Tich Nhat Hahn, The Moment Is Perfect

How did this happen?

With this awareness of being a consumer, I shifted my thought to wanting to protect my interests: family relationships, work hours, and developing relationships (both online and offline). I decided to minimize work time on my phone to one hour.

Get this — I have been able to shift to only spend one hour on social media per day. I do have an online business, so I need to check in and add to the online social conversation. However, the one hour for each, phone and social is a set challenge that I accomplish with calendaring time for these activities.

How do I make this work?

I allocate phone time for simple text / phone conversations and allocate 15 minutes for social surfing in the morning and evening. It seems to work out. I do not include client calls in this framework. As these are part of my work. The point of my establishing boundaries around phone time is to keep the line open for my children and partner to be able to engage with me. I also keep up with my out of state family by text and my besties, too.

I batch up social posts on my laptop in the morning and allocate time to do this, then execute the sharing and posting from my laptop for as much as I can. IG is done from my phone, so I prep the visuals on my laptop and send them out in a scheduled time.

Why did I decide to do this?

All of this sounds it bit controlled, but I decided that it needs it to be. The organic tech surfing began to fill in too much of my day. I had begun shopping for things that I didn’t ever dream of. It was shaping an experience for me, which feels slightly dysfunctional.

Those that I love began getting lost in the onslaught of text messages. It seems that now companies and any shopping I have done — now wind up in both my email and text inboxes. This produces extra work that requires time to now sort out two inbox messages that are generally the same. It just doesn’t work for me.

The communications we all receive at this time in life are not only duplicative, but encompass a myriad of mediums. I now see the same companies writing to me in my text and email inboxes ALSO advertising to me and taking up my time that I spend on social media.

There are many sources that point to the effects of concern around healthy doses of social media consumption. You can search it up and find lots of variations that support the recent Facebook Whistleblower, Frances Haugen leaks about the impacts on youth that social media can bring. Or the opposite of healthy effects that can build with social media use over time. The studies are there.

Human behavior trending toward the natural or authentic?

Do you see the trend, here? As we all navigate the modalities of communicating via technology, it’s important to find balance to allow the space for natural in-person conversations to fill in our time. The tempo of the one-on-one human conversation is a natural flow of allowing space and time in a collaborative way. This kind of collaborative tempo is slower.

With in person conversation, we can see body language that shares more than is spoken. The senses can communicate information that we may or may not organize in our mind, but shares an energy about the person. Scents of coffee, tobacco, perfume or essential oils that shape our ideas about the person. We get an authentic in-the-moment read on the values of this person.

I appreciate the buzz on social media and online-learning spaces about the appeal of authenticity. After downshifting my experience on social media and my phone, I wonder if this desire for authenticity is simply a desire for more in-person experiences.

Could it be that simple?

With such complications of minutiae in my scheduling of downtime, I will need to ponder it when I am enduring an intermittent social media fast.

Seriously, the changes I have made have been satisfying to my personal experience. It hasn’t improved my social following. I am not in tune with the WhatsApp conversations that include me. I am slow to respond to Facebook (I am not alone here).

However, the single most important thing I learned from minimizing my social media and phone time is that my quality time with my children and partner have moved from frustration toward deeper connectivity. I love this!

I have allocated time to talk to my friends and family.

In removing the obstacle of being caught up in attracting more opportunities through technology, I have also received more quality time with my loved ones. I live with a creative family. Each of them need time to open up and reveal their authentic voices and thoughts. Giving the time of the day to those who I love most has benefitted all of us with a rich dialogue that we all crave.

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