I have a confession to make. I’m a basic Millennial (Or Xennial? Don’t care.) and I have a phone problem. Social media to be specific.
Social media has its benefits, for sure. I find joy in community, love to keep up with my friends who live in far away places, and can keep far away family engaged in our own family. A study published in the International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering found that it is a powerful educational and knowledge sharing tool (1). This doesn’t even touch on the benefits of social media marketing for my growing baby business. So, don’t get me wrong- I am very much down with social media in the correct doses.
But, as we are all aware, it has its consequences including, but not limited to: the spread of misinformation, fraud, bullying, hacking, distorted self image, low self esteem, low motivation, and an increase in social isolation (1). Let’s admit it, it’s also a major time suck. How often do you have a few minutes to yourself and you automatically pick up your phone without thinking about it? How often could that time been used for something much more fulfilling like reading that book you’ve been wanting to pick up, straightening up your house, playing with your kids, chatting with your partner, doing a ten minute workout, or meditating? For me? All. The. Time.
The good news is, apps like Instagram now include a timer and the iPhone actually tracks how much screen time you’ve had per day. You can set time limits and block yourself during certain times of the day. Many of us are already incorporating social media detoxes into our weekly or monthly routine. We have tools to help us to be just a little more present, let’s use them for our benefit!
In the new year, one of my goals is to decrease my use, so I’m taking you through my goal setting process I’ve used for years for quality improvement projects in the hospital setting. Grab a notebook and a pen and follow along:
First, assess your situation. Take a look at your current usage, perhaps by looking into the data on your phone. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings and then to Screen Time. It will show you your trends and what areas need work and provides tools to set limits.
Then, take a look at your motivation to change. Is this something you WANT to work on, or is this something you’re doing because someone like me told you to? If you’re not going to buy into it, your heart will not be in it and you will not succeed. Find something you want to spend your time and energy on and work on that instead!
Next, write down your “why.” Why have you decided to do this? Is it to be more present with family? To have more time to read? Having a purpose gives your goal power.
BONUS: find your Tendency. Gretchen Rubin has a fabulous concept that explores the four types of people and how they reach their goals. To take the quiz and get this insight, click here.
The next step is to write down your goal and it needs to be SMART:
S – Specific. This should attack a certain bit of your problem. It shouldn’t be “spend less time on social media.” A better example would be: I will not go onto social media before 8am.
M- Measurable. Many of you have the tools already at your disposal to do this. Before you settle on a goal, be sure it’s something that you can track. My example above it measurable because I can track if I go onto social media before 8am (it’s a simple yes or no).
A – Achievable. Listen closely: you don’t have to change the world. Cutting out every bit of screen time is not achievable, so do not make this your goal. Look for your lowest hanging fruit, keep it simple, and get an easy win! “Easy” wins (see: not easy) are still wins.
R – Relevant. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to change something you don’t have a problem with. For example, I probably wouldn’t want to decrease how much I text my friends, as this is generally how I visit the outside world right now with a newborn. Pick a goal that makes sense.
T – Time-bound. To revisit my goal above, let’s add a time to it: I will not go on social media before 8am for one week. Once I’ve accomplished this, I can choose to continue my goal to create a habit. Or, if it doesn’t work for me, I can throw it out and start over or adjust.
Here’s the fun part! It’s time to strategize. What tiny steps do you need to take to achieve your goal? What are you going to do to hold yourself accountable?
Here are some action steps pertaining to my goal above to decrease my social media use before 8am:
These are only a few ways to help me achieve my goal. They are super specific to me, so really figure out what would help YOU achieve your SMART goal.
Succeed and Evaluate
Finally, DO THE THING. Have grace and patience for yourself. Do not shame yourself if you do not succeed. Keep trying.
…and then evaluate. What went well? What was not so great? Do you need to extend your “detox?” What did it do for you? Can you create a new lifestyle from this or can you do this on a semi-regular basis for periods of time?
Really take inventory of your success, pat yourself on the back, and reap the benefits!