There are so many distractions pulling our attention away from the things that we find truly important. I know that I want to spend time being present with my family, reading as much as I can, and cultivating a steady writing routine. But I spend a lot of time on my phone, especially on apps like Twitter and Instagram, that seem to get in the way.
There are tons of benefits to those sites, for sure. It’s fun to meet new bloggers, writers, and readers – especially when you can actually connect with someone; it’s a great way to stay on top of world wide news; and it’s really helpful to keep up with publishing and book updates (for instance, did you know that Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to the Handmaid’s Tale? I first saw it on Twitter and am without words!).
But the costs can be heavy. Too often I scroll through Twitter and just find myself mad at the world and engaging in destructive behavior that’s not useful in any way. I can also use it as a way to disconnect from what’s going on around me, rather than staying focused on what really matters just because something has gotten difficult.
So how do you strike a balance? How do you know when you’re using Twitter for joy and when it’s just become a tool for negativity? Well, if you own an Iphone and have updated the operating system lately, you might have noticed a nifty new feature called Screen Time that’s been helping me.
Every Sunday morning at 9am, I get an alert with a report on my screen time usage. The report tells me if my usage is up or down from the previous week and gives me an in-depth look at all of the ways I’ve been spending my time on my phone.
I love this. I’m a little bit obsessive about using my time as “wisely” as possible and am super competitive so I strive to have lower numbers every single week. I had a streak where I did really well (I think I got down to an average of 38 minutes a day on my phone!), but lately I’ve started to catch myself creeping back up.
To help reign this in, I’ve set “screen time limits” on social media – no more than 30 minutes of Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest combined. Once I’ve spent a half an hour on social media, a warning comes up that lets me know that I’ve run out of time. If I’m right in the middle of something, I can choose to ignore the limit so it’s not a hard and fast rule, but I mostly just close out of whatever app I’m in when the warning goes off.
I love it when technology finds ways to help us disconnect, which seems like such an oxymoron. I’ve often wondered how long I spend just gazing at my phone and scrolling, so it’s been helpful to actually see the data. Lately, my goal is to spend less than 30 minutes a day on social media, so I secretly try to disconnect from those apps before the warning goes off. I’m not usually successful, because 30 minutes is surprisingly fast!
How about you? What tools have you found to help disconnect from screen and focus on whatever is important to you?