☕You sit down with a hot cup of coffee in the morning to open your new book (the kind made out of paper) but first you want to quickly check today's weather forecast.
💻You pull out your phone or computer to look it up and before you know it you’ve read 5 articles about the Coronavirus, followed 5 new friends on IG, and bought 5 new outfits.
⌚A notification here. A new email there. Scrolling... clicking... scrolling... clicking... possibly for HOURS.
Right now, being smack dab in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, we're relying on media for information and entertainment.
BOTH OF WHICH are valuable and necessary. But with social media rising in popularity and screen time a habitual part of your day, it's more important than ever to be mindful of your media consumption.
Want more ideas on how to stay sane during the Coronavirus and social distancing?
There’s a difference between engaging with and consuming media.
Engagement involves connection.
✨Maybe this means you sit down to write a friend an email about this crazy time in the world and you share a lighthearted YouTube video clip to brighten their day.
✨Or you comment on a friend’s picture striking up conversation and showing interest in their life.
✨Perhaps you sit down with your partner to read an article in the news together and then discuss it together afterwards.
Consuming, on the other hand, involves absorbing information. Primarily via looking, reading, or watching. Consuming requires little to no action on your end and can easily become mindless.
The information you consume has an effect on you.
The news could bring up feelings of depression, anger, grief or fear.
Scrolling IG could bring up feelings of jealousy or loneliness.
Media can also inspire you or bring you joy. It’s important to recognize the positive aspects as well. Media is not “bad.”
👉🏻But you need to be conscious of how and when you consume it.
Here are simple ways to bring more mindful awareness to your media consumption:
Set a time limit.
This can be done a number of ways… most involve a clock of some sort. 😊
👉🏻Set an app limit on your phone - There are countless apps and programs you can install on your phone or computer that set a limit on app usage.
On an iPhone simply go to >> Settings >> Screen Time >> App Limits >> Turn it on >> Choose the apps you want to limit and set the max amount of time you want to spend on them every day.
👉🏻Use the timer feature on your phone. Set a timer for a pre-determined amount of time and do whatever makes you happy during that time. Once the timer rings, put your phone or computer away!
👉🏻Use a natural, environmental cue. "I'll scroll IG until it's time to put Johnny to bed." "I'll read the news until my husband gets home from work." This is a more flexible way to set a time boundary, but it's just as useful.
The common theme between these 3 options is that before opening your computer or picking up your phone you've decided how long you want to be using it.
Choose a time of day.
For some, setting a time limit might feel too restrictive. Another way to consume media with intention is by only using it at certain times of the day - times of the day where this usage supports you in some way.
Many people start engaging with social media first thing out of bed in the morning. My husband reads the news while eating breakfast without fail.
Does this feel like a nourishing and enjoyable way to start your day? IT MAY! Greeeeat. Keep doing it.
Most people, however, are in a mindless habit of picking up their phone or computer anytime there’s a lull. Right when they wake up, while waiting at the doctor's office, in between tasks, etc...
I encourage you to find a time when you're most emotionally and mentally supported by media and be intentional about doing other activities during the "lulls" in your day.
Take control of the content you consume
Not only can you choose what media source you want to use, you can filter the content you receive via that source.
Almost every media outlet has a “Settings” option which is the perfect way to set preferences on the type of content you see.
👉🏻Gmail has an incredible "filtering" system. You can create folders (labels) in Gmail and set "rules" about what emails get sent to what folders automatically.
If you have a folder labeled "News," you could set a "rule" so that every email from the New York Times or HuffPost gets sent directly to this folder WITHOUT EVER ENTERING YOUR MAIN INBOX.
If you have a folder labeled "Shop" you could set a "rule" that every email with the word "Sale, discount, or free" in the subject line gets filtered into the "Shop" folder.
This is an easy way to manage your inbox. The less emails you have sitting on the main screen whenever you log in, the less likely you are to get distracted.
Then at designated times, you can consciously open your "News" or "Shop" folders to see what's new.
Here are the instructions Google provides:
👉🏻Be selective about what you get notifications for.
I’ve disabled notifications for all apps on my phone. That means when I look at my phone there aren't a thousand little boxes on my lock screen with updates about everythingggg. I have to manually click into apps to see if anything new has transpired which allows me to be more intentional.
(A word of warning... this does make me extremely delayed at replying to texts or listening to voicemails sometimes. 😬 SORRY FAM!)
I've disabled all notifications on Facebook except ones letting me know if someone has replied to one of my comments (so that I can engage with them).
👉🏻Hide ads. If you’re trying to rebel again diet-culture and you keep getting ads for weight loss (NOOM I see youuuu) or green juices and they aren’t bringing you joy you can “Hide” or “Report” any ad on IG. Instagram will no longer show you these products or services.
👉🏻Hide people. If there’s someone in your life that you don’t want to let go of completely, but their posts don't light up your world… you can hide their profile on IG. You stay friends and it doesn’t send them any sort of an alert that you did this. On Facebook you can “Unfollow” people in your Newsfeed. You’ll stay friends, but stop seeing their content.
👉🏻It's okay to not have access to ALL media forms at ALL times. I don't have email or Facebook on my phone. Those are both "computer only" activities for me. Find what works for you!
Get clear about how you want to spend your time.
If your mind loves shiny objects as much as mine and get’s distracted VERY easily... I find it helpful to repeat to myself “Check your email. Check your email. Check your email.” as I’m opening my computer. Otherwise I'll see the 20 open tabs from earlier and get sidetracked immediately.
Get clear on they “why” and “what” and “for how long” you plan to use the device before getting sucked in.
Have “technology free” nights/dates/activities.
It’s important to unplug sometimes.
No matter how intentional or mindful you are with your media consumption… it is still information being shoved in your face. And we all need breaks from that.
Schedule a time in your calendar to hang out with loved ones where you put your phones and computers away.
Check out the book "Digital Minimalism."
If this topic resonated with you and you feel excited by the idea of more mindful screen time, get your hands on Digital Minimalism. I've read it and highly recommend it!
We are living in a time where news sources are SHOUTING updates at us constantly and most of what we're hearing is troubling news.
It's critical now more than ever that you're being wise about how you spend your time. Taking care of your mind, body, and spirit needs to be top priority right now. For all of us.