This New Year I’m thinking of a different kind of resolutions to the usual ones. No, they don’t involve eating more kale or getting to bed earlier (although it has to be said, I do happen to eat a ton of kale, and feel way better on the days I get my kale dose, and my life actually did improve since I started to get to bed early!).
The Trouble With Goal Setting
But there are so many troubles with resolutions and goal setting in general. The first problem is that they tend to be focused on goals that lead to short-term strategies to success. After all, it’s all very well losing a few pounds, or running a marathon, but the trouble is, as we all know, is that after we achieve the goal – well, then what?
After we lose a few pounds, often we put on even more! And after the marathon is run, and when knees aren’t feeling happy, the rest of the year is spent on the sofa. I think that a healthier mindset might be on changing lifestyles for life.
Our Most Precious Commodity
I’m going to share my intention that I’m personally working on this year. This is an intention which is all about how I use time. It’s come to my attention that to me, time is my most precious commodity.
Unlike other commodities like money, friendship or love (important as they all are), this one is completely non-renewable. We can always go out and earn more money, or find a new partner or find love again. Friendship, yes, we can find new friends (although none will be as good as your oldest friends). But none of us are able to get any more time in our lives. None of us know how much time we have on this beautiful, precious earth
It’s A One Time Offer
Given that we have a One Time Offer on this most precious gift of life, and that the only guarantee in this life is that this moment will never be again, and that this is the youngest we’ll be – I thought that the best thing that I could do this year for myself would be to start to use time in a way that honours the gift of the hours, minutes and seconds that make up my short life on this planet.
What will I be doing to give myself the gift of time this year?
Well, I started off by taking an audit on how I use time.
I sleep for eight hours a day. That for me is absolutely non-negotiable, and means that each day is spent feeling happier and more productive (see this blog about the importance of sleep).
I then work around eight or nine hours a day. Again, that’s something that’s meaningful and important to me, so I don’t really want to reduce my time spent working on MFML (you’ll be pleased to know!)
That leaves around 8 hours for other activities. For me, these activities include an hour of yoga (again, non-negotiable!) And then I walk each day for at least two hours (because being in nature is so important to me, and makes me feel so happy).
And for all of us, our remaining precious hours maybe involve taking care of, and enjoying our dependents and families and cooking and eating delicious, nutritious meals.
That really doesn’t leave many extra hours (as if you didn’t know!) But one thing that I did discover in my audit that I waste around 90 minutes each day on social media.
Ouch!! What a waste of time!
Of course, it’s not all at once. Sometimes I scroll when I’m in the middle of other activities (my dog walk, eating, travelling and am I alone in using social in my time in the bathroom?!)
Sometimes I’m in the middle of work and I find myself just looking away from my work and scrolling away. How very frustrating, that apparently, I’m just thwarting my own efforts to have a fulfilling work life, reducing the quality of my work and reducing my productivity at the same time.
I thought that if there is one thing that would really improve my life in 2018 it would be gaining an extra hour and a half each day.
Now, I’m realistic, I know that I do use Social Media a lot, in my personal and professional life. And I don’t intend to stop using social media.
There are many things that I love about it.
I love hearing how others in my life are getting along, and seeing their photos from their everyday reality. That makes me feel closer to them. I love finding out about new stories, and finding out about ‘how life works’ from news items and keeping myself informed. I love sharing my story with folks. So these things I will continue.
But I’m going to be just a ‘bit’ more savvy about the way that I approach social media. I’m going to allow myself ‘windows’ of social.
In reality this means that I’m going to do the following which will ensure that my time wasted on social is reduced:
- Allow set, small windows of opportunity to use social media – I will allow myself to log into social media three times a day, at set times, and for set periods. Each window shall be seven minutes only. Which means that my entire social media span will be 21 minutes each day. That’s absolutely plenty to share my life and find out what’s going on in the world of my friends. If there is a particularly interesting article, I shall download it and save it for reading time at night.
- Turn Off Notifications – My notifications are switched off, so there’s no way that social media will disturb me. Instead, I shall be using it consciously, and most importantly, I’m going to limit my time on it.
- Become aware that my interests are not the interests of social media companies.
The object of my intention-setting is to take back control of my life.
I want to make sure that that I rule my life, and that those ridiculously brainy people behind the Apps don’t.
If you to remember that the entire point of these Apps is to grab people’s attention, then you’ll see that each little button, each ‘like’ or ‘share’ button has been meticulously designed and tested by the world’s biggest brains with the biggest budgets imaginable to make sure that folks like you and me are drawn in to their Social Media Apps and we spend maximum time there.
There is a fundamental divergence in your and my interests and the interests of the people that create these Apps.
Your interests and my interests are in living a full, fulfilled life filled with love, meaning, fulfilment, work, deep breaths taken in the outdoors and friendships.
However, the interests of the bright sparks living in Silicone Valley are to make sure that you continue scrolling through that little device which is conveniently in your pocket at all times. They have worked out exactly what news you want to see (which is why we live in the much talked about social media bubble). They don’t want you to see things that you disapprove or disagree with, because then you’d put your phone away and pay attention to the real world.
Instead, the Apps are perfectly designed so that you see what you want to see, and when you see it, you’ll share it with your friends. Now I’m not saying that this is all good or all bad, but we really do need to be aware of what’s going on here and why. It’s consciousness around our use of social that’s the most important thing of all.
Embrace your inner-child
I do realise that this self-limiting is a bit child-like, but it’s also an honest analysis of how 2017 went, and I’m realising that in certain respects, I am like a child and can’t be trusted – until I teach myself better habits, that is.
This means that the better habit that I’m treating myself to this year is the habit of self-discipline.
Now children are taught self-discipline by first of all instilling rules. The trouble with social media, is that because it is so new, none of us have had any boundaries or rules imposed on us for its usage.
We learn very early in life about the limits and rules relating to money. We learn, from a young age to limit the money we spend, because our parents give us a small amount of money to go to the sweetshop. We then learn to use our money wisely and only on the things we really want.
To me, my time is like the child’s money, and I need to re-learn how to use it.
I would not allow children to go into the sweet shop armed with all the cash in the world, and tell them to spend it how they will. Rather children are given a small, set amount of money to spend in the sweetshop.
I cannot currently be trusted to use social media with all the time in the world, as I won’t use the time I have wisely. Instead I must learn discipline and self-control, and must limit the amount of time I allow myself to use on these apps, otherwise I won’t learn the art of appreciating the small time we have.
Gamification of My Own Life
One thing I know from those lovely brainiacs in California, is that we need to ‘gamify’. We need to show our progress, we need to measure in order to really improve our progress with any task.
I know that they have worked out that we get a dopamine hit every time you see your likes, shares or followers increase. I need to use this knowledge in a much more savvy way, in a way that rewards my attention to myself, rather than my attention to the app.
This means that I need to use their own tools on my life. I will need to very consciously monitor my progress and be really mindful about how I’m using the extra time that I have gained through reducing my social media use. In exactly the same way that you get rewarded by spending time on an app by gaining followers and likes, you will need to reward yourself by monitoring and even noting down the changes that occur from your behaviour changes.
Watch This Space
I shall be taking the time to monitor the changes that happen in my brain due to my reduced social media usage too. I shall be letting you know what happens in this little experiment in a few months’ time! I hope that by 2019, this muscle of self-discipline will be a lot stronger and I shall report back on all the things that I was able to do with the extra one and a half hours per day, or 32,850 minutes or 22 days that I am set to gain this year!!!
Let me know if this makes you think about your use of social media apps, or how you use time, and your new years intentions!
Kat Farrants, founder of Movement For Modern Life