You’ve probably already started contemplating your New Year’s resolutions and are planning to set new goals to improve your financial, professional, and personal life.
At the top of the list are the usual suspects: joining the gym, quitting smoking, losing weight, finding the perfect partner or leaving the current one, getting a raise, finally writing that novel or screenplay, or saving up for a vacation. your dreams to ______ (fill in the blank).
You know very well that the recipe for success is a good dose of commitment and concentration, a bit of sacrifice and a lot of willpower. Right?
Today, the most likely roadblock to “New Year, New You” isn’t the lure of those half-price shoes on sale, the desire to hit the snooze button when it’s time for your morning workout , or responding to the super cute guy’s flirtatious late-night butt text that’s “oh so bad for you,” rather, it’s the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
You know how it works, you pop in quickly to check your messages or update your status, then you realize today is your old school friend’s birthday, so you post a lovely message on their wall, in the middle of their page , you notice a video that has a lot of funny likes and comments, so you click on the YouTube link (it will only take a second), actually the video is 2 minutes long, but it’s hilarious and worth the money! grief!
Now, of course, you have to share it on your own wall, and tweet it while you’re at it, and, while you’re trying to build your Klout score, you decide to tumblr too, which also feeds into his LinkedIn profile, where he realizes he has some unanswered requests, which you decide to accept. Before you know it, you have five tabs open; your Twitter feed sounds faster than a two-step Tango, a distant cousin and your best friend are trying to chat with you on Facebook. YouTube notifies you that you haven’t watched the latest Jenna Marbles video yet (which is sure to be insanely funny), and Tumblr wants you to check out and comment on your friends’ latest reads, while Klout warns you that while you’ve been happily connecting with family and friends in “real time” over the holidays, your online social score has dropped from a “Thought Leader” status of 63 to a lowly “Speaker” of 55, which is beyond worrying.
Suddenly, you feel your cortisol levels rising, along with your desire for a sneaky cigarette or that piece of chocolate cake. Desperately needing a break, she looks out the window and notices the beautiful sunset staining a finger of clouds and bright streaks of pink and orange in the gray winter sky. Something stirs inside you. You reach for your smartphone. Click. Finger to touch the screen touches the familiar icon. Deliberate for a second about the benefits of Sierra vs. Earlybird before selecting the Amaro filter. You hit “share” and sit back with a contented sigh. Beautiful sunset shared with the world through Instagram. Check.
Suddenly, you realize that this trip down the social media tech rabbit hole just wasted the 30 minutes you were planning to spend on that report to your boss that was sure to earn you brownie points for the promotion and raise you wanted.
Social media has become the most time-consuming activity in our daily lives. But Facebook wins the award as the most addictive. A new report, The Social Habit 2012, from Edison Research shows that more than half of the American population has a Facebook account and a quarter (about 35 million people) check their account more than 5 times a day. And according to another social media report from Nielsen, Americans spend 23% of their entire lives on Facebook, which equates to 53.5 billion minutes per month.
While checking Facebook may seem innocent, it’s amazing how quickly it can lead to further temptation on social media. If you really want to achieve something remarkable this year, where time, focus, and commitment are required, reviewing and managing your use of social media is a must. Unless of course you raise your Klout score features as one of your New Years resolutions!
Top 5 Ways to Start a Digital Detox and Curb Social Media Overload:
1. Download and install the free MacFreedom or RescueTime software tools that allow you to limit the amount of time or record the amount of time you spend online using social media.
2. If you have to write something, a report, an essay, an article or a book, try to write by hand using a good pen and paper (you may need to put your smartphone in the closet). This way there are no online distractions and you get the benefit of doing a first edit as you write it.
3. Leave your phone at home. Really. Make a conscious choice to do certain things offline; walk the dog, have coffee with a friend, visit an exhibition, you’ll be amazed at the benefits. You’ll find yourself more present in the experience, you won’t be tempted to tweet, post, or Instagram your experience, and you’ll gain valuable thought time during which you can imagine achieving your New Year’s resolutions.
4. Start a new hobby, activity, or join a group. When you’re at the gym, taking a yoga class, knitting, or playing darts, you have tech-free time. You can also remember what it’s like to have 100% focus on a task without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Google interrupting your thought process.
5. Set aside time for a weekly digital detox. That could be anything from one hour a day when you disconnect from all media: the TV, the Internet, and all your tech devices. For those who find that their use of technology takes over, it might be best to start with a one-day detox just so you have time to notice the real effects technology is having on your life.