It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time.
— Alex Ohanian
As a writer with a day job — and getting older — I am thinking more about how I spend my time. Writing a book isn’t easy, and it involves a huge time commitment. For me, it means getting up in the middle of the night to write before heading to work. That generally means that in the evening I’m too mentally exhausted to write.
A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of weeks monitoring my daily screen time. I was flabbergasted by what I learned about myself. Some days I’d watch a show/movie on Prime Video, play a game, check in on social media, and/or catch up on news headlines (especially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine). There were weeks when my screen time averaged 9 hours (or, sadly, more) a day. During that period, I had one utterly unfocused, unproductive day when I spent more than 14 hours using my phone. Scary!
Clicking and tapping away, it turned out to be quite easy to spend 14+ phones on my phone. But it was also a wakeup call that prompted more self-reflection on how I’ve been spending my time. Specifically, it had me asking myself: how could I invest more time in my writing as well as spend more time doing other things that I love?
The answer, in principle, appears simple: delete social media. The execution, by contrast, seems complicated (but is it?).
I began to imagine what my life would look like without social media or, at the very least, with a greatly reduced presence on social media. So, I again deleted the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone. Now, when I want to post, I use my laptop (which is a bit off-putting as the desktop versions are less user-friendly). But that’s a good thing since I’m reaching for my phone less, my screen time has decreased dramatically, and I’m spending less time on social media.
I’ve accepted (for now) that complete abstinence from social media isn’t the answer. But I can choose how I use social media to better fit my needs and my way of life.