How much time do you waste?
Now, I’m not talking about the time that you’re playing video games or engaged in a book or a lot of the guilt ridden things that we do for fun because if you review the four main areas that we need to focus in order to have a balanced life, that being your health, your area of work, your love, your relationships and of course, your play time, your down time, you know there is a time and place to read a book, play a video game, watch television or do any other type of hobby or activity.
What I mean is how much time are you wasting that you don’t realize that you’re wasting? What I’d like for you to do is to consider that there are particular habits, things that you’re automatically doing in the background that you’re unaware of that are wasting time.
The most strikingly obvious one is how much time do you spend checking your Facebook posts, your LinkedIn posts, your texts, all the different social media that’s out there? How often are you scrolling though emails?
The problem with all of these things is that when we do them we do them in very small bursts or sometimes we go down the rabbit hole. You know, you click on that one article, which gets you emotionally charged and you start reading all the posts that everybody else has said and then you follow off onto another one or you see an advertisement on the side or you see a different post and you end up on a different thread and all of a sudden, two and a half hours have gone by.
Or better yet, you’re playing something like Candy Crush or any of the other different types of games, which just completely just keeps sucking you in. There’s all kinds of bling, all kind of medals and rewards that you can win if you do x, y and z.
Now, like I said, it’s okay if we can do this and it’s a specific time. You actually like to play Candy Crush. It would be no different than sitting down and doing a crossword or perhaps reading a small article or the newspaper or the comics in the newspaper.
I want to say again, this falls back into that play category of where we focus ourselves in our lives. Hobbies, recreation, re-charging our energy. But if we were to take all the time that you actually spent simply glancing at that little one or the two or the three, when you open up your phone to go to call somebody and you see on your phone, you’ve got this little circle, this little disk with a number inside of it telling you that there are three things that somebody else has posted that are probably trivial and insignificant but hey, there’s a three on this particular application and I want to get rid of the three.
We’re driven to want to get rid of those numbers. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, they all know that these are hooks. Their primarily goal is to keep us engaged because when we’re engaged, they increase the likelihood that we’re going to be exposed to something that we’ll buy. It’s the underlying driving force, keep us engaged, make more money. It’s why these companies are doing so well.
This is not saying that you shouldn’t be checking in, this doesn’t help to connect to other people, but there are a growing number of statistics showing how constantly being attached to and paying attention to your cell phone, your tablet, your computer and all of these social media outlets are causing all kinds of different side effects. Most negative.
With the rise of Facebook, for instance, in colleges, we also can see a correlation in the rise of anxiety. Again, since the advent of social media there has been a significant rise in anxiety and a lot of times this is because the things that people post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc, are mostly positive posts. When we see this, we start to compare even though we may not be aware that what we’re comparing is only the positive, but that’s a different topic for a different time.
To take back some time in your life consider consolidating all these little distractions by consolidating them to one time a day. If we can get rid of all of these little spots all over the place which breaks our ability to truly stay focused, we can once again become energized, focus, and mentally/emotionally healthier.
So pick a time during the day where you will take the time to look at Facebook, all your different social media and make that your scheduled appointment. It has a beginning time. It has an end time. And be careful, set a timer. Have it so that your screen goes off. You can set your screen to just turn off. That’s what I do. If it stays on for x amount of time, I actually have it set to close. You can actually get programs and other applications which will do this as well. Some just give you a reminder which is often good enough. The key is to help you interrupt your attention so you can return to your life.
But don’t stop there, add this. Simply see if it’s possible for you to mark down, just with hashtags on a piece of paper or on your cell every time that you go on and look at any type of social media platforms or you text back and forth with somebody, SnapChat back and forth with somebody, Messenger back and forth with somebody, mark a hash. Figure out how many hashes you’re actually utilizing over the course of a day.
I’ve done this with a few people. It’s staggering. It’s anywhere from a minimum of about 90 hashtags to as many as 400 hashtags in one day. Now, if you were to equate time then to each one of those hashtags, perhaps you’ll say, “Well, Todd, it was just a couple seconds.” So, okay, let’s assign three seconds per hashtag. That would be 300 seconds for 100 hashtags or for the instance of that one person who was 400 plus, that’s 1,200 seconds that is being utilized, fragmenting your time throughout the day.
Having a difficult focusing on something? It’s because you’re constantly being interrupted. Again, how much time are you losing? And more importantly, what steps can you take to let it all go? To get this time back?
- One is simply becoming aware that this is something that’s occurring with you. And maybe it’s not.
- Two is to grab some data, get some hard numbers.
- And three, you can even do this one right away, simply allot a certain time and a certain portion of time throughout the day when you will check your social media.
When your time’s up, that’s it. Somehow, people survived without all of this before the invention of it and I think you will too. I also think you’ll notice, just like myself and people that I work with have noticed, when you can get away from this, your anxiety levels will come down, your focus will become better, you will get more joy and meaning out of life.