Welcome back! This is the second half of my Digital Health strategies blog post. You can read part one here. Special thanks to The Startup For publishing it!
In part one I went over three introductory strategies for reducing your social media dependency & addiction (something we all can admit to struggling with). The goal was to give you practical ideas to start the journey of reducing your social media use. Part two goes into that even more, fleshing out some other strategies to get you farther from your apps and closer to what’s going on around you.
Let’s jump into it!
Use app blockers when working
If you need to work but are worried about using your apps, using app blockers may be a good tactic. They’re pretty simple: once booted up, they stop you from using your phone or tabs on your desktop. Some do it by opening up a timer over your screen or open up a whole app where you’re not allowed to minimize it until you complete whatever you set out to do.
A popular phone app is Forest, where a tree is “planted” at the start of the work session. Minimizing the app kills the tree. The goal is to grow the tree as long as you can, and its growth reflects how long you spend off your phone.
Another one is a desktop blocker, such as Cold Turkey where you’re only allowed to have a select number of tabs or programs open to work: the rest you’re locked out of.
Alternatively, you can download app blockers that are native to each platform, stopping you from scrolling on the platform.
I use a Facebook timeline blocker, so I don’t even see anything on my Facebook timeline. I haven’t looked into an Instagram & Twitter one, but I’ll consider it.
(and for those of you thinking “why don’t you just delete the app”, two things. One, I’m still reviewing what’s valuable (darn you Messenger and Facebook Memories). Two, some platforms are unfortunately reaaalllllyyy beneficial for work, especially in politics, advocacy, and general personal brand building. For those who are required to be using these, figuring out ways to using them effectively is important.)
Delete accounts that don’t serve you
This piece of advice is the most common one when it comes to getting control of your social media, and for good reason. Chances are you’ve dabbled with multiple platforms, and probably still use many of them. But how many of them do you ACTUALLY need?
Each platform is designed to be enticing, offering unique features the others can’t give. Twitter’s “on-the-go thought sharing”, Instagram’s photo features, or Snapchat’s combination of both. Then there’s Facebook. And Tik Tok. And Byte. God. So many.
You most likely don’t need them all, and if you find yourself constantly checking each one every day you might benefit from cleaning up and chucking a few into the trash bin.
Here’s what I do: once or twice a year, I’ll take sit down and go through all my social media apps and figure out what isn’t helping me vs. what is. You need to be really hard on yourself during this: don’t keep something because of its “potential” if you’ve been using it for a while and it hasn’t gone anywhere for you. Determine what genuinely isn’t serving you anymore, and cut it.
Consider this your app spring cleaning.
(Full transparency here: I have them all, but I’m currently taking stock of how useful each one is and whether or not I need them for my personal work. So far no good. Don’t judge me. I’m not perfect.)
Social Media Detoxes
Another method that works really well is to take an extended break from social media. When you pick specific times of the year to do a “social media detox”, you can notify whoever you need to ahead of time that you’ll be off all platforms. Plus, you can test how much you actually need a platform, then return later and get rid of whichever ones aren’t serving you.
But how long should you take a break, and how often? My rule of thumb is this: if your break has a short time frame (say, a week), then schedule them more frequently (like 3–4 times a year). If it’s longer (like a month), then schedule them less (once, maybe twice). Either is good. Up to you.
Now With All Your Free Time…
We’ve cleared up your schedule and now you’re spending less time on your phone, at your laptop, or responding to every ping and buzz you get. You have more time to do whatever you feel like. You have free reign to test out new hobbies, take trips, or sit and relax. So, what are you going to do? If you’re unsure, here are a few suggestions:
- Go for a long walk (like, more than 30 minutes)
- Start a hobby (knitting? Geoaching? Fighting dragons?)
- Plan out travel goals (and actually do them)
- Read a book
- Visit and spent time with friends (when it’s safe to do so)
Alright friends, that’s it for now. If you would like me to speak a bit more on subjects like digital & media literacy, social media, and all the small niche subjects related to it, let me know and I’ll write more.
If you have any strategies for how you maintain good digital health, share in the comments!