If you’ve been ‘tuning into’ my blog and instagram account you may well have noticed that I’m on a declutter, simplify life pathway! It shouldn’t have been hard to spot! I, like may others, are getting increasingly tired of being surrounded by stuff that constantly needs tidying and sorting and feel that having less stuff is the way forward. Materialism is not the way forward. Having the next must have gadget is not where it’s at. I know….. I’ve bought into all of that in the past and, as ably illustrated in Stuffocation by James Wallman, it doesn’t bring happiness. In fact there’s evidence that it actually makes you more unhappy! The less you have the more time, energy, and space you have to devote to what is actually important.
Decluttering starts out as a physical act. You get rid of stuff that surrounds you. Too many books, cd’s, clothes and gadgets…. but also I’m quickly realising that it’s also about decluttering yourself! So there’s diet…. how am I to declutter myself…. so I’m looking at what I eat. Then there’s my cluttered mind full of ‘must do’s’ and ‘must have’s’ and ‘need to knows’. So while I work on those things (which includes a massive wardrobe declutter and realignment (I like that word!)) let me tell you about my relationship with social media!
I love social media. You’ve probably spotted that! I like nothing but a good look through facebook, twitter and instagram. I love to interact with people on there and love to tell people when I’ve been out running and showing them pictures of my latest culinary delight. I do this because I know that (some!) people find it interesting. How do I know this!? Well, some of you comment, and…. I know that people like to see such things because I do! I love to see what people are eating, when they are exercising, and what they are reading. Why? Because it keeps me on track, and inspires and motivates me.
But, it takes it a lot of my time. Time, sometimes, I could spend on different things – not better things, but different things. But I don’t want to withdraw from it! Far from it! I want more of it. But my attention is constantly drawn to my phone as it ‘pings’ to tell me someone else has liked my instagram post, or commented on facebook. And then it dawned on me. It’s not the time I spend on social media that is the issue it’s that other people’s responses via my insistent smart phone are interfering with the things I want to do and not be distracted from.
So I turned off alerts on everything expect text messages, phone calls, and facebook messenger. I kept these switched on because people use these productively to get in touch with me mostly about important things. But the other things…. the fact someone liked my picture, or commented on my post… well they can wait until I’m ready to see them, because, lovely as they are, they are not going to be urgent. But, having alerts turned on had made them urgent. How do I know it’s not something important? How do I know I don’t need to respond? Well, in reality if someone wants a quick response from me they text or ring, so, all is still well!
I’ve done this now for 4 days and I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I feel already. I’m more focussed when doing this, for example, because I’ve not checked my phone countless times to find Johnny in Kansas has just liked the picture of my breakfast. It’s lovely to know that, but I can find that out when I’m ready to check not when Johnny is ready to tell me!
Checking my social media now seems more fun! I get the satisfaction of responding to a number of things in a controlled block when I’m ready. My insistent phone waits patiently for me to be ready rather than demanding my psychological energy every time it thinks it has something I need to know!