Life, Technology

10 Ways to Create Boundaries on Social Media Use

Ok, let’s be real – this pandemic has shaken us all up in so many ways. Personally, my world has shifted quite a bit since March 2020. With spending time at home pretty much 24/7, I’ve found myself needing to have a word with myself. This word was my social media use. It sounds silly but yep, it’s true.

I’ve got to be honest – although my career is basically online – I realised about a month ago that I had slowly moved my life completely from the outside to online. I’d notice that my mood completely depended on what I read online, and that’s no good for no one. There are so many opinions, campaigns and instructions that sometimes it can get really overwhelming, can’t it. I remember reading something (online ironically) that said, imagine every status or tweet you read was someone telling you them out loud. That would be a lot wouldn’t it? And it started to feel like it too. 

So, in the last 4 weeks, I’ve seriously changed the way I use social media and I honestly feel so much better for it. I thought I’d share what I did – you never know, if you’re feeling a bit like I was, it may help!

have a day with no social media

Ok, I’m starting at the deep end. Don’t worry – this post isn’t just DON’T GO ON SOCIAL MEDIA ha. But I will say, in order to audit your use properly, for me it was important to spend time away from it completely. I’d say minimum a day – but if you can do more, even better. 

figure out what you use and why

When you’ve had time away from your social media – have a look through your phone. What did you miss? Did you need to access something you couldn’t? How did you feel after the day? How long did it take to forget about missing it? These are all things to consider for your next step.

change up your routine (realistically)

Once you’ve figured out the previous points – this will help shape what you need to change. For me, I found that continuously scrolling through thousands of (usually) negative opinions dragged me down, especially on a morning. I’d do it without even thinking. I’m not joking – sometimes my finger would click it and I swear my brain didn’t even tell it to…

So with this in mind, I made a pact. No social media when I wake up. Social media was only allowed once I was out of bed. This was and is tough because I really love my bed. Other things I do instead now are, listen to an audiobook or switch daytime tv on. I know some may think I’m just swapping it for something else – but for me, it’s about that slow transition and not reading so many opinions before I even wake up properly. 

cleanse who and what you follow

Now, I want to express that when I say I don’t like “negative opinions” I don’t mean that I avoid all posts that tell me about the world – because I really do love learning and I always want to know what’s going on and how to be a better human (oh god, is that cringe? It is isn’t it?) So I don’t mean get rid of educational stuff. I just mean there may be certain things that really get your back up. Or there may be totally filtered people that subconsciously make you feel conscious about yourself. Have a think about what you enjoy about social media and do your own filtering out of what you don’t. 

do you need your social media on your phone?

Another big one for me. Now obviously, if your phone is your only way of accessing social media then of course you do. Or you may be using one device like a PC or laptop instead. So if that’s the case then ignore this one. But if you’re like me and have (or had)  every social app at the touch of a screen – question – do you need it. I think this was a game-changer for me and was the reason why I could actually do the no social media thing before I get up. 

move the location of your apps

As I said earlier, it’s really easy to click an app without even realising it. So, moving your apps to somewhere different (or even within a folder) is a really good way to put a little block in your way to stop that natural click. 

tell your friends

One aspect I was nervous about spending less time on social media (I know it’s a bit embarrassing to admit) but I didn’t want to feel like I would miss anything. FOMO is a thing, even online! So I decided to tell friends that I wouldn’t be online as much. This then takes that pressure away from missing any messages and giving an alternative. This also actually sparked up a lot of conversation about the use of social media and shared similar feelings. 

separate work and personal

When a lot of your career is online, sometimes it’s hard to imagine how you could take so much time away from it. But somethings I’ve found really helpful is separate my browsers – e.g. chrome for personal surfing and safari for work. I’ve found this really useful and have done this for about a year now! This means that when I go on Chrome, I’m not tempted to “quickly” look at my work emails and vice versa. 

look at your notification settings

For a long time, I had a notification for everything, even what the bloody weather was going to do tomorrow. So I went through and looked at my notifications settings and took off my Facebook Messenger and Instagram notifications. Now, I realise that I’d much rather be choosing when I want to see updates. That way I can read something when I know I can actually sit and reply. It also means I can concentrate on the present task I’m doing (even if that’s watching Netflix).

keep checking in 

One thing that is audit has taught me is how much my online use has slowly crept up and how it affects my day. So I’m now definitely going to keep checking in and making sure i have the right balance. 

So there we are, there’s some insight into what I’ve been up to recently. I’m really happy with the changes I’ve made. Although I love technology and media – I’m also very aware of the patterns of online use and how I feel. Have you done any of these things or are you planning to? If you have any tips I haven’t mentioned – please let me know!  .

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