If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself overwhelmed by social media — and quarantine has only amplified the feeling. I often find myself opening Instagram to find a couple of posts to share to my account… and then I wind up getting sucked down numerous rabbit holes. Even as a digital wellness coach, I have my moments of weakness.
As quarantine days continue to fly by, it’s as if all the rules and structures once in place have disappeared. Now, your wake-up time is likely somewhere between rolling out of bed five minutes before your Zoom conference call and the blissful hour dedicated to your side hustle before the workday begins. Chances are, no matter what time you wake up, scrolling through your Instagram, texts, or Gmail is likely one of the first things you do.
The days blend together now even more than they did before. It’s one meme, group chat, and email with “hope all is well!” after another. All we do is scroll and scroll some more.
Most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. So I have to ask myself, are we scrolling, or are we living? Quarantine or not, it’s about time we regained control over our lives and stop endlessly scrolling them away. Here’s how to get started.
Set Boundaries With Yourself & Others
The first thing you need to do before hitting pause on your thumb control is set boundaries with yourself, your space, and those you’re living with. When it comes to our technology use, there are no tangible boundaries, so we must create them ourselves.
For yourself, invest in an alarm clock and try spending at least 30 minutes before your workday on something that brings you joy, such as exercise, journaling, or meditation. This will increase your productivity, and, rather than starting your day off with a mindless scroll, you’ll begin your day focusing on yourself in a meaningful way.
For your space, set up your work environment for comfort and with minimal distractions. Turn on the “Do Not Disturb” feature on your computer so that you don’t receive email notifications and place your phone either upside down or out of sight. For optimal productivity, balance the day by taking mindful breaks away from your space and away from your phone.
For others, make sure you communicate your boundaries with whoever you spend your time with. When you’re connecting with someone in real life, try leaving your phone in a basket or try this Bagby mindful phone holder when participating in a shared activity. This way, no one will be tempted to scroll.
Get An Accountability Buddy
Who said anything about doing this alone? Staying offline is easier said than done, and it’s much easier when you have someone who’s doing it with you. Find someone who doesn’t live with you to go on this journey with. Set goals with your screen time together and do daily or weekly check-ins.
Everyone is different, so by no means do you both have to set the same goals. Maybe one of you is focusing on staying off of Instagram while the other wants to set overall limits for their screen time. Write down what those individual goals are and how often you agree to check in with one another.
In addition, make sure you’re both on the same page in terms of check-ins. Are you going to set punishments or rewards? Are you going to send each other screenshots of your phone use? Whatever it is, make sure you’re aligned to increase your likelihood to follow through.
Schedule Your Phone Time
Perhaps you’re super organized or like to schedule your days out precisely. If that’s the case, you may also want to try blocking off your phone time. By putting dedicated time to check your phone on your calendar, you can hold yourself accountable. This could look like scheduling 12pm to 12:30pm to check-in on social media or your group chats.
Plus, when you see this time blocked on your schedule every day, your mind will eventually start to understand that you need to hold off checking your social media until that time of day. If you check it before or after, you may start to feel guilty once the habit is instilled.
You can do the same thing with your phone calls or Zoom calls. Schedule your catch-ups with friends in advance so you can avoid getting burned out from endless FaceTimes. And make sure to give yourself days off in between so you’re not endlessly attached to a screen.
Limiting the scroll isn’t easy, but it’s possible. As you slowly realize how much extra time you get back, the work you did to get there will be worth it. Just remember to fill that spare time wisely with meaningful activities.
Finally, what happens when you catch yourself in the act of scrolling? Get in the habit of asking yourself the following:
- What am I gaining out of this experience?
- Am I scrolling to seek validation or to increase my engagement?
- What else can I spend my time doing?
At the end of the day, all you need to do to pick up your life again is to put down your phone.
Content courtesy of Liana Pavane, digital wellness expert and founder of TTYL—a tech-free community dedicated to human connection.
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR, LIANA PAVANE
Liana founded TTYL in 2018 to help people have a healthier relationship with technology and social media. Since launching, she has been featured on NY1, Bedford + Bowery, The Joy List, the SHIPS podcast, and more for her work in digital wellness.
As a professional community builder, Liana believes in the power of unplugging and living in the present moment. Her tech-free events have been hosted at prominent spaces such as Athleta, Showfields, The Assemblage, The Phluid Project, and Tijuana Picnic.
Liana is also a born and raised New Yorker who studied theatre at Ithaca College. When she’s not growing her business or hosting an event, you can find Liana networking with like-minded people or finding joy away from her phone.