December 17, 2019
Note From Rochelle
What are you hoping to create in the New Year? Have you made a list of books you want to write or projects you hope to start and finish?
Today’s tip continues my series on social media and productivity. Hopefully, it will inspire you to make that list of activities you’d like to do more of in 2020.
Make this Small Shift and Transform Your Resolutions
By Rochelle Melander
Earlier this year, I talked with a writing buddy about our social media problem: hanging out online was interfering with our writing productivity. I vowed to be more purposeful about my time online and take time offline to engage with the world. (The Upside of Going Offline) My friend, author Elizabeth Cole, found that having a life was the best way to stay offline. (See Stop the Internet from Stopping You) This past month, I learned the truth of that.
I was doing so well staying offline until I fell in love … with a tiny but powerful piece of technology. My old phone broke, and I purchased a new one. Wow.
For the first time in years, I understood why people:
- Pick up their phone an average of 63 times a day
- Spend between three and six hours a day on their phones.
- Use their phones within an hour of going to bed and five minutes of waking up.
On my old phone, I could make phone calls, text, check the weather, and play a few games. And now? I can do it all. And I’m doing it. My phone gives me a detailed report on how I spend my time—and I’m averaging about 10 hours a week on my phone. That may be well below the national average, but it’s also the equivalent of a part-time job!
The Benefit of Habit
My new toy gave also gave me a big “aha” moment. Suddenly, I knew why I could easily ditch social media to write every morning but not be able to stay off social media on evenings and weekends. In the mornings, I had set a goal to do something positive. That’s called an approach goal—and they work. In addition, my morning writing session had become a habit. Our brains find it easier to find a successful routine and repeat it.
But my goal to avoid social media on evenings and weekends were avoidance goals, and they leave us feeling more anxious and less happy. That’s probably because it’s harder to avoid a habit.
I noticed that on the evenings and weekends where I had planned to do something positive—go to the theatre, volunteer at a community event, or read—I had no trouble staying offline. As my friend Elizabeth Cole had discovered, when we have a life, we can easily stay offline.
So here’s my plan going forward: I’ll schedule positive activities during evenings and weekends so that I can spend more time with real people and activities.
As we move into planning for a New Year, think about how you would like to be spending your time. Are there people you’d like to connect with, skills you’d like to learn, or activities you want to participate in? Make a list.
Choose one or two of those activities. Set a goal to do it during the times you usually spend on social media. Perhaps they’d read something like this:
- I will spend two hours every Saturday learning to sew so that I can meet my goal of learning a new craft.
- I will read a book in the evenings, so that I can meet my goal of reading 12 books a year.
- I will plot my novel after dinner, so that I can meet my goal of writing a novel this year.
I’m confident that approach goals will help me do more of what’s important to me. As you plan and prepare for the New Year, I hope you’ll be able to do what matters to you, too. Because engaging with real life can be magical!