In recent months, I felt overwhelmed trying to keep up with my online life....blogging on a consistent basis, responding to backed up emails, keeping up with private FB messages.
It started to feel like my online accounts for social media and communication were demanding more and more of my time and attention- and if I didn't work it into my schedule, I just fell further behind.
When our devices- whether it be the smart phone, the laptop, the ipad- are constantly pulling for our attention, it can really impact our ability to get other things done, leaving little time for us to have a moment of peace. Your "me time" suddenly becomes time-wasted away from productivity and sleep eventually seems like a bonus if you reach the finish line at the end of the day.
I finally drew the line and decided enough was enough!
I was taking back my right to enjoy doing what I wanted, when I wanted.
I was going to make social media and online activity something I enjoyed, rather than something I felt compelled to do.
Here's 5 surprisingly helpful ways to get back to enjoying technology rather than resenting it...
1. Simplify your inbox.
Does your inbox ever pile up at a rate you just can't keep up with?
First thing's first- unsubscribe to all the email notifications from your social media accounts. Don't even finish reading this post- do that right now and then come back. Typically you receive that info any time you sign in. Chances are you also have an app on your phone letting you know you have a new tweet or a new friend request anyways. No need to double up on those alerts.
Next...unsubscribe from newsletters you don't actually read- even if you think you'll eventually get to them. Forget about it- if it was important enough- it'd already be clicked on and read. There's lots of interesting things on the internet but we can't possibly have time to read or scroll through them all.
I once unsubscribed from most of my online store newsletters and notices. My inbox was much more manageable but then I'd hear about a fantastic sale I missed or a code for free shipping (in Canada, we usually get robbed on shipping- so these announcements are usually better than a sale!). To solve this problem (and hold onto those newsletters or mass-emails notifications you can't bear to part from just in case), it's email filters to the rescue! Whether you use Gmail, Hotmail or your email is hosted through Outlook- all of these accounts have the beautiful option of letting you set rules to route particular emails to specific folders. Then your main inbox is less cluttered, unimportant emails seem less demanding of your time, and you can check those other folders when necessary or at your own leisure. Every couple of days, I click on my "Shopping" folder and scroll through the emails from Kate Spade, Piperlime, Shopbop, MAC, Sephora (must I go on?) and scan their subject lines to see if they are worth reading.
I highlight them all at once and click delete.
2. Don't let your smart phone rule you.
I was once commanded around by the dings and chirps of my Blackberry. I'd quickly read a tweet or FB message while on the go during the day and forget to reply later (when I'd find a spare moment). Not on purpose- because by then, there would be plenty of other notifications, emails and messages to respond to as well.
I eventually found the noises from my phone- beckoning my attention- just annoying. And instead of being able to enjoy a message from a friend, I'd stress about replying right away so I didn't forget. I was once talking with a friend about how I found my phone to be a cause of stress and how I was always looking for the last place I put it. I admitted how I had started to resent all the times it dinged or the little red light started to blink, demanding to be checked. He asked me what would happen if I didn't see that text message right away or if I didn't catch that email until later in the day. And I had a little epiphany as I answered, "Nothing..."
Because, honestly, no one sends a text message in an emergency. (If you do, reconsider that approach.) I'll hear the phone ring if it's something important. And if I'm busy- that's what I have voice-mail for. And with that, I decided not to let my phone be the boss of me.
I even removed Facebook because of the overwhelming number of notifications that I couldn't keep up with during the day. I now log into Facebook when I have the time to sit down at my computer- just like in the old days when I was a student- and have time to enjoy! the newly tagged pictures, see what others were up to and respond to messages on my wall or inbox.
3. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else.
In this day and age, we all seem to document our day-to-day lives through the pictures we post and the statuses we update. I had a friend once tell me that Facebook was making her depressed because everyone seemed to be doing more interesting things than she was. The truth is, whether or not others have exciting lives, you need to learn to be happy with what you have. And if you aren't happy, then it's up to you to change that rather then waste your time wishing you were doing something else.
Source: I Draw Something Everyday
Remember, looks can be deceiving- and that's the thing about creating an online persona. People may seem like they have more money, are more popular and have more fantastic lives- but the truth is- they're only going to tweet about the interesting stuff. It's not interesting when people post about having nothing to do on a Saturday night or if they tweet about the cute tricks their cat does. People don't want to admit that they only afforded their new spring wardrobe by maxing their credit card out or that their social life is more active online than it is in real life. Online accounts don't tell the whole story- just the details we want to share.
Find yourself jealous of your favourite bloggers who get great sponsors and seem to be able to afford every trend on the rise?
Are you jealous of the all the events and parties that someone tweets about?
Do you wish you had the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers others did?
Do you silently [or not so silently] lament about it?
It's time to log off and get back to your real life.
Source: From Up North
Sometimes we need to remember that comments on your Facebook wall, hits on your blog, and the number of retweets you get in a day...they're all just numbers that only matter as much as you let them.
4. Log off your computer more often.
Take my last piece of advice one step further and just back away from the computer.
Put down your iphone or Blackberry.
Be mindful of just how many hours you've spent in front of a screen verses how many hours you spent on a leisure activity that doesn't involve your computer. How many text messages did you send today in comparison to how many phone calls you made?
Or better yet, how many face-to-face conversations you have when compared to the ones you've typed out or texted.
Spend time with friends. Go for a coffee. Read a book. Go for a walk outdoors. It's important to get out and live your life.
5. Develop hobbies that don't involve electronics.
Rather than feeling like you are watching life online- take charge in real life. You can find some pretty cool things reading others' blogs, watching You Tube videos or looking at friends' Facebook photos but when you leave your computer, don't feel like you need to do something fun or interesting just to have something to post or tweet about. Go do or experience something. Just for you.
And put the phone down. Pay attention to what's in front of you- you don't get to enjoy it if you're too busy snapping photos or texting. And while in the company of others- it's ok to answer the occasional text or snap a photo to tweet but if you're constantly at the beck and call of your phone, it can be annoying (and rude) to the people right in front of you. One of my pet peeves is those who are constantly texting when hanging out with friends- unless it's really important, refrain from engaging in the need to constantly reply to the mystery person who keeps texting you. If it's urgent and requires your attention, excuse yourself and make a quick phone call (it'll be much quicker!) As I mentioned, it's a rarely that important if it's sent by text.