Recently, I talked about the prevalence—and damage—of internet addiction in our society. Over-stimulation of our minds on a daily, even hourly basis can act as a major handicap to our creativity and mental focus. If we want to make an impact with our art, it’s important that we address this problem.
Lately, my husband and I have been taking steps to fight our own social media addictions. It’s just so easy to click over to Facebook—or worse, leave the tab open while attempting to work on other things. It’s frustrating and depressing to reach the end of the day, only to look back and realize that you did nothing but waste time, so today I want to talk about five simple, everyday habits you can employ to help fight internet addiction in your own life.
HABIT #1: ALWAYS HAVE A BOOK HANDY
Studies have shown that reading paper books improves concentration. One of the primary symptoms of internet addiction is easy distractibility, and having a book handy can help to mitigate this, because sitting down with a book means you can’t just click away to another tab when your mind wanders. (Just make sure your phone is out of reach so you can’t cheat.)
Additionally, according to WebMD, reading on electronic screens before bed can disrupt healthy sleeping patterns, whereas powering down with a paper book can actually help you unwind. In fact, there are many reasons you should probably be reading more books. Books are good for you.
HABIT #2: MAKE PLANS WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Even if you’re an introvert. And I can say that because I am chief among introverts—just ask my husband. Making plans with friends gets you away from the internet, at least temporarily, and allows you to engage in real-life relationships. Plus, getting away from your desk and into the world is a great way to foster and inspire your creativity.
HABIT #3: GO TO A COFFEE SHOP WITHOUT YOUR LAPTOP
What? Yes, you read that right. You can stop blinking now.
Going to a coffee shop is one of my favorite things to do, and until recently, I would always tote my laptop with me “for work”. Now, I’m not against working at coffee shops—it’s great. I still do it from time to time. But I want to challenge you to leave the house without your computer for a change. Maybe take a book instead, or just sit there with your coffee and observe others. Spending an hour or two away from your computer can work wonders for resetting your creative mind.
HABIT #4: UTILIZE ALTERNATIVE TOOLS
Instead of always using my laptop for project notes, I’ve started to make more use of paper notebooks again. Just like reading paper books instead of e-books, writing on paper can help improve your concentration and maintain focus. I’ve made more progress on my current novel in the last week than I had in the last month as a result of going back to paper.
If you find you’re distracted by your phone or the internet in other areas of your life, you can look into using alternative tools to replace those as well. An old-fashioned cooking timer, or an alarm clock, perhaps?
HABIT #5: PRACTICE TIME LIMITS
It’s stunning to realize how much time the average American spends on social media sites. According to Digital Trends, we spend on average, a staggering 4.7 hours per day on social media. This translates to somewhere around 33 hours each week. That’s a lot of time you could’ve spent working on that project you’ve been pushing to the back burner, hm?
Practicing time limits on social media is hard. (Duh, it’s an addiction we’re dealing with.) But introducing this habit into your everyday can help save you a lot of time. There are tools you can use to limit, or even block social media sites in order to allow yourself to spend your time on things that are actually productive. Even limiting yourself to two hours per day would save you around 19 hours each week. Just think of what you could accomplish!
- Do you struggle with a social media addiction in your life?
- What steps have you taken to be intentional about managing that addiction?
- If you’ve been spending less time online, what benefits have you felt in your life?