Our Social Media Manager, Sarah A. Parker, likes to opine on all things social media from time to time, so we’ve given her space to do just that here on our blog. She’ll cover everything from the new and unusual to the outdated and annoying. Got something she missed our something you’d like her to cover? Find her on Twitter @SparkerWorks.
It’s that magical time of year when advertising switches abruptly from TREAT YOSELF mode to “fix your life immediately” mode. Didn’t you know, that by buying this one thing or developing this one new habit that you can change yourself and your life for the better forever??!
Each January we are born anew, like the phoenix.
Or, more realistically, one or two new habits sticks for a few months before being engulfed by the habits of our regular life. Part of that regular life now involves being on social media to some extent, so it seems to me we shouldn’t exclude it from our resolutions. But let’s not make impossible resolutions; let’s make reasonable ones.
I’m thinking more along the lines of the following.
Be realistic about your usage
If you’re a Social Media Manager (waves in solidarity) or you have another role that involves Being Online a lot, it’s never realistic to think we’re going to delete all of the social apps off of our phone and disappear into the woods for a singing bowl retreat with Bigfoot for a month. I’m happy for people when they say they deleted the Facebook app off of their phones and now they commune with the trees on the sidewalk while they commute to work, but a) I need those apps for my job and b) I live in Texas so we have to drive everywhere (sorry trees).
Most of us who are heavy users have a pretty good handle on our usage, but if you want a more accurate look at how much you’re using which apps, there are other apps you can download to find out more about that. An episode of one of my favorite podcasts, By The Book, went through the steps in Bored and Brilliant using the monitoring apps Moment (for iOS) and BreakFree (for Android).
Cut out (or down) that one bad habit
Whether or not you needed an app to tell you, you can now probably identify that one bad habit you have with your phone and social media. Yes you need all of those apps for your job, but do you need to stare at your phone for one hour in the morning before you actually get out of bed? Probably not. Or maybe it’s one hour at night before you go to bed. (Or maybe it’s both and the Bigfoot retreat is starting to sound really, really good.)
I’m personally making this my resolution: To check in on the things I need to check in on regularly, but not to linger. The news will still be there later and this way I hopefully won’t be in a rush getting out the door for a run and then in a rush to get ready for work, eating a sad breakfast in the car during my commute.
Instead of reading Twitter for an hour before bed, I’m going to put the phone down after 5-10 minutes (I will absolutely never stop reading the threads between Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig) and read a book instead. When I do that, I know I sleep better and it will make it easier to reach my goal of reading 35+ books in a year.
So identify your bad habit and a realistic way you’re going to fix it. But it’s making it stick that’s the hard part, right? Maybe I’ll have to try a few things before it does: Setting alarms on my phone (the iPhone has a bedtime alarm feature that could work for this) or just putting something near my bed that reminds me why I’m trying to change this habit.
Also aim for progress over perfection. (As a perfectionist myself, this is definitely easier said than done.)
Don’t do anything you aren’t having fun with
So this point might seem to contradict “be realistic” but I promise it doesn’t have to.
If there’s part of your social media job or life that you hate, what do you hate about it? Is it within your power to change it, or at least minimize it?
I follow an influencer on Instagram (Maggie of @coffeeandcardio) who started posting less frequently and increasing the variety of what she was posting about when she realized Instagram had become more stressful than a fun community for her.
And if things are impossible for you to change, find a way to reframe it.
Best of luck to you, and to me.