How to Stop your Social Media Addiction
Social media, with all its benefits & new ways to connect has some serious downsides for creative people. I would never suggest that someone not use what is being offered as some of the best communication tools in history, but you have to come to terms with how this technology is rewiring the brain, and not always for the better.
How many times a day do you run the cycle of checking your email, then your twitter feed (first to see if you got any retweets, and then browse the timeline for anything interesting) followed by checking messages & notifications on Facebook & Google plus, then off to Flickr & Pinterest, just to make sure you aren’t missing anything? And what do we do when the cycle is done? Check our email again, just to make sure nothing new hasn’t come in, thus starting an endless cycle.
Recently I read an article in a magazine (can’t recall which now) called iCrazy, and it discusses reports that social media, internet & gadget addiction is leading to some serious ADD, depression, anxiety and some pretty crazy behavior. Our brains are losing the ability to log off & if we let it continue unchecked, our devices will enslave us instead of free us.
I’ve decided to put some serious effort into curbing my internet habits in hopes of gaining more energy & motivation for more important things, like writing & making music. In doing this, I’ve made some pretty big discoveries that I’d like to share. I’ve found that most of this cycle of addiction stems from 1 nasty habit & learning to eliminate it little by little can give you back your control over the technology.
This drives almost everything we do on social media. We post, people react, we get a shot of dopamine, the drug of choice for the masses.
Checking in to see what people think of what you do is human, but it is also a flawed behavior that will kill your drive & focus. The reward shouldn’t be approval, it should be the satisfaction of finishing something you yourself are happy with. If you don’t make this distinction, you’re in some serious trouble.
Think about that….
Almost everything you do regarding the internet is reaction based. In fact so much so, that we can’t continue our train of thought until we get that chemical release.
So we are a bunch of insecure souls constantly slowing down and looking around to see who’s watching. What do you think this does to your productivity in music making? Major time sink right?
So what is the solution?
My challenge to you (and myself)
Over the last week I have gained some insight that I think will greatly help you, if you are up for the challenge. For some of you, this will be harder to stop than masturbating.
1. No checking your email or social media first thing in the morning (no, not on your phone either). Instead, you will write 3 things you want to accomplish in a notebook (NOT on your computer) before you go to bed at night, and look at that first thing in the morning. You can keep a longer To Do list on your computer, but you aren’t going to look at it first thing. Go by your notebook. Each task should be something you can accomplish preferably within 2 hours. If it will take longer, break it down into 2 or 3 smaller tasks. In other words, don’t just write “work on music”. You’re going to need to be more specific.
2. First thing in the morning, check the first thing on your list. Consider your computer as a toolbox. Write down which tools you need to complete your task. Sometimes this won’t require anything internet related at all. Other times it will. That is fine, but make sure you aren’t using the internet to “see what’s going on” or to check if your friends “liked” your cat video. You don’t go checking your toolboxes 20 times a day, do you? Nope, only when you need a specific tool. This is how you want to look at your computer.
3. After you finish your first task, give yourself 10 minutes (and only ten minutes) to check your social media. After your 10 minutes are up, close all browser windows & blank out your screen. On a Mac, this can be done by holding down Control + Shift + Eject. Not sure on a PC, but turn off your monitor or close your laptop.
4. Feel free to take a break, but not an internet break. You should try to limit yourself to two 10 minute social media breaks. If social media is part of your business, broadcast but don’t check back for a response until a final check at the end of your day.
It’s a very good idea in habit building to offer yourself a reward for finishing a task. No, NOT an internet reward. I might step out & grab a coffee & a pastry or something simple to give me a little boost.
5. Go to the next task on your notepad. Consider the exact tools you will need to accomplish this, and repeat the process.
If you stick with this process, you’ll realize how little you need this reaction you’ve been so addicted to. This probably won’t be an easy process for you, but when you are able to shift yourself from an external reward, to the internal reward of personal satisfaction, you won’t ever want to go back.
To better focus & more productive music making,