“Why do I feel stressed all the time?” I asked my partner a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, I was scrolling mindlessly through Facebook and Instagram, with over 20 actions uncompleted on my online to-do list, and 40 unread e-mails in a bright red bubble on my phone home screen. He took one look at me and chuckled, “Look at all these notifications, no wonder you are about to have an aneurism.”
He couldn’t have been more right. This is the power of an outsider’s perspective. What I learned from that tiny conversation was so simple and yet so profound. Unplugging the phone and letting go of all the notifications in my online world meant being more present in my real life.
It has always been interesting to me that we deal with physical pain so quickly, and yet often, let emotional pain linger for months if not years. When was the last time you twisted your ankle and just walked on it anyway? Never. Yet, with emotional pain we let the issue drag and drag until it wears us out.
I refused to let my online business take over my life. Instead I acted to eliminate the stress that was being caused by my over active online presence. I knew that being online was critical for the success of my business, but I also knew my mental stability had to come first. There has to be a balance, right!?
If social media exhaustion and information overload sound all too familiar, try making these three shifts - my life has literally changed as a result.
Change Your Notification Settings
It was as simple as opening my iPhone and going through my application settings and turning off the push notifications for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and whatever else was making my brain spasm when I was supposed to be at dinner parties. Instead, I simply check these applications once or twice per day at set times and forget about them for the rest.
Adjust Your To-Do List
Whether you manage your life with project management applications like Trello or like to write down good ‘ol fashioned to-do lists, we can always benefit from a little self-reflection. Personally, I use the application Todoist because it syncs with my Google calendar, and Outlook, and G-mail, and, and, and…
The tool, however, does not matter as much as the time it takes to use it effectively. What has been working and not working in your time management lately? I thought I had the perfect system, but as it turns out, things change.
To mitigate the overwhelming stress I was feeling, I had to create a “someday” category in my task lists. This would be reserved for things that would get done, but that did not have a specific deadline. Thus, it became a prioritization tactic that allowed me to knock off a bunch of those pesky red bubbles on my phone. What I did not realize is that for me, those red bubbles symbolized unfinished business and failure to prioritize. I had to eradicate them in order to focus on what was critical.
Limit Your Social Media Intake
You may already be familiar with apps such as Buffer or Hootsuite. If you are running a business with an online presence these are extremely useful tools that help plan your social media pipeline. Plus they allow you to shut off without losing followers. Big win.
While the Internet is a popularity contest, and that contest may lead to business, I encourage you to really think about where your business (or happiness) is coming from. For example, literally nobody from my Instagram or Twitter page convert into leads or even paid clients. So why would I focus my energy there? While it is a branding tactic for me to stay present on these platforms and engage with my audience, I also know it is not making me any money. As I navigate the online world and determine where my target audience is hanging out, that is where I choose to spend my time. I also maintain my presence using those handy online tools I just mentioned, and limit myself to check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn twice per day: once in the morning, and once before I log off.
I was being serious when I said that my life has literally changed since I’ve altered my online habits. I had an entire dinner with my partner and didn’t check my phone once. I have read more chapters in the book I am trying to read in one week than I had in one month before this shift. I have more time for blogging, responding to my clients, and being present in my day-to-day conversations. I am no longer thinking about my Instagram feed when I am at the gym, because I know I have a plan for managing it and that it will get done later.
It has been freeing to finally unplug, let go, and live. I hope this inspires you to do the same.
Words by Kaylee Houde