Feeling glum is a common side effect of social media use. One of the UK’s biggest bloggers, Anna Newton, offers her advice on how to streamline your feeds to transform them into places of positivity.
Last year my daily screen time was reaching the heady heights of the six-hour mark. This was mainly due to scrolling on social media, and while my job does include dabbling on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, I knew I was wasting way too much of my time on these sites. I’m certainly not alone - research suggests that the average person scrolls the height of Everest on their phone every year.
So this year I’ve started to monitor my screen time, and I’ve managed to spend under three hours on my phone each day. Keeping my phone in a different room to where I’m working really helps, and if I do fancy a social media scroll then I try to do it on my desktop instead. There’s something about social media apps on desktops that are nowhere near as addictive as those on phones, so I’ve managed to cut down my screen time dramatically.
Spending two to three hours a day on social media is about right for my typical working day, as it gives me time to post, reply to emails and WhatsApp messages, and have a bit of a peruse, too. But I could definitely work at reducing that figure at the weekend – aimlessly scrolling through social media on Saturdays and Sundays, when I don’t post as much, isn’t the best use of my time. I’ve set myself the task of reading 30 books this year, so I should really start knuckling down with that!
I’ve also streamlined my social media feeds to make them a happier place for me, and there are loads of advantages to doing this. Streamlining means you can really curate your experience, so that social media both nourishes and fuels you in a way that enriches your daily life. By unfollowing accounts you no longer identify with, or muting people who make you eye-roll when you see their posts, you can create a scrolling experience that puts a smile on your face – whether you’re looking for news, interiors inspiration, or just fancy catching up with a blogger you’ve followed for years.
It’s also worth deleting the apps you use to procrastinate, especially the ones you don’t even really enjoy looking at. This will take away the temptation, and you can spend that time doing something more meaningful, instead.
Ultimately, it’s a way to carve more time out of your day, and put more joy into the minutes that you do spend on social media.
Ready to take the plunge? Here are my top suggestions for streamlining your social media feeds and transforming them into happier spaces.
1. Treat Instagram like a newspaper
If your Instagram feed is the first thing you scroll through every morning, then start treating it like it’s your morning paper. This is a tip I learned from my friend Clemmie Hooper, aka Mother of Daughters, and it’s completely changed my experience of the app. Unfollow and mute accounts that aren’t providing you with joy and instead follow only those who give new updates, insights and information that you look forward to digging into every morning.
2. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow
Have an unfollow spree across all of your social media platforms and apps, not just Instagram. Set aside an hour to have a scroll and remove yourself from (or mute) any WhatsApp groups that make you groan whenever you get a notification, then have a clear-up of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat – any social apps that you find yourself using frequently.
3. Curate your homepage
Delete apps you no longer use in order to free up memory on your phone, then curate a homepage that’s right for you and your needs. If you feel happy with the amount of time you spend on social media then add those apps to your homepage so that they are easy to find. But if you need to put them to the back of your mind, move them further away from your homepage to remove temptation. Making them harder to find so that they aren’t staring you in the face every time you pick up your phone is a good way of tricking yourself into taking a different app direction the next time you’re scrolling.
4. Create some distance
If you’re struggling to put some distance between you and your phone and find yourself reaching for it constantly, then put some actual distance in place. Try keeping your phone in your bag at the office, or charging it in another room if you’re at home. This puts an instant stop to the pick-ups and subsequent scrolls that we do automatically.
5. Track time
Another tip is to set up a screen time tracker on your phone. Moment is a good one to try, and there’s a tracker included automatically for iPhones in the latest iOS update. Seeing just how many minutes and, let’s face it, hours, you’re spending on each app is a good motivator to put your phone down.
6. Be in the moment
Opt for the old ‘Latergram’ from time to time. Social media is a great way to share, but it doesn’t always have to be in real-time. Choosing to upload photos later allows you to really enjoy the moment rather than trying to find the best filter when you’re out for coffee with your mates. Snap the shot, put your phone down and save the editing for later.
Anna Newton (@TheAnnaEdit) is the author of An Edited Life, published by Quadrille, out now
Images: Getty, Unsplash