Joy in the Little Things, Away From the Screens

Have you ever uttered the excuse to yourself, or someone else, “I don’t have time to ______________.”?  Fill in the blank: exercise, eat healthier, go on that trip, spend time with family, volunteer, etc.

Leaders, have you heard this possibly from one of your people?  “I don’t have time for that additional task…”

This potentially relevant info is a little scary.  According to a recent study reported on by Rebecca Moody, Head of Data Research at Comparitech, “Worldwide, the average person spends a total of 6 hours and 40 minutes looking at a screen each day (for internet-connected activities). This includes 2 hours and 23 minutes scrolling through social media channels, 1 hour and 25 minutes of streaming music, and 49 minutes of listening to podcasts. And the majority of this (3 hours and 50 minutes) is spent on mobiles.”

Something jumped out at me here – over two hours per day on social media!

I find it insightful that in her article she also reports on countries where citizens made “improvement” in screen time.  Here, the word improvement means reduction. And this is a technology company reporting!  Good for them.

I hear you. We use screens at work. We use social media for business. Technology connects us all.

Sure. But are we getting addicted to it? Walk into a restaurant these days and look around. I bet you find at least 50% of the tables where at least one person is looking at a device at any given time. Try this as a fun exercise and let me know what you find.

I catch myself at home occasionally, during precious time with Jessica and my kids, where I look up from scrolling and think, “What am I doing?”

Put the phone down. Engage with those in front of you. Be PRESENT.

How many times have you heard that from a personal development pro? One of the hardest things to do in life, I think.  

OK, so we’ve identified the problem. Let’s talk solution. At the risk of sounding outdated:

  1. BE AWARE – do you have a problem? Easy enough to find out. Most of us have a phone that taunts us each week with how much screen time we’ve “enjoyed.” Do your loved ones and friends compete with your device for attention. Does your career? And parents, we have to be the leaders here.
  2. Gamify non-screen stuff – board games, sports, cards, heck, I can make a game out of anything and will share some examples in the OTGO community. You can even gamify reduction in screen time, with your friends or family, prizes for biggest decreases.
  3. Redefine FOMO – real FOMO should be fear of missing out on real life going on around you, not the fake world perpetrated by the social channels and “reality” shows.  
  4. Rethink the way you engage online – there are ways to engage with social media that are super-valuable. Spend more time with positive inputs and less time on the negative, gossip, and the brain candy. Make it a goal to comment and share to lift others up.  Share content that is encouraging and supportive.  Where you share hobbies and interests, make fun comments or comments that add value to those reading them.
  5. Limit your time on your devices when possible, or more specifically, set a time limit for any screen time where it is not in alignment with your core values, where you know you are spending too much time. You know what it is for you. I know what it is for me and will take steps to improve.

I played golf recently with a tremendous leader, and we talked about this from a leadership perspective.  We ‘ve both led companies and sometimes it is truly a challenge to delegate in an effective way that is helping your people stretch yet not leading them towards burnout. The reality, even the most effective and productive people I know waste time in some ways. There is almost always something to eliminate that isn’t serving you or your business, to replace with something that is. And leaders, listen to your people. It is quite possible they are working on some tasks that don’t need to be carried out anymore.  

Please don’t miss this. If social media is a source of downtime for you, I get it. Downtime is important. I am not suggesting we become so structured and rigid in our days that spontaneity and flexibility become impossible. I am suggesting that for most of us, more than two hours is too much. There are other sources of downtime and spontaneity that would be a far better use of time.

Just a few examples, there are limitless ideas:

  • A prayer
  • A short walk
  • A few minutes of meditation/mindfulness
  • Play / listen to some music
  • Read something positive
  • Share some gratitudes with a friend or loved one 
  • Journal
  • Phone a friend or family member to catch up

On my video short I mention time spent watching outtakes and blooper reels from shows or movies I’ve seen. (some of the best are outtakes from “Between Two Ferns” with Galifianakis, you’re welcome and I’m sorry). The truth is we need this too. Just not two hours of it! So, if you are able to moderate this yourself, take a few minutes at lunch or part of your morning routine. Downtime is good, laughter is good – just make it more strategic and don’t let it creep into your productive time, or sacred time with your faith, family, and friends.

The next time you hear yourself saying you don’t have time to do something that is good for you, think through areas you spend time that may not be so good and commit to eliminating those and replacing.  The impact of reducing a negative habit and adding a positive will compound over time, and you will find major shifts in your quality of life as a result. 

Imagine what that could be for you!

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