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Everybody Wants You: Trade Screen Time for More ‘Me’ Time

May 28, 2019

It feels like every time we turn around, somebody wants something from us.  In addition to the demands of our workplace, social media posts want our attention, sometimes even guilt-tripping us if we don’t share or repost something. Commercials on television want our attention, and ultimately, our money. Open the email inbox, and we’re bombarded with virtual pleas from nonprofits, special interest or political groups, often leading us to believe the world might end if we don’t respond—and give them money. Dusk falls and you wonder where the day went because there’s no time left for you.

Aside from the workplace, where time is not ours because employers pay us to show up and do what they want us to do, we can put some control on other time-suckers. It often starts with simply saying ‘no’ to the screens.

  1. Share if you care about animals, type ‘yes’ of you agree, repost this to support (childhood cancer/veterans/fill in the blank). We’ve all seen these on Facebook and other social media sites; posts that imply that if you don’t share it, type yes, like it, or repost it, then you’re just the worst person in the world. Yet most of those memes posted and shared by well-meaning people originate from spamming efforts. Armchair activism also does little to help any cause, so ignore those posts. Your friends and family likely already know that you are a thoughtful, caring person, and you don’t have to repost or respond to something to prove it.
  2. Don’t impulsively download apps or sign up for email notices, push notifications, or anything else that truly doesn’t interest you. You don’t have to do it just because you’re asked. All it takes is getting on one email list for one particular cause, and before you know it, your inbox is flooded with emails from similar groups. Don’t be afraid to just say no. If an email or phone number is required to make a purchase, or if you do want to keep abreast of certain organizations or causes, consider creating a “junk” email account for the sole purpose of receiving those types newsletters, and check it only when your time permits.
  3. Do a social media cleanse. They all want you, but do you really need an account with every social media outlet in existence? As yourself what you truly need or want to accomplish. What can you go without? Does checking a particular social media account daily (or several times a per day) really service a purpose for you? Are you getting out of it what you truly need? For example, I closed my LinkedIn account because after being on the site for several months, I had yet to really “link in” to any opportunity, and it sucked much of my time because it was one more thing I felt had to check daily.
  4. While watching TV, my husband automatically grabs the remote to change the channel as soon as commercials come on. I soon realized that he has the right idea. Advertisers are paid big bucks to entice you—and occasionally deceive and lie. We all need and want products or services, but do your own homework and seek them out on your own terms, at your own pace.
  5. Aside from work or family obligations, screen your calls. If a number appears that you don’t recognize, let voice mail get it. If it’s important, the person, business, or organization will leave a message.
  6. It’s nice to have our smartphones on us in case of emergencies, but leave it in your purse, car, or tucked away while walking, hiking, or visiting with family or friends. Focus on engaging the people and scenery around you. Resist the urge to whip out the phone to look up the name of the actress from that weird movie whose name nobody can remember, or to see which store has the best deal on a new car stereo. Before you know it, you’ll fall down that virtual rabbit hole and miss what’s happening in the real world around you.

It wasn’t long ago that we all managed to get through our daily lives just fine without cellphones or smartphones. Will you miss something by unplugging more often? Probably. But that’s okay—the world will not end, and that message, text, email, article, or online deal will wait for you as you kick back and enjoy a cup of coffee or take a walk through the neighborhood and take back your ‘me’ time.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.



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