“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.”
One thing that is very easy to get hooked on nowadays is to endlessly be checking your email, Facebook, Twitter etc. all day long.
I have certainly had a few bouts with getting hooked mostly on checking email too much. Many of my readers have emailed me and told me how they often spend too much of their days on Facebook or on checking their inboxes.
This may not seem that serious of a problem in theory, but these small bad habits can add up and disturb your life quite a bit. The excessive checking leads to:
- Spending your weeks, energy and time on the wrong things. When you spend too much time and energy in the wrong places then you often don’t get the most important things done. Your most important actions and tasks at work or school and your dreams and goals become something you neglect or procrastinate on.
- The illusion of getting important things done. When you are doing stuff in your inbox or social media accounts it may feel very important. But what of those things are really important 5 years from now? Or even 5 weeks from now? Some of that stuff is truly important of course. But don’t get lost in busy work.
- Increased sense of feeling worried, anxious and stressed. The more I checked my email the more nervous and anxious I became of missing something or that I would get a really angry or disappointed email. Plus, when you get stuck in using too much of your time and energy on the checking then you often don’t use your days in a good way and so the self-esteem tends to go down.
So what can you do to break out of these habits? Here are a couple of tips that helped me to stop being hooked on checking my email account too much and to be careful with Facebook and Twitter.
Be conscious of why you are doing it.
One thing that really helps me is simply to be conscious of why I wanted to check the email so much. I could be because I didn't want to miss something important, to get compliments and validation from positive emails, to quickly solve the issues of people with a question or simply to relieve an inner feeling and impulse to check the email once again.
By just being conscious of this when I feel that I probably should check the email it becomes easier to say stop and go do something else instead.
Ask yourself: what is the worst that could happen if I don’t check it right now?
If you want to check the email many times a day because you are afraid something bad will happen if you don’t then ask the question above. And look to the past for references of how things usually go when you haven’t checked your email for a while. Don’t get lost in wild, disastrous fantasies taken from your overthinking mind.
Pause when you feel the need to check and just be still.
I have found that the need will pass if you don’t do anything for a few seconds or minutes. Then think of something better to do and do that instead.
Set clear boundaries.
Check your email, Facebook etc. just once a day if possible. Turn off your computer or cell phone at a certain time in the evening. Or put your smart phone where you can’t access it without getting up and walking a small distance. Or put is somewhere where you can’t see it, like in a drawer.
These boundaries will reduce checking and also make it easier to spend quality time with the people in your life without having to see that phone or computer and letting the impulse to do one quick check ruin a good conversation.
Make a deal with yourself to postpone checking for one hour in the morning.
You can probably postpone the checking for one hour in the morning without big consequences. Then if possible, after a day or two, try to move the checking further down the day. Maybe to after lunch. Or perhaps even, as I have, to the end of the workday.
The further you can move the checking in your workday, the less of a priority it will feel like as you fill the first hour(s) of your day with what is actually the most important stuff. This will reduce the impulse checking that often becomes worse if you start your day with the email.
Simply fill your day with more important and exciting things.
Checking up on Facebook, Twitter and email can be a good help and addition to your life but it can also become a sort of replacement where it becomes easy to spend time instead of going out and having other experiences and being there fully. Stuff like being out in nature, playing sports or playing in a band, working towards your biggest goal, having uninterrupted conversations or a fun night out.
By filling your life with a bit more fun or exciting activities, people face to face and the things you want out of life you simply won’t have time or as many reasons to do all that checking anymore.