Do you look at your phone first thing when you wake up and the last thing at night? Do you find it hard to resist logging onto social media whilst working? Then this blog could be just for you! Sophie shares her experiences of a digital detox and provides tips on how to decrease the time spent on your phone.
I recently attended a workshop in my department on how to achieve a ‘digital detox’ facilitated by Catherine Gordon (Catherine has provided some useful advice here). In a world where everyone is online 24/7, it is very easy to spend too much time looking down at your phone. Therefore I thought I would share some useful tips on how to reduce the time you spend online.
1. Set a time limit
It’s very easy to use social media as a PhD procrastination tool. We’ve all been there – one moment you’ve logged into Facebook to check a notification and the next minute you’re looking at cat pictures. However, not only is social media time consuming, but research also suggests it can lead to social comparisons with others and a negative mood. There have even been reports of increased levels of depression and anxiety as a result of spending time on social media and a reduction in sleep quality and concentration. Therefore, setting a time limit can mean that you get your social media fix but ensures that this doesn’t last too long. This is something I am still working on, but I find even just being aware of how much you’re using social media is a good start.
2. Turn off notifications
Be it notifications from Instagram, emails, LinkedIn – they are all guaranteed to distract you from the task in hand. If there is one thing you do after reading this post, turning off social media notifications on your phone is the simplest trick to help you stay productive and complete tasks more efficiently.
3. Twitter and academia
Twitter is an important part of academia. It is used to disseminate findings so it can be a useful tool to keep up with the latest research. Twitter can also allow us to connect with interesting peers in your field. However, as a PhD student, Twitter can feel a little overwhelming and often can lead to you to compare your work with others. It’s also easy to forget that behind the scenes, all researchers experience the same things e.g. generation of the research idea, long periods of data collection, and waiting for ethics applications, setbacks and rejections. It’s important to remember this. I find logging onto Twitter the most useful during the working week when I am in the office. I rarely use it in the evenings or at weekends to give myself a break from thinking about work.
4. Let go of the guilt
If you receive a text or email, remember that you don’t have to reply straight away. This is something that I found very easy to apply to my life, especially to texting. When I am in a rush, I pause and wait until I have time to reply. Another helpful tip is to set up an automatic reply on your work emails, saying that you check your emails at certain times in the day and will reply ASAP. I have found logging out of my emails whilst working on something specific has increased my ability to focus on that task.
5. Delete one social media account
I found this tip relatively easy to implement. I very rarely use Facebook so I have deactivated my account. Have a real think about which social media accounts you wish to use and gain value from. Remember that for some social media sites it is possible to download your pictures before pressing the delete button.
Final words: Social media can be enriching when used correctly. Remember you don’t have to make all of the changes at once, selecting one to begin with a good start which you can gradually build on.
How do you reduce your time spent online? Do you have any tips on a digital detox? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.
Sophie Clohessy is a second year PhD student in the Applied Psychology team, WMG. Her research is investigating eating behaviours in the workplace. She has a background in Health Psychology and is passionate about healthy eating and exercise for wellbeing. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ClohessyS