At the beginning of the year I set a word for myself rather than a goal. A word I wanted to focus on in all areas of my life: intention. I will admit I haven’t always been doing a great job focusing on intention or intentional living, but I feel like I have made a lot of improvement, especially when it comes to intentionally spending my time. About a week into the year I took a good look at my phone’s screen time data. I was pretty shocked to learn how much time I spent using my phone everyday. Even though I use my phone for things like ordering groceries, taking pictures and communicating with friends and family, the majority of my screen time was used for Instagram.
I immediately made it a goal to reduce my screen time by at least 25% (I’ll be sharing more on that later), but I knew that with Instagram being my biggest and most frequent distraction, I needed to change the way I interact with the app. While I have deleted most apps from my phone like Facebook and Pinterest, I didn’t want to delete Instagram for a couple different reasons. Not only do I use it for my blog but I love using Instagram for creative inspiration whether it is for watercolor painting, interior design, photography, or travel. Yes, Instagram can also often influence me to shop or play the comparison game but ultimately that was on my and how I use the app. So after evaluating how often I turn to Instagram, why I pick up my phone, and what causes negative feelings and reactions I decided to make some changes to help me use the app more intentionally.
Thankfully my friend Sarah has been making the same changes. She was also feeling a little burnt out and overwhelmed by her use of the app and wanted to make it a more positive interaction in her life. So today Sarah and I are teaming up to talk about how we are using Instagram more intentionally.
Every few months I like to go through the list of people I follow. I unfollow or mute anyone that posts content I’m not interested in or whose posts make me feel any negative self reflections. I want my Instagram feed to fill me up, not tear me down. While I am still working on cutting back my list I’m making sure that the people and businesses that I follow are adding something of value to my feed and my thoughts. Other than family and friends that I’ve connected with, my favorite accounts to follow are food/baking, interior design, watercolor artwork and travel. These accounts light a spark in the creative portion of my brain and often encourage me to try something new.
Take the Time to Interact
The biggest complaint I have heard from people about their time on Instagram is that they get stuck in the endless scrolling through their feed. Whether it is due to boredom or the search for something fulfilling, it can eat up a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. So if I do get on Instagram I have made it a priority to actually interact. And not just double tapping a square to like a photo. I take the time to comment, share and save posts because not only does it help the creators engagement and let them know what they share is valued, but it helps me to really think about the content I am consuming. No more mindlessly scrolling through photos, instead I’m actually putting thought into my use of them time and reflecting on the content I’m absorbing.
While I have made a couple changes to the way I use the app, it has also been helpful for me to set limitations on how often and when I use Instagram. I have a limit set on my phone so that when I reach a certain amount of time spent on Instagram on a day in notifies me and helps me think before opening the app again. I also have the app “shut off” from the hours of 9PM to 8AM every day to help me avoid any late night scrolling or checking the app first thing in the morning. I have also turned off notifications for Instagram because I realized that anytime I would open the app to check a notification it would often lead to me looking through my feed or watching Instagram stories.
Find Additional Outlets
In general, I want to be more engaged with my surroundings and spend less time distracted by irrelevant or menial things. As a stay at home mom I spend the majority of my day with Jack and it is important to me that he doesn’t see me glued to a screen. So I want to make sure that the way I spend my time sets a good example for him. When I feel like I’m bored or need a change of scenery it is likely because I’m disconnected or disengaged from my surroundings. I have a mental list of things to do when this happens like read with Jack (or read my own book if he is down for nap), get outside, put on music, do something creative like baking or painting with Jack. This helps me refocus and helps improve my mood.
Whether you spend too much time scrolling through Instagram (or any other social media app or that matter), I encourage you to implement these changes (even for activities like reading blogs or the shopping emails you subscribe to). Use your time more intentionally throughout the day and notice the positive changes that follow. Don’t forget to checkout Sarah’s tips and changes she is implementing to be more intentional with her Instagram use.