Vickie is a college student, avid bullet-journalist, and #studygram influencer. In this intimate blog post, she describes how she got over her bad social media habits with a few simple life changes.
Life is overflowing with digital distractions and the pressure of having to keep up with a fast-paced, always-on mentality. Notifications about comments on your new Instagram post, distracting chats and messages, and an endless supply of stories can really eat away at your productivity.
That's what happened to me. At some point in my life, I realized that I'd become absolutely obsessed with my phone, checking it for no reason and scrolling through apps mindlessly. If I wasn’t checking my phone every 10 minutes at a minimum, I felt like I was missing out on something.
As a social media blogger, I had become obsessed with the number of likes and followers I was getting — I would refresh my notifications tab non-stop just to see all the new people following me or liking my photos. I found that this really took a toll on my productivity and ability to focus. It wasn’t until halfway into the first year of university that I realized this had to stop.
"I had become obsessed with the number of likes and followers I was getting — I would refresh my notifications tab non-stop just to see all the new people following me or liking my photos."
At the time, I didn’t realize I was beginning my journey toward practicing mindfulness. But it wasn't about meditating or locking myself in a dark silent room — mindfulness for me became about being present and aware.
To achieve it, I had to take a digital detox.
While it may sound easy for some people, I found it really hard at first. Like I said, I was obsessed with my phone — so I had to remind myself that cultivating mindfulness was something I needed to do for my future personal and professional life. What I noticed through my transformation was that, through decreasing my phone usage, I paid more attention to myself. I found my time spent studying and working was more effective, and I was able to reach my goals faster.
Below are some of the ways I incorporated mindfulness into my life in order to detach from my phone.
1. Wake Up and Breathe
I was always waking up and immediately checking my phone to see what I missed out on while I was asleep. I know we all do it — but how ridiculous is that?!
To get over this bad habit, I made a point to wake up and focus on my breathing. I would think about what I wanted to accomplish today — all of the small and little tasks I had on my plate. This helped me because it forced me to focus my attention and energy away from my phone and toward more meaningful aspects in my life. Taking time in the morning to think about what you want to achieve sets you up for success and gets you in the right headspace for the day.
2. Find Space From Your Phone
I found it helpful to physically separate myself from my phone. During exam season, for example, I often left my phone downstairs so I wouldn’t be near it at all. I even turned the ringer off so I couldn't hear notifications. Out of sight, out of mind became my motto.
Some days when I didn't want to leave my phone downstairs, I would put it in a drawer in my room and turn on Do not disturb. By finding space from my phone, I could fully focus on reading and note-taking without constantly being tempted to check it. I also found Flipd’s Full Lock feature useful — it blocks distracting apps and notifications for a period of time, making it easier to not get distracted.
"I often left my phone downstairs so I wouldn’t be near it at all. I even turned the ringer off so I couldn't hear notifications. Out of sight, out of mind..."
3. Replace the Bad Habit
Any time I found myself scrolling too much, I would find something else to do. For me, this was everything from cooking, to bullet journalling, to watching documentaries — I would just find something else productive to do that I enjoyed doing. I would ask myself Do I really want to spend 2 hours scrolling on my phone? Or would it be more productive to spend the next few hours meal prepping so that I had meals ready for the rest of the week?
Spending time sucked in Instagram is an easy way to get nothing done, and finding space away from your phone by replacing the bad habit is the best way past this. What I started to notice about changing my behavior was that I was feeling progressively happier each day as a result of detaching from my phone. I knew I was making better choices about how I was spending my time, which made it easier to stick to.
"...I was feeling progressively happier each day as a result of detaching from my phone."
Ultimately, getting over a social media obsession is all about eliminating the source and finding something better to do.
Limiting your time on social media isn't about quitting cold turkey — that’s just not a sustainable strategy. Instead, slowly incorporating the three guidelines I followed (Breathe, Find space, and Replace) will help you lessen your frequency and time spent on your phone.
If you find yourself slip up, don’t sweat — I certainly had some moments of weakness during my journey towards getting over my social media obsession. Just remind yourself that you’re doing this for you. By allowing yourself to get past these roadblocks, however you need to, you’re opening yourself up to a world of increased productivity and a more positive headspace. I promise. Just use my guidelines as a starting point, and tailor them to what works best for you.
It will be hard at first, but we all have the capacity to do it.
Vickie is a second-year university student currently studying Accounting and Finance, and working towards obtaining her CPA designation. Aside from attending 10 AM lectures and re-writing notes, she manages a #studygram account (@soymilkstudie) where she shares photos of her bullet journal and notes. In her spare time, you’ll find Vickie visiting cool cafes with friends, trying out new foods, and watching YouTube videos. Vickie enjoys doing whatever she can to express her creativity, whether it’s through bullet journalling to stay organized or designing promotional graphics for clubs.