Switch gears and start living a more intentional life.
One of the most sinister ways we spend our free time today is by mindlessly scrolling through social media apps like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.
According to Statista, the average person in 2022 spent 147 minutes daily on social media apps. That’s 2.5 hours every day!
Our path to this 2.5 hours can vary from person to person. For some people, it’s all in one go after waking up in the morning or before going to bed at night. For others, it’s 10–15 minute chunks spread out throughout the day.
Regardless, it’s 2.5 hours of every day that ends up being a blur.
I call it “sinister” because more often than not, we have no idea why we spent that long on any social platform. It’s not to see what our closest friends and families have been up to.
Even if our social circle is composed of the most interesting people from all around the world, it won’t take us 2.5 hours a day to stay connected.
We spent such long hours on these platforms because the most brilliant minds in the world are creating algorithms and designing these apps to optimize one thing only — your attention.
The longer you spent on these platforms, the more money these companies make. So it makes sense why the content on these platforms is becoming more and more attractive to watch every day. It’s not because they positively contributed to our lives, but because it helps social media giants make extra millions of dollars every quarter.
What to do instead?
If you are intentional about how you spend even a fraction of these 2.5 hours daily — let’s say 30 minutes — you can greatly improve your life.
In the beginning, it is difficult. Every pixel of these social media apps has been designed to take advantage of your dopamine system.
You will go through a withdrawal once you introduce new habits. However, with repetitions and a carefully designed environment, you can beat the withdrawal symptoms and design a lifestyle that makes your life happier and more meaningful.
Now, let me walk you through 5 healthy alternatives to mainstream social media apps. You definitely don’t have to utilize all 5 of these!
Pick whatever works for you and let me know below how it works out for you over a course of a few weeks or months.
Read Later Apps (Instapaper, Pocket, Raindrop)
These are reading apps where you can store articles or blog posts that you come across on the internet.
Most of these apps have a beautiful reading experience, tools you can use to highlight and take notes, and an offline experience where you can read distraction-free without the internet.
I will list a couple of apps here that are great:
If you haven’t guessed already, whether this is a healthy alternative to social media or not entirely depends on the type of content you store.
However, unlike social media apps where your actions are dictated by an addictive algorithm, what you put into these apps should be intentional, hence more likely to positively contribute to your life.
Personally, I prefer long-form, well-researched articles. Whenever I come across one that I find interesting and want to come back to later on, I quickly get it into my app of choice, Raindrop.io, through the browser extension or iOS share sheet.
Later on, whenever I have some time to kill, instead of mindlessly opening Instagram or TikTok, I just read a few paragraphs or entire blog posts.
A Medium Subscription
For many people, maintaining a read-it-later app can be more work than they want to take on.
It does require you to “bookmark” what you want to read later on. No matter how seamless the process, it’s still friction, unlike social media apps where content is ready and waiting for you.
A good compromise is a social media app like Medium.
Medium has a great collection of writings from regular people like you and me living ordinary lives. Every day I come across brilliant and practical articles that not only can I relate to, but can also incorporate different ideas into my own life.
More often than not, the Medium algorithm does a good job of avoiding clickbait and only recommending content that will actually provide value.
Most of the stories are easy to read, digestible, and informative.
It’s a great way to learn, enjoy and spend your “dead minutes” instead of mindlessly scrolling on social media.
Listen to good podcasts
Switching gears from written content to the recent rise in audible content, podcasts are a great way to kill time and learn and grow at the same time.
Listening to podcasts is one of the lowest friction and easy way to spend time.
There are some great podcast apps you can try out, starting with my personal favorite:
There are some great educational or informative podcasts out there that you can try out. If you are starting out, please check out some of my best recommendations here.
Read a book
Once again, switching gears from modern times to more “prehistoric” ones, try reading a book!
Yes, that’s what our grandparents used to do.
Why read books in an era of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts? Books give you something that these never can.
Books let you immerse yourself totally and learn from people who have lived before you. It’s a great way to learn from other people’s experiences.
On the side of fiction, books let you live in universes you never can in the physical world.
Regardless of what you read — fiction or non-fiction — books let you understand what you are reading at a very deep level that short-form content like TikTok and Rells can never give you.
I forgot what I see on Instagram or YouTube by the end of the day. In contrast, when I read a book and really enjoy it, I retain the key insights for a very long time.
I picked up the concept of “micro journaling” from this YouTube video.
I have been very intrigued by his experience, and I have met people here in Toronto who have been journaling for quite a long time now and they absolutely love it!
Instead of filling your dead time with mindless content, pull out your favorite notes app (or just Apple Notes or Google Docs), and write down whatever is going through your head.
The idea is that, by writing down your thoughts on a physical paper, you are literally throwing them out of your head.
If you have never journaled before, or if you are intimidated by the thought of writing page after page, start with this technique.
Just write short sentences in bullet points whenever you have some time to kill. You would be surprised how much more clearly you start thinking when you do this.
Please let me know if you try one of these
I would love to know about your experience if you introduce one of these changes into your life.
Please comment below or just email me to get connected.
I hope you found this a valuable read and have some takeaways that you can go ahead and implement in your wonderful lives.
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