Inspired by this week’s episode of the Moms Making Six Figures Podcast with Brooke Paulin who believes in the practice of managing your mind and the small daily habits that lead to great success over time.
In a world where we are inundated with more information and more access to it than ever before, we are faced with new challenges like ‘consumer fatigue’, information overwhelm and digital burnout. The media and social media industries are designed to be addictive in nature, releasing dopamine or cortisol dependent on the nature of the content, that keeps us coming back for more and ultimately conditions our behavior. Information, and the way in which we access it is not the enemy, instead it is our passive consumption of that content that can wreak havoc, particularly when we are bombarded with negativity, click-bait headlines, and divisive rhetoric. Just as we fuel our bodies and health with nutrition and exercise, we must manage our mind and the information we choose to fill it with.
With nearly 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the US using social media, it is time for us to become active participants in managing our minds, our mental states, and our mental health. Here are a few small changes you can make to be better prepared and intentional with the information and inputs you choose.
We would never let our children sit for hours on end, absent-mindedly in front of screens and we shouldn’t allow it for ourselves either. While it may not seem like you’re spending that much time on devices outside of necessity, your Weekly Activity Report likely shows something different.
Start by taking an inventory of the current time you spend consuming content intentionally vs. out of habit or boredom. Once you have begun to inventory your passive or active consumption tendencies, track for a day (or longer) every piece of information you digest with a “+” if it is beneficial to your personal life, work life, or overall well being, a ”–“ if it negatively impacted or took away from your personal life, work life, or overall well being, and an “=” for no impact other than time lost.
Seeing our habits in black and white allows us to see where our own struggles actually exist. It takes five positive interactions to offset each negative interaction; is it any wonder we are more anxious, depressed, and lonely than ever before?
Schedule (and plan) Your Screen time
Self-monitoring and scheduling your consumption habits can change not only your perception of the information you digest, but also, your behaviors. In 2018 the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study that observed the behaviors of 143 undergraduates. One group was asked to limit all social media activity to only 10 minutes per platform, per day, while the second was allowed to use their social media as usual for three weeks. The group that limited their scrolling “showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression during those three weeks over the group that continued using social media.”
As Brooke pointed out in this week’s podcast, “I don’t think that some of the top CEO’s, and, you know, multi-million dollar female business owners … I don’t think that they’re scrolling through social media that’s not feeding their mind. There’s no room for that.” What would you be able to accomplish in a week of limiting your scrolling habits?
Empty the Junk Folder
Once you’ve taken inventory of the information and input you’re allowing in, and you’ve refined your mindless scrolling by replacing it with intentionally scheduled time for content consumption, get rid of anything that isn’t serving you, your mental health, your professional life, or your personal life.
Once you’ve emptied the Junk Folder, take note from some of the most successful people and follow suit by replacing what wasn’t serving you with content that does. According to research, what makes highly successful people less stressed, happier, and more productive is scheduling their personal priorities before tending to other people’s priorities. That goes for what you’re consuming too. Instead of starting your day by checking email, dedicate an hour of your morning hour to be your Power Hour where you replenish your motivation with podcasts, books and curated content that supports your goals, challenges you, and leaves you feeling ready to tackle the day. Ask your mentors what they listen to, what they read, and who they follow on social media to begin refining your palate.
In order to be successful in managing our mind, our mental state and our mental health, we must be intentional about what we consume and prepare our daily activity and schedules with discernment. Just as nutrition is fundamental to achieving our health and wellness goals, so is the information we consume. We avoid pitfalls of hunger by meal planning and preparation, and we can avoid the pitfalls of media and social media by planning and being thoughtful consumers.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” –Alexander Graham Bell