Thinking About Breaking Habits

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It feels like Spring could be on its way – days like today were made for reflection.

The snow keeps returning but thankfully always melts away pretty quickly. I think we’re all ready for the sun. It’s bright outside but there’s a strong wind… the world is ready for movement, the world is ready for a shift.

As I watch the sun set over the snow-dusted fields behind my house I start to think about the seasons and how we always welcome adjustments to what we’ve become used to. We all become very accustomed to the rituals of each quarter but equally are quick to shed their weight once the opportunity for change is given to us. My warm scarves and I have been inseparable these past few months but as soon as those winds warm up, I won’t hesitate to box the layers away and dig out my sandals. I like the familiarity of seasonal rituals but I am also always keen to break habits.

The theme of habits has been cropping up a lot this week, actually. After years of buying my books online, today I felt the childhood impulse to go into a physical book shop and spend some time judging the options by their covers (and blurbs) and taking some new friends home with me – something I used to love doing every weekend when I was a teenager. As well as breaking bad habits, it’s nice to re-instate old rituals that take us back to happy places.

Breaking the habit of technology has been a biggie for me this week too and something I need to address in a more coherent blog in the coming months. Having worked as a social media marketer for years means that I often spend my days managing social media accounts and strategies for other brands. I can offer advice on a good hashtag strategy and can give you the latest on the enigma that is the Facebook algorithm but I do also often struggle to switch off from this complex stuff ‘out of working hours’.

Designed specifically to be addictive platforms, if I’ve spent the day on Instagram (for a client for example), my fingers often struggle to detach from the impulse to scroll even after I’ve switched off my work brain.

I have downloaded an app that monitors how much you use your phone and I can see that I’m spending on average between 4 and 8 hours per day on my phone. Some of that is necessary (for my work) and beneficial (phone conversations with friends, etc.) but I know a huge volume of it most definitely doesn’t fall into either of those two categories. When coupled with an additional (up to) 8 hours on a laptop each day, it’s doesn’t leave my eyes with much non-screen time.

Anyway, I’ll stop before I go on about it too much. It’s a complicated thing for me to talk about because of my work experience – there’s a lot I want to (properly) say and explore about how we (as individuals and businesses) can be using digital technology in the most effective way possible. We don’t need to (and shouldn’t) throw our devices away but we need to have a public discourse around social media, responsibility, education and mental health. For personal usage, there’s a happy balance to achieve. It’s something I want to work on for myself so I can use as much waking time as possible on other projects and activities that truly make me fall in love with life each day.

The world is constantly changing around us and we need to stop and take a proper look at it (not through a screen). It’s going to fly past in the blink of an eye.