How do you handle life’s inputs and prioritizing?

Like a lot of people here I’m a big talk nerd. Between this forum, stuff on Reddit, Facebook groups I’m a part of, and YouTube/Netflix I want to consume I feel I’m spread thin. Not only that but I also work a full time job. I’m thinking of imposing limits or browsing this forum for example while waiting for my work to start (hence now) and on the weekends. Does anybody else have this dilemma?

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I have a Screen Time setting for most forums, Reddit, etc - just a few minutes each on weekdays and a longer amount on Saturdays.

The discourse forum setup is excellent, including some recent updates. But they lend themselves to unlimited consumption.

Each new discourse forum brings both useful information through the searches, but takes up a lot of time to read. The need to Dismiss New each time you visit one is a bit addictive.

Thank you for asking the question about self imposed limitations. I try to remove one forum that is the least useful at the moment and only re introduce it when I am trying to discover a new answer to an app related question. And then I stop looking at any of them for a week or so, and delete the ones I have missed the least.

Just signed up for a new one yesterday, though, so will have to give one up in its place. Not MPU of course!

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I have a wife. She’s incredibly talented in managing my “free” time.

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raises hand

I’m unplugging for a month in June while we take several African safaris. I have to confess I’m looking forward to unplugging as much as I am to the life-altering experience of visiting the African jungle and seeing nature in the wild.

Patient: Doc, it hurts when I do this.
Doctor: Stop doing this.

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Take a hacksaw to your subreddits, facebook groups, youtube channels, RSS subscriptions, podcast subscriptions.

You can set time limits, but that will just mean you build up this backlog of material you can never get through (presuming you stick to your limits). It’s like building a dam to stem the flow of a river so you can drink from it, and then trying to drink it dry.

So the only meaningful option is to ruthlessly prioritise what you consume, and everything that isn’t very high priority has to go. Then fully participate in the things that remain, because you’ll have time to do that. Any other time management suggestion, honestly, is avoiding the problem rather than addressing it.

You could also think of it like filling twenty plates every day at the all you can eat restaurant even though you know you can only eat one. You can fill 20, and then choose which plate you most want to eat that day, but you still wasted nineteen plates, and there’s a fresh set of 20 plates the next day.

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I limit myself digitally on the Mac and Windows using an app called ColdTurkey.

You can blacklist certain apps or website to not be accessible for x amount of time or at certain times of each day. With the latter, you can schedule for example 30 mins only of YouTube for 20 days which gives you your fix without going overboard.

Once the apps have been blocked there is NO WAY to get around it. You cannot kill the process using activity monitor/task manager nor can you uninstall the app. VPNs will not get you around the block nor will trying to open the website in another browser. You’ll have to wait and keep yourself honest.

I wish it was available for iOS as I find myself compulsively disabling my screen time limits.

I like these metaphors.

To build on the river one, I’ve been trying to practice just letting the open river pass me by. In practice this just means intentionally clearing notifications and unread counts without looking into them sometimes.

Podcasts have been the main test case for this, as Overcast will only download X unplayed episodes. If I only keep one for a given series, the ones I don’t get to disappear—and I just let that happen. More apps need these kinds of controls—otherwise we’re tricked into thinking we can drink the whole dam, every day.

Thing is, if anything in these streams and feeds is important, it’ll come up again. These inputs stop being useful when consuming them becomes more important than doing something with them.

Unfortunately, if you’re a completionist (:raising_hand_man:t2:), consuming them feels like doing something. That’s a lie I tell myself, but it’s easier to point out that that’s a lie than it is to stop believing it. Nonetheless, that lie is why I think the only real solution to these stressors is mindfulness, not process or tool. We’ve gotta learn to let the stream go sometimes.

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I think the solution to too much social media is not to force yourself to do less social media, but rather to find other things that you want or need to do more.

My solution to social media overload is to figure out which social platforms and channels you get the most value from, and ditch everything else. For me that’s mainly:

  • Here, of course; it’s fun.
  • Facebook, because I have been connected to some people on that platform a very long time, and I can name individuals there who would be disappointed if I dropped out. I use Facebook as a linkblog, and do 10-15 quick posts there a day.
  • Twitter, for professional connections. I do 10-15 quick posts a day there too, the same ones I do on Facebook, using cut-and-paste.
  • Tumblr, because I like posting somewhere on the public web where you don’t need to log in to a walled garden to read it. Again, those same 10-15 quick posts. Another reason I’m on Tumblr: I have one old friend who reads me there. He’s Internet-famous, and frequently reshares my posts, and when he does I get like a bajillion reshares and likes, which tickles me. Also, I enjoy looking at and resharing midcentury ads and photos, and Tumblr is a great source of those.

Reddit is mostly read-only for me.

I try to restrict time on social media – two passes a day and that’s it. I have not been successful in this, but at least recently I’ve been able to restrict excessive social media activity to platforms where I have an active discussion going. For example, I expect to check in here every couple of hours today for follow-ups on this post, but I won’t check Facebook until this evening.

Funny thing: Podcasts are not a problem for me. I subscribe to a couple of dozen of them and have an ENORMOUS backlog of unlistened to episodes, but I don’t feel that causes me any issues. I listen to podcasts for about 1.5-2 hours daily, while exercising and doing chores, at about 1.8x speed on Overcast. I am listening at a SLIGHTLY faster rate than they come in. I have [checks iPhone] 104 unplayed episodes at this moment. At the rate I’m going, I expect to be caught up Thanksgiving or so, at which point I guess I’ll either subscribe to more podcasts or listen to an audiobook.

P.S. Here’s where you can find me if anybody’s interested:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mitchwagner

Tumblr: https://mitchwagner.tumblr.com/

Facebook: I do most of my Facebook activity on a group, because of technical limitations on the Facebook platform. Facebook is badly designed software. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThingsMitchWagnerSaw/

And I also automatically generate Tumblr posts as a daily newsletter: http://eepurl.com/YlKbH

Here endeth the shameless self-promotion.

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For me and Facebook it’s the classic Catch-22 of how Facebook maintains its monopoly: I can’t quit Facebook because my friends are on Facebook, and they’re on Facebook together.

I say “can’t” but I have friends and family who don’t do Facebook and they seem to have paid no penalty for it whatsoever. And these friends and family aren’t open source zealots either; they’re civilians, who view their digital devices like their cars and refrigerators – tools that they don’t fully understand, meant to do a job. For example, one of my brothers doesn’t do Facebook; he’s an accountant. His wife is somewhat active on FB but I think it’s just for parent things; PTA meetings and whatnot. She’ll post the occasional announcement about the kids on her profile page, but other than that it’s quiet.

I left FB about 18mo ago. I have lost touch with some people, but they were more acquaintances, so it wasn’t really a connection after all. I find that for my close friends, we make more effort to spend time with each other and text, rather than doing the more superficial acts that masquerade as friendship online, such as liking a post.

Having said that, I’ve recently set up a Discourse for a group which is composed of mostly my friends. I don’t expect we will lose or reduce our in-person time as a result of it.

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I can’t imagine setting up a discourse group for my friends. Most of them are non-techie.

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Did you delete your Facebook account, or just stop checking?

Completely deleted.
I had deactivated a couple of times prior, but finally decided they were too nefarious for me. Plus the whole distraction thing.
Now I need to scale back this forum and Twitter.

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I go on a yearly “facation” to Facebook, like I would revisit a town I used to live in. I plan it beforehand, let folks know I’m going to be back on Facebook by emailing or texting (my account is deactivated until facation time), and then I logon for a week and visit everyone. I plan posts everyday telling folks what I’ve done the past year and sharing pictures. I visit other pages and catch up with friends and family. At the end of the facation, I wave goodbye and say “see you next year” and then I deactivate again. It’s working well for me.

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I quit facebook and have no issues keeping in touch with friends.

Friends don’t even do anything on facebook, just post inane cat macros and click like. Nothing of value :laughing:

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:+1::+1:t2::+1:t2: Twenty Thumbs Up

Well, I am a ‘ol country feller. Reference FaceBook. You can plow a thousand rows across a big field, but if you didn’t plant any seeds, you ain’t gonna reap any harvest. Most folks using FaceBook seem to be just plowing pretty rows.

Personally, I gave up on FakeBook well over a year ago, and now focus my time on planting good seeds. It is paying off.

Seeds that I plant?
. I do not own a Tv.
. I call folks when I can.
. I text when I can’t call.
. I read forums that are investments, not gripe sessions.
. I listen to quality podcast in the background while I work at the desk.

The investment is working for me. :sunglasses:

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Hey all coming back to this post. Social media addiction is certainly a thing. I’m going to try and only check Facebook twice a week. I’ll respond to stuff in messenger if urgent. I think too it would be best to delete the Reddit app off my phone to get some time back. I deleted about 150 videos from my YouTube watch later queue. I’m also going to enact a fixed schedule of when I do certain things to ensure I’m on top of stuff I need to take care of.

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