3 Tips to Transform Your Media Habits

How much time in a day do you spend consuming media?

Think about this for a second—do you scroll through FB before rolling out of bed? Is the Today Show on in the background as you get ready for work? How many notifications pop up on your screen in a day? What do you do during your lunch break—is it watch, listen to or read something online?

Do you know how much time you spend listening to, reading or interacting with media in some way? 

Take a guess…..

According to the 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report, American adults spend over 11 hours per day consuming media. 

That’s right, nearly HALF of your day is spent interacting with the media in some way. 

The media that you consume—from your newsfeed on FB to the websites you visit to the tv shows you watch—shapes your perception of the world. It impacts your beliefs and values, your actions, your mood, your stress levels and your overall well-being. 

So it’s really important to be mindful of what you’re consuming, how you’re responding to it and the time you’re spending on it.

A healthier relationship with media means you’ll not only feel happier and more hopeful about the world, but you’ll also be able to see how the actions of one person—YOU—really can change things. 

Here are 3 Tips to Transform Your Media Habits.

1. Set boundaries.

11 hours a day means you’re likely spending 70% of the time that you’re awake consuming media. That’s just too much.

It’s no wonder that Americans now are more stressed than ever, feeling increasingly alone, isolated and disconnected and constantly overwhelmed with feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

When you fill every waking minute with something—you know like when you check your email at a red light or Facebook while in line at the grocery—there is no time to just breathe, you are always doing something.

The more time you spend consuming media the less time you spend in your life. You miss out on what’s happening right in front of you. You’re distracted, constantly on and unable to focus on the things that are right in front of you.

The good news is that you can set boundaries around your media consumption. It is possible to stay informed with out streaming CNN 24/7.

Start by setting timeframes of when you’ll “be on”—the earlier in the day the better, but not when you first wake up because you need a buffer. For example, if you wake up at 6am start your day with some stretching, meditation, a walk, a shower and then on your drive into work at 7am, listen to NPR.

You might feel like you need a break from your work throughout the day so you pop over to a news site or see what your friends are up to on FB, but staying online isn’t giving you a break. Instead go for a 10 minute walk outside, read a book during lunch or meet a colleague for a coffee.

Set a time to shut it down at the end of the day. Do you really need to check your work email after 8pm? Is checking Facebook one last time doing much for you? How helpful is it to watch the 11pm news? Your honest answers to these questions will help you to decide when to shut it down.

Start to carve out some very clear “on” and “off” times. One great way to do this is to set the do not disturb setting on your phone. Decide what a good down time boundary is for you, a great place to start is your ideal sleep time. Since so many of us sleep with our phones on the nightstand, just shutting it down so you don’t hear the dings but still hear your alarm is a really reasonable first step.

2. Increase diversity.

One of the benefits of technology today is that you have access to all sorts of different opinions. Get curious and take the time to explore perspectives that are different from your own.

This doesn’t mean that you have to agree or understand, just that you’re considering a different point of view.

Then commit to having some conversations with people who share different opinions. Go into this with curiosity—not to prove a point or to change their mind but to learn. Not only does this help to expand your perspective, it gives a human face to the “other side”—something that’s very much needed these days.

Doing this will also help you to notice the subtle biases that exist in the media (word choice, story angle, tone) this exists because what you read, watch and listen to is being communicated to you by a person via her perspective of the world. This is fine, just something that’s important to be aware of.

Think about the channels you watch, the sites you visit—even your friends on social media (and in real life) odds are those are all a reflection of you. And this can mean that you have a limited view of the world, to expand your perspective start to explore the people, perspectives and viewpoints that are different from your own.

3. Seek out and share positivity.

This is key to help restore your faith in humanity. It’s what will help you go from being reactive, frustrated and consumed by all that’s wrong in the world to proactive, optimistic and hopeful about all that is possible.

This is what will help you to identify all that you CAN do, and truly it is the simplest of things. It’s checking in on your neighbor. It’s buying a stranger coffee. It’s calling your sister. It’s volunteering in your community. It’s voting and taking an active role in your local government.

You can change things through your action. You can create a better—happier, kinder—world by how you choose to show up every single day. And THIS is something that’s easy to forget when you get sucked into the rabbit hole that is the media, and the world out there.

The trick here though is to remember that you’ve got to look for the good and the places you can have an impact in your real life. Let the media be a source of inspiration for your in real life action. And to really be able to do that, you’ve got to consume less so that you can create and do more.

Yes, the media is necessary. Yes, it’s important to be informed. And yes, you need to really be intentional about the way in which you interact with the media—in all forms—so that you use it as a tool that helps you to live a healthy, happy life.

In the comments below, let me know which tip you plan to focus on first.

Click here for a list of some of my favorite media resources.