Hmmm! (A habit realization)

January 28, 2016

I was listening to the live Happier podcast and was reminded about the effect (and strategy) of convenience.  As you all know, I have been bemoaning the fact that I seem to get stuck on the computer/phone screen at night.  And I have noticed it’s actually been worse lately.  I’ve had a few evenings where I could have enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours on my own, when Josh has had to operate late.

Things I would like to spend those kinds of free, calm, quiet hours doing:
(like, 7:30 – 9:30 pm!)

writing a post
doing a facial or pedi (NEED the latter)
writing a letter
writing an email to a friend
watching a good TV show

Things I have ended up doing instead:
writing a post


I’m not saying this is a new phenomenon, but I think the real reason it has been worse lately is that I’m already on the computer (having written said post) and just haven’t made the effort to get off.  It’s just that convenient, and therefore weakening my already-puny resolve not to get sucked in.  Because peeling myself away is harder than just steering clear of the screen altogether.

SO.  I am going to dive into this one and try yet again to use these chunks of time better.  I am going to take another FB break (I didn’t miss it much, honestly, when it was gone!) and create a new habit of shutting my computer and putting away my phone after work.  I don’t even really need to check email before bed (worst case scenario: I get some patient related email that stresses me out all night, or feel obligated to answer it at 10 pm).

How do you moderate your social media intake?  I have heard a few of your strategies before, but I want to compile a list.  I’m up for trying pretty much anything at this point!

mr C playing football with a coconut husk.
Tropical life I guess!

* I have happy to say blahblahblah does not include GOMI as I have not been there in forever nor have I had any real desire to do so!  Small victories 🙂


  • Reply Catherine March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Here was my strategy! (In short, block everything)

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      Catherine! I did not know you were still blogging but I just revised your site and subscribed even though that’s counter to my goals to spend LESS not more time reading on line.

      Your strategy makes total sense. I think I may need to do something equally drastic. And I found your thoughts about Instagram quite interesting.

  • Reply Emily March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I deleted the FB app from my phone, which helps a lot because I don’t feel tempted to grab my phone and scroll through FB when playing with my kids. Also, when I get home at night I immediately plug my phone in to charge in an inconvenient location where I won’t end up looking at it until the kids’ bedtime. My daughter still nurses before bed so I limit my Instagram/blog reading time to that time when I’m nursing. Then it has a definite end time. These strategies have been successful in helping me cut down on social media use, for sure, although I still spend a fair amount of time online, mainly reading news articles and such. This makes me feel more "productive" (probably not the right word) or intellectually stimulated than social media, although I still struggle a lot with forcing myself to shut the laptop and open a book before I go to bed, which I’d really rather do.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      Strategy of convenience = yep! currently I’m on call so I can’t hide my phone but I think that this will be a big part of my strategy. Physically putting it away so that it is not a visible temptation.

  • Reply Amy March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I am struggling with time management right now and really love your posts. What gives me the most angst is work-life balance. (I do adult primary care and med ed.) I noticed that you attend conference at lunch and leave work around 5. Do you finish your charts during your sessions? At night? Do you do any advance prep work for charts?

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      I don’t go to conference every day – that’s like 1-2x/month currently (Will be way more when we have residents!). First of all, I am sure I see WAYYYY fewer pts than you – just the nature of peds endo. I am truly in the room for 45 minutes with a single new patient a lot of the time, so it’s like 12/day, which I know in your world is basically nothing. Second, yeah often I leave some undone. I do have to leave @ 5 because of our nanny ,so that’s a hard stop. I do a lot of charting IN room while with patients (I type super fast and don’t look @ the screen) so that there isn’t too much to finish up. Finally, when I leave some undone, I either do them at night once the kids are in bed, or I do them the next day in the office if there’s a no-show or at "lunch" (often don’t really take much of a break for lunch unless there is a conference or meeting). I don’t prep charts the night before, but before I go in the room i set up the template and add any background info.

      I guess maybe this deserves its own post 🙂

  • Reply Andrea March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m wondering what it is about spending your "free/leisure/relazation time" on instagram and Facebook that bothers you soooo much?? Part of you must find SOMETHING about social media fulfilling for you to keep going back to it. I love reading your blog (I’m a primary care resident … pregnant and currently on bedrest for PPROM, lol) and you’ve written many times about how you want to get off Facebook/social media yet you continually go back to it … I’m just trying to figure out why you’re so hard on yourself for doing that – I mean who cares, if it’s something you enjoy? I don’t think every. single. second of your relaxation time has to be devoted to these amazing, awe-inspiring, purposeful activities. Sometimes engaging in mindless activities IS what I need to do to relax! If social media really is something you want to stop for whatever reason, why not just delete your accounts? Sorry for all the questions … I clearly have a lot of time on my hands right now. Hah.

  • Reply Erica March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I think the "Habit of Convenience" is definitely the one that makes me break good habits the most. I have started to keep unhealthy snacks on high shelves (or out of the house) and we are getting a phone charging box to hide our phones in when we get home from work so that we’re not always reaching for it.

    Dan has been out of town this week and I’m filling my nights the same way – mindlessly playing on the internet until the wee hours of the morning (okay, more like 11:15PM, but I wake up early!!! that’s not good!) when I could be working on project, watching shows/movies that I prefer, or even talkign on the phone with friends and family. It’s harder when Dan isn’t home – when he’s home we’re doing something together but I still have nights where I just waste time.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      YES I think that’s probably the most powerful of all strategies!

  • Reply Sarah G March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    To motivate myself to do work tasks that are daunting, I use the pomodoro technique. Maybe you could use a similar time-keeping strategy at night–you could perhaps set your phone timer for internet use in the evening, dedicating 25 or 30 min. If you finish your blog post in under 30 min, you can spend the remaining time on the timer on facebook or blogs, but when the timer goes off, laptop gets shut and it’s time for a pedi/note to friend for the next 30 min. That is how I have been able to moderate my evening computer time!

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m really looking for some drastic measures to conquer this bad habit of mine! The phone is a major issue. Many days I have a reason to keep it near me in the evening/weekends (repair guy coming, G at store will likely text, on call, someone coming to get something I’m giving away, etc…) and I need a way to keep myself from doing the facebook-email-internet tic every 20 minutes! I have found myself getting very sucked into PMG these days, always on my phone, often at night. I don’t know why, some of those posts are addictive and it really is literally endless with new posts popping up every second (I "unfollowed", but its easy enough to go to "groups" and click on it).
    If you are planning to do a "challenge" of sorts, I’ll join you. I want to tackle this next month (doing the eating thing this month)

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      I think a challenge is going to have to happen. Thoughts on logistics? CLEARLY not a Facebook group!

  • Reply Brittnie March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Here are a few of my habits (not always perfect! But I have put more effort into it this year and it’s working so far!). . .

    When driving I put phone in one of the kid’s backpack in the floorboard – so I can’t reach for it mindlessly at stop lights or when in traffic etc.

    No phones/screens during dinner – tv is off, phones are put on silent and in another room

    After dinner I (working on we, haha) leave my phone in the other room so that I can actively play with the girls before bed. This also encourages Brandon to play with us instead of scrolling on his phone (even if in same room with us, while we are playing) after a long day of work.

    After girls are in bed, this is where it gets hard! Brandon and I are both guilty of sitting on opposite couches and having the tv on WHILE both scrolling on our phones or me on my computer. This is driving me crazy. So we are trying to be a little more intentional – I’ll read on the couch and leave my phone in the other room or I’ll suggest we play cards or engage him in some type of deeper conversation. Def still working on this one!

    I follow a blogger whose strict rule is NO phone between 3-8pm. (She works from home so this means no phones from the time the kids get out of school until the time they go to bed. I realize this is drastic, BUT it is so very tempting. And I’m sure once done for several days with no exceptions, it would feel VERY freeing.)

    Delete apps on my phone on the weekend so that I am not wasting away family time by scrolling FB or IG.

  • Reply beth March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I am working on cutting down my internet time even more but I do some pretty counter cultural things to keep my usage down. I don’t belong to any social media and I don’t have a smart phone (flip phone only- no data plan. I also don’t text). It’s not for everyone though (nor is it practical for everyone). I’m werid. I embace that.

    I am obviously not perfect though because I read about 5 blogs and I will comment. 🙂 I also have been known to get sucked down the Googling rabbit hole too.

  • Reply Rebecca March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    To avoid the spending a lot of time on the internet, what about keeping magazines around and making a goal to read an article a night ? (I know one of your goals is to read more.) I have a subscription to the New Yorker and try to read a couple of articles from it a week, even if it takes me a couple of days to finish an article. I also like to indulge in the internet a bit too much too but having some reading material around makes it easier to avoid the internet. The New Yorker comes weekly so I know I need to read it within a week so I’m not behind before another one comes. Anyway, just an idea! I get a lot from your blog about these issues and your writing makes me think me deeply about how I spend my time. 🙂

  • Reply Another_Sara March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Love reading through these comments! I haven’t had any consistently successful strategies; I find that I have a week or two of low Internet usage and then suddenly I’m back to my old habits. :-/ Generally my "good" weeks are weeks when I don’t check FB in the morning before work and don’t go on FB at all while I’m at work. I actually much prefer the mobile browser version of FB over the app so deleting the app doesn’t help me — I have to sign out, make a conscious decision to not go onto it on my phone and then stick to it. Even during those "good" weeks, I tend to lose a lot of time to endless FB surfing when I get home from work… ugh. I was on for a while when I got home today and then after reading these comments, I signed off, ran an errand and consciously did NOT sign back on when I returned.

    Maybe you could host a sort of Internet-self-control "challenge" for February? Nothing official but looks like lots of your readers are trying to do the same thing. Maybe we can all try to make a change for the better and check back in mid-way through the month? Accountability usually helps! 🙂

  • Reply Heather F. March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    The only thing I’ve come up with (and it’s not perfect, but when I do it, it works!) is choosing *in advance* what I’m going to do on a specific evening. If I choose in advance to read a book / watch a favorite show / cook something fun / etc, then I look forward to it and do it. If wait till the evening itself is happening, the time just disappears.

  • Reply Sunny March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Have you heard about the infomagical challenge by the note to self podcast? Starts Feb 1!

  • Reply Jenny March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Man, I’m super late to this post, but I think about this topic a lot so wanted to weigh in anyway! Loved reading other’s approaches.

    Deleting the apps from my phone didn’t work for me at all. I would get on the computer instead and spend just as long or even more. My best tactic was to unfollow EVERYONE and EVERYTHING in my social media and turn off all notifications, so that whenever I find myself absentmindedly typing the site into my browser or tapping open the app (muscle memory is STRONG), I’m met with a blank feed and remember that I don’t actually want to be there at all. There are a couple people whose pages I always want to see and I check them when I think of it, but it’s once a day at most, if that…and the longer I have this arrangement, the more infrequent it has become.

    I’m pretty scrupulous with the blogs I read and only consume them through Feedly. If there’s a post that I know I’ll want to read comments on or that has good links I want to read later, I mark it as unread so I remember to go back and then I do it all at once in the evening…by then the discussion is usually well underway so I’m not hitting refresh on them all day long.

    Phone use at bedtime (badly prolonging lights-out is a tough one that I’m still working to overcome. I’ve thought about leaving my phone downstairs at night so I CAN’T look at it, but I still rely on it for a morning alarm and for an occasional baby monitor…maybe plugging it in across the bedroom would work for this.

    And it sounds old-fashioned, but I find the best tactic for more enjoyable and/or productive (whatever this means to you) evenings is just…intentionality. I try to figure out what I want to accomplish with my evening before I leave work – pretty similarly to how you outline your weekends in advance!

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