The amount of information we encounter on a daily basis is truly endless thanks to the rise of the internet and social media. One minute we learn about an annoying incident a friend had at work via a long, diary-style Facebook post. The next minute we read comments on a news article that tear apart both the article and the writer.
These days, wherever there is information, opinions abound. Sometimes the opinions we encounter are benign; some are even uplifting and inspiring. Yet still others—which often feel like the majority—are gossipy, negative, and judgmental.
“It’s so easy to get wrapped up in this online mess. Before you know it, you’re pressing send on a searing response to a haughty comment instead of focusing on what’s important—be that a work assignment or your own family.
I know it’s hard, but it’s important to shut down the online noise so that you can focus on your true priorities and live your life in real time rather than spending it by staring at a screen. You have to learn to ignore all the racket around you and mind your own business.
Know When to Listen vs. When to Give Feedback
Given the multitude of information-sharing avenues we now have, it’s become easy and seemingly acceptable to freely share our opinions and give advice. But simply because you have the option to share your thoughts doesn’t mean that you should.
Sometimes people post online because they want to vent while other times they want to share something new that’s happening in their life. Social etiquette still applies in these contexts as it does across the online space.
If someone asks for your advice or recommendation, then by all means help them out! But if they don’t solicit you for information, then think twice about freely sharing your opinion about how they should exercise to feel better or how you don’t like this or that.
“Don’t let yourself be sucked up into someone else’s world without their invitation and permission! Look for social cues online just as you would in person to determine when it’s appropriate to give feedback and when it’s better to just listen and read along. You’ll keep your sanity, and spare others from potential upset, too.”
Stay Positive by Avoiding Gossip and Negative Chatter
In addition to paying attention to online social context, it’s important to avoid gossip and negative chatter if you want to dodge the online noise and keep your spirits high.
Nearly every online page we land on contains a certain level of negativity and gossip, whether it’s an especially critical article or a one-off comment. Since we are constantly exposed to this information, all this negativity adds up and can weigh us down, sapping our positive energy.
What’s more, at a certain point, gossip and negativity can feel like a normal mode of communicating. Letting an endless stream of gossip and negativity into our world means that we are that much more likely to share information in the same hurtful way.
To break yourself free from the chains of gossip and negativity, consider doing the following:
- Unsubscribe from blogs and newsletters that bring only heavy, pessimistic news.
- Block or mute anyone online who brings you down.
- Engage in thoughtful online conversations that focuses on encouragement, inspiration, and gratitude.
- Sign up for positive, growth-oriented resources like Light Watkins’ Daily Dose of Inspiration emails or my own Leader Lesson emails.
Practice Time Blocking to Stay Focused
Setting up boundaries between yourself and the online world via time blocking is yet another way you can re-set your priorities amid the constant stream of online noise.
To practice time blocking, start out by scheduling online time at five to six points throughout a day for about 15 to 20 minutes each. This may seem like a lot of online time, but I bet you’re spending that and more checking your phone or flipping through emails without even realizing it.
As you get comfortable with the idea of scheduled online time, then start to reduce the time frame. Take it down from five to six times a day to just two or three times a day at 10 to 15 minutes each.
Of course, you will need to figure out what makes the most sense for you. Your scheduled online time might look different from someone else’s. For example, one person might categorize their online time as mindless Instagram and Facebook browsing while someone else might label it as time spent answering emails.
“Set your own online time definition and then craft your time blocks, reducing them until your online time is back to a healthy, reasonable level.”
Time blocking will help you protect your time for what is most meaningful for you—time with your loved ones and for your top personal and professional priorities.
Until next time,