I’m currently practicing two forms of pretty rigorous honesty with myself:
- Time honesty. In an effort to be more mindful about my time and spend less of it online, I’m on my fourth week of logging my time by the half hour using Laura Vanderkam’s tracking sheets.
- Food honesty. In an effort to lose some “baby weight,” I’m using My Fitness Pal to track my calories and exercise.
Both of these forms of honesty are proving effective, especially calorie-logging. It can be depressing to realize that your “healthy snack” of mixed nuts is actually a gigantic unnecessary calorie bomb, but that knowledge also grants you the ability to accomplish your goals without the shady ability to hide your self-sabotage from yourself (if that even makes sense). Instead of telling yourself that you’re eating so healthfully and you just can’t lose weight, being honest with yourself makes it possible to reach your goals despite your own wishy-washiness. You’re forced to take full responsibility, and the sobering numbers staring you in the face are much more motivating than the vague feeling that you’d feel better five pounds lighter.
Tracking your time does help you spend less of it online… but it’s not as firm a deterrent as calorie tracking is. Why? Mainly because, thanks to smartphones, “using social media” or “playing on the Internet” is almost never a primary activity, the kind that you’d log in a timesheet. The time you spend online instead hides from you under labels like “work,” “watching TV,” and “conference call.”
One solution is to be really honest with yourself about your phone usage. And that means writing down “work/social media” instead of just “work” if you actually took a Facebook break in between tasks, and “TV/Internet” instead of just “watching TV” if you got lost in a Wikipedia rabbit hole while you were watching Netflix.
Yes, it will probably be alarming and depressing at first. But seeing all of those hours laid out in black and white might give you the push you need to cut back.