Any form of short content (like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube) is so popular (and can be addictive) because we either don’t have much time to consume long form content (like books, movies, albums) or we believe we don’t have enough time to consume them. I often find myself wanting to look at my phone in the middle of a workday because my brain is tired of doing the same stuff and wants a break to do something different. So I often find myself on Reddit or Youtube, spend way more time on it than I intended to and end up regretting it later.
The problem with this kind of short content is just that: it’s too short to be of value. I will likely forget what I saw within a few minutes and it doesn’t refresh me in any way. So I decided to look for better ways to relax during short breaks. Here are my top ideas:
5. Deliberate Facebook/Reddit/Instagram/YouTube:
If you really want to use these apps, do it in a browser and deliberately. There are advantages of these services which disappear when we use it compulsively. Start using it more mindfully. Example: if I want to visit the Instagram account of the K-Pop group TWICE, I’ll go to instagram.com/twicetagram on a browser, look at the latest posts I might have missed and then quit. This makes it much more deliberate than just going to the home page and scrolling endlessly. Add videos to ‘watch later’ playlist on YouTube and when you have 5-10 mins, just watch one or two videos that will fit in that much time and quit when you have done that. Don’t look under the video for recommendations or you will feel like watching them all. Do the same for any such websites: open in browser, look up something very specific and quit when done. Don’t fall into the trap of scrolling.
4. Play good games.
Games can be helpful in short breaks. Avoid endless games and stick to level based games that have a finite end. I recommend something like a platformer or a puzzle game which can be played and set aside in 5-10 minutes. For more complex games like RPGs or adventure games, short breaks will not suffice.
3. Listen to a song you like
When time is this short, I prefer to listen to something I have heard before and I know I will enjoy it; instead of trying something new which I might not like.
2. Read a chapter or an article
I keep my e-books ready on my Kindle, always ready to read. I also download interesting articles on Pocket app to read in these leisurely times. You can try to knock off a chapter or two in 5-10 minutes.
1. Write down your thoughts
Having a journal is a wonderful habit and I highly recommend everyone to have one. I journal at least twice a day- once when starting the day and once at the end. Sometimes in between. If you write down your thoughts on paper during a short break, it will help you refresh your mind.
0. Do Nothing
This is truly the most important activity you can do in a short break. Take a break from all screens, all forms of stimulation. Close your eyes and just sit for a while. Try deep breaths. Get up and walk around, look out the window.
I once marveled at how my grandmother could sit still at a family function with her hands on her lap, relaxed and watching the surroundings silently, even though nothing of note was happening. She was just looking around while most of the others (myself included) were using our phones to ease our boredom. By doing nothing, we truly rest our brain and when the time is up, we might actually feel eager to get back to the task at hand. Boredom is not necessarily a bad thing.
Some other activities I’m trying out:
I started learning Korean in Feb 2020 and now I’m reading a good book containing basic real life conversations. So for short breaks I want to read one conversation at a time. I should also try and write up more blog ideas in short breaks.
What would you like to do in short breaks instead of compulsive phone usage? Let me know in the comments below!