Why you need better hobbies

One of the quotes I often see on Instagram is, “Do you more things that make you forget to check your phone.“ In his book Digital Minimalism, author Cal Newport, encourages people to have hobbies that they enjoy participating in more than wasting time on their phone. Activities that will inspire you enough to block out the Siren’s call of social media. He calls these “high quality leisure activities.

For me that’s woodworking and home improvement projects. There’s just something appealing to me about being able to create exactly what I wanted out of raw materials. It beats compromising for something of lower quality that was mass produced and not customized to precisely fit the space in my home. 
Whether you’re Beyoncé, Warren Buffett, or Elon Musk, everyone has the same 24 hours in their day. What differentiates you from these high achievers is what you do with those 24 hours. The difference between you and your responsible friends, who you see online out relaxing or participating in hobbies, is they make this time a priority. That means they are not filling ten minutes here and there on their phone. They create time for hobbies by getting their work and home obligations done efficiently and without distraction. 
Eliminating the distractions your phone allows into your life is critical to having the time that you want in your life. Think about it for a minute, how much would you pay to have an extra hour or two in your day to be able to do whatever you want? Perhaps it’s in the neighborhood of $20-$40 an hour. So why are you giving that time to internet advertising supported businesses, like Facebook, who only value it at $0.13 an hour?
Leave your phone in a drawer at work, leave it in the designated place at home, and get your shit done quickly without all the distraction. Is knowing what a friend did this weekend more important to you than making it to the gym? Is seen the latest picture of your college friends baby more important then watching a show with your kids? That’s the trade-off you’re making when you give away two hours a day to social media.   
It’s no coincidence that depression and anxiety rates have skyrocketed in the last 10 years since social media became mainstream.  We all spend hours a day comparing our lives to the carefully curated snapshots we see on Facebook and Instagram instead of spending that time bonding with loved ones and accomplishing things that would make us far more satisfied. 
That’s what got me on this soapbox to begin with. Social media and your phone should be easy to ignore. Just switch it off or put it in a drawer, but it’s not that easy. The deck is stacked against you. There are too many billions of dollars at stake for you to be able to easily win this fight.
As you finish reading this please take a minute to write down what’s truly most important to you in your life. Maybe it’s your spouse, your family, your health, or your hobbies. I’m willing to bet none of you listed social media or checking email in your top three priorities.  Now look at where you’re spending your time, if it’s not on your top three priorities perhaps it’s time to reevaluate where you’re spending time. There’s lots of articles in the archives to help you with that.

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