Part of finding the satisfaction of enough for today is learning to let go of the daily information overload. Some of the ways to do that are pretty obvious: spend less time on social media, reduce the time you spend on your cell phone, turn off the television once in a while! However, one avenue that we often overlook is to turn off the IM client on our computers. While IMing can be a great way to stay in touch with people and have conversations both personal and professional during the day, it can also lead to distractions, inefficient time use and an overly-busy brain that can’t relax.

The Benefits of IM

Of course, like most technological advances, IM has some benefits when used in moderation. In addition to making communication easy and instant no matter where two people are located, it also can reduce costs. Many IM clients also offer video voice chat that can be much more affordable than a phone bill. And if you’re a person who’s worried about the impact of radiation from holding a cell phone to your ear all day, then IM can give you a safe distance from your mobile device!

The Draw Backs of IM: Why It’s Good to Exit the Program Sometimes

However, like anything else in life, too much is not a good thing when it comes to IM. Here’s why.

Your Brain Never Goes to Rest: When you’re being engaged every minute of the day without interruption, your brain never gets a moment to rest. Brain rest is as important as brain stimulation, and when you don’t get that rest you feel stressed and frazzled. The same is true of text messages! An excellent book on this and related subjects is American Mania: When More Is Not Enough by brain scientist Peter Whybrow MD, upon which our Get Satisfied book and web course are based.

Concentration Becomes Short Term: You’re reading an article. You stop after two sentences and read an IM.  Then back to the article. Then back to the IM. You’re never doing anything for more than a handful of seconds at a time, and over time that habit weakens your ability to focus on things for longer periods of time. Being able to concentrate and focus is as important as being able to multi-task. You need to allow time in your life for both processes.

It’s Not a Personal Interaction:  At the heart of it all is the fact that having actual interpersonal experiences outside of our cyber environments is important to all our mental and physical health. An IM isn’t as impersonal as a Facebook post, but it’s not a live interpersonal interaction either. Don’t let the convenience of IM make getting actual interpersonal contact a rarity.

How to Wean Yourself Off of IM

If you’re required to be on IM for work during the day, then there’s not much that you can do about that. However, when it’s a personal choice, there’s plenty that you can do. If you’re worried that you might “miss out on the conversation” then start by just marking yourself as invisible for ten minutes at a time. Then, when you’ve gotten more comfortable with that, step up to actually turning off your IM client.

In an ideal world, you’ll work your way up to having IM on for an hour or less per day. Sure, there will be exceptions when you really want to schedule a conversation or you’re bored and want interaction. But really think about whether you need all of those constant IMs in your life!

Your brain is important. So is your mental well-being. Step away from the IM client in order to improve both!

What’s your take on the role of IM in your life? Comment below, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Pinterest and let us know.




Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: BlueRidgeKitties