Recording #75:

Beth Stallwood 00:00:00 - 00:01:38
Welcome to the Work Joy Jam podcast. I'm your host, Beth Stallwood. In this episode, I am joined by the wonderful Sam Flynn. Now, Sam is a social media trainer and a digital wellbeing expert and in this episode, we talk all about this relationship we have with social media, with our phones, how easy it is to become lost in the scroll and to spend and invest our time in things that perhaps aren't making us feel great, aren't helping us, aren't making us do the things that we really, really want to be doing and how easy it is to get stuck in those zones. Really looking forward to sharing this episode with Sam Flynn with you and I'll come back at the end and share some of my takeaways. Here we go.

Welcome to this episode of the WorkJoy Jam with the wonderful Sam Flynn. Rather than me, introduce Sam to you. Sam, would you like to tell our audience a little bit about you, who you are and what you do?

Sam Flynn 00:01:38 - 00:02:09
Of course. Thank you so much for having me. So I am a social media trainer of over 12 years now. I've been delivering social media training into businesses and I have recently moved into the digital wellbeing space so I'm now also a digital wellbeing coach and I help individuals and businesses manage their relationship with the digital world, the huge digital world, and make sure it's a positive rather than a negative relationship.

Beth Stallwood 00:02:10 - 00:02:34
We're going to have some fun talking about this subject today because for all of the brilliance of social media, there's also some real terrible stuff that happens as well, isn't there? And that idea that we need to be responsible for managing that relationship ourselves is such an interesting one and I think possibly like a massive source of joy and also a massive source of gloom if we get that balance wrong with how we use it.

Sam Flynn 00:02:34 - 00:02:54
Yeah, absolutely and you're right when it says it's on us because the platforms aren't going to do that for us so we do have to make the effort to make sure that we come away from using social media feeling lighter and happier rather than heavier and filled with a sense of doom and gloom.

Beth Stallwood 00:02:54 - 00:03:20
Before we dive in, because I have about 1001 questions about how we do this thing because it is a challenge I think, that it's not one that you think of when you're at school. Well, it wasn't one I would have thought of because digital didn't exist right? We had a BBC computer in the corner of the room! But this job of being a social media trainer and digital wellbeing coach, how did you get there? What was your career journey that led you into this space?

Sam Flynn 00:03:20 - 00:03:31
I always wanted to be a teacher when I was at school. God, I would hate to be a teacher now. Fair play to all the teachers out there.

Beth Stallwood 00:03:31 - 00:03:33
Yeah, well done.

Sam Flynn 00:03:33 - 00:04:52
Absolutely. I couldn't think of anything that I just would not suit at all. When I actually decided, what do I want to do at university, I picked psychology. Not really thinking really in terms of what my career would be, but just thinking, I've got a really real interest in people and understanding them, and from there I did business psychology, I did a master's in organisational psychology. So that switches it into a business capacity of how we're managing people and culture and everything to do with that. From that I started my first business doing employee surveys for companies; project managing the annual staff survey or specific surveys related to projects that were going on, or anything like that. It was with that first business, actually, that I started using social media 13 years ago. LinkedIn became my main marketing tool in getting out there and in front of these businesses, to the point where people started saying to me, oh, you keep popping up on LinkedIn and what are you doing on this LinkedIn thing? I actually went on a few courses and thought, these courses are really not great and I think I could do it better. So I decided to set up a sideline business doing social media training and over twelve years ago there weren’t many people doing that.
Beth Stallwood 00:04:52 - 00:04:54
No, that was quite new then, right?

Sam Flynn 00:04:54 - 00:06:16
It was really new. I mean, it was one of those things that businesses were starting to go, maybe we should do this social media thing, which now you can't even imagine, can you? It's like every business jumps straight in there and as a result it took off really quickly and became my main business and has continued to be for those twelve years. So that's how I landed in the social media world, purely by accident in a way, just seeing a little gap in the market and thinking, oh, I'll jump in there and see how it goes. Luckily it was the right move to make. I mean, now there are many, many social media trainers and experts out there, which is great, it just shows the volume of demand really, that’s grown with it and then the switch to digital wellbeing. I think it's always been something that's been on my mind and actually, when I've been delivering training to businesses, I've always spoken about managing their time on there and talked about the negatives and it's always been part of my training because I'm so conscious of it. Just personally, too, as someone who's running a business and managing it myself. It was probably during the pandemic that this properly hit home for me. I was home alone with my three daughters because my husband got to go out to work every day. He's a project manager in construction, and construction didn't stop, so he left the house every day.

Beth Stallwood 00:06:16 - 00:06:18
He got to escape legally.

Sam Flynn 00:06:18 - 00:09:02
I know. I mean, we look back now and he says he thinks he's so lucky, but at the time he thought he was putting us in danger by just walking out the door every day. But now he looks back, he thinks, god, I think he would have gone absolutely crazy trying to work from home. He was one of the lucky ones. Which meant I was home alone with the three girls who were 18 months, four and six at the time. So trying to run a business with three under six knocking around the house was essentially impossible, particularly a training business, because obviously it's a case of sitting down and talking to people, which I could do through Zoom, but not with kids knocking around and an 18 month old bouncing on my knee. It just wasn't doable. Alot of my work I did on my phone. I just thought if I'm going to keep this going, I'm going to do it on my phone. So my phone became a bit of a permanent fixture in my hand to the point that I'd say I then became addicted to having it in my hand. It was actually my middle daughter who said to me one day, Mum, you're always on your phone, you're not listening to me, and it was the dagger to the heart moment where you're like, my God, she's really held a mirror up to me here. And that was a massive turning point. I really drastically reduced my phone use, and in fact, my mental health was suffering a bit at the time as well, as it was for many people during the pandemic. So I also just deleted all social media off my phone and thought, sod it, I'm going to just have a month off, then there's nothing to look at on my phone. So it will help me in that respect, but also it'll just help me switch off for a month after a crazy few months of trying to keep the business going, trying to keep three children happy. I had never felt happier than when I was in that month of deleting those apps. So, yeah, it just got my own brain thinking and I bought a few books actually, on the topic. I just got really interested in it and then one day thought, while walking the dog, my God, I could actually help other people out with this. There's not enough people talking about it, and not just talking about it, but helping other people and helping businesses and helping everyone understand how important this is to manage that relationship, because we are always switched on. So how do we switch off and how do we overcome addiction to social media and how do we make sure that as businesses, we're encouraging a culture of positive relationships with the digital world rather than negative? And yeah, that's how it came to be.

Beth Stallwood 00:09:02 - 00:09:28
Wow it's so interesting, isn't it, because you've obviously worked in social media in this kind of world and then it swung too far, you got to the point where you're overusing it and it's no longer becoming a tool for the good stuff and it's not being great for you. Then thinking about actually how do I build that into my business and use my experience to help other people with this challenge.

Sam Flynn 00:09:28 - 00:10:09
Yeah, absolutely, without a doubt. It had gone too far for me. I think I've been on social media for years and years. I mean, I joined Facebook when I was 19, which is 19 years ago, so it's a long time to be online plugged into the social media world. So I think I was overdue that kind of moment of going, I'm deleting it all, I'm leaving forever, but it was only a month in the end. I'm not just someone who's ducked in and out now and again, I'm someone who was there in the trenches, as it were, who can help other people who feel that they're stuck there.

Beth Stallwood 00:10:09 - 00:10:38
Yeah, and I think it's really interesting, one of the things you said earlier in the introduction was around the personal responsibility factor and with everything to do with work joy I'm big on, you've got to take personal responsibility for this. It's not up to somebody else to do this for you and the social media companies are definitely not going to do it for you because it's in their better interests, for their advertisers and for the way they make money for you to be scrolling. For you to keep doing that.

Sam Flynn 00:10:39 - 00:12:13
Well, they actually design them to be addictive. Most of the main social media platforms have experts within the teams who are trained in addiction and not in solving addiction, in actually making people addicted because that is what they want. They want you to spend as much time scrolling as possible because as you say, that's how they generate ad revenue. So they're not going to stop that model because it will drastically reduce their income. So we can't wait for them to take action because it's not going to happen. Although they put a few little things in place now and again and all of them have got these blockers now and stuff, or time alerts and things like that, but regardless, the action of scrolling and trying to deliver content to you all the time that pulls you in isn't going to end. So it is really important as individuals that we think about our own scrolling habits and whether as I said earlier, is it actually adding anything to your life? I think that was the question I asked myself when I was like, oh my gosh, I'm just constantly scrolling on social media. Is this adding anything from my life or is it taking something away? And at that moment for me, it was really taking stuff away from me. It was lowering my mental health, it was taking me away from my children, as in I wasn't fully present with them in the room, I wasn't listening to them fully. So it was impacting my relationships and that for me was actually the wake up call that I needed to change.

Beth Stallwood 00:12:15 - 00:13:08
I've got some stuff to ask you, but before I do, I've got an observation and it's an interesting one about the language we use to describe these things because we've been talking about lockdown and COVID, etc. One of the things that used to drive me mad is when they called it social distancing because it wasn't social distancing, it was physical distancing. Physical distancing and yet interestingly, social media, if you are sat there scrolling by yourself, is not social. No, it's actually the opposite of social. Yeah, it's like almost being withdrawn from social. So there's some interesting stuff about, we call it social media because I think it started with a platforms for connection and collaboration and keeping in touch with people, but actually the dragging you in, I don't know if it's the same for you, but the dragging me in of scrolling through other people's content makes me less sociable.

Sam Flynn 00:13:08 - 00:14:03
Yeah, absolutely because when you're scrolling through people's content, you're not socializing with them, are you? You're not interacting with them in any way unless you only look at the content of your friends and family or people that you've built a relationship up with and you're commenting on them and you're interacting with them through that content. Otherwise, if you're just scrolling and looking at it, there's no social interaction going on there at all. So yeah, you're absolutely right, and I've had a few people push back and go, oh, but social media is great for allowing people to feel connected and to a degree there are some people who, yes, make great connections on social media and it's helped them release feelings of loneliness but those cases are few and far between and the majority of us, as you say, are actually missing out on social interaction because we're spending so much time scrolling or stuck to our phones.

Beth Stallwood 00:14:03 - 00:14:19
It’s so true and it might be that we're also missing out on, as you say, connecting with your relationships with your family, connecting with the other things that you want to do in your life. Or even just connecting with going to sleep because that's one of the worst ones, isn't it, the before bed doom scroll?

Sam Flynn 00:14:19 - 00:15:22
Oh absolutely, it's a really common time for people to get caught in the scroll and lose sleep time. If you're going to bed at eleven and then you're scrolling for an hour, there's an hour of sleep you've lost. But the other big impact on sleep is of course you're lying in bed in the dark with a bright light shining in your face and that's sending signals to your brain that it's not sleep time at all. In fact, it's wake up time. So when you do put your phone down, you either struggle to get to sleep or you're tired enough that you'll pass out but then you might wake up a couple of hours later with your brain saying, okay, it's time to get up, and that's often when people then reach for their phone again because they can't sleep and start scrolling again. Then the other thing is we're finishing our day filling our heads full of content so if you do even 10-15 minutes scrolling at bedtime, you're finishing your day by filling your head with content and then expecting it to just completely switch off when you've just fed it lots and lots of different content types?

Beth Stallwood00:15:22 - 00:15:23
Why am I not sleeping?

Sam Flynn 00:15:23 - 00:15:35
Yeah, absolutely, it has a huge, huge impact on sleep, which of course has a huge impact on so many other important aspects of life and health and wellbeing.

Beth Stallwood 00:15:35 - 00:16:07
And I know for me personally, and it's not the same for everyone, but if I don't get good sleep, everything else goes potty. The foundation of all of my wellbeing is good sleep. There are some good things about social media, right? There are things that are great and I like the way you're talking there about kind of what's it giving to you and what's it taking away. Is that a good first step for people to think about if they've got that feeling that maybe their relationship with social media is a little bit out of kilter? Is that a good exercise to start with?

Sam Flynn 00:16:07 - 00:17:54
Oh absolutely. I mean, I'm still active on social media. I'm not someone who's like, everyone get off social media, throw your phone in the bin, let's all get old school Nokia bricks and go back to the old days. I know nostalgia – they’ve got nothing more to do on it than just play snake, but I still actually enjoy social media and I think for my business it's been hugely, hugely powerful and of course given me a career. So I'm not going to be a social media hater and I think that is really important. I always talk about conscious versus unconscious use and I think if you can be very conscious in what it's giving you and what you want to see on it. So for a business, for example, it's giving you a marketing opportunity, it's giving you connections with people that you might not otherwise have been able to connect with, etc, and then using it to do that as opposed to just getting caught in the scroll. Also another unconscious use is of course that scroll, doing things like setting a timer. I will have a scroll on social media. I love a little scroll now and again but I will be very specific in how long I'm going to spend scrolling. So lunchtime today is an example. I thought I'd had my lunch and thought you know what, I'm just going to make a coffee. I'm going to have 10 minutes scrolling and I set a timer for 10 minutes and I spent 10 minutes scrolling and the timer went off and I put my phone down and I went back to work. I think that conscious use is really important because it is very easy to slip into the unconscious where we scroll and scroll and scroll and then go oh my God, where's the time gone? What have I achieved in my day, and we end up feeling low and unproductive and dissatisfied.

Beth Stallwood 00:17:54 - 00:18:30
I totally get that and actually being conscious about it. Have you got any signs and signals that we might be able to think about that might tell us - because we might just be feeling rubbish, but not know that this is the thing that is causing that. What are some of the signs that you would say we should be on the lookout for if we're feeling not great and it could be something to do with our social media use?

Sam Flynn 00:18:31 - 00:20:46
So probably the first one I would look at is your screen time and see where you're spending your screen time because sometimes people don't realize just how much time they're spending on any particular platform. So on iPhones there's a setting called screen time. In Android phones it's called digital wellbeing and it will tell you how long you're spending on each app every day and every week and it can be a real eye opener for some people. So if it says things like you're spending 2 hours on Instagram and you're feeling really low there's going to be a connection there. You're spending a good proportion of your day scrolling on Instagram and your mood is low so let's now try and reduce that down and see if that impacts your mood. Or another thing is finding your phone unconsciously in your hand. Like suddenly it's there and you're on your phone. I think again swinging it back to the conscious, going oh my gosh, my phone's in my hand. Again, noticing that kind of behaviour in yourself. Then also when you are scrolling, looking at what you're looking at as well, being more conscious in what you're consuming. For example, for some reason I must have paid attention to the wrong video at some point but for some reason at the moment on Instagram, it seems to be sharing lots of widowers sharing their story of their partners dying and it's obviously very depressing and sad and I've suddenly noticed that and I've started telling the algorithm, no, I don't want to see this content because it's not going to leave me feeling happy. So being really conscious of what actually am I consuming, what is the algorithm feeding to me and switching into that. So putting your phone down and going, okay, how did that make me feel? Like I've just had 10 minutes on Instagram. How do I feel now? Do I feel happier for it? Do I feel like I'm grateful for what I've seen on there? Do I feel depleted and down and sad? Being tuned into your emotions when you're using it, I think is really important. Screen time one makes a big difference because I think that really highlights to people if there's something we're doing for 2 hours a day and we're not feeling great, it might have something to do with that thing we're doing for 2 hours a day.

Beth Stallwood 00:20:47 - 00:21:48
Yeah, and like, what else could we do with that 2 hours because there isn't a person in the world that I have spoken to in the last year that hasn't said they've got too much to do and not enough time to do it. There's not one single person. Everyone is over busy, over scheduled, not enough time in the day, but I'm not sure it's actually not enough time in the day, it's how we're using the time we have in the day. I think it's really interesting. We're talking about two things here. Number one is the time you spend on it, which there's many more productive ways. But equally it's about being okay with a little bit of time on it, isn't it? It's about saying this is the time I'm happy to allocate to it and being boundaried around it. But I think the second point is that you could also just spend 5 minutes on it and it could still make you feel rubbish if the content you're consuming is not helpful, innovative, emotionally engaging in the right space for you, aligned to your value. There's so many things that could make your day or break your day on social media.

Sam Flynn 00:21:48 - 00:22:28
Yes, absolutely it's so true. It's definitely not just time. It is what you're consuming and you can be in charge of that. So it could be simply that you scroll past things very fast that you're not interested in or if it's suggested content to you through the algorithm. If you click on the three dots at the top of the post, you can tell it I don't want to see posts like this. You can be the the creator of your feed, curator rather, of your feed and make sure that it is something that is leaving you fulfilled rather than the opposite.

Beth Stallwood 00:22:28 - 00:23:45
I had no idea you could do that. Hello top tip coming through from Sam. I need to do the top because I do get, why is the algorithm feeding me this? Have I blindly looked at something and it's doing it? So for me, I'm all about like the dog and animal content that if I spent 10 minutes looking at dogs being stupid, not being able to catch balls, et cetera, or pandas because they have no ability to kind of save themselves. It is hilarious. That for me, I'm really happy with. I like some inspirational content, I like some positive content. I mean, I personally, if you think about social media, beyond the social media platforms, I stopped watching and engaging with the news because it was making me anxious and not happy and I thought, actually, I'm going to stop engaging with that stuff. Equally, I think there's a lot of influencer content of people pretending that they live perfect lives and of people almost it feels like it's almost deliberately making other people feel not good enough. And that, for me, is the worst type of content.

Sam Flynn 00:23:45 - 00:24:56
There’s so much of that and it doesn't even just have to be influencers. To be fair, it can be everyone. We all like to put our best selves online, don't we? Whether it's the best angles, whether in some cases people are putting obviously heavily filtered images up, whether it's saying in business terms, I made X amount of business this month, how should you make or just turnover six figures and all of that kind of thing that can make you go, oh, why not me? It’s really important, this is back to the conscious use, it's really important to be conscious that most of what we see on social media is a stretch of the truth in some respects, or there's certainly an element of the truth that's missing from most posts. Not many of us put our worst selves online. So, yeah, it's so true. We have to kind of avoid that comparisonitis to things that aren't actually completely true and even if they are comparing our chapter one to someone else's chapter 23, or forgetting actually all the things that are amazing in our own lives rather than worrying about the little bits that are missing.

Beth Stallwood 00:24:57 - 00:25:48
I think that comparison is the thief of joy piece is so unbelievably true. I think we are comparing our chapter 1 to other people's chapter ten, I get that? We're also comparing how we feel on our insides to other people's, what they put on the outside. We're not comparing what they feel, we're comparing what they've decided, curated, put out there in edited content to what is our unedited internal story. And we forget that, I think, sometimes. I do think that there is a lot of content out there that's like, I made £10,000 a day for 5 minutes work and you're like, okay, either that's not true or it might be true. But what else? There are so many factors involved in these things that we need to, I think, maybe have a little pinch of salt with some of the stuff that we look at.

Sam Flynn 00:25:48 - 00:26:09
That's probably one of the issues with social media really, that anyone can put whatever they want on there. We can all make whatever claim we want on social media and unfortunately, there are many people who forget that that is the case and start making huge comparisons with their own lives, which can be really damaging.

Beth Stallwood 00:26:09 - 00:26:48
For me, there's a really big difference between feeling motivated because someone else's success has inspired you. For me, that would be a positive engagement with that. It's like, oh, how could I use some of the amazing stuff that they've done and take it into my own life and build from there? So a positive intent to engage that person or that content because it makes you feel good, makes you feel inspired, makes you feel like you can do what you need to do and it aligns with you to the, I need to change everything about myself because I'm rubbish, because someone else is better than me. And I think those two things can get confused quite easily.

Sam Flynn 00:26:48 - 00:26:53
Absolutely. Again, it's back to being conscious, isn't it?

Beth Stallwood 00:26:53 - 00:27:14
It totally is. So you had this big break and actually, when you look back on it, a month doesn't sound like a long time, but actually, if you were at the place where you were holding your phone in your hand and looking at it, and you didn't really know you're doing it to not looking at all, 4 weeks is actually quite a long time to go cold turkey.

Sam Flynn 00:27:14 - 00:28:27
It is. I know. It's quite an extreme approach, really, and not necessarily one I'd recommend because it's almost like bit akin to, oh I need to lose weight, so I'll just stop eating for a month and we know that doesn't work because then you go back to binging and everything. So it's not necessarily the best approach, depending on your personality and such like but at that time, it was the best approach for me. People can employ this through other means. I'll take one day off a week, for example. So take Sundays off, have it set up on your phone that social media is blocked on a Sunday, so you can't access any social media on a Sunday and have a whole day off. Even if for some people, that might feel like a stretch, start with I'll take Sunday mornings off, or I'll take Sunday afternoon off, or I'll have 1 hour a day off. I think it's really important to look at our own situation and see how bad the situation is and then work slowly backwards from that situation rather than going kind of complete cold turkey like I did. I mean, it was a different scenario, wasn't it? The pandemic was just a completely different kettle of fish.

Beth Stallwood 00:28:27 - 00:29:23
There was nothing normal about that time, no way, shape or form, and I think it was about getting through it, wasn't it? In whichever way you can work your way through this, survive it, it was exactly that. We're in the zone of, the new normal way and it's so interesting you talk about completely cutting off or cutting off for a bit of time and actually using things that are in the settings. We talked about being conscious quite a lot. Being conscious of what you are putting in and what you're getting out of it and how you f manage your time with it. Would you recommend things like, I think I need to do this, I think this might be my project for the next week to act detox, but I think there's also kind of a bit of a declutter required in terms of who you're following, what you're engaging with, etc.

Sam Flynn 00:29:23 - 00:30:18
It’s always worth having a little tidy up of your social media and you can do it as you go along. So if you see a post and think, who is that? Why am I following them? I've got no interest in them, unfollow now. Do it as you're in action. But yeah, absolutely, sometimes it is worth sitting down and going, okay, who am I actually following here? Is it hitting what I'm wanting to achieve or is it not? Let's unfollow, let's remove, let's mute in some cases. I've spoken to a lot of people who say, oh, my aunties posts really get me going and annoy me, like you said earlier about avoiding the news and there's always that person who puts out every single news story and you're like, God, how can I avoid the news when they keep sharing it? So you can mute people and they will never be aware of it and it will just stop you seeing their posts in your feed. So you can do things like that as well, just to tidy up and keep your feed how you want it to be.

Beth Stallwood 00:30:19 - 00:30:40
Yeah, I think that's going to be my next thing is to actually do that. It's interesting because I don't think I'm on it all the time but I usually spend ages scrolling when I'm bored. Then afterwards I'm like, oh, I could have done something way more productive in the hour I've just spent scrolling.

Sam Flynn 00:30:40 - 00:32:58
It's definitely a boredom activity, isn't it? I've just been ill so I have had a week really, where I've scrolled a lot, I'll be honest and it is down to illness, it's down to, I literally can't move off the sofa or my bed and I'm bored, but I don't even have the energy to read or take anything intense on in my brain. So I'm just going to scroll on my phone instead and I will hold my hands up and say that there are definitely moments of weakness for me, too. For boredom, I usually advise having yourself a boredom buster list, and it's just a list of things that you can do when you're bored that take different amounts of time up and have it on your notes on your phone. So if you're picking up your phone because you're bored, go straight to your boredom buster list first and go, okay, well, let's have a look what else I could do. And if none of them are going to tick your boxes and actually what you really do want is just to have a bit of a scroll, then fine, but again, it's back to being conscious, isn't it and going, oh, actually, and set the timer. Yeah, but actually instead going, oh, yeah, actually, it is a nice day, I could go for a walk or I could sit in the garden, or actually I'm feeling up for sorting out my wardrobe or maybe I fancy painting my nails and they're the sort of things that are on my list. So having a bit of a boredom list, but also keeping your hands busy. I took up crochet about eight years ago, for similar reasons, actually, in that my eldest was coming home from nursery, giving me every bug, going, I found that I was ill all the time when I was pregnant with her. And so, as a result, I was again back on the sofa, scrolling on my phone and thinking, oh, God, I hate my life, I just can't get off my phone. And within a week I thought, sod this, I need something else to do while I'm sat on the sofa. So I taught myself to crochet and I've crocheted ever since and it's one of the best things for stopping you going on your phone, because you can't crochet and look at your phone at the same time. So it's good to take up a hobby that allows you to kind of sit and relax and maybe watch the telly or a movie at the same time, but your hands are busy enough to not be able to sit and scroll.

Beth Stallwood 00:32:58 - 00:34:04
I relate this to my version of mindfulness, is that I am not a person who meditates. It actually makes me more stressed than the stress reliever so my hands need to be busy for my brain to be not busy. So I find lots of these activities and in the last week I have done an adult Lego set that made a bunch of flowers and I was like, oh my God, this is amazing and now it's my new hyper obsession. So I've ordered more and I'm going to be doing loads of Lego. I do things like jigsaws, I do things like playing the piano, anything that keeps my hands so busy and I have to concentrate so hard on it, I can't even think about anything else, let alone scroll and do that kind of stuff. For me, it just works. Hands busy. Something that I find hard enough that you have to really concentrate, but that's not related to work or social media. That kind of thing really helps me.

Sam Flynn 00:34:04 - 00:34:42
I'm exactly the same. And all those that you've listed there Lego. I don't do any adult Lego, but I do love helping my kids with Lego and we've just got a big Lego box and we just get it out and then we all make things or we set challenges to make things, jigsaws, I also play the piano, but yeah, crochet for me has been the one that carried on through and pretty much, I'd say majority, six nights out of seven of the week, I will do at least 20 minutes crochet. I can't sit and meditate, but I can sit and keep my hands busy and create instead.

Beth Stallwood 00:34:42 - 00:35:21
I've not tried crochet, but one of my lovely friends came to stay with us a few months ago and she came and we were watching a film and she came out with her crochet and she was like, again, she learned to do it when she was pregnant. She was like, it just keeps my brain in the right space. Someone I was with this morning does cross stitch in front of the telly. So I think there is definitely something about that stuff and finding the things that really, really work for you. Because I'm obsessed with dogs and my dog, a dog walk is one of the best things you can do and you can't walk safely and scroll your phone at the same time.

Sam Flynn 00:35:21 - 00:36:04
No, but one thing I used to do with my dog walk is I used to listen to podcasts and I thought I was being clever. I thought, yeah, I'm walking the dog and I'm taking on information at the same time. Go me. And actually it was only when I started reading books about how switched on we are all the time that I realized that was the wrong thing for me to do. Because my dog walk was the perfect opportunity for me to switch off and yet I was still using it as an opportunity to consume content. So, now I highly recommend anyone who's a dog walker and podcast listener, save your podcast for another time and use your dog walking time as complete switch off because for me, that is when my best ideas come to me is when I'm out with the dog.

Beth Stallwood 00:36:04 - 00:36:49
I agree and I tried the podcast thing because I thought I can be really efficient with my time but then I think, why am I being really efficient with this time? This time is supposed to be for your brain and for allowing it. One of the things I allow myself to do, and it works so often, is to allow myself to have one question in my mind when I go for a dog walk and allow the answer to come as part of the dog walk. And so if you've got like a big business question or even a life question you want to answer and it's like a tricky one, and you just put it in your head before you go out. There’s a really specific location, which is hilarious, a location on one of our favourite dog walks where four paths join together and that is usually the moment where those four paths join together, where I go, oh, that's what I need to do about that.

Sam Flynn 00:36:49 - 00:36:56
Isn't that interesting how funny that it's where the paths meet that your connections in your head come together as well.

Beth Stallwood 00:36:56 - 00:37:16
Yeah, what I now do is I now listen to podcasts in the car when I'm driving or when I'm on the tube or on the train or whatever it is, because I can't do anything else with that time, so I might as well do that and I don't find it particularly relaxing being on a train or driving, etc.

Sam Flynn 00:37:16 - 00:37:25
And you want that audio activity going on as well while you're doing those as well, compared to when you're out in nature and you want to listen to nature instead.

Beth Stallwood 00:37:26 - 00:37:42
I feel a bit like you saying, I'm a social media trainer and I'm going to do digital wellbeing, so I'm going to tell you how to switch off your social media. But I sit here and go, I'm a podcast host and I'll tell you, don't listen to my podcast while you're going for a walk but we got to do these things sometimes, right?

Sam Flynn 00:37:43 - 00:38:10
We do and I did think, as I was saying that, oh, I'm saying this on a podcast. I shouldn't be saying this, should I? But it is so true. I listen to podcasts every day, but it's while I'm cooking dinner or when I'm in the gym is another one, because I like to cut out the noise of the gym so I don't want to be in the noise of the gym. I want to be away from it. So I find that a really good time to listen to podcasts as well. So it's just finding your own time, isn't it? But I think for me, a walk is not that time. A walk is a time to be switched off, without a doubt.

Beth Stallwood 00:38:10 - 00:39:07
Allow your mind to just be free and be outdoors and there's so many amazing things about being outdoors from a wellbeing perspective that it's so, so worth it. I think one of the messages I'm really hearing from you in my head is this isn't about all or nothing thinking and it's not about the extremes. What it is, is about being more conscious. It's about finding what works for you and it's about being more mindful around the time we're spending in it and what we're looking at and making sure that what we're looking at is being helpful, interesting and to really be aware when it's gone too far in terms of time or when it's not the right content or when it's just not feeling right, and to actively do something about it.

Sam Flynn 00:39:07 - 00:40:49
Exactly that. I'll go back to the food analogy. It's just about having balance. So we can have a slice of cake, but eating the whole cake probably isn't going to do us much good. Or we can enjoy the odd McDonald's, but having McDonald's for dinner every single day is not going to do us any good. So it really is all about balance and understanding. How can I make this part of my life that's okay, rather than something that overtakes it and just kind of going back to that time thing actually and look at the time you're spending. So the average UK person spends 4 hours a day on their phone, which doesn't sound horrific if you think it. We'll spread through the day and you can see how 4 hours can soon add up through all those little 10 minutes we spend on there. Then we group that together over the course of a year. That's two whole months of the year that we're spending on our phone without sleep. So two whole months of full 24 hours days that we're spending on our phone and I think that's when we go, oh, am I getting back what I want from that? If you are, then great. You're spending two months of your life a year doing something for you that you're really enjoying, that's giving you fulfillment and happiness and everything else you need in life. But if it's not, that's when we go, okay, yeah, I don't want to be spending two months of my year staring at my phone. That's not how I want to be living my life. So that's when we have to start kind of questioning the time element and whether we're spending too much time on something that just isn't filling up our cup.

Beth Stallwood 00:40:49 - 00:41:29
God, that's quite a stark reality, when you say that, isn't it? I was a bit like, sharp intake of breath. It's a bit like when I was looking at the WorkJoy book and looking at the research behind it and we actually spend a third of our entire lives working at work. Whatever version of work you do, it's a third of our entire lives and we spend a third of our life sleeping. So why on earth for that third of your life do you want to be miserable at it? Let's do some stuff about it. And for me, when you think about 4 hours a day okay, it sounds quite a lot, but I can kind of understand how it happens. And then two whole months out of a year yeah, that's big, that's big.

Sam Flynn 00:41:29 - 00:41:59
Then you've got people saying, like you said before, I haven't got time, or I'd like to achieve this but haven't got time. I've always wanted to do a degree, but I haven't got time. I've always wanted to learn a new language, I haven't got time. And that’s when we go, okay, well, maybe even if I just halved my use and got back a month, a year, what could I do with that month? What could I achieve in that whole month that I've given back to myself that will really make me much happier and more fulfilled?

Beth Stallwood 00:41:59 - 00:42:35
It's a great one to ponder on and I'm scared right now and I'm not going to look at my phone while we're doing this. I'm scared to look at my settings and look at how many hours a day am I spending doing this? It's a really good reminder for us all that this stuff is important. It's something that can be great and there's no reason not to, but there is a reason to be more conscious about how we do it and to take that ownership of doing something about it if it's not working for us.

Sam Flynn 00:42:35 - 00:42:59
Even if that step is scary, that first step of going, oh gosh, let's have a look what my screen time is. Just take it and go, okay, that's what it was. Rather than dwelling on it and going, oh, I've wasted all that time just looking to the future and going, okay, it was X amount. I'm going to try and reduce that down to this amount and that's my target and that's what I'm going to work towards.

Beth Stallwood 00:42:59 - 00:43:05
Right, can I move us on to the quick fire questions? Are you ready?

Sam Flynn 00:43:05 - 00:43:06
I think so.

Beth Stallwood 00:43:06 - 00:43:13
Okay, question one is for you personally, what is always guaranteed to bring you a bit of work joy?

Sam Flynn 00:43:15 - 00:43:33
I think for me personally, it is results for my clients and customers. That's always where the joy comes for me when they say, oh, you've made a real difference and it's making a difference in other people's lives. That is the joy for me and makes me go, yeah, this is why I'm doing it.

Beth Stallwood 00:43:33 - 00:43:38
Brilliant. Love that. Question two, what book are you currently reading?

Sam Flynn 00:43:38 - 00:44:15
Oh, I'm currently reading Stanley Tucci's Taste, and it's like his memoirs, but through food. It's a real joy to read, I think he's so lovely and I can actually hear his voice as I'm reading it. So that's the current book that I'm reading. I have a stack of business books that I want to read, but my problem is I can't read a business book when I'm in bed because I just start thinking about work. So, I do need to start some business books, but that's what I'm reading when I go to bed at night.

Beth Stallwood 00:44:15 - 00:44:38
Love that. And I watched the TV show that he did, Finding Italy. I don't know if you've seen it. I think he is like one of the most charming, lovely people. I said to my husband when we were watching, we became obsessed with it basically, we were like, we love this, let’s watch Stanley Tucci. We've literally spent 20 hours of our lives watching some dude eat food.

Sam Flynn 00:44:38 - 00:44:40
It’s a bit like the book to be honest.

Beth Stallwood 00:44:40 - 00:44:59
But why is it so engaging? I don't know, but, yeah, I think I'm going to have to read it next because he’s wonderful. Question three, what is one bit of advice that you have been given by someone else in your life that you always find yourself coming back to?

Sam Flynn 00:44:59 - 00:45:15
Done is better than perfect. So that has always resonated with me when I've got stuck in the, oh, but it's not quite right. I don't want to push it out there or, it's not quite right. I don't want to send whatever it might be related to. And then I go, you know what, done is better than perfect. Get it out.

Beth Stallwood 00:45:15 - 00:45:34
Definitely. And actually, it's easy to say, hard to live by, but it does make a difference if you could live by it 100%. Yeah, great. And then what is one super practical bit of advice that you would suggest to our listeners? That's something that they could go and do now, tomorrow, the next day that you think would help them get a little bit more work joy?

Sam Flynn 00:45:34 - 00:46:24
I'm going to go back to the digital wellbeing and I'm going to say, turn off your notifications, and that relates to things like emails, it relates to social media, it relates to all the notifications that are just constantly pinging everywhere and all over the place because they really can hold back your productivity for a start. They really impact your focus and attention and it can send you into a headspace that doesn't bring you joy. If you are working happily away on something and then ping, an email pops up that you don't want to see, it can send you into completely the wrong headspace. So I would say it's one of the first things I say to people when they say, give me one piece of advice for using my phone less - turn off your notifications. And I think that makes a huge, huge difference.

Beth Stallwood 00:46:24 - 00:46:38
I totally agree. I think I read a study somewhere, and you probably know this and correct me if I'm wrong, but it's something like 26 minutes for your brain to get back into whatever it was doing after you've had a notification. And 26 minutes is a long time.

Sam Flynn 00:46:38 - 00:47:27
A really long time if we're getting constant notifications as well, because we never get to the point with 26 minutes because we've had another notification by then. No, it's true. And another really interesting study found that tech notifications, tech disruption, lowered IQ points by ten points. So they did a study of people who weren't interrupted and people who were, and it lowered their IQ by ten points. And the comparison is smoking a joint lowered your IQ by five points. So tech disruption and notifications had a bigger impact than smoking a joint on IQ. So, yeah, it's the one I'm really quite passionate about, is reducing tech disruption, which is just part of our everyday lives now.

Beth Stallwood 00:47:27 - 00:47:34
No one goes into work one day and goes, do you know what? I want to be ten points stupider today do they?

Sam Flynn 00:47:34 - 00:47:49
No. Exactly. We all want to be on our best and our highest game, and yet if we went into work and smoked joints, someone would have something to say, wouldn't they? Definitely. But that's less disruptive, less impact on your IQ. There you go.

Beth Stallwood 00:47:50 - 00:47:58
So, Sam, where can people find out more about you and your work and what you do?

Sam Flynn 00:47:58 - 00:48:26
Well, you can find me on social media. As I say, I'm not kind of hiding away from it. I'm on Instagram @samflynnsm, and you can go and connect with me on LinkedIn as well. If you search Sam Flynn, I'm sure you'll be able to find me on there and then you can go over to my website, that I share lots of blogs and my videos and also on YouTube, actually, I share regular videos to my YouTube channel and my YouTube channel is @samflynndigital

Beth Stallwood 00:48:26 - 00:49:02
Brilliant. We'll pop all of those in the show notes as well, so that people can click on right through. Sam, thanks so much for being a wonderful guest. I am going to go and look at my time. I really like the idea of setting alarms as I often do a 20 minutes focus time, 3 minute dance party, 20 minutes focus time, 3 minute dance party. I reckon that setting some alarms for scrolling would be really good for my engagement with social media and my mental health as well so I'm going to go and give that a go.Thank you so much Sam, for joining us today.

Sam Flynn 00:49:02 - 00:49:03
Thank you for having me.

Beth Stallwood 00:49:05 - 00:51:13
Well, a huge thank you to Sam for joining me today on the WorkJoy Jam podcast. So many interesting things about social media, about our phones, about how easy it is to get stuck in that scroll. I'm pretty shocked actually, and I need to go and look at my phone and check this out that the average person in the UK is spending 4 hours on those social media platforms, 4 hours a day. And then when you add that up, that's two months of your year. Two months. For me, that's a pretty shocking statistic. And I'm sitting here thinking I'm probably part of that and what could I do with an extra two months? Rather than saying I don't have time for this, I probably do, but I'm spending and investing my time perhaps in the things that aren't so productive. And I'm also not for 100% productivity because nobody can handle that. But could we be doing other things with that time? Could we be more conscious? As Sam was saying around the time we're spending on our phones, I'm definitely going to look at the timer for a scroll action because sometimes a little bit of a mindless scroll is really joyful and we don't want to take that bit away, but sometimes it just gets a little bit overwhelming. Sometimes it's not at the right time or it's not helping us with the right content and really being a bit more fussy with ourselves about what it is we spend our time on and what kind of content we are consuming. So a huge thank you to Sam. Please do check out the show notes for the links to Sam's website and her social media platforms as well. As you know, the WorkJoy Book is out there in the big wide world. WorkJoy: A Toolkit for a Better Working Life. Please do go take a look at that. It's available at Amazon and in all good bookshops. If you do read it and enjoy it, please do leave a review that would be really helpful. And if you're listening to this podcast and you enjoy it, please do subscribe and download. And if you can leave a review as well it really helps get the podcast out to more people. Hope you have a great rest of your day. Thank you very much.

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