Over the past four weeks I set myself the challenge of cutting down on social media. This might sound quite counterproductive seen as I’ve only recently started my blog and need to promote it, on social media, but my over indulgence on social media was taking hold. I was becoming that really annoying person who places her phone next to her cutlery when out for a meal! I wasn’t ‘in the moment’ enough any more and knew this was an area of my life I wanted to improve.
I may as well tell you in advance that this was the four week challenge I failed the most on. I usually expect to fail a little bit, its natural when your introducing a change, and I’m usually happy with an 80/20 success to failure rate, but on this one I couldn’t even tell you my percentages. I expect that it was closer to the other way round. This was the challenge I thought I would find the easiest! It surely couldn’t be harder than the food lover and tea addict who turned vegan for the month could it? This, I would find, was the hardest of them all. It was so imbedded in my life that it took so much more to change.
The problem I find with social media is that it takes over your life! Before you know it you’ve lost hours scrolling through reams of holiday selfies, mottos and wannabe master chef delights. Defining yourself on the amount of ‘likes’ your picture gets as if someone has actually given you a thumbs up in real life. Your sense of reality has become obscured and your brain cells have slowly begun to shrivel away!
It had reached the point that when I looked up from my phone I had began to feel sick. Not just in the car (which has become a massive problem) but also in daily life. There had to be a better way and I needed to become more productive.
The marketing of phones is incredible. Back to the day when the Nokia 3310 was the hot new product, that you actually used to call people on and held a massive 5 text messages, was a modern day marvel. Now your ‘smart phone’ is not only a mini computer but also an extension of yourself. The mere idea of leaving the house without it can send you into a mini melt down.
Social media is amazing and definitely has its place. My blog relies on promotion through social media and I am constantly in awe when I look at the stats and can see that people in Bahrain and Serbia have read it. As much as the novelty of carrier pigeon’s sounds appealing, without the world wide web how could I reach across so many seas.
The first week I thought I would set a time limit on it, so I limited myself to an hour a day. Epic fail! How I thought I could limit myself to a time when I was just using it every time I saw a new notification come up I don’t know. It was a little short sighted. A few minutes here and there where I took no note of my timings meant that I had no idea how often I was using it. Time to re-visit the drawing board!
I then set myself the task of only using it for my blog promotion and keeping up to date with posts from my family and friends. This then opened a new can of worms…. Who are my ‘friends’ on social media? Facebook tells me I have 561 of them but my favourites in my phone book are limited to 10.
Blog promotion in itself is limitless. I’ve joined so many forums that I’m getting several notifications a minute! Share your blog here and comment of 20 others, share on Instagram, Facebook, twitter etc. etc. etc. etc.!! Although my social media usage was less I can’t say that I was seeing any difference in my productivity.
One of the problems I found was that my social media usage was so subconscious, kind of like a face in the fridge scenario. You’re on a diet but if your fridge is full of sweet treats that before you know it your eating all the junk without any though of consequence. The same rule applied! Because I was constantly faced with so much additional social media junk then before I knew it I’d diverted from my original task and was watching a series of the body coach Instagram stories which mainly consisted of watching him playing on his electric skateboard! I soon began to realise that I was no longer ‘social’ with my social media usage, I was in fact an Instagram junkie!
I recently read a book called ‘Eat That Frog’ which looks at ways of increasing your productivity. Within the book it talks about making social media work for you. Something that I had not been doing. Its an incredible platform if used effectively and efficiently.
By this point I’d got ten days left and my success to fail ratios looked like a seesaw holding concrete boulders of failures on one end and a feather of success on the other. Back to my daily planning blog I quickly became aware that I could no longer rely on my will power to accomplish my goal! I needed a structured plan!
My plan was that during my work day I would place my phone on airplane mode, to prevent the inevitable pop up notifications, and I set a plan for where I would promote my blog in the evening. I gave my nearest and dearest my work mobile number (which doesn’t have a Facebook app on it) and informed them that in an emergency this could be used. These ‘emergencies’ did include my housemate contacting me about the content of the fridge but never the less the noise and constant interruptions were vastly reduced.
The first day of not using my phone for personal use during the day felt extremely uneasy. I found my eyes automatically flicking to the screen expecting a notification or text. My finger would automatically press the home button to light up the phone before I remembered what I’d done. I couldn’t turn it on fast enough at the end of the day as if the world might have unknowingly ended during my 8-hour shift! Well guess what…… Nothing happened!!
All that did happen was that someone I don’t know ate a highly filtered smoothie bowl, a keyboard warrior politician sent out another inappropriate tweet and an old friend from school had a baby and named her some obscure name with lots of silent letters! Funny…. but hardly life changing
Apart from a few ad hoc indulgences it worked. I got more work done and my life wasn’t ruined by Game of Thrones spoilers. Win Win!!
I don’t want to be the girl in the coffee shop with her face down scrolling through meaningless crap, with her ear phones in, completely unapproachable and unsociable. I want to be the girl in the coffee shop with her head high, people watching, chatting with strangers and reading a book which grows her mind! Let’s aim for that hey!
Until next week xxx