I decided to have a complete break from social media while we were away on holiday this year. I use my phone and computer A LOT. I run social media (FB, Twitter and Instagram) for three accounts and little and often seems to be the only way I can manage that, so although I do schedule some posts, I’m frequently checking the feeds and interacting with people. I also have numerous email accounts for all my different work roles. Much of the work I do crosses time zones so when most people’s email goes quiet, mine fires up. I absolutely LOVE my jobs and didn’t particularly feel I needed a break from them but I felt I simply had information overload and wasn’t being as productive as I could be.
So, I turned off all notifications, put the out of office on all my emails and wherever possible I left my phone in a drawer. This was hard for me.
I wasn’t too sure how I would get on. It turned out to be a really useful exercise. Here are my thoughts about going tech free for two weeks:
- It’s not that hard. I was twitchy for a couple of days but quickly got out of the habit of reaching for my phone.
- I’d forgotten how much I love to read. I read four novels during two weeks. Time when I might have been scrolling through social media I spent reading instead. I lost myself in some really great books.
- Sometimes you really need a phone. I admit to using it for the maps feature, the weather forecast and to check out a couple of opening times. It would have been silly to deprive myself of that.
- I used my nice camera. Cameras often take a back seat when the quality of phone pictures is so good but sometimes it’s nice to do more than point and shoot and I enjoyed taking some great shots on my camera
- I had no idea what the time was. I use my Apple watch or phone to check the time so without either I really had no clue. Most of the time this didn’t matter at all and was liberating.
- I played a lot of Uno and rummy with the kids. We always try to play a lot of games on holiday but I know there were times when we were chilling by the lake or in a cafe when I might have been tempted to look at social media. Instead I got thrashed on the ongoing card game tally and enjoyed every second of it.
- I have some really great social media friends. So many times I saw something or did something and thought, ” Xxxxx would appreciate that.” Normally I would have shared a photo with them or tagged them in a post. It just made me realise how many great connections I have with people and that although they are (sometimes purely) online friends they are an important part of my life.
- I was more able to relax and concentrate. I actually did a difficult jigsaw puzzle over the course of a few evenings in our mountain retreat. This is something I would never ever contemplate doing in my non-holiday life. I would see it as time wasted. If I did try it at home I think I would probably have my phone at the side of me and multi-task puzzle and twitter together which I know wouldn’t give me the same benefit. It was so relaxing and therapeutic.
- My brain space was freed up. Being able to empty my head from the constant noise of social media and emails just gave me time to think. I had some great ideas for blogs, thoughts about my house, career and life in general. It made me aware how important thinking time is and that I don’t prioritise it enough.
- I want to make changes going forward. This was only a two week detox but it was enough to show me that although I love social media and the opportunities, friendship and fun it has given me, I need to be careful. Without realising it, I am giving it a lot of my time, energy and brain power. It’s actually reducing my creativity. Here’s what I plan to do:
- Remember that I am in control and that I can choose when to look at social media
- Keep all notifications off. I decide when I look and those who need to contact me urgently will phone me
- Check emails at set times in a day
- Read a book, not my social media feeds before I sleep
- Put my phone in another room rather than in my back pocket where it usually lives
- Have one tab at a time open on my computer so I can focus better on the task I am doing
- Avoid mindless scrolling. Time vanishes. Decide how many minutes I can invest in reading social media at that point in time and stick to it
- Define my work space. Instead of working at the kitchen table or on the sofa I’m going to clear and work at the desk in our study area. Everyone will know that when I’m there I’m working and not to be disturbed. When I leave that area I stop working. Psychologically I think that will help me to switch off and relax.
I’m grateful to one of my social media friends who has directed me to the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. It’s all about the importance of focused, uninterrupted work for true success. I’m half way through it thanks to my new ‘less scrolling, more book reading’ routine! It’s already making some challenging and interesting points about shallow and deep work and the pros and cons of each.
I’ll let you know how I get on with my new resolutions. I’d love your thoughts on this topic. Do you go tech free on holiday? Are you good at switching off? Do you ever sit and just think?
Featured image: Pexels