Though all of my week without challenges have been beneficial thus far, on the whole they have taken significant energy and constant attention to accomplish. This week, not so much.
Sure, the first day without social media was a bit weird, only because I would catch myself in the habit of mousing towards my browser bar to click on the Facebook tab. Since then, I’ve hardly thought about it at all, and it’s been incredible.
What’s more, despite the facility of this challenge, it really has had an incredible effect on my day-to-day life, specifically how I get work done, and what I spend my energy thinking about. Though I’m certain there are others I haven’t even noticed, these are the five most salient habits that developed almost incidentally during the course of this challenge:
1. I get out of bed quicker
Somewhere along the line I developed the curious habit of lying in my bed after my alarm goes off and checking Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter for a half hour before heading to the shower. On the first day of my week without social media I found myself staring up at the ceiling instead. After a few minutes, I gave up and just got on with my morning.
This habit has continued through the rest of the week and has been hugely beneficial in getting me up, out, and on with my day, instead of wasting time in a groggy post-wakeup, pre-coffee haze.
2. I get work done faster
One of the most jarring adjustments I’ve experienced with this challenge came when I first sat down to get some writing done. Usually, I’ll write a few paragraphs, then check Reddit, write another, then browse Facebook, finish up, then nose around on Twitter until I feel ready to revise.
Without any of these distractions, I’ve been forced to just keep chugging along without any breaks. Though it was a bit awkward at first, now I love it. I can finish what I have to get done in less time, without having any other distractions on my mind.
3. I waste less time
If I have nothing to do, I’ll often open my laptop to check email and mess around on the internet, with no particular goal in mind. Sometimes, these internet rabbit holes can last hours, and in the end, I have nothing to show for my time except some newfound knowledge about something I didn’t know I cared about only hours prior.
Now, if I don’t have anything specific to do on my computer, I don’t open it at all.
4. I think less about trivial things
For all the good that social media provides, it also serves as a platform for many people to whine, moan, and otherwise express concern at trivial nonsense. I never thought I cared about any of this before, but not even looking at it for a week has highlighted the sheer joy of a mind free from other people’s complaints.
5. I’m less concerned with things out of my control
It turns out that social media was the main portal for me to get my daily news fix. Though I haven’t completely avoided news during this challenge, I would say I cut my consumption down by roughly 80%. Though it’s possible that the world has burned down and I am still in the dark about it, as far as I can tell, everything’s the same as it ever was, even without my careful, daily attention to the 24 hour news cycle.
In the meantime, I’ve been less concerned with the multifarious problems of the world and had more time to focus on my own problems, like cleaning out the refrigerator (did that one yesterday). Point is, I’ve actually put my energy into things I can control, and stopped worrying about the things I cannot.
So, what now? Do I just go back to hounding through social media aimlessly while the world passes me by? Not likely. Shall I abandon it entirely, and scorn those who champion it? I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think that would be the best approach either.
Thus far, the best suggestion I’ve received came from Phoenix Zerin of fiveyearsabroad.com, who pointed out that what I really vowed to do was only use my communication devices in a way that adds value to my life. I think this is key. Certainly, there are ways in which Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and the like have added value for me, especially as an obsessive learner and as a blogger. On the other hand, probably three quarters of the time I spend on these sites is adding no value whatsoever.
The solution? As with all things: moderation. In this case, severe moderation. Moving forward, I plan to only use social media when I have a purpose to do so, and to do my best to eliminate idle time spent surfing social media just to pass the day away.
may we all get better together.
Start your own One Week With/out challenge! Begin here.