A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a break from social media. After feeling the need to be ‘on’ for so long I was feeling totally overwhelmed burnt out. When I first started toying with the idea it dawned on me that I’d never taken a break from social media.
In the nine years since I started using social media I’d always been connected. As social media has progressed and more platforms have emerged this net of connectivity has widened. Knowing what anyone is doing at any given time seems fun, but it’s also fucking unnecessary. For the most part I’d be aimlessly liking the tweets and photos of people I had no interest in; wasting hours staring at a screen. I’m not sure why it took me so long to notice, but I realised that social media wasn’t serving me.
There’s A Catch
So if you read this blog then I’m sure you’re aware that I use social media alongside it. I regularly post on Instagram, and also use Pinterest and Twitter for promotion. As I’m still in the early days of growing this brand I decided that I’d continue to use social media for blogging only during my break.
It’s worth noting that I was pretty strict about this rule. I’d share a post and add something to my story, and that was literally it. No hanging around on apps purely for the sake of it. I’d decided that I wouldn’t use social media at all on my phone. Texting was allowed but only for purposeful and productive conversations. Any blogging social media use was kept to my iPad.
When I first set out on this task it was an utter struggle. I’d never realised how much free time I actually have. There was extra time in the morning, during lunch breaks, and tons of time in the evening. The amount of time I considered to be my free-time literally doubled overnight. However with this wonderful extra time came the fight to stay off social media.
On the first day I deleted and hid all of the social media apps on my phone: Pinterest, Chrome, YouTube and Messenger. I decided to extend the ban to chrome as I mainly used it for social media anyway. There wasn’t any need for constant internet connectivity. Despite knowing I’d removed these apps I’d often find myself unlocking my phone to check on them, just to find they weren’t there. I did this a lot…like a fuck ton.
By the end of the first day I’d gone from utterly bored to extremely productive. As this break coincided with the start of the academic year I found that I suddenly had hours extra to do coursework and reading. Over the course of my 5 day social media break I read a book every single day. Okay I did listen to audiobooks on some of the days, but either way I got through an entire novel each day.
Not only was I productive academically but I also made time for socialising, several blog posts, and daily content creation for Instagram. I can say, without a doubt, that it was one of my most productive weeks of the year. I’m not going to lie the productivity didn’t come from any extra drive, but a need to fight of boredom.
I got bored quickly! I didn’t want to thwart my efforts by spending hours in front of the tv, so I avoided Netflix too. That pretty much left me with work as the only pass time. For a week that was fine, but I’m sure if I did this on the long term that I’d want more of a balance.
- I noticed just how much more meaningful my interactions were. All of the conversations I had were because I genuinely wanted to engage. I found myself having many more in-depth conversations, rather than texting briefly over several hours.
- My meditation practice became much more succinct during the week. Normally I find myself fighting the urge to be still, but that wasn’t the case for that week.
- I realised what things weren’t serving me. Primarily those things were Twitter and YouTube. There were so many instances of things that I wanted to tweet about. But after a day or so I realised that none of those things were important. But rather they were thoughts that I could just let pass.
- During first few days it became clear to me that some of my friendships were based entirely on the fact that I was bored. Yes, that is as awful as it sounds. There were people in my life who I’d already known I wasn’t aligned with, yet I’d decided to push through. When I took away all of the distractions the fact that I was sustaining these relationships out of low self-worth became so clear.