Things didn’t change overnight, but they did, eventually. Last month I subjected myself on a 2-week social-media detox in which I removed apps on my phone, didn’t open them even on my computer, and left chat groups. The reason, as narrated in a separate article, had something to do with the fact that I was wasting my time doing things that have low value, thus affecting my creative process. I needed a reboot; it was a long time coming. One day, I quit social media cold turkey. So what happened after my 2-week social media detox?
I stopped wasting time spent on chatting
Apparently, I had no better use of my time because in chat groups I am the most active member. Before, I would constantly check my Facebook messenger and if it’s quiet, I’m going to initiate a conversation. I never run out of things to say; the opposite of how I am in person where more often than not, I just listen instead of expend all my energy doing all the talking. When I refrained from using Facebook, my virtual social life stopped consequently. It freed up my time, opening my eyes to the fact that I spend more hours than what’s necessary just talking with people on the other side of the screen.
I got back to reading books
I used to be the girl who always had a book in hand. I was a bookworm; I could finish a book in one sitting and I could surpass the reading goal that I set for myself on Goodreads. It gradually changed over the years as I become powerless to resist the lure of social media. Instead of finishing a book, I would be on Facebook or Instagram liking photos and posts, watching videos, and conversing with people. My Currently Reading list on Goodreads was not updated for a very long time. I lost interest in purchasing new books, and the actual books that I own have collected dust.
During my detox one of the first things that I did was to pick up a book. Now that I eliminated the biggest distraction, I suddenly had free time. But the drive to finish a book wasn’t there instantly; I had to build up the momentum. I started by reading during my break-time at work and just before I go to sleep. Now, I read a book every chance I get. I finished the books that I stopped reading halfway before, and I downloaded new ebooks on my phone. Not only did I get that sweet sense of accomplishment from completing something, I also get to learn. Win win!
I finished the backlog on my blog
All of a sudden, I was able to deal with the backlog in my blog. I penned the pending stories, edited, and published them here. The only thing that I wasn’t able to do in this process is the social media promotion. Nevertheless, I felt accomplished and satisfied. By consistently producing new contents, the stat of my blog significantly increased. For quite some time I couldn’t get past 30,000 views, but during this period, the views shoot to over 60,000.
I continued writing a story
Last year, I was commissioned to write a story for a mobile game, a project that I couldn’t commit to 100%. Admittedly, this task was the most daunting and difficult to get back to so for days, I dilly-dallied on it, almost afraid to get it started. It doesn’t help that I have already forgotten some details in the story.
After a few days, I muted the monkey inside my head and just did it. First, I reread the previous chapters to refresh my memory. Next, I created a tracker of all characters and listed down their physical attributes and characteristics. Then I updated the layout and format of all the documents, even went as far as putting a graphic on the first page for aesthetic purposes. All these efforts have eventually paid off because it put me in the zone and motivated me to write again.
It’s not easy writing a genre (in this case, dystopian fiction) in which I am not an expert of and I’d be lying if I say I didn’t think about quitting. Fortunately, my will to finish this is stronger than the urge to quit. It helps that I always remind myself that great is not supposed to be easy. [Read: 2017: The Year We Should Stop Asking for Easy]
I’m able to focus with work
Our company is lax on accessing non-work related sites, which does not help my already distracted mind. I had many moments when I would be on social media instead of getting my work done. Looking back, I think it’s one of the reasons I delivered half-baked jobs, thus triggering criticisms from my boss.
During the break, I succeeded in breaking this unhealthy habit allowing me to get things done fast and efficiently. Hours passed by without me knowing it and this time it’s because I was truly busy with work. The effort has paid off, if the positive feedback of my boss and peers are any indication.
I have always been a restless person; easily distracted, quickly bored. It’s one of the reasons I find social media so appealing because it offers endless options to cure my boredom. It’s good in a way that I have become social media savvy, which is almost a requirement in blogging. But as they say, anything done in excess is bad for you and this dependence is no exception. My self-imposed “rehabilitation” made me realize a lot of things.
- I waste so much of my time: On chatting alone, I spare a big chunk of my time, which I could have spent being productive.
- I mistook acquaintanceship for friendship: I’ve been quite sociable in the last few years that blurred the line between friends and acquaintances; in 2 weeks time I remembered the difference between the two. In my self-exile I only communicated with people who truly matter to me and I was okay with it. I stopped feeling like I needed to be present in the lives of my friends constantly.
- I can do it: I thought that there is no way I could neglect my social media accounts because I’m a blogger; guess I was wrong.
2 weeks is a short time but it was enough to jump start my goal to redirect my priorities. Today, I can better manage my day; I only give a certain amount of time for social media and I do not neglect my responsibilities. At work, I make sure that I finish my job first before anything else. Taking away my biggest distraction allowed me to accomplish things.
It also helped me see what truly matters. That, for me, is the biggest reward of this endeavor.
How about you? Have you tried pulling the social media plug?