It’s a week today since I signed out of Facebook and Instagram and I’m feeling good. As I type this post, my phone is on the other side of the room. It’s been picked up once today – when I needed to turn off my alarm this morning. Other than that, I haven’t so much as glanced at it.
Yesterday, my unused data was refreshed, and I was like ‘oh’ and got on with my day. The distance between my phone and I grows with each passing day of this sabbatical, and the less I make contact with it – this is groundbreaking stuff, prepare yourself – the better I feel.
Anyway, I thought I’d share with you some of what happened during the past seven days.
Some Thoughts On A Week Away From Social Media
I Rarely Picked Up My Phone
During the past seven days, it was rare for my phone and I to make contact. Most days were spent with us not even being in the same room. On average, I picked up my phone three, maybe four times a day. Two of those times would be to turn my alarm off in the morning and to set it again at night. Quite amazingly, there was no impulse to automatically check social media whenever I did pick up my phone.
Little sidetrack, but it’s relevant: There was one day, midweek, where I thought I’d use my phone to listen to a podcast as I walked into town to do some shopping. But I got so far as the front door and ripped out my headphones. My head didn’t want the noise. I retraced my steps back into the kitchen, flung my phone on the table, said ‘you can stay here,’ then left the house without it. I felt so fucking free at that moment, so fucking free.
Over the past few years, I’ve listened to podcasts when I’ve had to walk somewhere. I’ve done this for two reasons: one, because it was a way of dampening the voices of my demons, and two, because I believed it enabled me to be productive and learn something new. But as my mental health has been slowly improving – and the demons quietening down a little – I’ve found that I want those moments outside to think about what I’m working on. It’s become precious time in which my phone is the last thing I need.
More Things Got Done
Before this sabbatical, my daily ‘To Do’ list was very, very rarely getting completed. I’d manage to make it through the ‘Most Important’ things – though by the skin of my teeth – but the ‘Important’ and ‘When Time’ things would usually be completely neglected.
This past week though, well, change was afoot! Most days I managed to conquer even the ‘When Time’ things and, and move away from my desk at an hour that wasn’t completely stupid.
I used the little ‘spare’ moments productively too. The little moments when, say, the kettle was boiling. Previously, I’d use that time to look at IG or scan FB. Instead, I used it to complete tasks such as throw a load of laundry in the washing machine, do a few squats or unload the dishwasher.
I Was More Capable Of Deep Work
I mentioned in my first post about my social media sabbatical about my focus being splintered, and how that was one of my main reasons for taking time away from IG and FB. And it paid off. My focus was considerably, considerably less splintered. I was much more capable of knuckling down and getting things done. Every night I went to bed and felt accomplished with what I’d managed to achieve. Before, I’d have checked the socials before I fell asleep, and I’d be frowning when I closed my eyes, having seen something that prompted me to feel, in some way, shit about myself and my work.
When I did find myself momentarily sidetracked, it was always, in one way or another, connected to the work I was doing. And, most of the time, I’d discover something that could add depth to what I was making, be it a blog post or a poem. I also found I wouldn’t stay sidetracked for long, and it was much easier to jump straight back into work.
My Fear Of Missing Out Diminished
I did, a few times during the week, find myself wondering if Nona Limmen had uploaded anything new on her IG. But other than that, I found I wasn’t overly distressed about potentially missing out on seeing something.
I Read More
It makes me feel a little bit sick when I think of the time I wasted scrolling. All that time would have been so much better spent reading books. I started to make up for it though, and, not only did I read a lot, but I also found that, because my mind wasn’t wandering and wondering what people thought about my most recent FB or IG post, I was much better able to retain information. Inspiration from random lines or words also flowed much more freely.
I Compared Myself Less
While there was the odd instance where I found myself bemoaning my situation in life (mostly because of YouTube videos of people living their best lives in the Far North), I didn’t pick and poke at myself as much as I previously did, when I’d find myself on Instagram accounts that I knew would only make me feel dreadful.
I Was More Present
One of the biggest takeaways from the sabbatical was being able to be more present. For the longest time, I was only ever ‘sort of’ present in my life. Pretty much anything that didn’t involve my work would be ‘sort of’ done. Someone would talk to me, and my eyes would be on my phone, or I’d be wondering about something I’d posted. During the past week, I lived with more clarity and purpose, and when people needed me, I was able to show up fully for them.
Overall I Was Less Stressed
As someone who’s spent most of their life being stressed-the-fuck-out, this was major.
I don’t have any plans to return to social media any time soon, as the benefits of being away have been too great. But I’ll take each week as it comes.