Here is What Happened When I Stopped Using Social Media for a Week
We have all experienced it at one point or another.
To overcome the afternoon slump, we decide to take a breather by hopping onto Facebook. An irresistibly cute cat video shows up on our feed and we cannnot help but tune in. We then tell ourselves, “Just one more”, and move on to the next adorable distraction on our timeline. Before we know it, we have spent hours laughing at internet memes and drooling over food videos.
I for one am guilty for this mind-numbing act.
Social media is a great source of information and joy, but it can certainly have a detrimental impact on our productivity.
One day, I decided to stop being a slave to my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. I made the difficult decision to stay off social media for a week. Here is how I fared:
Day 1 – 2
The commute to work feels lonely but bearable as I am plugged into some music.
At work, my hands instinctively reach for my phone and my thumbs linger on the Instagram icon. With all my willpower, I detract myself from that poisonous entity. Throughout the day, I feel like a part of me is missing. I no longer have pretty models, Corgis, or delectable desserts to swoon over. I receive a WhatsApp message from a friend: “Did you see that puppy video I tagged you in?”
I question if all of this is worth the pain and anxiety.
I sign into Facebook to post something on my company’s profile. I am immediately triggered by the notification box on the top right-hand corner. I have 15 unread notifications. I resist.
After I am done with the post, I log out of Facebook and continue with my empty life. It does feel more bearable on the third day though, and I notice that I get to complete work tasks more quickly.
At 3pm, I go for a short walk – without my phone. Shocking, I know.
Twitter is calling out to me. This is the longest I have ever stayed off Twitter. What is trending for the day? I will never know. #Lonely #IsThisTheEnd
On a positive note, I am completing my tasks at near lightning speed. I manage to send at least eight emails and finish an article I had been sitting on for ages – all before 4pm. #Unstoppable
Day 5 – 7
I no longer have the instinctive urge to reach out for my phone, and I do feel more focussed. When I feel like I need a timeout, I take a 15-minute break to absorb knowledge from the wonderful world of Quora. I am less concerned with what is happening on social media and no longer rely on it for entertainment.
I feel pretty good about myself by the end of the experiment. To my surprise, I did not miss social media as much as I thought I would. Most notably, I realised that social media is only an accessory - not a necessity.
Quick productivity tips
- Eliminate distractions. Download anti-distraction mobile apps and browser tools, which can help block off sites like Facebook and YouTube.
- Switch off popup notifications. This reduces the urge for you to check your social media or chats. Very few people can resist clicking on that little numerical notification.
- Create a daily to-do list with time blocks. Prioritise and assign yourself tasks within timeframes. For example, aim to read and send emails in a specific hour instead of constantly clicking on your inbox throughout the day. The objective is to stay laser-focused on your tasks.
- Take short, frequent breaks. Head to the loo, catch up with a colleague from another department, or take a walk around your office building. Several 15-minute breaks throughout the day can help rejuvenate your mind.
- Get moving. An active body can fuel an active mind, so try incorporating some simple exercises into your workday.
Do not take productivity for granted. Time flies when you are not in control of it, and you certainly do not want to be deemed as the lazy and inefficient employee at work. Take charge of your day by keeping track of your time and planning a practical schedule.
And if you are feeling adventurous, try going cold turkey from social media. You might just emerge as a stronger and more focussed person.