I wake up at 6:30AM for work Monday through Friday. After shutting my alarm off on my phone, I immediately started to check Facebook, then Twitter and Instagram as I do every morning. Once I arrived at work, dock my laptop and sit down – I again check Facebook, Twitter and Google+. By the time I leave work at 4:30 between my iPhone and my computer, I’ve probably wasted at least over an hour compulsively checking my phone. Compound my social media habit with the constant ding or vibrate of a text message my phone never leaves my side.
I’m sure this photo reflects what you, and your coworkers, friends, and/or family look on a daily basis. I can guarantee that your conversations start with “I saw this on Facebook.” or “Hold on, I need to put this on Instagram.” If it’s not that, you’re usually texting multiple people while being “social”. When is the last time you’ve had a conversation with someone for longer than a few minutes where you didn’t look at you phone? I’m going to assume you most likely can’t recall a time since you’ve had a smartphone.
What am I doing to change that?
Two days ago, I woke up for work and something was different. I shut my alarm off, and instead of my normal routine, I deleted all my social media apps from my phone. Once I was out of bed and awake, I put my phone with my keys and wallet. I didn’t look at my phone until I was in my car leaving for work to turn on Spotify. I put my phone in the cup holder and drove all the way to work without looking at my phone.
I was early to work as well as a completely relaxing and distraction free drive to work. When I docked my laptop at work, I didn’t go to Facebook, or Twitter. I installed the StayFocusd extension and limited myself to a minute, yes a minute a day for Twitter and Facebook. This gives me just enough time to go on Facebook to see pictures of my sister’s kids – that’s it. Sure I could uninstall it, or use another browser – but the urge really isn’t there after a few days now. At home I’ve setup OpenDNS to block those sites as well. Sure I could easily get around it if I wanted to, but it’s a simple reminder if I do get the urge now.
It’s easier to plan out my day now, and stick to it. I don’t lose track of time or well, waste time that should be used for more important things. I don’t feel stressed or anxious from trying to play catch up from all the time lost. I’ve also significantly cut down on texting and compulsively checking my phone. It’s almost as people think they’ll miss something if they don’t check their phone constantly. However, I’ve come to realize I’ve missed way more checking my phone than anything else.
I’m not sure when or if I’ll start using Facebook, Twitter, etc without restricting myself from them. I’ve also toyed with the idea of replacing my iPhone with a “dumb phone” for just phone calls and quick texts, and leveraging an iPad Mini for work email. Or switch to the BlackBerry Torch I was given at work which to me is painful enough to use for anything more than email, phone calls and the occasional text that it would be like downgrading to a simple phone.
They say it takes 21 to 30 days to break or create a habit. I’m curious if anyone else has done a social media “detox” and how it worked out. I’m going to stick with this up until the full 30 days and evaluate how I feel to see where I go from there.