Mid December with the holiday season on the horizon and having read too many pieces about social media addiction, I was ready for a break. Every time I reached for my phone, I had a Pavlovian instinct to click on the Instagram icon and that’s when I knew it was time. So I did it — I waved a little sayonara to “the socials” and with the exception of some client check-ins, I was off Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
The first 2 days I had to remind myself to break the habit of hitting the Instagram icon, but after that, the urge to check in subsided and the month that followed was eye-opening and life-changing in that it delivered the following positive benefits for me:
- I was a productivity machine! I was immediately more productive with my work, my personal life and even small tasks. Right after my early morning workouts (I always workout first thing in the morning), I was “Eating the Frog”, literally, and tackling my biggest priorities for the day. My mindset was more focused on achieving the goals and I had more mental clarity to do so. There was no “I was about to do that but got sucked into the Facebook rabbit hole while checking into a MasterMind group alert.”
- I became smarter. No, really, I did. Instead of scrolling, scrolling and scrolling while waiting in lines during errands, school pick-ups or even before bed, I picked up books such as “Girl, Wash Your Face”by Rachel Hollis or a deeper read, “AI Superpowers, China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order” by Kai Fu Lee. Reading books challenged and nourished my brain more than scrolling through food, workout and lifestyle posts for what my friends and some “so called friends” were doing. Or let’s be honest here, what most of these people want the world to think they are doing. If I wasn’t reading a book, I picked up on my husband’s healthy habit to scroll the WSJ and NYT apps which I do read, but certainly not enough of. So yes, valuable enriching brain food filled parts of the void of instagram feeds and selfies.
- I was calm. Anyone who knows me would never use that word to describe me. (I drink decaffeinated coffee for a reason.) I became more aware of my breathing, my surroundings and within my mind, I felt an incredible sense of focus. While it sounds cliché, the “noise” that distracts us (and fails to offer much value) had been turned down. I was breathing deeper and while I’m not a breathing expert, I do recognize that my day- to- day central nervous system revs high and my breathing is typically shallow and fast which can easily lead to anxiety. I’m guilty of that and many of us refer to it as “the good stress;” however, cutting down on the mental noise rewarded me with a sense of calm and focus that further enabled productivity.
- I was the happiest I’ve been all year. I am a fairly positive person and feel blessed to live a life where I enjoy my family, my work and my environment. But this sense of happy was a result of being more present at EVERYTHING I was doing. I was not scrolling the socials during outdoor walks (I opted for podcasts or even just enjoying nature), I was not pretending to listen to kids read while posting a photo of them reading, and I was not scrolling news Twitter feeds during phone calls. I was present. I was making the most out of each experience, truly embracing “carpe diem” and therefore, happy.
- I found greater success in work, with family and with friends. There are many sayings about creating white space and letting go of things to make room for new opportunities. Within my mental clarity and happiness, I identified where I needed to make room and unclutter to become less “busy” and ultimately more efficient and successful across the board. It was a result of focusing on what truly is important to me and that is different for everyone.
- The FOMO went away. The “Fear of Missing Out” that is linked to social media addiction went away. The need to check in and post just wasn’t there and I even received messages from friends asking if I was ok because they had not seen me post on social media. Eye opening or what?
Given all of this, I am not rushing out the door to buy the new $1500 Motorola Razr that could be making a comeback nor am I quitting social media. In fact, I am back to checking in and posting but my frequency is significantly down. For the curious, I don’t really scroll anymore. I open up to check in on work accounts, check in on close friends or influencers I love and check on messages. I am on social media about a total of 10 minutes per day across platforms because I do find some benefit and entertainment to it. But, if you are looking to cultivate new genuine relationships, be more productive or simply reorganize your priorities, I encourage you to minimize your screen time and scrolling.