6 months ago…
*The electronic imitation of a harp shouts incessantly. *
I reach for my phone and stab at the minuscule ‘stop’ in the lower third of the screen. Three taps haven’t silenced its screams, so I push the ‘home’ button and punch the ‘stop’ again.
I roll over and put my arm around my partner. Craving an extra 10 minutes sleep, I scrunch my eyes tight, trying to fight the thought that ‘the alarm will go off again in a minute’.
I tap ‘stop’ a split second after the melody begins, this time more accurately, so we’re not forced to endure the best sound of a bad bunch.
Rolling over to shield the light, I check my screen brightness is as low as it goes. The little red circle over the magical white F beckons. First, I scroll through my Facebook news feed tapping like on a couple of posts and making a mental note to ‘message Zara’ later. Then I check my notifications, business page and groups, of which I run three. I’m not quite awake enough to comment just yet, so I add ‘reply to Facebook comments’ to my mental to-do list.
Then I switch to Instagram where I quickly flash through my notifications. While there, I can’t help but take a sneak peek at my search feed. It’s all food and bicycles, so I tap out a few hearts.
I log on to Medium, my favourite social media network. I have a few new followers; it makes me smile. But I’m mostly there to see what’s new. I scroll through the home screen, opening every interesting article in a new tab. Deciding I’ve scrolled enough, I switch tabs and start reading the first of 10 new articles.
I follow it up with a quick check on Pinterest, pinning a few nice bathroom ideas for the dream house in my head.
Finally, I crack open the pandora’s box that is my email. I have three accounts – one for business, one for personal and one for all that crap you sign up for but don’t want to risk getting spammed on your ‘good account’.
Mum has sent me a pdf of a letter from home… great, I’ll have to deal with that today.
My work inbox is overflowing. Three client emails, a couple of replies from my subscriber list and a truckload of emails from the many lists to which I subscribe. I read a few, not completing any of the required tasks… I’ll deal with them later.
It’s now 45 minutes since my second alarm chimed. My stomach is grumbling, and the whisper of *coffee* has crossed my mind more than once. So, I reach for my dressing gown as my feet hit the floor.
After a caffeine hit, I’m ready to face my workday.
I sit down at my laptop and open my Gmail, then slowly sift through email after email, replying as necessary. I take a quick look at every blog post I’ve been sent – some I read entirely, others don’t keep my interest past the first paragraph. Some of the emails look too long, or I’m not quite sure how to reply, so I leave them there.
While waiting for a pdf to download – something I’ve received from one of the many lists I subscribe to – I work my way along the bookmarks bar, opening every social media outlet in a new tab.
For each account, I return to the notifications I read this morning and finally decide its time to deal with them. Opening a new browser tab for each notification, I slowly work my way through them. I can’t help but take a look through every feed I stumble across. I find a 20-minute video from a business owner I admire, so I take the time to watch.
Once I’ve finally finished with social media, I glance at my to-do list. I’d committed to writing today. But I look at the clock and realise it’s 1 pm. I haven’t written a single word, and worse, I’m still wearing my pyjamas and dressing gown. Plus, all that time spent in my email inbox, and I didn’t even clear it to empty.
Oh well… I guess I won’t be training today. I have too much work to do.
Fast forward to today…
The harp-like melody still plays at 7.30am, and I’m not ashamed to admit, I still search for the extra 10 minutes sleep. Right on cue, my second alarm sounds and I slowly roll out of bed. I pick up the pile of clothes I laid out last night and take them to the bathroom where I get dressed.
If my partner is still in bed, I take my glasses and phone with me, so I don’t disturb her again. However, if she’s already gone to work, I return to the bedroom and make the bed.
I meander down the stairs, willing myself awake. I fill and switch on the kettle, excited for my morning coffee. The routine has changed now. It’s no longer a splash and dash scoop of instant. No, I take the time to carefully brew my morning ‘pick-me-up’ in a gorgeously crafted Chemex. I use freshly roasted and ground beans from Pact Coffee; a new batch delivered to my door every ten days. My morning coffee truly motivates me to get out of bed each day.
With coffee in hand, I make my way to my laptop. It’s 8 am. I open my blog ideas folder and choose an article. Then, I write. Sometimes for 20 minutes, sometimes for two hours. But I always write until I’ve written at least 500 words or a complete blog post.
Throughout this time, my phone sits in the kitchen on silent. Not that it matters if I have it beside me; I deleted social media from my phone two months ago, and I logged out of my email after I checked it yesterday afternoon. The only possible distraction is phone calls or messages. I generally ignore the former entirely and the latter until I’ve completed my daily writing goal.
From there, I fill my day with the tasks on my to-do list. I try to set no more than three, so I’m likely to complete them. I also exercise – either a strength training session at home or the gym, or a short cycle. On my rest days, I use this time to read. I’m a writer after all, so I must take the time to appreciate the work of others.
Once I’ve done all of those things, I finally allow myself a few minutes to check social media. I work through the notifications, replying as necessary and sometimes, I’ll create my own post. Generally, for most networks, I’ve come and gone in under 10 minutes. Email is the same. I now try to deal with everything in my inbox in this allotted ‘communication’ period. It’s refreshing to tick the X in the corner when I’m done, knowing my inbox is empty.
From here on in…
Logging off social media has improved my life significantly. Almost every day I make it through my work to-do list, and even when I don’t, I know I moved closer to completing each task.
I’m training consistently because I no longer waste time scrolling through news feeds filled with boring, useless information.
I’m no longer putting out fires all day every day, finding myself distracted and having completed none of my to-do list at 4 pm. Instead, I save the fires until later in the afternoon, because putting out fires doesn’t move you forward. Instead, it keeps you stuck in a perpetual communication loop.
My partner no longer complains that I’m glued to my phone all evening.
I’ve found time to read.
On deleting social media…
Sometimes I find myself opening my phone at a time when I used to use social media as a crutch. Now there are no apps to open or games to play, I often lock my phone and put it down. That or, I open a note and start writing. Because if there’s a benefit of logging off social media that outweighs all the others, it’s that I now have time to think.
I now have time for everything that is important in my life – relationships, exercise, nutrition, writing, reading and sleep.
As for social media: You can keep your connectedness; I’ll have my life back, thanks!
Originally published at www.tarafitness.com.au