Last week, I embarked on my month long challenge from some of the social media networks I frequent a lot, too much in fact. Yesterday was the end to my first week of the challenge.
Here’s an overview of my routine before I took the challenge.
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is reach for my phone, off my alarm, and scroll for updated feeds on my phone. During my commute to work, I would be checking several social apps updates, and usually find the same news.
Over meals, I would be at times be posting pictures of new dishes or restaurants. I would constantly be conscious of checking in, trying to learn ways to capture selfies, sieving out better photos to upload and thinking up witty posts. At home, I would be multitasking and sub-consciously scrolling and re-scrolling feeds even when there are no updates. At the same time, I was also subscribed to email newsletters from same sites.
Recently, I found myself being hooked on to constantly checking for feeds and notifications. It was eating up a lot of my time and energy. Besides, I was allocating a portion of my attention to mindless scrolling, wishing for things that didn’t matter to me and wasting time unnecessarily.
The Start of My Challenge
A day before my challenge, I posted a note on my personal page that I was taking a month break. I then proceeded to uninstall the apps on my phone. On the first day of my challenge, I had to consciously remind myself to stop reaching out for my phone or stop wondering if anyone has liked my last post.
On the second day, I was still slightly affected by the lack of connection with my friends (acquaintances) virtually. I was tempted to steal a peek from the shoulders of others, but I managed to pull myself away. I began to unsubscribe from emails that I’d always delete without reading on automatic mode.
The third day, I was able to focus with full attention on my work without reaching out for my phone. Lesser emails were coming in and I took lesser time as well. I gathered that the more important news to keep updated would be from the news platform so I subscribed to notifications from news station.
On the fourth day, I started paying attention to my surrounding and noticed that most were looking into their phones either on social feed or watching videos. At meal times, I felt a tad conscious of not taking photo or reading on phone while eating.
On the fifth day, I began reading more news from news notification, unsubscribed from more newsletters that I had signed up earlier and had more quality emails coming to me like LifeHack and Highbrow. I completed my work lists that I had been putting off for a while without being interrupted.
On the sixth day, I feel more productive and less consumed by the addiction to my phone. I slept earlier.
Today, I am not as tempted to log in to the social media sites nor hooked on to my phone as the week before.
Here’s what I realized…
While it was hard to disconnect myself from the more than ever connected world, I began to slowly realize and understand certain aspects of me that I’ve never paid attention to.
It was hard to turn off, but when we do, our senses open up more. I began to enjoy my meals without having to religiously take photos. I visited places without bothering with connection to check in or take selfies. I immerse myself in the experience and the company I am with. I didn’t even have to think of what to post, re-write my thoughts or edit my grammar, let alone thinking if someone has liked my photos or posts. I began to enjoy the scenery and watch in awe how the city has changed when I was busy looking down.
Clear the mindless clutters. There’s something about them that hooks us on. Be it watching videos after videos, or reading posts of others, it seems like a never-ending process. By the time we realize it, we’ve probably spent a few hours just doing the finger exercise and become too tired to do anything else. Plus, most of the stuffs we see, though entertaining, are not as important as we think. A week into the challenge, I don’t feel I’m missing out much at all.
More time for productive work. I was able to do more other than being on the apps all the time. I spent time re-organizing my tasks and schedules. I cleaned up my inbox. I wrote more articles. I completed more work in office and to-do lists at home. I am clearing myself of my mind clutter at the same time.
Switching off is necessary to re-connect with ourselves. Being connect all the time keeps us engaged all the time, we would always be switched on mentally, one way or another as there would always be a constant reminder ringing in our heads to check these apps and read those notifications. I made time to cook my own meals, read books and chew with mindfulness during my meals. I’m sleeping earlier and reading less in the dark which is great for my eyes. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is to stretch and look outside the window, smiling to be greeted by dawn.
In a matter of days, my lifestyle has changed just by removing one habit that I have unhealthily built up and incorporated into my lifestyle without me realizing it. Instead of feeling the constant need to check my phone or reaching out and automatically opening apps to check for repeating feeds, I started exploring other channels and find myself enjoying more useful and quality articles and sites that will help me grow.
Disconnecting has brought me closer to reality, I re-learned how to look up when walking, to spend time being connected with those I care and improved my sleep quality.
We are so connected virtually yet we’re disconnected from those we actually care about in reality.
While being great communication tools, we get engulfed in the emotional and psychological ties when we get captivated by them. At the end of the day, would the likes and loves we collect from our selfies, photos and photos have meant anything? Would we miss the pages we follow fervently if they’re gone one day?
I am on my second week of challenge and I find myself holding on less and less to online connections. I began to pay more attention to real connections (real conversations over meals, no risking my life on the phone when walking, making time to prioritize real work over notifications) and I am enjoying every moment of it.
If you are up for the challenge, try it for a week and see what resistances you will feel (even now thinking about not being able to check your feeds and notifications), the effects during the challenge and what happens when you have been disconnected for a week.
What would you have missed?
Or would you be missed at all?
I’d think not, but even if you would be missed at all, the real connections would know where and how to reach you.
Featured photo credit: Pablo via pablo.buffer.com