Beginning my journey to use social media positively and productively

Welcome! As with all new blogs the first entry is somewhat daunting and stressful to begin but here we are. This blog has been in the works for a few months now but I wanted to really have a vision before making it public so I could effectively share my story with you all.

In a nutshell, this blog will be about my personal journey to cut the negative impacts of social media from my life and learn to not only be less addicted to social media but to use it in a positive and productive manner as well. This journey started just over two months ago and has been interesting to say the very least.

A brief outline of this blog post and a few future blog posts to come so you know what to expect:

  1. Beginning my journey to use social media more positively and productively, the beginning of my social media detox experiment.
  2. Personal Kanban: How using a personal kanban changed my life and productivity, and how it can change yours.
  3. RescueTime: A look at productivity pre- and post-social media detox.
  4. Quantified Self (QS): A look into my discovery of QS and my first year of using QS to positively influence my habits.
  5. Positivity: Acknowledging the negative effects of social media and actively avoiding them.

On August 21st of this year I decided to temporarily quit social media and see how it changed my productivity and overall mood. Social media was holding me back not only mentally by constantly stirring up negative emotions (more on that another time) but also productively. We all have experienced those moments where you sit down to “quickly” check an email or Facebook and suddenly hours have passed. I was finding that I would come home from work with ideas pouring out of my head, ready to be productive and creative, only to sit down to check Facebook for “just a minute” and end up scrolling endlessly until I no longer had the energy to do whatever it was I had planning. In addition to this bad behavior, I had also developed the rude and all too common habit of constantly being on my phone, whether I was alone or with company. At family dinner my mother made a rule that there were no cell phones allowed at the table and I noticed that I was sneaking glances under the table like a child. It was during one of those moments when I realized enough was enough and I had to do something pro-active about my over-use and addiction to social media and technology.

I came up with a game plan and used an Evernote notebook to list ways I could successfully detox from social media and the phone addiction I had developed. The list was as follows:

  1. Keep phone on Airplane mode as often as possible. Take phone off airplane mode one time per hour on the hour only, work up to every 2-3 hours or more if possible. Eventually turn phone back on regular mode and continue to only check once every few hours. Alternatively, use Do Not Disturb mode so emergency phone calls will be able to get through.
  2. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts offline rather than using Spotify (I am admittedly very obsessed with Spotify and think it is the best thing ever, however using Spotify required being connected to a WiFi or cellular network, which led to the temptation to text and made it impossible to keep my phone on airplane mode). Alternatively, plan playlists in advance and save them as offline Spotify playlists.
  3. Turn off all pop-up notifications and bubble notifications (IE my phone telling me that I had X amount of texts waiting to be read, etc) for all apps.
  4. Turn text notification sounds completely off (except for VIPs like my parents and boss).

In addition to these rules, I decided to temporarily deactivate my Facebook account. I actually routinely do this once or twice a year to detox and find it really does help me realize how much time I put into social media and curbs my habit for a little while even once I reactivate. I decided it would be much easier to detox without KNOWING there were all kinds of notifications waiting for me, as silly as that may seem.

I thought that there would be an adjustment period to these changes but found that without the notification bubbles and constant alerts about incoming texts, “likes,” and comments it was much easier than expected. I admittedly didn’t keep up with keeping my phone on airplane or do not disturb mode as much as I intended (barely at all, really), but was surprised to learn that it wasn’t even necessary without the alerts. Without the little red bubble letting me know I had X amount of texts just waiting for me to read it was easier to check to see if I had messages on my own time and not compulsively as they were received.

It’s amazing how much more I seemed to get done without being constantly on my phone or endlessly scrolling social media sites. My first goal was to clean up the “studio” space in my house (aka the nine foot desk in my bedroom) to make it more easily accessible to create art. Once this was accomplished I wanted to make a list of creative projects I wanted to finish and then begin putting as much time and effort as I could into finishing them. I employed the use of a personal kanban (I will focus the next blog entry on this subject) to visualize my goals and tasks and then set forth to schedule times to work on them, and even better… I ACTUALLY DID IT rather than wasting time! The results were also seen very clearly in my work habits. Without the “few minutes” (aka thirty or more accidental minutes) here and there checking facebook, twitter, etc. I found myself completing tasks more quickly and efficiently than I had in years.

With the first leg of my experiment successful, I decided to begin using RescueTime to more effectively track my productivity both in the workplace and at home. I will speak about that in the next post or two.

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About tamarahala

Tamara is currently living in Pennsylvania working as a Scheduling Coordinator/Payroll Supervisor with Live Nation Entertainment. Looking for fun short-term opportunities during the off season from November to March.

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