A while back, I took a break from social media for seven days and to say it was impactful would be an understatement. Better sleep, improved concentration, and an increased feeling of wellbeing. But the main takeaway for me, was the fact that I was pleased with myself for taking a conscious decision to stop something I knew was affecting me in a negative way.
Much like a reformed smoker, I quickly became self-righteous and looked down my nose at ‘those' people who were constantly glued to their phones. The perverse thing was, I liked it. That's right, I secretly enjoyed feeling superior to the ‘addicts'. The people consumed by that little piece of electrical poison - aka the smartphone.
Within days, I had dwarfed into ‘that' annoying friend. Preaching the benefits of my social media detox in a condescending tone, that of a vegan. And no one appreciates a preachy vegan, do they? But, I felt good for the headspace it provided, the freedom of not being constantly submerged in other people irrelevant shit.
So I decided to up my game and increase my digital detox for a full 30 days. I wanted to see how it affected my performance both at work and in my personal life over a longer period of time.
It’s challenging to break the unconscious habit of reaching for your phone everytime you aren't engaged by thought or external distractions. It also proved somewhat challenging because I use my phone for work - emails, podcasts, WhatsApp, even down to listening to music whilst I’m working. I can only imagine it’s like trying to give up smoking whilst carrying around a pack of cigarettes in your pocket. The constant temptation would be enough for even strongest of willed people.
I deleted all of the social media apps from my phone. But, within a few days, I noticed I was unconsciously checking my emails, Apple news, and YouTube much more than I normally would have. I even found myself checking the weather app on a few occasions and I never check the bloody weather! I was only too aware that I was essentially swapping one bad habit for another.
I realised there are always going to be bumps along the road, much like life itself. So what would I normally do in situations like this? I would work out a plan of action and implement a strategy. I realised that in order to ensure my smartphone worked for me, rather than letting myself become a victim of it, I would need to implement some sort of structure as to when I used my phone. And that's exactly what I did.
30 blissful days without social media and reducing my screentime by 83%.
I became more aware of my surroundings, more conscious of other people, and experienced increased clarity. It's hard to explain, but I just felt better. The reality was I was consuming much less information and concentrating on one task at a time. Whereas in the past, I would quite often be listening to a podcast whilst scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. Overloading my brain with conflicting messages which did absolutely sweet FA for my concentration levels. Now that I had addressed the issue and implemented more structure and strategy in my approach to my digital detox, I found it was much easier to adhere to.
But I have a dirty little secret...
I had previously tried to cut down on my digital consumption numerous time before. I would go a few days and then find myself slipping back into old ways. This happened time and time again. I failed more times than I care to remember. I hated myself for it. Succumbing to the temptations of a 6inch piece of plastic. I felt weak and slightly ashamed, especially considering the industry I work in.
What is the definition of an addict? (my own unofficial version anyhow)
Doing something you know is going to negatively affect you in the long-term, yet continuing to do it regardless. You do it for the instant gratification, foregoing your long-term happiness. Surely that's the same as someone who starts a diet because they're overweight and unhappy, and yet within a few days, they are eating shit again. Or a drug addict who continues to use, choosing to ignore the devastating long-term effects on their health.
My point is this, all three examples follow the exact same pattern. Doing something you know is bad for you, yet continuing to do it regardless. It's a simple matter of not being in control of your actions. We all know what to do in order to achieve certain goals be that to lose weight, get a new job, cut down on drinking etc. Yet many people fail to implement the action required in order for them to achieve their desired outcome.
Because there was no structure in their approach and no strategy in place. They're destined for failure. I failed countless times when trying to cut down on my drinking, getting in shape and more recently my smartphone and social media consumption. One failure after another. Until I devised a step by step strategy that would provide me with the structure I needed to achieve my goal.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
The exact same thing goes for all goals.
Cut down on drinking
Pursuing a new job/business
Learning a new skill
Creating better relationships
The first step to achieving your goal and making impactful changes to your lifestyle is to incorporate effective daily habits and routines. We all fall off track at times, lose our way, or fuck up majorly in life. The reality, it doesn't really matter. The difference between those who go on to achieve great things in life and those who waste amazing opportunities is simply having a clear and defined strategy in place. Master that and suddenly life becomes much more exciting.
Start by downloading my FREE SAS guide and take the first step to achieving your goals and desired lifestyle.