Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Be More Productive and Fulfilled by Reducing Social Media Use


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I got a lot done one night last week or the week before. Minimizing my time on social media, mostly Facebook and Twitter, likely had a lot to do with it. I cut down after noticing a correlating relationship forming between my exploitation of social features on my phone and frustration about not getting as much creative/productive things done as I would like.

When people talk about changing their relationship with social media, they often talk about taking a break or vacation from it or just dropping it completely. Let's be frank here: they're talking about Facebook. People have strong reactions to Facebook. I don't know why.

I don't intend to go cold turkey. I want to remain involved, just in a more limited capacity. Social media, on its own, doesn't cause me to have a direct emotional reaction. I like to think this decision comes as a rational response to feelings triggered by many responsibilities and dreams not getting attention.

A few months ago I had gotten a bunch of writing done. I wrote semi-regularly here. I had done a bunch of brainstorming for my project, then I rewrote a couple sections. I had a hard time progressing forward but had a bunch of ideas/goals for some earlier scenes. Other things got done, too, including chores around the house and financial shenanigans.

Even more frustrating: the social media stuff hadn't helped me progress in the short term, professionally or personally. Maybe I've planted some seeds and gotten some attention. Without substantial material to present someday, though, this attention doesn't mean a thing.

I found myself appreciating tropy criticisms about society just cycling weekdays, stories involving time loops of characters experiencing the same day over and over again and, heck, even the Nine Inch Nails song, "Every Day is Exactly the Same".

I felt that weekends sucked, too. Both weekdays and weekends, I never felt like I had the time to finish what I had set out to do. Cutting down social media probably doesn't free up all the time I need, but it helps.

Social media and chores may put me into addiction territory a little. Griping about people wanting to hang out doesn't sound healthy. People want to be around me, but I don't want to be around them. They get in the way of me getting things done. Alone, I can hopefully do things I REALLY want to do. But I never get the cyclical daily things done.

I like the idea of people. I don't always appreciate people.

I force myself to hang out with people. Rationally, I know it's the healthy thing to do. Makes for a great reason, right? We should all hang out for health reasons, not for fun and enjoyment.

I had reached the point of living in the moment. It didn't give me serenity and peace of mind, though. It stressed me out. It anesthesized me. It turned off my brain rather than help me reach mindfulness and awareness. It had silenced my monkey brain, not through calming it, but by exhausting and deadening it.

All the same, these attempts had a goal to free up time for actual productive activities. I don't enjoy cleaning for the sake of cleaning, packing lunch for the sake of packing lunch or packing clothes for the sake of packing clothes.

Maybe working with the numbers of finance takes me into the moment of letting go. It gets repetitive, though, and still acts more as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. This state becomes especially true when I have a system together that has more to do with numbers than the reality those numbers represent.

Instead of continuing on the daily rotation and rather than go cold turkey, I've cut back on social media. I try to keep my social media to morning and evening dental rituals and during lunch time.

Most of my activity involves catching up on groups and people that I've set up to receive push notifications on my phone: Close friends on Facebook, starred people on Twitter and some groups on Facebook.

One of the more interesting things: Intense tunnel-vision interactions don't happen as much. The many hours between online social time keeps me from falling in hard. I find myself able to filter my thoughts rather than obsessing over the next clever retort to some acquaintence or stranger.

As intensity dies down, though, I find myself having more genuine interactions with more immediate circles. I can catch myself from spouting off intense emotion.

I learned indirectly through a friend's kid that Google Chrome has a silly game embedded in it. When the dinosaur pops up because a Web page doesn't work, you can push space bar to start a game of hurdle the cactuses as a T-Rex.

When I showed it to Michi, I might have gotten her a little addicted to it. Oops!

Interesting opportunities also pop out more to me, too. Rushing through feeds, thoughts and comments, I'd feel too emotionally fatigued to take advantage of them. Someone invited bloggers to check out a play they're putting on for review. I plan to make the time to see it then write about it here. I haven't gone to a play in a long time!

If you're curious, it's Queen Amarantha being put on by Otherworld Theater.

Carving time away from social media challenges me, though. I try to use my Smartphone Wi-Fi at home for just podcasts and music. When I can, though, I try keeping the Wi-Fi off while working on the computer. I'll play music on the stereo or computer. Spotify has more power on the computer, anyway.

But the social media calls to me through the Smartphone. When I have a spare second, transitioning between tasks or even doing a boring chore that fits into the neverending cycle, I want to turn on the data to look at Facebook or Twitter. I want to get down and dirty with people, joking about stupid stuff, post articles, share articles, having witty arguments, argue politics then get into an all out writing brawl every once in awhile. I want to feel that surge of dopamine and endorphins as I tear and lash into social media.

I've done it, too. The weekend, without the structure of schedule, proves especially hard. Social media constantly calls, By habit, the phone comes out of my pocket. As I'm about to touch the Wi-Fi button, I stop myself. I have better things to do. And sometimes, I still turn it on and engage.

When I stay away, though, I get quite a bit done. I can swim in my thoughts. I can make progress. I can spend quality time with Michi. I can feel myself experience moments, not in a rush of endorphin flow. Rather, it has more of a relaxing bubbling up of thoughts and feelings.

I engage with parts of me I've forgotten. I buried them. I've had to make more apparent progress or not even progress, but productive procrastination.

I will try sticking with it. My quality of life has improved. I've had some innovations here and there. I've felt more serenity and enjoyment than I've felt in awhile. I've even touched upon those moments from the past where I've grappled with emotional road blocks and growth challenges, defeating for the spoils of blossoming into life.

I plan to keep minimizing my social media activities to a minimum during the day. I still want to engage with it. I plan to still get something out of it. I just plan not to over indulge, not to lose myself in it. I guess it can fall into that old saying, something about the person who talks a lot doesn't say much. The person who speaks little, however, can say a lot.

Don't write me off as a curmudgeonly Luddite. You'll see me around, probably even moreso here on the blog. For all I know, you might even see me more standing out rather than all buried in the masses of social media. I hope to contribute to more big things getting out, too.

Yeah, you'll see me around.

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