Thursday, June 2, 2016

Disconnected - Month 1 Recap

It has been over a month since I disconnected. How did it go? Well for the first bit, it was quite easy. I would go to open up Instagram and I had to sign in. That small extra step was enough to remind me to not look. I didn't miss it one bit. I did however fill my extra time with other distractions such as blogs, newspaper articles and TV. Oh how I have realized that TV is my nemesis... (more on that later) 

I was still posting pictures to Insta when I feel like it, and I would do some limited scrolling, but I was much more aware of the time that I spent looking at other people's lives. 

Then I went away for 5 days with no cell coverage. And that was a whole new experience. I found myself worrying about work, my mind wandering through hypothetical scenarios, each time increasing in intensity. The mere fact that I could not connect increased my anxiety. Most of it was work related, but it definitely spilled over to my personal connections.

Via Tech Vibes
Since then I've maintained a reasonable connectivity. When I'm offline most of the day I carve out a few set time periods to catch up on the happenings. Recently (in the last 48 hours) I've noticed some mindless scrolling starting to enter my life, but I am recognizing this and can make adjustments. (It seems that I scroll more when I am tired as a procrastination tool... Which doesn't make a lot of sense!)

But there have been a few changes I've noticed over the past month: 
  1. Overall: Limiting social media has really freed up some time and brain capacity and has me focusing on myself and my life instead of avoiding my life by looking at other people's lives
  2. The house: I have been more obsessed with keeping my house clean. While I wouldn't say my house is now spotless, I have been noticing the mess - which is the first step right? I've also been taking action on some of the lease loved items on my to do lists (you know - the ones that just keep on getting transferred to new to do lists?)
  3. Mentally: I feel like I've freed up a lot of mental processing space. Post scroll I used to feel drained of energy and mentally exhausted. Now my breaks from work consist of reading an article, getting something on my to do list done or even going for a walk.  These are contributing to a feeling of mental clarity and focus, which I hope is helping my efficiency.  
  4. Decision Making: I struggle with making decisions; I am a maximizer, so I am constantly in search of the 'best' option. And social media allows you to see what other people have done when presented with similar decision points. The options are endless really, and can send me into a spiraling alternatives search. But being removed from the options, and with increased clarity and focus (see point 4) I've been able to make some key decisions that I've been putting off for months and months! It feels empowering; I am motivated to make more decisions, which is a wonderful positive feedback loop!
  5. My life: This exercise has really freed up some time and brain capacity (and self-pity to be honest) to allow me to focus on what really matters. When on the 5 days without cell service - I did worry about life back at the office, but I had several free hours a day to read/think. I had not taken a step back from my life and thought about it in a more holistic way in a while. Spending more than a few fleeting moments reviewing things allowed me to work through some thoughts and concepts that were previously only partly formed. 
  6. Missing Events: I've definitely missed friends and family's birthdays and have felt bad about it. I've also missed events in my neighbourhood since I am no longer reminded on Saturday morning about a specific event around town. This has been both a blessing and a curse. I like not being distracted from what I am doing - but I also enjoy those random events. 
  7. Substitute Distractions: I'd like to say that with my new found time, I've spent it doing productive value driven activities like additional activities, more reading, getting to do lists done, etc. but I have found that I have been substituting other distractions in its place. Namely TV (more on that later). I realize that I need downtime every day, but I just haven't figured out what non-social media, non-TV downtime is...
  8. Prioritized Scroll: Wow, one really figures out what is important when faced with only 15 minutes to look through several days of social media. I do the rapid scroll looking for names of friends and family to look at their pictures. Seeing my cousin's kids in Instagram is way better than someone's stylized and perfectly quoted morning coffee. That being said - I haven't deleted those coffee accounts from my Instagram because they are a great resource when I'm trying to put together a Saturday brunch, but seeing them as a resource and not a required daily image is refreshing!
  9. Positivity: I have some sort of jump in my step. Maybe because I feel like I have a little secret versus all the people walking around staring at their phones, or maybe it’s because I feel like I can get more done, (I do get more done!) but I'm not sure. But I do feel generally more positive about life! (Yay!)  
Speaking of which - I tried to find an image of unplugging in the forest (because I associate nature with unplugging) and this came up - wooden megaphones in the forest. How fun would it be to come across these, especially if there was a string quartet in one of them!

This is the greatest idea! Estonia is on to something!

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