I'm two weeks into my Digital Detox and I feel like I'm finally settling into my new, digitally reduced reality. I know I said I'd be checking in here weekly with an accountability report, but with Mom visiting for a week (we were so busy!!!), I just didn't get the chance to report on week one - so you get a double dose of of my Digital Detox Report today!
My Digital Detox is an attempt to reduce the constant distractions I face from the digital world. Social media, and specifically FB (plus a healthy dose of FOMO) leaves me so distracted that I can barely get anything done. Of course, as a blogger, I'm not able to unplug completely, but for the entire month of June my plan has been to eliminate all social media scrolling, distracting TV, and to put down my phone in an attempt to regain some focus, reduce my anxiety, and be more productive.
I'm not going to lie, those first couple of days of unplugging myself were tough. I kept finding myself reaching for my phone and having to physically stop myself - that phone reach had become an automatic response any time there was even the slightest pause between activities (such a disturbing reality), but after about the first three or four days, I completely eliminated my phone reach reflex (turning off app notifications helped greatly). I visited my Mom at the beginning of the month, and putting my phone down at her house was actually more difficult than at my own house - I usually use the opportunity of having Jack occupied with my Mom to just zone out and scroll, and as difficult as putting down my phone was, it was much nicer to watch them play and actually be present.
I got some blogging done at her house as well, and I was really amazed at how much time I spend on the computer just to write a post, design a graphic, and then share it on social media and blogger share groups - even without letting myself get sidetracked by something else on the Internet. I felt more frustrated by the blogger share groups than anything - I didn't realize how much time reciprocating actually ate up and I felt really anxious and like I was cheating on the detox by spending so much time on social media for the express purpose of share for share/like for like. I certainly wasn't scrolling and I really wasn't getting distracted on social media, but still felt like I wasn't actually detoxing. Dennis and Mom both called me out on how much time I was spending on the computer and I wasn't really able to convey that what I was doing was work that involved social media and that I wasn't just getting distracted by social media. It's such a delicate balance.
Jack and I went to visit my Mom at the bookstore where she works and he fell asleep in the car on the way there. Normally I would just whip out my phone and scroll mindlessly through FB in the parking lot while he naps, but no scrolling allowed!! So I had Mom bring me out a book and sat in the car reading. It was so much better than FB!!! I hadn't had the chance to read (one of my absolute favorite past times) in over a year because I've been "too busy." I read an entire book in less than 24 hours in this first week.
Mom keeps the TV on at her house as background noise, so I wasn't as successful at eliminating TV like I hoped. When the TV is on at Mom's it really is primarily background noise, so I wasn't really glued to the TV or anything. But when she visited us, I had our TV on more than I planned - even with all the fun stuff we did, we still ended up with the TV on at home most days. I don't feel too bad about it, though. We were so exhausted at the end of the day, there's not much else we could've done anyway.
Things got easier and more difficult all at the same time with week two. In trying to not look like I was constantly on the computer, managing my blogging and social sharing around Dennis and Mom got a lot more difficult. We were so busy doing things that getting up super early to do blog work just wasn't happening and having time for share groups was impossible. I was frustrated with myself for having so many things I wanted to write about and no time to do it. I took a step back and made the decision to not even think about trying to blog for the rest of Mom's visit, and if I did blog, the social share groups would just have to wait. Simply making that decision to sideline that responsibility made me feel worlds better. I'm slowly learning that I can't do it all and do it all at the same time and that sidelining some things is necessary to reduce stress and anxiety (duh!).
Not reaching for my phone on week two was a breeze. I just didn't feel the need to look at my phone for much of anything - except taking pictures (I took so many pictures on Mom's visit) since I don't have a regular camera. I didn't post anything on Instagram and I feel like that was something I did miss. I really love IG, but felt like if I opened the app I would've been scolded by Mom and Dennis. I know this was really just me projecting my anxiety and fear of falling off the detox wagon on their imaginary reactions, but it still kept me from posting - I guess as long as I didn't scroll then posting would've been okay, but I just couldn't seem to reconcile the difference.
One strange thing I've noticed is that I want to use Twitter again. I was an early adopter of the platform (waaaaaaaayyyyyy before I ever started blogging - back when @aplusk and @cnn were battling it out to see who got to a million followers first) and I miss the simplicity of the platform back then. I can't remember the last time I really posted a tweet that wasn't in self promotion of a blog post or a retweet of someone else's promotion of a blog post. Anyway, for some reason, I really want to start tweeting real tweets again and have been coming up with funny little 140 character things in my head all week. I know I wouldn't be tempted to even scroll on Twitter - it seems like everything is advertisements, so I suppose like IG, posting isn't the same as scrolling? Again, I didn't post any of those tweets for fear of being scolded.
While I haven't missed FB at all, I have found myself checking notifications if I log on for a blogger share group or to message someone. Most of my notifications come from the share groups, but I'm not checking for those - I'm checking for any posts I'm tagged in or if a friend has shared something to my wall or if a friend I follow has posted something. I haven't been tempted to scroll, but I still feel like checking those notifications are cheating a little. I've probably done this once or twice a day for the past few days and know it's a slippery slope. I don't think it's the nagging feeling of FOMO, but I'm not sure what it actually is. I think FB is a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends and family and the people I follow are the ones I'm closest to. I'm not much of a phone person and don't communicate that way and my friends are so geographically spread out that we never see each other in person, so I'm guessing that checking my notifications is my way to still feel connected to my friends. Maybe this next week I'll make it a point to see one of my local friends live and in person - I think that'll help stop my temptation to check notifications.
The only app notification I kept on on my phone is AP Mobile. I don't watch the news or read the newspaper (but I do listen to NPR all the time), so FB and my AP app are the number one ways I get my news, followed by NPR. I have done some reading on my phone about that Orlando shooting, but have been very careful to not get sucked into the rabbit hole. I don't feel like reading the news on my phone is cheating, though.
This upcoming week, I hope to come up with a better time schedule for blogging and reciprocal share groups. Both things take up a lot of time, but are necessary for the success of my blog. I need to figure out how to do them both more efficiently (any tips are welcome). I also need to start figuring out how to have more of an organic reach with this blog. I love the share groups and participating has really helped boost my numbers and more importantly discover some new blogs that I really enjoy, but that alone isn't going to bring home the bacon.
With Mom's visit over, I also need to figure out a better housekeeping schedule. The house is a wreck, so I definitely need to find time to put away all the fun souvenirs and trinkets we acquired during her visit and to generally reassemble the house.
Now that I feel like I have my digital habit somewhat in check, I need to take this opportunity to figure out how best to use my time. Time management is not my strong suit, but eliminating needless distractions is helping.
So far, this digital detox is going really well. My head feels clearer, my anxiety levels are down, and I'm forcing myself to be more focused on each specific task at hand. It's tough not getting distracted with ADD, but not letting myself have any digital media is helping greatly. It's going to be interesting to see how this next week goes with my Mom not here and me being back at my regularly scheduled programming. Wish me luck!!!