Four days off social media

Monday I started my 100-day retreat from social media and it’s been wonderful for my productivity and longer-form writing.

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Here is what I’ve done to keep myself from accidentally checking my social:

  1. I took Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram and put them on the last page of my iPhone apps, inside a folder — out of sight, out of mind.
  2. I turned off desktop notifications and logged myself out of Facebook and Twitter.
  3. I’ve replaced my social apps and autoloading pages with Wunderlist and Google Docs / Evernote (I can’t pick between the two).
  4. I started taking my journal with me to meetings and taking many more notes — and now when I get back to my desk I re-read my notes and think about what I wrote.
  5. We have been posting to social media things that my team needs to share with our audience, like clips from This Week in Startups, my blog posts and updates from Inside.com (which is having a little resurgency since we moved 100% to email).

Last night at poker I found myself wanting to check my phone over and over and I did open Twitter to do a search about a $600,000 bet by some degenerate poker players. They are basically betting that one of them can ride a bike from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. It sparked a $10,000 free-roll bet with another poker player that she couldn’t do it in 72 hours (she did).

I couldn’t actually find that information anywhere else, so I spent < five minutes on Twitter.

If you look at twitter.com/jason, it’s now essentially an RSS feed for this blog.

But What about News?

It’s my job to be informed, so I’ve focused my energy on reading four emails every day: two editions of LAUNCH Ticker and two editions of Inside.com Daily Brief. These take about three minutes each to read, with LAUNCH Ticker having 25-35 updates per email (too many, I told the team to pull it back to 15-20 per email), and Inside.com’s Daily Brief email having 15-20 updates (but about 2-3 links per story capsul). If I have time, I like to click on all the links in a story from Inside as they are selected to be either informative or entertaining (which I find fun).

It’s not the time, it’s the sleep and cognitive firepower you have gotten back!

Looking at my time, it feels like I’m getting back 20-40 minutes at the start and the end of my days, and about one hour during the day. So, it feels like two hours have actually been opened up. Those two hours were well spent previously in my life when I was building my brand, but at this point I really feel like they can deployed more effectively — like writing medium- and long-form content (500-2,000-word pieces).

What has become pronounced this week is my sleep. It turns out engaging in Twitter debates and scrolling through Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram kind of amps you up. So, I’ve moved to listening to an Audible audiobook with a 30-minute sleep timer. I’m getting some really great “reading in,” while having my eyes closed and not having to punch, jab, high-five, hug and wrestle with ideas and people on social networks.

Facebook is just so good at figuring out the 17 most emotionally charged things in your world that opening the newsfeed is a way to put your nervous system on high alert. It’s a nonstop emotional roller coaster that starts with the biggest drops: someone lost their mother last week, another person is recovering from cancer, others have had huge breakups that are taking years to heal.

And don’t get me started on Twitter, where people want to be outraged at everything with a full 140 characters to display it — it’s frenetic and chaotic beyond belief. Oh yeah, Twitter is getting better at being Facebook and serving up the emotionally charged stuff first!

I’m obviously a highly engaged person. I was an 86% extrovert on my last personality test, and I draw massive energy from doing my podcast, getting emails and playing cards with my friends all night. However, all this emotional manipulation by the social networks drains your batteries if you’re an introvert, or runs your engine at high RPM if you’re an extrovert.

The result is the same: you lose your real life for this virtual, constructed one.

I’m giving up interacting with folks on social, spreading my opinion nonstop and I’m probably not going to add “followers” and “likes” as much as I did before the “100 days off social media challenge” I’ve started — but boy do I feel great on day five.

I highly recommend you try this and document it in blog posts every five or 10 days. It’s magical.

best @jason