2021: 21 Day Challenges Log

 

BEGIN HERE: How & why I am doing these challenges

 

Challenge #1: 21 Days Without Social Media

Mission:

  • 21 days without visiting Facebook or Instagram
  • Messenger use is allowable

Begins:

1 Feb 2021

Sun 31 Jan (Challenge Eve):

I am trying to set myself up for success. Here’s how I’ve prepped:

  • Had already deleted Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone & iPad
  • Installed BlockSite Google Chrome extension on my laptop and blocked Facebook & Instagram
  • Followed these instructions to block access to Facebook & Instagram on my phone
  • Told my Facebook mates to either DM me or send me a snail mail so we could be penpals
  • Told the world publicly to set off my Obliger tendencies so now I have to stick to the challenge. Ha!

Emotionally, I’m feeling a little bit excited and quite a lot anxious. My social media use has been a numbing mechanism for me for so long. I use it when I’m bored or want some headspace from the kids. It feels weird to be intentionally creating an empty space.

I wonder what will bloom forth from it once it is here.

Monday 1 Feb (and so we begin)…

My first day social media free! And it was… surprisingly easy. And good.

I’m glad I set myself up for success yesterday – at one point, I absentmindedly pulled out my phone and typed “facebook” in my browser, and was blocked. And it shocked me that I’d even gone to look it up without even thinking about it. It’s like sleepwalking while awake!

I also noticed my brain was a little calmer throughout the day. For instance: I was sitting outside on the verandah, and I wasn’t itching for my phone, because there wasn’t anything particularly exciting that could be happening on there. Instead I was just… there. Journalling. Looking at the birds. Noticing the air.

How marvellous.

Remember a few years ago when I decided to take a few weeks off social media to recover from burnout… and it felt so good I continued the hiatus and didn’t return for six months? I don’t know why I was so worried about leaving social media… I’ve already done it before! And had a bloody great time. Re-reading those posts – my heart hurts for what I was going through back then. I was so profoundly jaded and hurt by so many things – being a public figure and dealing with multiple fires behind the scenes with staffing. I’m glad that I’ve healed and don’t feel the way I did back then. I’m glad creating feels sweeter and kinder again. I’m glad my business feels like a wonderful fit for me again.

Last night I sped-read through 10 Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier. It was kind of a crap read, probably would have been better just as an article instead. Still, useful chunks of info to consume and edify my resolve. Then I started reading The 52 Week Project: How I Fixed My Life By Trying A New Thing Every Week For A Year by Lauren Keenan. One of her projects is (of course) giving up social media. This kind of book is more up my alley – something that is more womxn-centric and is a memoir-ish story instead of a straight-up how-to.

Anyways, I’m working on a trickier project at the moment that I’m hoping to release in the next day or so. I’m glad I don’t have the temptation of social media to distract me from doing the important work.

Tuesday 2 Feb 2021 (Day 2)

I’ve had a busy day today – podcast interviews, launching a new program, went for a bushwalk & recorded a podcast episode, took the kids to a birthday party, grabbed takeaway Thai on the way home and marvelled at the vast swarm of bats that stretch for kilometres above the river at sunset.

So I get to the end of the day with barely a moment in sight to miss social media.

Still, I was surprised that I unconsciously opened up Facebook THREE times today, and got a little shock each time as my phone and laptop blocked me. It really is like sleep walking: how did I even end up here? How is this process so automated in me? I wasn’t even thinking!

I’ll be excited for the day when I don’t sleepwalk into social media again.

 

 

Saturday 6 Feb 2021 (Day 6)

Looking back at the last week, I think it can be summed up in two easy dot points:

  • Surprisingly easy to do as long as you have automatic blocks on your computer & phone to stop you sleepwalking into the Infinite Scroll
  • Feeling so much clearer in my head & more powerful.

On a business front: I just finished up an early bird discount on my new course & it has earned more $$$ than any other early bird discount I’ve done. Without any use of social media (which I did for all previous course launches).

I had a look at traffic sources for the last year, and only 20% came from social media. Which is crazy considering how social media takes up MUCH MORE than 20% of my brain power + time. What could I do instead of endlessly creating more content for less traction on social media? What could I create outside of that environment?

I’m still pondering. I don’t know the answer yet, I will let you know when I do.

I’ve continued reading Deep Work & Digital Minimalism (both by Cal Newport) in tandem, and they have provided some absolutely excellent fodder.

Here’s some of the quotes I’ve highlighted:

“We cannot passively allow the wild tangle of tools, entertainments, and distractions provided by the internet age to dictate how we spend our time or how we feel.

We must instead take steps to extract the good from these technologies while sidestepping what’s bad. We require a philosophy that puts our aspirations and values once again in charge of our daily experience, all the while dethroning primal whims and the business models of Silicon Valley from their current dominance of this role; a philosophy that accepts new technologies, but not if the price is the dehumanization”

“We added new technologies to the periphery of our experience for minor reasons, then woke one morning to discover that they had colonised the core of our daily life. We didn’t, in other words, sign up for the digital world in which we’re currently entrenched; we seem to have stumbled backward into it.”

(We need to) “confront the thicker reality of how these technologies as a whole have managed to expand beyond the minor roles for which we initially adopted them.

(We need to confront the reality of how these technologies) somehow coerce us to use them more than we think is healthy, often at the expense of other activities we find more valuable.”

And more related articles I’ve read this week:

One day, I felt a thud in my heart that said “Let social media go” – I paid attention. And then it came again, and again, and again. “Let it go.” I started to question it and ask why I was feeling this. So towards the end of last year, I started questioning the role of social media in my life, comparing and contrasting the pros and cons of it.

I’ve even taken breaks before so I thought about those times, too. Then it pretty much dawned on me as the following words were impressed upon me in a real, gut-punching kind of way :

We were not made for this.

I have tears in my eyes just now typing that.

In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and
valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any
16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral
article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value
activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value in your
career is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake
oil and flimflam in business.

Professional success is hard, but it’s not complicated. The foundation
to achievement and fulfillment, almost without exception, requires
that you hone a useful craft and then apply it to things that people
care about. This is a philosophy perhaps best summarized by the advice
Steve Martin used to give aspiring entertainers: “Be so good they
can’t ignore you.”

My… objection concerns the idea that social media is harmless.
Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard
tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated
economy. Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be
addictive. The more you use social media in the way it’s designed to
be used — persistently throughout your waking hours — the more your
brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of
boredom.

If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your
smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to
work.

As this experiment has continued on, I’ve discovered I’m increasing in clarity + calmness of mind.

It’s made me consider other things I’d like to reduce or limit. How more isn’t necessarily more. And sometimes less can be positively decadent.

Sunday 7 Feb 2021 (Day 7)

I got my latest screen time report, and my phone use is down by a metric fucktonne:

I’m thrilled with the decrease, and feel really comfortable with where my screen time is at. Usually I’m horrified when I see the screen time report!

As this experiment has continued on, I’ve discovered I’m increasing in clarity + calmness of mind.

It’s made me consider other things I’d like to reduce or limit. How more isn’t necessarily more. And sometimes less can be positively decadent.

I’m absolutely THRILLED to keep going with this experiment for the next 14 days… and think it will end up going longer. Can’t wait to try another 21 day challenge as well!

Tuesday 9 Feb 2021 (Day 9)

 

Wednesday 10 Feb 2021

Three things:

  1. I just wrote a blog post on my Thoughts On Kids & Phones
  2. Yesterday I had an Analogue Afternoon (no screens, just me, some books & a journal) and it was bloody wonderful AND hugely productive!
  3. I started reading How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price last night, and it was SO DAMN GOOD I highlighted 41 paragraphs, immediately recommended it to everyone in sight & wrote it down as one of my very favourite and most impactful books of 2021. Yeah, fuck, that’s how good it is.

These two quotes particularly are seared into my soul:

“Your life is what you pay attention to.”

“When I told people I was breaking up with my phone, they didn’t ask me what I meant, or why I wanted to do it. Instead, they said the same thing, practically verbatim: “I need to do that, too.”

More to come, clearly. Because I am OBSESSED.

 

Thursday 11 Feb 2021

I did homework from How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price.

The answers are… pretty damning.

 

In a word: Y I K E S.

I don’t like this. I don’t like what it’s done to me. I don’t like what it has done to my life.

 

More notes from Digital Minimalism:

We didn’t sign up for the digital lives we now lead. They were instead, to a large extent, crafted in boardrooms to serve the interests of a select group of technology investors.”

“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”

“It’s easy to be seduced by the small amounts of profit offered by the latest app or service, but then forget its cost in terms of the most important resource we possess: the minutes of our life.”

“How much of your time and attention, he would ask, must be sacrificed to earn the small profit of occasional connections and new ideas that is earned by cultivating a significant presence on Twitter? Assume, for example, that your Twitter habit effectively consumes ten hours per week. Thoreau would note that this cost is almost certainly way too high for the limited benefits it returns. If you value new connections and exposure to interesting ideas, he might argue, why not adopt a habit of attending an interesting talk or event every month, and forcing yourself to chat with at least three people while there? This would produce similar types of value but consume only a few hours of your life per month, leaving you with an extra thirty-seven hours to dedicate to other meaningful pursuits.”

 

Friday 12 Feb 2021 (12 days in)

 

 

More notes from How To Break Up With Your Phone:

“While research on these devices is in its early stages (unsurprising, given that they’ve barely been around for ten years), what is known so far suggests that spending extended time on them has the power to change both the structure and the function of our brains – including our abilities to form new memories, think deeply, focus, and absorb and remember what we read. Multiple studies have associated the heavy use of smartphones (especially when used for social media) with negative effects on neuroticism, self-esteem, impulsivity, empathy, self-identity, and self-image, as well as with sleep problems, anxiety, stress, and depression.”

“Never before in history have the decisions of a handful of designers (mostly men, white, living in San Francisco, aged 25–35) working at three companies had so much impact on how millions of people around the world spend their attention.”

“You don’t pay for Facebook. Advertisers pay for Facebook. You get to use it for free because your eyeballs are what’s being sold there.”

“It’s attention that we didn’t spend on our families, or our friends, or ourselves. And just like time, once we’ve spent attention, we can never get it back… Our attention is the most valuable thing we have. We experience only what we pay attention to. We remember only what we pay attention to. When we decide what to pay attention to in the moment, we are making a broader decision about how we want to spend our lives.”

 

Saturday 13 Feb 2021 (13 days in)

 

“[W]e must act, individually and collectively, to make our attention our own again, and so reclaim ownership of the very experience of living.”

—Tim Wu, The Attention Merchants

 

Two weeks without social media

 

Wed 16 Feb (16 days in)

Not long ago, me and a mate were reminiscing about blog world of 10 years ago. How you could fall into a new world on someone’s blog, and get to know their story so much more intimately than via social media. And both of us kind of thought that world was over, and we were sad.

But it turns out, it’s not. There’s still so, so, so many bloggers. There are still worlds to fall into. People’s stories to fall in love with. New boxes to be opened and gleefully discovered.

The past few days I’ve fallen into rabbitholes of CJ Chilvers, Derek Sivers & John Saddington.

John on leaving Twitter:

My hope is to not touch the service ever again… just that thought makes me incredibly giddy. The mental bandwidth that I’ll get back and the clarity that will be the natural outcause will be absolutely amazing.

And do you know why I know that it’ll be awesome? Because I’ve done this before and the psychological and emotional results were telling (and it makes me wonder why I came back in the first place).

Seth Godin on chasing social media trends:

Publish. Consistently. With patience. Own your assets. Don’t let a middleman be your landlord.

 

Wed 17 Feb (17 days in)

 

 

I did some more homework from How To Break Up With Your Phone.

She suggests writing a list of all the things you want to pay attention to – then taking a photo and adding to the lockscreen of your phone. So when you go to pick it up, you consider your values and where else you wish to look.

I of course wanted to get fancy and make my list in the Procreate app on my iPad with Apple Pen.

BEHOLD:

Want to see this as a time lapse? OF COURSE YOU DO!

 

 

Thursday 18 Feb 2021 (18 days in)

I feel like I’ve been trying to talk myself into getting sober for YEARS.

Clearly, something has been trying to be born through me for a long while, and I’m only feeling ready to do something about it.

Anytime I create and share around this topic, it gets more responses back than anything else. It feels like we are ALL feeling it.

Saturday 20 Feb 2021 (20 days in)

The last 3 weeks have been life, soul and heart changing.

I’m not going back. I’m not going back. I am free. I have my life back.

To think I was so anxious about doing this experiment. And the only reason I even thought I could possibly do it was because it was such a short time period. And then as soon as I felt the benefits, the answer was very clear, and the decision was easy. I feel SO fucking grateful for this 21 day experiment. It’s already proven well worth my time.

I updated my personal Facebook account with the above image as the new cover photo. I also included deets of how to contact me (email, phone, penpal address etc). I want to make sure that my people know I still love them and want to still be mates… I’m just not using social media as the service to do that any more.

I still haven’t done this with my business accounts yet, but that’s coming. I’m still moodling what to do with various Facebook groups I own. Once I know the answer, I’ll let you know.