We all know that social media is the biggest time-sucker.
How does time pass when we jump on Facebook or Instagram to check one thing, then we find ourselves glued to scrolling through everything else?
It’s not like we are looking for ways to spend our time—our life is already busy with jobs, households, study, kids, businesses, and relationships. So why is it that when we have a spare moment, we automatically reach out for our phones?
Many of us are unknowingly addicted to our personal devices. I was shocked to find out that my phone usage was up to five and a half hours per day. I was drowning in the daily pressures of life, yet I couldn’t stop checking my phone.
Social media has a lot to answer for. Former Facebook President, Sean Parker, explained that the thought process in designing Facebook was all about how to consume as much of our time and conscious attention as possible. I felt like my entire life was consumed and I knew it was time to take back the reins.
While I had doubts that I could keep my online business going without social media, I heard a voice that said, “Ten days, just do it for 10 days.” Within two hours, I had transferred my customer service to alternative platforms and I was amazed by how easy it was to close the lid on social media.
As the 10 days unfolded, the way that my life has transformed has been remarkable. The gifts I received naturally cured me of my daily, time-sucking compulsion to check social media every day.
Here are the top 10 things I gained from 10 days off social media platforms:
- Freedom. That first night without social media felt like a holiday. You know that feeling when you’ve packed your bags, you’re organised for a trip away, and you know you don’t have to look at work messages for 10 days? That’s what it was like. In short, I felt free without Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.
- Rest. I was able to 100 percent switch off from work—something I had never done in my five years of running an online business. My brain had been constantly in work mode, engaging through social media. Without it, I felt like my nervous system slowed down and my life was beautifully quiet.
- Awareness. Having no access to social media, I was aware of my habitual patterns to reach out for my phone for no apparent reason. When there was nothing pressing to do, I watched myself mentally searching for my phone, grasping for that chemical rush I got from engaging with social media. Without the apps on my device, I could see my habits in plain sight.
- Time. Suddenly, I had all the time in the world. When I didn’t spend half the day on my phone, I had time to get up-to-date with all the jobs I felt I never had time for. I organised my family photos, cleared out my overflowing inbox, and enjoyed a cup of tea in the sunshine. I laughed at my old self who complained there was no time—what a lie that had been.
- Connection. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner time became a place for family connection. My head wasn’t buried in getting back to people on Messenger. Instead, I could look at my husband and three kids and have meaningful conversations with them. I asked my children questions—open-ended ones—and they felt heard and loved as I simply listened.
- Love. Without Messenger, I could only connect with those who I had their phone numbers. With fewer friends to contact, I became more empathetic and wrote them meaningful messages rather than shoot a quick text before my mind grasped onto something else. I proudly felt a renewed love for my closest friends.
- Focus. On working days, without the constant distraction of checking notifications in between appointments with clients, I was finally focused on the work I love. My writing flowed, I created quality video content rather than a thrown-together live, and I delved into revamping my website. I was attentive, productive, and thriving on being on task.
- Sleep. My nighttime scrolling for hours in the dark with my head on the pillow was replaced with quiet reading. I didn’t have to berate myself for being “up too late again.” I fell asleep early and woke up feeling more refreshed. I wasn’t distracted by brightly-lit “pings” in the middle of the night, so I felt more in sync with the natural rhythms of night and day.
- Presence. I was more present with those uncomfortable emotions like boredom, anger, frustration, and loneliness. Social media has us unconsciously suppressing our emotions, which limits our ability to stay with ourselves. It also perpetuates the cycle of escaping ourselves, and so we deny the body’s natural intelligence to process emotions. Experiencing the fullness of my feelings had morphed into a gift of deepened presence.
- Inspiration. With more time to rest, I experienced a wave of renewed clarity, creativity, and inspired vigour to start new projects, which had previously felt overwhelming. I took the initial steps to build a local community school, organise my city’s first Mindful May Festival, write children’s stories, and speak at future events. With the freedom and space I now feel in my life, those projects feel inevitable.
Ask yourself today, “What can I achieve without social media?”
Ten days without it had shaped my life into one that I’ve always dreamed of. It has activated a sense of presence, peace, clarity, abundance, inspiration, and freedom. These beautiful changes that happened back then have inspired me to limit my time on social media today.
One month on from my 10 day quest, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger apps are still absent from my phone and I check social media no more than once per day. If someone had asked me to stop using social media forever, I would have said that I couldn’t do it.
However, 10 days felt achievable and that was all I needed to break the habit. If you’re craving more time, more sleep, a clear mind, and an uplifted love for life, I invite you to try retreating from social media for a few days, too.
Let me know how you find it.