Social media can be killer and… a killer.
“The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, and more can influence your life by 30 to 50 years,” says Deepak Chopra.
It was this mindfulness that got my social media mind thinking: Could I be doing things in a better way to improve my personal and business outcome? And just like that, I decided to test it out. The social media “time out”.
So I took a month off of my social media work life—well, sort of. July was my opportunity to take a timeout, recharge, and restore from the social media grind. It was my time to take a step back and examine my habits and processes. Included in my grand plan wasn’t a vacation to Europe, but a time to evaluate, organize, and regroup.
However, as we know in life: the best plans usually don’t go exactly as planned.
I picked July because my daughter would be at summer camp for the first couple weeks and I was getting married near the end. I envisioned taking care of last-minute wedding details in my stress-free bubble of time, as well as knocking out some email inbox cleaning, social media tool testing, playlist downloading, and catching up on some leisurely reading.
Weeks 1 and 2 were spent negotiating with my homesick daughter as to why she couldn’t come home early from camp. The torture, right?
Week 3 was spent scurrying around with last-minute wedding details, as well as pre-planning for new college dorm move-in day for my step-daughter.
Free advice for brides-to-be: Take the week off before your wedding. That way, you enjoy the throws of last-minute details without the stress of multitasking work stuff.
Week 4 was the big wedding. It came and went in a magical and whimsical way with just one catch: my honeymoon was spent under the covers, but for the wrong reasons. I was actually sick in bed with the flu for the week.
10 Ways to Unplug and Power Up
Here are a few tips from my social media chill:
- Spotify a Mood Swing: Create (or follow) a playlist on Spotify to match the moment or mood you need, like writing, running, sleeping, meditating, and even coding! Yes, I like to think I’m an early adopter of most technology and social media, but I confess, I was never a fan of Spotify before my month hiatus only because I actually never gave it a fair shot. You could find me everyday listening to my fave Pandora channels. But Spotify saved me for my wedding in a big way! I was able to come up with an awesomely curated playlist for my wedding ceremony and party thanks to all of the existing playlists. After being forced into the Spotify world due to my wedding playlist scramble, I’m now a huge fan of using this music player to set the mood for whatever I’m doing.
- Say No to Notification: With mobile and email notifications comes a false sense of urgency that can distract, derail, and cause unnecessary losses of concentration. Examine your notifications. Do you really need to know every time someone likes your Facebook and Instagram posts? I did an inventory of my mobile notifications and turned many of these off so I could concentrate and be present to what I was actually doing.
- Break Up Complex Tasks: Like most large projects, my wedding was an accumulation of small tasks over a one-year period. Until the last week, I spent just about 15-30 minutes a few days a week working on it. ButEven in the last week and days, I did spent hours each day on it, floating in and out of tasks, especially the creative ones. A run on the beach or a yoga class would all of a sudden make an impossible hard decision or idea one of magical brilliance.
- Work/Fun = Fun/Work: Make things that are fun and relaxing just as important as work. It’s so easy to fall into the 24/7 trap of working. I used to be more like, “No, I can’t do that until I finish this.” But I learned that trying to do it all and then giving yourself a reward can be self-defeating. Even the little things I swore I would do during my month off, some of them never ended up happening.
- Structure, Structure, Structure: If I stay up working until 2:30 a.m., chances are I’m sleeping late. Yes, we work in a 24/7 world and it means the 9-5 hours are part of history. That’s okay, but only as long as we balance our schedule with structure that allows us to hold work, sleep, eat, and play all in balance with one another.
- Living in the Now: Having a perspective on what’s happening in the now takes some planning and focus. As small as turning the Do Not Disturb on your phone for a few hours or how I eliminated a huge amount of distraction from my plate for the month leading up to my wedding. At the time, it wasn’t deliberate, but it might have been a subconscious decision. The result was that I was more present to the people and events around me than if I had my normal work routine happening around me like I usually do. My mind wasn’t racing on all the other agendas I had going on because I had only one agenda.
- Just. Let. Go.: Delegate, duplicate, and replicate where possible. People actually like helping out and being part of a large outcome. I asked for lots of help and accepted lots of help and also paid extra for lots of help. Don’t feel like you need to own everything.
- Simplify Intention: I invite you to try this: If you wake up each day with a marked intention, you have a better chance of having a day with a positive outcome. I learned this from my Buddhify app’s morning meditation. It takes less than five minutes and it reminds me of the importance of creating your daily intention.
- Keep Moving: Even though I stopped working on social media for a month, I actually never stopped exploring offline. I constantly put myself out there to try new things I usually wouldn’t have time for, like SUP yoga or going to a matinee movie on a weekday.
- Calm Mind = Sound Decision: This is easier said than done. But study after study points to how mindfulness can literally change your brain for the positive and how awareness-based health and wellness practices are integral to thriving individuals (and organizations).
I know it might not be realistic to take a social media month off of work for everyone, but a week or even a dedicated weekend of mindfulness can make a huge difference for your mental and physical health. I had all of these grand plans for month off including rewriting my LinkedIn profile, converting to Dropbox for business, getting my email inbox to zero, and even filing my many mounds of personal paperwork. But these words of wisdom made me realize the positives of what I did do: Too many expectations lead to more disappointments.
Next month, I look forward to meeting Deepak Chopra when he keynotes the Wisdom 2.0 conference in New York. I don’t have an agenda for that time: I’m just going with the flow of learning something new. But two things are for sure, I will be there and I will be taking a month off next July.
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