I’m a big fan of Cal Newport. I’ve read all of his books, and been listening to his podcast over the past few months.
He has pretty interesting opinions about social networks. His main advice is to not be on them at all, and that’s what he does.
That’s not quite realistic for me, and I’m guess it’s not for you either. Twitter has been very useful to me: For meeting new people, and for promoting my side projects. The whole #BuildInPublic trend is happening on Twitter.
One of Cal’s suggestions is to take a 30 day digital detox. Don’t use any devices, except for work.
Tim Ferris is also known to go off the grid for a few weeks every year. (Was it every quarter? Not sure.)
Being entirely offline is a bliss. Have you been on a long flight without internet access? Each time I’m on one, I realize just having an online device increases my anxiety.
However, going entirely offline is not realistic either – maybe for a few days, but not longer than that.
The main issue with using internet “only for work” is that it’s not really possible. You’re at your computer. The internet is there. It’s going to be really hard to only use it for work.
A lot of people use a rule for social networks: Don’t use them before breakfast, don’t use them before noon, etc.
Actually, I’ve been doing that for a while: No social networks before noon. However, I found it’s not enough. I would often find myself bingeing on Twitter in the evenings: Just spending too much time on it. It felt like undoing of my morning fast.
My solution is to use social networks twice a day: First after lunch, second time after I’m finished with work.
And of course, I enforce this. I installed app called Focus, where I’ve set up two slots when I can access social networks:
When there’s something I really need from the social networks, I use my old computer that I keep in another room, in a closet.
I intentionally made it really hard to get on this computer: I have to get up, walk to another room, find the computer in my bedroom closet, and then sit uncomfortably on my bed, until I do what I wanted to.
I like the ability to make an exception. Otherwise I would be tempted to just uninstall my web blocking app, and that would be the end of my schedule.
This is really hard to measure, but I think I feel better without this little addiction in my life.
I’m pretty sure it makes me a little more focused too. Now I hardly ever sit down on my computer to just browse around. I sit down to do a little work, maybe write an article like this.
The threshold for what can entertain me has been lowered: Before, I needed a nice big hit of opening Twitter, and now, just writing little code is enough for a dopamine hit.
Here’s a big thing: Could this be affecting my sleep? I’ve always had a sleeping disorder of waking up one cycle too early, and not being able to fall back asleep.
It’s really hard to tell, because I’ve been doing other things to improve sleep. However, getting off social media can only improve your sleep, there’s no doubt about that. The only question is how much.