A Weekend Unplugged – Recap

I mentioned last week that I was going to embark on a weekend free from using my phone for anything other than phone calls and text messages. Here is how that went.

I am quite pleased to announce that I followed through! There were two instances where I used my phone to look something up when a computer wasn’t a viable option, but I did not play any games and I did not stare mindlessly at the phone at any point in the weekend.

My goal was to shut off the data on my phone on Friday at 3:30 pm and leave it off until 5 am Monday morning. With the exception of a few apps I was still using that required data access (my grocery app needs data access for some reason or other), I accomplished this mission. Primarily, I wanted to avoid mindless time wasting using my devices.

I used my phone for text messaging, phone calling, accessing my grocery app and accessing our budgeting app. Oh, and for Google twice.

I made use of my time by decluttering and minimalizing a piece of furniture in our bedroom, which resulted in decluttering and minimizing the whole room and master closet on Saturday. I boxed up the inventory from my MLM business and moved it to the garage to be sorted come spring for the garage sale. I have decided our bedroom is the grandest waste of space in our house. It’s a very large room. It houses 3 pieces of furniture, two bedside tables and a king size bed, with a TON of empty space. I wish I could reallocate that space to another area of the house – like my laundry room or the kids’ bedrooms. Funny thing – when we built the house, having an enormous master was something I was excited about. Now I just look at it and shake my head.

I made use of my time by sorting through and dejunking the junk drawers (there are two) in our kitchen and helped my daughter clean up her room. I washed some communal blankets and swept the floor. I did some minor organizing in the garage and got groceries for the week. I watched Sleepless in Seattle while I folded a basket of clothes and a basket of towels. I don’t think I had ever seen that movie straight through before. It’s a good one. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

I had a few moments of impulse where I reached for my phone during a short break in activities, but I quickly recognized what I was doing and stopped myself. Much to my surprise, I didn’t read as much as I had anticipated. I figured I’d replace my phone with my Kindle, but I did not. I did finish a book, but there wasn’t much left in it and didn’t finish it until last night.

I went all weekend without staring at my phone. And I survived.

What little time I spent on my phone was intentional and productive. I generated my grocery list. I balanced my checkbook. I googled home phone service. And I googled an address.

I really expected to binge on my phone as soon as I broke my “fast” but I haven’t yet. In preparation for my weekend, I removed my games from my home screen. They haven’t been returned. I really thought I’d waste half the day playing the games I thought I’d miss. But I haven’t. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon on Monday and I still have 74% battery left! And I’ve gotten quite a bit of work done at work.

Now that’s not to say I have completely sworn off all time wasters. I did get online for a few minutes on Sunday because my husband said someone tagged me in something on Facebook and I wanted to acknowledge it, so I got onto Facebook on the computer and acknowledged, and I got on it for a short bit today during my lunch break. My usage today has been nothing like what it was in the past few weeks to months. And I like it. I hope I can continue it! All told, my Facebook usage for the last 3 days was probably a total of 1 hour.

I’d like to eliminate my phone as a source of distraction in my life and I feel this experiment was very successful and I’d hate to see the work I’ve accomplished come undone. So, I think I’ll continue my experiment and not move my games back to my home screen. I don’t dare say forever… but I would like to see how long I can manage to go without them cluttering up my life.

How ‘bout you? Ever think to give up the electronics for a weekend?

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The Facebook Project

A while back, I started noticing how much time I spent on Facebook. I noticed how much I was using my cell phone, primarily, which was my typical link to Facebook. Facebook was where I spent most of my time while using my phone. Hours would pass and I would have nothing to show for them. This was a problem. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I eliminate Facebook, I’ll eliminate the “I use my phone too much” problem. Two birds; one stone.

So, I removed the app in an attempt to spend less time there, opting instead to be more intentional with my use of Facebook by accessing it only via computer. I did indeed spend less time overall on Facebook, but it still wasn’t enough. I wasn’t accessing Facebook at home anymore (dragging out the laptop and logging in was meh… so I don’t do that very often), or while on the go, but I was still accessing Facebook too much at work, a problem in and of itself.

On days where I didn’t have a mountainous workload, this was probably a little ok, but there were days when I actually had quite the workload and I still went to Facebook. And while I was there, I was either consciously or subconsciously reading the newsfeed. I want to be a better employee, and Facebook is certainly not making that possible.

On the days when I was subconsciously browsing, I’d find myself losing hours of productivity. On days when I was consciously browsing, I’d find myself thinking “who cares?”, “blah, blah, blah”, “quit bragging”, and a number of other “I’m annoyed by this post” thoughts. I found myself skimming most of it, bored.

What I wanted was to eliminate my newsfeed, focus on the one or two groups I enjoy, and my public blogger page. I tried to avoid my newsfeed, but that danged thing has a magnetic pull that is hard to avoid.

My solution? Unfollow everyone! Ok, well, not everyone, but 96% of my friends list. I kept my family and some non-family who I really enjoy keeping up with. The rest were unfollowed. I noticed after doing this that my newsfeed was riddled with posts from public pages – pages I had “liked”. So I unliked them all. I also left every single group except for 6 (4 of which I’ll be leaving as soon as I am no longer employed by the Direct Sell industry – my departure from those groups will be noticed immediately and I don’t really want to have to explain myself to them).

This is what I’m calling The Facebook Project. There are 4 intended consequences for this project.

Reduce the time I spend on Facebook. My newsfeed is whittled down to the bare necessity. It’s minimized to things that I suspect will bring me joy. After performing my cuts, I discovered I only had about 5 minutes of reading material available to me. Perfect!

View Facebook consciously and intentionally. My newsfeed is minimized to the point that I’ll run out of things to mindlessly read very quickly and will have to find something else to occupy my time and mind. Additionally, if I think of a friend and wonder what they’re up to, I can intentionally go to their Facebook profile and check in. This will also allow me to keep up with the people I really want to keep up with rather than Facebook determining who I should grace my newsfeed.

More Life Less Consumed. *pun intended* My life will be less consumed by distraction, by aggravation, by idleness, by stress, and by the pull to keep up with the Joneses.  These things won’t be eliminated all together, but there will be one less source. Exactly what I need.

More privacy. This goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway. 😉

The next step is to find a way to block the mobile browser from accessing Facebook and all those event invites I get… oy. Anyone know how to do that?

Until I can walk away from Facebook and never look back again, this is my solution. What is your relationship with Facebook like? Do you have any tips for reducing the time spent there?

When Joy Sparking Spills Beyond Discarding Clutter

Over the past year, I have been undergoing a life-changing process of clearing my home of clutter that contributed to my anxiety and overall discontent. My house always felt messy, I always felt like I had a ton of things to do, and I felt anxious all the time. I’d finally had enough and unofficially dubbed 2015 the year simplifying life and finding more happiness. I say unofficially because I didn’t tell anyone in real life what I was doing.

In a previous post, I discussed finding the “Magic” book that I felt had the power to transform my life and later discussed how the process works. I went into great detail, but I still highly recommend you purchase the book and read it to fully appreciate the process and the effect it can have. The book and process met my expectations and helped to open the door to a life I’m happy to be in.

The concept of sparking joy has infiltrated every aspect of my life. It’s wiggled its way into my Facebook account and resulted in the culling over over 100 “friends” and the removal of about 30 groups I didn’t wish to follow anymore.

Joy Sparking snuck into my phone and removed countless apps, to include Facebook and, surprisingly, MyFitnessPal, an app I had religiously logged into for a running total of 875 days without fail.

It burrowed into our financial world as well, which resulted in my resignation from a direct sell company I’d been a part of for the better part of two years, and the resignation from two others I had only been a member of for a few short months.

The longer “Joy Sparking” remained in my life, the less stuff and things I occupied my time with. I realized that the lifestyle I was trying to accomplish was Minimalism! I have found I need less and less “stuff” to find satisfaction.

I’ve started reading quite a few blogs on Minimalism. I’ve made a list of them here in case you want to check out what Minimalism is all about. I’m liking the concept so far.

What I once thought was a lifestyle of restrictions and stark emptiness is anything but! In reality, it’s a lifestyle of freedom! Since embracing the joy sparking art of decluttering and reducing my volume of belongings, I’m finding I’m free to experience life! I’m able to go camping with my family and not feel consumed by the guilt of accomplishing nothing while I sit by the fire. I’m finding I’m free to go on day trips with my husband and just enjoy his company. I’m finding the time to color with my children. I’m finding the time to visit my father’s farm and collect eggs and teach the children about farm animals. I’m finding the time to dream of what we want our future to be! I’m finding the time to read leisurely again. I have found minimalism to mean I can live the life I dream of living rather than being stuck cleaning the life I’d always thought I was supposed to live.

Less truly is more.

My Struggle with Facebook

Over the past few months, I have been struggling with what to do about Facebook. As I work to remove distractions from my life, I have learned very quickly just how heavy a distraction Facebook is. So, I’ve been slowly weeding it out of my life.

About a year ago, I experienced a personal hurt. I re-experienced this personal hurt on an almost daily basis by way of Facebook updates. I really struggled with the bitterness and anger I felt over the situation. I resented everyone involved – even those not directly involved. After doing some deep soul searching, I learned these people weren’t worth the anger and hurt feelings, and I wanted to cull them from my life. Unfortunately, that would come with confrontation, so I opted to “unfollow” them instead. That unfollow button was the best feature Facebook has ever offered. Unfollowing these people was liberating! I was free from my anger almost immediately. It felt so good I continued to unfollow anyone who ever posted anything that caused me even a moment of irritation, anger, frustration, annoyance or sadness (personal sadness, not sadness over their own situation).

Then I started getting braver. If I just didn’t care what someone had to post, I made the decision to delete them from my friends list. This occurred as part of my Konmari Journey. I think I deleted close to 100 people. I also went through and removed groups and pages I no longer wished to follow. Facebook felt lighter and my newsfeed felt cleaner.

Suddenly, my news feed wasn’t so annoying. But I still had this problem.

I didn’t really give a hoot what was posted on Facebook. None of it was exciting. None of it made me feel happy. But yet I was spending hours reading the newsfeed. Anytime I had a spare second, I’d browse through the newsfeed. Literally, for hours. When I’d get to stuff I’d already read, I’d refresh and start over. What a waste of time!

It was at that point that I decided to remove the app from my phone and only visit Facebook with intent via the computer. This resulted in me cutting down my usage a lot and prevented me from sharing a bunch of mundane who cares stuff. That thing that happened that annoyed me for 5 minutes at some point last week that has since been forgotten did not receive any Facebook fanfare. The stalkers who just troll to see what everyone is up to had no idea I went camping last weekend. You know, because who cares? However, on the flip side, that super cute picture I took of my kid walking with her daddy did not receive any Facebook fanfare, either. Nor did the interception my son got during his flag football game. And did it matter? Not one bit. We still celebrated my son’s interception and I still smile when I see the picture of my daughter and her dad. The lack of Facebook fanfare did not take away from those two moments.

However, Facebook is still a distraction. I currently have a direct sell business (more on that here) that I run through a Facebook group. I also like to keep up with the Konmari communities and minimalism communities on Facebook. So I downloaded the Facebook Groups app thinking that would help me ditch Facebook without actually ditching it. But, I was still viewing too much Facebook from the little glowing rectangle in my hand thanks to the groups app. And I was still viewing hours of Facebook content on the computer.

I don’t enjoy it, so why do I keep going back?

I may have found my reason. Fear of Missing Out. FOMO. Emily Torres, author of Minimal Millennial speaks about this syndrome (is it really a syndrome?) here. It finally made sense. It’s the reason I kept Facebook Groups. It’s the reason I kept Facebook Messenger. It’s the reason I was still viewing Facebook from a computer. I was scared of missing something.

My sister-in-law and I are both working on weeding Facebook out of our lives and she has also indicated that the fear of missing something keeps her from giving it up completely. But what are we really going to miss? Someone’s gripe? Someone’s brag post? The opportunity to compare our wonderful life to someone else’s wonderful life that we view as being slightly more wonderful than our own?

If anything, Facebook is reducing the awesomeness of our own lives every time we  browse the newsfeed. My life is awesome. I have a great job. I have an amazing husband and wonderful children. I have a suitable house, a suitable car, and make a suitable living. I don’t need to validate any of that by making a braggy post on Facebook. And I most certainly don’t want to cheapen it by comparing it to the life of some “almost friend” on Facebook that might appear to be better than my own life. That’s not fair to me or my family.

So, I’m working a bit harder to ditch Facebook. I removed Facebook Groups from my phone. I deactivated my business persona account (the one where I made some selly posts and tried – and failed – to keep up with my customers) and I deleted my business “like” page. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be deleting my business group as well. I’ve already announced to my “clients” that I’m closing my doors to pursue the things that make me happy, so keeping the group open is a moot point. I may post my direct sell inventory on a garage sale page to get rid of it or I may just have a garage sale – I haven’t decided how I want to tackle that yet. I’ll send a message to those I wish to remain in close contact with and exchange phone numbers. Once that’s done, I’ll have little to no reason to ever frequent Facebook again. And why have an account if you aren’t going to use it?

So, I will begin the process of downloading the joy sparking images from my Facebook account very soon. I should have most of them saved already. Then it’ll be “adios Facebook”.

Have you deactivated or deleted your Facebook account? How has your life changed as a result? What additional advice might you have for me?