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An over-indulgence of anything, even something as pure as water, can intoxicate.― Criss Jami

One Saturday, about 4 months ago, I had an idea to embark on a one-day personal experiment to evaluate the impact of social media on my personal productivity. The experiment involved me turning off my phones, closing all the social media tabs on my computer and just focusing on checking off items on my to-do-list for the day.

I decided that from 8am to 8pm on that day, I would not go on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, I would not check emails, and neither would I listen to music on Spotify nor YouTube. I was not actively on Instagram then so that didn’t matter. It would be just me, myself, I and my to-do-list.

Before starting the experiment. I informed my partner that I would be going incognito for the day (just so he would not get worried by my absence or silence) and just switched off.

I thought it was going to be difficult when I started and for the first one hour it was.  I had to consciously stop myself from opening any social media app. I was going to take the cold turkey approach and I was determined to win. Those cute baby pictures and funny videos were going to have to wait.

The result of the experiment was almost mind blowing. I found out that once I got over the initial withdrawal symptoms, it was so easy to focus and complete my tasks. It was also less difficult to get distracted because there was nothing to be distracted by. I had shut off all the sources of distractions.

At the end of the experiment, it dawned on me that in this technological age, we have become addicts to social media. I use the word addict because social media addiction is very similar with the more dramatic addictions such as alcoholism, hard narcotics and even sex addiction.

Just like the drug and alcohol addict is unable to function at an optimum level, he or she is constantly at the mercy of the substance he or she abuses, the same applies with the social media addict . We have become at the mercy of social media such that we are unable to function at our optimum because we are constantly getting distracted from doing what we are actually meant to be doing.

Think about the many times you have opened you laptop to do your work or write something meaningful or perhaps study for your exams and without being aware, you type in facebook.com or perhaps go on Instagram. Before you realise what has happened, you have spent the next hour or two on these platforms. Those hours you have wasted are gone for good.

What alarmed me the more I thought about it was that these platforms we spend our time on are the result of someone else’s vision. Someone else has applied focus and worked really hard to come up with these platforms. We are now essentially paying with our time to help other people become more successful and we are providing this service free of charge.

The time we spend getting distracted from what we are meant to be doing is putting more money into someone’s pocket.

This is not to say that you should completely go off social media. Far from it. The point of this post is to make you aware of how much your productivity is impacted by allowing yourself to get distracted and perhaps urge you to consciously start to balance out how much time you waste on social media.

We all need to stay connected to our family, friends and perhaps enemies (just to see how well they are doing). However, where this becomes a problem is when we start to lose track of our tasks and goals.

I also found out at the end of this experiment that when I went back on social media later that evening, I had not missed much. The difference was that I had completed all my tasks and I felt more fulfilled.

I invite you to try out my experiment for a day or perhaps one week if you are courageous enough. Switch off completely and instead focus on completing those tasks you have been procrastinating on or not just gotten round to finishing. It would amaze you as to how much you could actually get done.

Have a fulfilling new week.



Image credit: http://www.theinnerseed.com/