One of my intentions for 2016 is to create my own Digital Detox Fridays. Friday is already my day off from client work, in the main, though there is a fortnightly exception as you will read. The idea was that I will extend my day off to being offline completely. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from just two Fridays as a recovering digital addict.
The twin evils I am trying to disconnect from are email and Facebook. I am also trying to get time away from the backlit screens which I sometimes blame for headaches. I find that I can do a few things online if I want to and so long as I don’t open up either email or Facebook, all can be well and no compulsive behaviour is triggered.
The first DDF was 8th January and I successfully unplugged at 9 p.m. on Thursday night. Every other Friday I do have a 90-minute group call with Small Business Big Magic so I tuned in for that on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. as normal and that led me down a rabbit hole of about 5 hours online, catching up with emails and FB after the call. Still, not bad for a first attempt, 19 hours offline, cold turkey, and it was relaxing not to be constantly checking during those 19 hours.
I notice I did end up sending 20 emails that day, and all but three of them were after the 19 hours offline.
The second DDF was 15th January and exceptional in a different way. No need to do the 4 p.m. SBBM call but I had agreed to record an extra couple of podcast episodes in the morning so that meant opening Skype and GoToWebinar and WordPress. This is when I worked out that some websites needed to do various jobs are non-addictive, largely because there’s a beginning, middle and end then job done which you simply cannot say with email and Facebook, both of which account for a huge percentage of my work.
More noticing: if I am largely offline on Friday I don’t feel the compulsion to be quite so available online at the weekend either. This is good. Once the interruption is started, I find it relatively easy to continue. #Chuffed about this.
On the second Friday I only sent 3 emails in entirety. Blimey! People catch on quickly. Good. As long as I can manage client expectations, that makes me feel a lot better.
I realised that both my newsletter and our podcast go live on Friday mornings and although those are both scheduled, I do like to do the social sharing of both on that day but again that involves only Mailchimp and Twitter. That’s not ideal, to be honest, so that’s something I need to sort out. It may be that I decide that the 24 hours begins at 10.30 on a Friday morning and lasts until the same time on Saturday. We shall see.
I don’t do any of the addictive stuff on my phone as I don’t own one of those but I do use my iPad in that way, often compulsively and constantly checking and creating the poor posture and cricked neck. Email, Facebook, email, Facebook. Awful. Tap, tap, tap.
So, conclusions so far? There are ways for me to be mostly offline on Fridays and to feel much better for it, more relaxed, less hooked, fewer headaches. The world won’t end (though it may be inconvenienced slightly) if an immediate reply to an email is not forthcoming. For instance the first Friday I had a property company doing a job for me early on Saturday morning. That accounted for a handful of those emails and it would have been just wrong to have gone AWOL on them and delayed their departure from Kent to Sussex on Saturday morning when they wanted to get down there early when I would have been snoozing in my toasty bed. In time, this will change, as people catch onto my plans, though why they should is another topic for another day. That’s my responsibility.
I want to feel good about this. I already feel better than I thought I might, which is to say this is going to be relatively easy, and I’m optimistic this will get even easier as the weeks and months pass. A successful outcome might need me to anticipate what might happen on Fridays, if applicable, like the property thing, and educate the people I work with accordingly but, so far, this just reinforces what I know – nobody gives a **** except me and I’m unplugging. And those who do give a ****, I care about them enough to keep an eye on their needs and reply if urgent and only if urgent.
Most people are not as diligent (or do I mean perfectionist/compulsive?) about email as me and I can easily model them. My role model is a woman who doesn’t look at her emails at all – ever. I cannot ever imagine getting there, but you never know. I wonder what life would look like from that perspective and I look forward to finding out whilst simultaneously being equally aware that one must be careful what one wishes for. Don’t stop writing. I love you. But I may be a tad sluggish to reply on Fridays, just so’s you know.