Social Media in all it’s forms has been a big part of my world over the last decade or so. Checking my Facebook timeline before even getting out of bed, rushing to read a Twitter notification, browsing my Instagram feed to see all the amazing places, food and company being enjoyed by my friends, viewing SnapChat stories as I headed off to sleep were regular occurrences.
My smartphone had become the most important item in my world, it constantly draws my attention from the company, conversations and the amazing world around me.
On the morning of May 1st, after the actions of someone who really should have known better, I made the decision to withdraw from all forms of Social Media for a month. The reason was twofold, After a hugely disappointing experience I wanted to focus on myself in the real world for a while and this seemed like a perfect opportunity, but honestly the main reason was probably due to the likelihood of saying something in public, that while probably merited, I’d regret and wouldn’t ever be able to undue the damage an outburst would certainly do.
What I did discover was that within a handful of hours of making the decision, I suddenly had a lot of time to fill in the day. Here’s what I learned in the month.
I’ve been writing a book about my adventure on two wheels around the planet for some time now, but this month I was more productive than the previous three months combined. Removing my phone and computer from the wifi connection, added to the atrocious phone coverage in my home, meant virtually no distractions during my ‘Working Hours’ and productivity hit an all time high for me. I even managed to cut the lawn, twice!!
Due to the focus on the book in the last few months, I’ve been in hibernation when it came to virtually all forms of exercise. I took this opportunity to start getting out into the nature all around me, the Shannon Blueway is on my doorstep and my usual evening is spent strolling along the banks of the waterways, meeting my neighbours out also enjoying the good weather we’ve been blessed with this month.
I’d been putting friend’s invites to visit them on the long finger for ages, until I decided to just say ‘Yes’ and head off. A few days this month were spent visiting friends and family in Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Galway, Dublin and Donegal.
I mentioned that time was now a big factor in my life, I could decide how, and with who, I would spend my days, rather than seeing where my cousin was her city break, what my neighbour was wearing or that guy, who was in school with me but I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years, had consumed for lunch.
A weekly barbeque with family and hanging out with my nephews after school became a focal point of my days activities. Whether that involved helping with homework, playing on a trampoline, a round of golf, checking out the bluebells in a local beauty spot it nearly always involved being outside and active.
5. Losing Weight
One side effect of the hibernation of recent weeks has been an sharp rise in weight as I continued to eat at my cycle levels while not getting a fraction of the exercise that I’d be experiencing. This month bucked the trend recording a ten pound (4.5kg) loss for the month of May.
Other than the exercise my diet had been horrendous for the last few months, this month I managed to get myself organised to do a proper weekly shop, and prepare all my own meals from scratch, it might not seem like a huge challenge but given my ‘normal’ activity of eating out for virtually every meal, it’s a massive step for me.
Last week, save for twice, I prepared each of my three daily meals myself from fresh produce. It’s certainly one way of helping my waist line get a little smaller while going slightly easier on the wallet.
7. Saving Money
As you can expect eating out for each meal is a massive drain on finances, in fact I’d estimate I’ve spent at least two, if not three, times as much on sustenance over recent months. Convenience foods, sweets, eating out and takeaways have been normal expenses for me.
After installing personal finance app ‘Spendbook‘ ($1.99) on my phone, I was able to track all my expenditure, plug some small leaks in my spending habits and be able to stand over every single purchase I made. It made a massive impact on my outgoings and obviously on the bottom line of how much money I had at the end of the week.
8. Stop comparing myself to others
My day didn’t consist of looking at my friends dotted around the planet on remote islands in the Maldives, jumping of bridges in New Zealand, trekking to Machu Picchu or with their other halves on a romantic holiday under the Eiffel Tower and comparing myself to them.
Once you aren’t aware of the perfect image that each person had spent loads of time presenting to the world, designed to induce jealously, life returns to the bare basics of the present. Turn’s out it’s a lot more fun.
During the month, I had the time and headspace to finally get working on a number of projects that I’ve wanted to get involved in, fresh episodes of the podcast are recorded, one with Galway Adventurer Gavan Hennigan went live today, the rest will follow in coming weeks.
The number of people who ‘like’, ‘share’ or otherwise interact with your photo, video or viral funny doesn’t signify anything. Sitting, trying to work out why less people liked today’s photo rather than the hundred’s who’d liked your new profile picture.
We’ve all done it, sitting watching the numbers grow, or more often, seeing the same number just sitting there hour after hour, wondering why more of our ‘friends’ don’t like our posts. The reality is that your ‘friends’ don’t care about your musings nearly as much as you think they do. Maybe you should follow my lead and stop worrying about what they’re doing too.