What I Learned From Quitting Social Media for 5 Days

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At the moment, I’m working on a manuscript for my second book, which is about creative habits. As research for one of the chapters. I decided to give up my use of social media for 5 days.

I deleted twitter and Instagram from my phone. I disabled Safari. I haven’t logged into Facebook since last Thursday. Additionally, I have limited checking email to once a day. And I have spent a few days snowboarding in Colorado.

Bonus: Read Jake Knapp’s post on turning your smartphone into a dumb phone

The main reason that I decided to conduct this experiment was because I was stuck. I wasn’t progressing with the current manuscript at the same rate I was with the other one. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned.

1. Less Anxiety and More Happiness

Study after study has shown that people who check email frequently or use social media excessively experience greater levels of anxiety. And it can turn you into the cognitive equivalent of an athlete who smokes. My own tendencies for anxiety are probably higher than average. By day 2, I noticed my anxiety had gone down significantly. I felt calmer,happier, and because I wasn’t seeing things that everyone else was posting, I was comparing less and creating more.

2. Presence

Whether it’s an athletic or creative endeavor, a conversation with a friend, lover, or family member, presence improves both performance and the quality of any experience. Because I wasn’t documenting every moment, I was actually living it, and fully engaged in it. My meals with friends and my day snowboarding were much more enjoyable because I was present and fully engaged in both.

3. Increased Focus

Large creative projects like writing a book require intense focus. By giving up social media, I found that my level of focus increased. And I was able to sustain deep work for longer periods of time. It turns out quitting social media for a few days at a time is a great way to build your deep work muscle and experience flow on a more consistent basis.

4. Improved Productivity

Sunday was day 4 of my hiatus from social media. And I had to finish reading a 100-page book by Monday to prepare for an interview on the Unmistakable Creative. I ended up finishing two books by yesterday. 
I also managed to get about 2000 words written of my manuscript and edit our next episode of the podcast.

As you manage to wean yourself off of sources of distraction, they’ll eventually lose their appeal because you’ll be making progress towards meaningful creative work. You’ll also be more present not just with your work, but with people in your life. While I’m not going to permanently give up social media, this has convinced me of the virtues of drastically reducing my usage of it.

If you find yourself stuck creatively, or are riddled with stress and anxiety, consider giving up social media for a few days and you might just find that your creativity starts to flow again.

Before You Go…

If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.

The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.


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