During the Christmas season, I was busy throwing myself in to drinking and eating to excess like the rest of the nation when I had a this nagging feeling of self-disapproval (and it was nothing to do with the fact I'd just eaten a whole Terry's Chocolate Orange in secret whilst steaming my clothes for work the next day).
I was lying on the sofa one evening, like a baby walrus, glass of wine next to me, iPad on my lap, iPhone within grabbing distance of my left flipper in case I was texted, Whatsapp'd, phoned (God forbid), one eye on the TV, half an eye on my Instagram feed and other half eye was eyeing up dresses in a fashion mag.
I wasn't really in the present at all. I wasn't enjoying those sips of wine as they were being taken in unconscious glugs and I couldn't even tell you what the programme on the TV was about but I liked the soft lull of presenter's voice in the background. I flicked through my Instagram feed, stopping to read something that took my fancy, liking pictures, sometimes darting off to a website if I saw something I fancied (direct marketing I hate you). I also had open a fashion magazine, flicking through the pages but not really reading the articles, scouring for something that would catch my eye whether that be the pictures or the words.
This my friends was not multi-tasking. This was being so distracted by social media, being so 'connected' that I wasn't really connected at all! Not to anything! Including my family.... who by the way are equally distracted by the buzz of their phones. And I'm not just an observer on social media, I am a keen content provider too. But Instagram, Facebook and Twitter were sucking me dry and there I was, like Henry the Eighth, ramming in as much as those feeds could spit out.
When I announced on New Year's Day that I was not only doing a whole month off alcohol, I was going to give social media a kick in the jacksy too, my family and friends laughed hysterically.
'But you're the social media queen', 'You'll never do it, you're such a social media whore', 'I will believe it when I see it' etc etc.....
Never one to resist the flash of the matador's cape, I promptly deleted my social media apps after declaring to my followers I'd be back in a bit... I've made a lot of lovely friends through social media and having met a handful in the flesh, I was keen for them not to think I was leaving the club for good!
So. Here we are. End of January. Four weeks social media free. I'm due to return later this week and frankly I'm unsure how I feel about it - slightly nervous I think - will I be able to keep up my resolve and dip in and out rather than go back to gorging myself? Surprisingly, did you know there are lots of other things you can do if you haven't got your head stuck in your phone? Who freakin' knew?
This month, I've...
- read four books that have been sitting on my kindle since Noah was a lad.
- listened to 35 podcasts (I'm now addicted to Lifestyle News Hound, Get It On and Desert Island Discs).
- been to the gym religiously three times a week.
- not taken a picture of my outfit once (which is a shame as some of them have been the nuts if I do say so myself) which has saved me about 10 minutes each morning.
- written a couple of articles for publication - which I winge I never have time to do anymore.
- chilled out - lay on the sofa on a Saturday afternoon with a magazine, a coffee and a dog on my knee, without the constant call of the smart phone to distract my attention and without having to post of picture of what I look like whilst I'm doing it.
It's commonly thought that it takes about 21 days to kick or get used to a new habit but research in 2009 by the University of London, concluded that it took the average person a whopping 66 days. So a month off the social media might not be quite enough but either way, it's taught me a lot about my habits and triggers.
What did I miss?
- my followers. I have some awesome women who follow me (and guys!) and I love the feedback on my shoes or comments about my outfits. I love the fact people are interested in what I am wearing.
- sharing when I was pissed off. I missed going on to Twitter and making people laugh as I shared in 141 characters about the bloke who was sat next to me on my commute, quietly farting away to himself whilst I tried to sip my latte without gagging.
- the inspiration. I might be considered a fashionista but sometimes one needs some inspo oneself.
Have you got a social media habit you need to kick? The easiest way is to go cold turkey and follow these steps.
- Don't close your accounts if you plan to use them again. Just delete any apps you have for now.
- Leave your phone in another room on charge - you can hear it if it rings and it will stop you constantly picking it up to look at the apps you now no longer have (I did this constantly the first week).
- Plan to read some books or download podcasts or watch a boxset - all things that require your full attention. Or just sit and think. Sometimes doing nothing at all is the perfect brain reset! NB don't sit and think about social media or any of that FOMO shit.
- Stick to it - after the first week, you don't care what's happening on your time line, honest!
Good Luck! I'll see you on the other side.