3 Weeks of Social Media Blackout: Progress/Thoughts
My productivity has shot through the roof in recent weeks. I attribute it to three things:
1. Office. Finally having my office set up and a regular schedule for office hours has made a HUGE difference. I work Monday-Friday and write 9-noon, then take a 3 hour break for errands/lunch/walking/cleaning (can’t always fit ALL that in), and then 3-6 is business-related work. It’s working GREAT. I wasn’t sure it would really make a difference to have an office and a set schedule, but that closed door makes a HUGE impact on the separation between work and personal life.
2. Rewards System. Since I started earning more money I started spending more money and shopping was getting a little out of control and I started feeling guilty whenever I bought something. Plus it sort of flew in the face of my minimalistic ideals. So I set up a points-based reward system that rewards me with shopping money. The amount I get each month depends both on the amount of actual money I have been paid that month plus the specific work I have accomplished based on my points system. This ensures I’m saving more money than I’m spending and motivates me to get things done. As silly as it sounds, it’s really working for me. It’s removed the guilt of shopping while moderating it and keeping me motivated and on task.
3. Social media black out. This is the end of the third week of blackout. I blackout from Saturday night until the next Saturday morning (wow, phrased like that, that sounds like a personal problem requiring an intervention LOL), and at this point I almost get a little thrill when I block all the sites on Saturday evening because it means a kind of total freedom I haven’t really experienced for at least five years, except for my brief Internet sabbaticals, but even then I tended to check email at least. And now this feeling is a regular feature of my week.
Now I only check social media, email, and blogs (including my blog) once per week. I can’t even begin to express how much this has freed my time and increased my productivity. It’s also reduced my drama considerably.
Before, people had almost unlimited access to me and my emotions online. An angry email or an email about a topic that riles me up or pisses me off was all it took to ruin a writing day. (Not blaming others here, I’m just stating the facts of how it affects me.) I can’t have a bunch of drama and actually get fiction written and work done. My mind just won’t let me. I’m sure many creative types including most writers function like this. It’s why a lot of us write in the morning before any other drama or crap can steal our mental real estate. So I have to shut all that shit down during the work week.
I do have an emergency direct email account that people like my cover artist and copyeditor have… my audio people and my VA (virtual assistant) will have it as well when the time comes. This is an email strictly for those I do business with and collaborate on or email back and forth with in some way for work. I check the emergency email account once per day in the afternoons during the week. But there is no drama in there. It’s not for readers or fellow writers or casual business stuff that isn’t emergency-based. (Cover art isn’t necessarily an emergency, it’s just that there is some back and forth with discussing various aspects of the process and the approval process, that if I only answered emails once a week from my cover artist while we were working on a project, it would take a month to get final art. Which is sort of counter-productive.)
Just like I tried shutting down blog comments and then found I liked it so much that I kept it that way, I fully anticipate I’ll keep doing the social media and regular email blackout during the week. I have an autoresponder set up on my regular email accounts so people know I’m not snubbing/ignoring them. It’s amazing how few things are genuine emergencies in email and how the world doesn’t stop if you just check most accounts once a week.
It started out a little bit difficult (just like breaking any other kind of addiction), but the more I do it, the more I like it. And the more I feel freedom from all the constant noise and drama that the internet generally produces. I’m also way more productive.
I highly recommend this!