October 1st, 2014/Challenges/By /

Challenges: 30-Day Challenge #6 – No Social Media

Less Social Media, More Making
photo credit: Volthair via photopin cc

Previous 30-day challenges:

  1. Meditation
  2. Daily Gratitude
  3. Drink More Water
  4. Stretching
  5. No Caffeine

The Results of the Previous Challenge: No Caffeine 

On average, my monthly caffeine consumption was:

  • 30 cups of coffee (1 cup of black coffee each morning) 
  • 20 scoops of pre-workout supplement ( I work out 5 times a week) 
  • 8 cups of soda (I typically drink a can of soda twice a week)

This month, I challenged myself to not drink any caffeine. Things didn’t go quite as planned, and I did cheat a few times. This month, I consumed:

  • 2 cups of coffee (it happened during the first week when I was crashing from coffee withdrawal)
  • 2 scoops of pre-workout supplement (I was tired and wanted to get the most out of chest day)
  • 2 cans of soda (it was hard to resist having some coke with Korean Kalbi)

I am sharing this with you to show you I’m not super-human. I’m just like you and can succumb to temptation. However, I still consider my experiment a success because I consumed 90% less caffeine than I would normally. It’s a huge win because I made progress. 

You might be wondering how having almost no caffeine affected my productivity.

Well, the first 3 days were horrible. I felt like a member of The Walking Dead show (a zombie, not the Asian guy). I was sleepy throughout the day, and I didn’t have much energy for workouts. The good news is I didn’t have headaches, common in caffeine withdrawal. 

How do I feel now? God-like. I don’t experience the 2 p.m. afternoon crashes anymore that come with having morning coffee. Now I have a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

I have to admit: I miss the crazy pumped-up feeling I get before hitting the gym. Instead, I have to concentrate on my fitness goals and listen to good music to get in the zone. I was actually able to hit some new weightlifting personal records last week, so I know I don’t need my pre-workout supplement.

The biggest benefit of no caffeine is that I sleep much better now. I’ve always slept 7 hours a day. Even if I wanted to sleep longer than normal, my biological clock wouldn’t let me. But now I’m able to sleep 8-9 hours if I don’t set an alarm. My phone app also tells me I’m getting more DEEP SLEEP cycles than I used to. They increased to 45% from 35% on average.

Based on my experience this month, I am more productive without coffee.

What happens next? Am I going to give up caffeine for the sake of productivity? I’ve decided to give up the pre-workout supplement for good. Drinking it at 6 p.m. affects my beauty sleep. 

I’ll be going back to my 9 a.m. cup of coffee. I love the taste, the ritual, and the smell of coffee. I will, however, decrease my coffee consumption significantly and limit it to Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. 

This was a good challenge for me, and I’m glad I did it. Did any of you do the challenge as well? What was your experience? 

The next 30-day challenge

The next challenge is NO SOCIAL MEDIA for 30 days. No posting on Facebook, no checking out Jen Selter’s motivational quotes on Instagram, and no random rants on my Twitter page. 

I got this idea from reading Cal Newport’s blog. He doesn’t use social media at all. He argues that people who are doing truly great work don’t have time for social media. Great things are achieved when you’re completely in the zone and doing deep work. 

I’ve actually done this challenge once a year for the past few years, so I know I’m capable of staying away from social media. I also know the tremendous benefits it can bring. Join me in this journey. 

Why I’m doing a Social Media Detox

Most of us are addicted to social media, but no one wants to admit it.

Eating a meal these days means having one hand on your fork and the other on your smartphone. The next time you go out to eat, do some people-watching. Most of the couples are typing away on their phones rather than talking to each other. Some of us can’t even use the toilet without taking our phones for the ride to rescue us from boredom. 

Here are the main reasons why I’m quitting social media for a month. 

1. Time

The moments spent on social media add up. We don’t check just Twitter anymore. We make a “round.” First Twitter, then Facebook, then Instagram, then Reddit, then forums, etc. A quick 5-minute check could turn into one hour without you realizing it. 

Just imagine what you could accomplish with an extra hour or two in the day!

2. Our best ideas happen when we’re bored

I have a theory about how the mind works. We operate in 3 different modes:

  • Input: We are receiving information and digesting it with our brains. This could be reading a website, watching a movie, surfing Facebook, etc. 
  • Output: We’re in the creation mode. I’m in output mode as I write this blog post you’re reading. 
  • Idle: Neither. Some people see it as boredom. Idling happens, for example, when we’re waiting in line for something or walking somewhere. 

Over time, we got rid of our idle time. Smartphones make entertainment available to us anytime we want. We hate boredom and instead look for any activity that releases dopamine. 

I argue that the IDLE time is VITAL to the creative process. Have you ever been in the shower and had an amazing idea? When your brain is not busy with input or output, your subconscious has the opportunity to generate ideas. 

Social media is not the only enemy. It doesn’t make sense to quit social media if you’re also playing Angry Birds on your breaks.

Next time you’re eating alone or waiting in line, let your mind wander. Don’t busy it with a task.

Your brain could be dying to give you a million-dollar idea, but you’re not letting it. 

3. FULL engagement in our work

Sometimes I write a kick-ass or a controversial post on my Facebook page. Even though I have Facebook blocked when I work, I am wondering to myself, “How are people reacting?” Am I getting likes and comments? 

That means my brain is not 100% in the moment, and I am not fully engaged in my work. 

4. Emotions

Facebook gives me more negative feelings than positive ones these days.

It’s constant image-crafting. Everyone’s trying to out-do everyone else and make their lives look more epic than they really are. Also, some people write status updates that just annoy me. I’d rather take a break from it. 

5. Breaking the addiction

Did you know social media can actually change your brain for the worse?

You start getting addicted to the dopamine hits, and you start losing some of your brain’s gray matter (the stuff that controls your ability to focus). 

Everyone is having trouble concentrating these days. Actively honing my ability to focus gives me a huge competitive advantage in life. 

The downsides

There are a few downsides to not being on social media for a month.

  1. I’ll be losing a significant amount of traffic to my blog. I get a ton of traffic from my Facebook pages and Twitter. The only thing I will have is automated sharing of each new blog post. I won’t be posting my random thoughts anymore since I’ll be too tempted to check the replies. 
  2. Less interaction with my fans. I get a lot of messages from my fans, asking questions or looking for help, and I won’t be there to answer them.

Limiting my engagement with my fans does, however, fit with my decision to make myself less accessible to people. If you haven’t noticed, I removed the contact form from my blog last month. The number of messages I’ve been getting from people started affecting my day-to-day productivity.

It’s a matter of knowing what to leverage and applying the 80/20 rule. I want to spend my time crafting new guides and writing higher quality posts. Each piece of content I write can reach thousands and thousands of people. That’s much more scalable than helping someone one-on-one. Besides, half the people don’t even thank me or put my advice into action. 

Action Plan

  • Deactivate my Facebook
  • Remove social media apps from my iPhone and iPad
  • Make a small announcement of my challenge on social media. I need to let people know I’m deactivating my profiles so people don’t think I’ve de-friended them or that I’m going through personal issues. 
  • Hand over access to my Facebook page to my intern. He’ll be posting my old articles and moderating on my behalf, but I won’t be replying to any comments or questions. 

Are you interested in doing this challenge with me? Post a comment below.