Wednesday, January 13, 2016

40 Day Social Media Fast

I started a social media fast the middle of October that lasted through November. I stayed off Facebook unless there was an event invite I needed info from and didn't open Blogger, Instagram or Twitter once. It helped that I took those apps off my phone because sometimes I mindlessly tap on any app that might entertain me. It's a part of my social media habit that I can see now post-fast. When I stop surfing my phone, I'm usually disappointed that I let it suck my time and focus. You know you're using something to zone out rather than tune in when it's hard to come back to the direction your day was going. This is the one thing I want to change about my use of SM as I move forward. 

It was also a relief to be doing a fast in November when it feels like everything's accelerating and ramping up towards holidays and the end of the year. The fast took the edge off that and while there wasn't any strategy to the timing of this one, I think I'll use fasts in the future to counteract the parts of life when, no matter how you try to maintain a sane pace, the stars align so IT ALL happens at once. It's nice to know I have things I can take off the top when I need to offset extras. 

That sounds so very practical and even obvious, but the problem is, I never want to let anything slide. I am all or nothing most of the time and it creates a mind block when I know I need to cut some stuff out. I may have an easy time letting objects go, but try to talk me out of my To Do's and I'll make you crazy. "But that would be so much LESS work if I do it when I'm already doing that." As a helpful, caring, well-intentioned friend, you'll point to another item that doesn't need to happen just now. Then I'll look at you with my big, brown, sad eyes and say, "But that's the one I was excited about." It really is a trick. Because some things can be put off and the sun does still rise. Sometimes over a calmer Kendra. So here's a list of things that take my time, but can wait if we have crazy going on.

  • Cleaning - I calm myself with the thought that when I clean the floors, or counters, or bathroom, they will be just as clean as if I'd cleaned them multiple times between now and the time I get around to them. 
  • Putting things away - I'm unapologetic about my need to pick up clutter in the main areas on a daily basis. However, the items that need care to put away (things to sort for donation or sale, seasonal decorations, toys we are taking a break from) are okay to "stuff" in our storage room until I have the time to deal with them. It's even okay to use a big plastic garbage bag in a pinch because when you empty it, you can still use it for actual trash. (No earth unfriendliness here.)
  • Take a vacation from blogging, especially since it's a hobby and and I have no advertisers to please

So the fast didn't radically change what I do online, but it did what fasts always do for me. They remind me I'm free. That all this is a choice and I'm the one who chooses. Because I was in that space, I sat back and observed how destructive the busy-ness around Christmas is. I told a friend, "We aren't very strategic when it comes to the holidays." When he asked what I meant, I said, "We plan so much stuff we have to rush around and keep track of a million extra things and push our kids faster -- who can be holly-jolly in the middle of that?" So I exercised my freedom and we had relaxing holidays. The days with extended family were crazy (in the good way) but the other days were chill.  

We're coming up to the time of year when a lot of people tend to do a fast of some kind during Lent, which starts February 10 this year. While the tradition doesn't have a lot of meaning for me, I think fasts of all kinds are a fabulous tool for intentional living. Changing something - anything - about your daily life is enough to get your attention and make you think. So I'm going to start brainstorming about what I could let go of during the traditional time of Lent because I think it's special when people push themselves a bit but even more special if we can do it together. If you have any ideas about what to let go for a short time, please comment! I have zero ideas so far. : )

P.S. Here's one more tip for doing a social media fast. If you follow blogs on a blog reader, go ahead and click the "Mark all as read" button when you come back. Don't read any of them unless you really want to. You took a break and the best thing about an online break is YOU DON'T HAVE TO CATCH UP. Where else in life is this possible?? Nowhere, so enjoy. 

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