Reclaiming 10+ Hours/Week Part 1: Unplug

I feel slightly vulnerable saying this, but we’re all friends here right?

Here’s the scoop: I’ve been having some serious boundary issues with social media and email.  I’ve found myself spending hours going into the rabbit hole—it starts out fun, but I get sucked in.  And I find myself checking my email and social 20+ times per day. This takes me away from things that are important to me such as people I’m with, important tasks I want to accomplish, and hobbies.  Can you relate?

The Hidden “Cost” of Over-Checking Email & Social

  1. It takes you out of the moment of what’s right in front of you

  2. It wastes a lot of time—not only the time you’ve spent checking, but it also takes on average 5-25 minutes to fully bring you back to what you were doing and the people you’re with

  3. Checking email and social excessively actually depletes dopamine levels in the brain! Like any addiction we get a quick burst of dopamine which then lowers below the baseline creating an addictive cycle where we crave the quick burst again.

Why does this matter?

In one sense it doesn’t.  Who cares?  You’re not hurting anyone, right?  In Michael Hyatt’s book, Freedom to Focus (has some great productivity gems), according to one study 65% of people in the US report that they don’t feel they have enough time to do everything they want.  If you fall into this camp, then maybe it’s time to start to carve out space in your day for things that matter to you most.  

For me, when I’m working I want to be working.  When I’m meditating I want to be meditating.  When I’m hanging out with friends I want to be hanging out with friends.  I don’t want to be check email and social when I’m meditating (has happened more than I want to admit) or when I’m spending time with people I care about.  There is also a running list of things I’d love to do that I claim I don't have time for such as:

-spend more time in nature

-write a book

-do more yoga

-relax and finish watching Our Planet (so good!!!)

-teach more classes

-create a podcast

It’s totally cool if checking your email and social brings you pure joy—often I do feel joy (though not always) when I’m connecting with others online.  Also, if you’re doing these things for work (self employed or for a company), you need to know this: sometimes the less we work the more we get.  

Working Less and Producing Better Results

There was a study in Sweden where Toyota moved from 8 hour days to 6 hour days (also described in Freedom to Focus).  The employees were happier, the employees got the same amount of work done, and the company was more profitable.  This just shows that being a busy worker bee does not always mean that you’re getting quality work done. 

Creating new boundaries:

  1. Try “batching” emails and social media.  Set a timer for the amount of time you want to be on once or twice a day.  This will simplify your life and help you stay focused on what you’re working on. If it seems useful, communicate with those on your team about when and how often you check your email.

  2. When you don’t need to be available, experiment with turning the phone on airplane or do not disturb.  

  3. Experiment with removing email and social from your phone (if it makes sense for your life)

  4. Try setting limits around the earliest and latest you’ll be on email and social.  For example, I won’t check email before my morning yoga or I won’t be on social after 8pm.

This isn’t to feel guilty about these habits—after all we’re all humans!  But it is about getting crystal clear about what habits are adding more value to your life, so that you can create your life on purpose, and not be ruled by unconscious habits.

Was this helpful for you?! What was your biggest takeaway? Let me know in the comments below!

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