A few years back, I decided to take up a new hobby: Self-improvement. Or more precisely: 30-day slices of self-improvement in which I adopted (or avoided) a behavior for an entire month before (sometimes) reverting back to my slothful and hedonistic ways.
As you might imagine, my new hobby made me a riot at parties. But it also led to some meaningful, positive changes in my day-to-day existence.
Here’s what I do: Pick one thing, and do it, or avoid doing it, for 30 days. That’s it.
Some of the “projects” I’ve taken on over the past 48 months include: Avoiding Facebook, eating a salad every day, a spending freeze, quitting TV, daily meditation and quitting drinking (Sober January!).
I am often asked about my 30-day projects, so I’ve decided to write a serious of blog posts about them and their outcomes.
“Quitting” Facebook was my first 30-day project, and one of my favorite ones. Here’s how it went down:
When: July 2013.
What I did: As a recovering nomad, I didn’t want to quit Facebook entirely, which would mean severing my only connection with many friends in far-flung locales. But I needed a serious break. I was spending way too much time perusing other people’s digital lives, and I didn’t like the jealous feeling that occasionally struck me when I saw posts celebrating promotions, pregnancies and home purchases. So I vowed not to log on to Facebook for 30 days.
How’d it go? I’m not exaggerating when I say this was a life-changing experience. It was also one of my most successful 30-day projects. Almost immediately, I noticed a palpable increase in my happiness and productivity. I didn’t miss Facebook at all—I actually felt like some kind of weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
What did I learn? I learned that I really was spending too much time on Facebook, which was taking valuable time away from other activities, like reading, that brought me more fulfillment. Also, I discovered that using Facebook wasn’t helping me feel more connected to my friends and family.
What happened afterwards? More than three years later, I continue to only use Facebook on a sporadic basis, and I still believe my life is better without daily Facebook use. I try to avoid logging in more than once a week or so, and I typically only do when I get an email telling me I have a message or someone posted on my wall. I almost never peruse my news feed.
A few caveats: I got married last month, and subsequently spent a lot of time on Facebook responding to messages and perusing photos people posted of the big day.
I continue to regularly use Instagram and Twitter, though I try to also limit my use of them. For whatever reason, I don’t find these networks to be as annoying, depleting or addictive as Facebook. My Twitter auto-posts to my Facebook wall. This means I’m technically “on” Facebook more than I realize, a friend pointed out once.
Also, I still receive notifications from Facebook telling me when any of my friends are having a birthday. I love this feature, because I’ll call or text the person if I have their phone number, which usually makes for a more personal, intimate exchange than just posting on their wall.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Even if you love Facebook, I still think it’s worth taking a break. You might be surprised by how it makes you feel—I certainly was!
Hat tip to my friend Meredith Purcell, whose blog post about her plants inspired the format for this post!