One of my goals for 2016 was to spend a week monitoring where I spent my time online and then a week going without.
This experiment has been a very mixed success.
The two places I spend the most time on my computer are Facebook (7 hours and 40 minutes over the course of a week) and VLC Media Player (about the same amount of time – though less surprising since it’s what I use to watch movies).
I was pretty surprised the rest of the time on my computer was essentially a blip throughout the week. An hour in MS Excel. MS Word didn’t even show up on the bar graphs (which is sketchy as there is literally always one or two word documents open at any given time).
My phone told a similar story – informing me I spend 21% of my life on it and I tend to pick it up every 28 minutes.
So by the end of the week of tracking this, I was kind of excited to see what a difference cutting out of my computer and only use my cell phone as a cell phone was going to do.
Then I got some texts to check a few work emails and realized that my plan was not going to 100% work. So I revised it to a maximum of 1 hour per day on my computer and no social media – which worked out just fine. I rarely even hit the one hour mark, but I would make a quick email circuit, make sure the correct things had posted on brokeGIRLrich, pay any credit card bills, and keep an eye on what I had listed on eBay. I could usually get this done in less than 30 minutes.
My phone was another story. I had this loft vision that I would live like it was 1999 and just use the phone and texting options. That was clearly madness. Within an hour of starting this experiment, which ran from 12 PM Saturday to the next 12 PM Saturday, I already needed to use Google maps, because… how the heck else was I going to get anywhere? I wasn’t about to go buy an atlas. So I did. Then I started driving for Uber and I wasn’t just not going to drive since it involves using my phone and an app.
So I decided that I just had to stay off social media on my phone. I felt fine about this, since a lot of my high phone usage times were moments when something like Pandora is playing in the background or Uber is running for 4 hours straight. I don’t think these are a problem.
So how did I use this newly gained time? Mostly, I read. I finished up three partially read books off my bookshelf (no, nothing profound or non-fiction, it was all just fluffy fun). I watched a lot more TV with my family in the living room instead of holing up in my room alone and watching on my computer. I baked a few more Christmas cookies than I usually would’ve and cleaned several rooms of the house.
Oh, and I slept soooooooo much better by not ending every day in front of my computer watching an episode or two of a TV show (which, let’s be real, often turned into 5 or 6 and suddenly it was 3 AM and I really should’ve gone to bed hours ago). I honestly slept so good that I’m hoping I can keep up the habit of staying the heck off my computer at night and just reading instead.
However, it was immensely inconvenient to work on my grad school applications. To stick to my computer hours, I would actually print out whatever draft I was working on and work on it by hand, but I was also trying to reference subject matter that professors at each school had worked on, which required double check on the internet, which got a little frustrating until one day I just sat down and got it done in one go and wound up going over the allotted hour that day.
I would come up with ideas for posts for brokeGIRLrich and force myself to wait until the following week to write them all, which backfired a little and I definitely lost the thread on what I was thinking about some subjects. I also didn’t read anyone else’s blogs all week, which isn’t usually the best move.
The best thing though was the limiting of Facebook. I’m not addicted to Twitter at all, it’s really just a work tool for this blog. I can occasionally fall down a Pinterest hole, but it’s rare. And while I do like scrolling through Instagram, I only follow a few people, so it’s never a lot of content on there. The big problem is Facebook. Seriously, I spent nearly the equivalent of a work day on it – because my fingers just start to type it in whenever I open an internet browser.
And you know what? Facebook usually makes me feel pretty lousy. All those articles about how Facebook just makes you feel like you’re falling behind where your friends are in life or like their lives are full of sparkle and excitement and yours is just so boring – absolutely. I feel that way all. the. time. on Facebook. And let’s be real, you’ve all been reading my blog for a while, my life is not boring. I’m an itinerant wanderer. I go on all sorts of adventures. I have terrific friends. But the thing is that when I’m adventuring, or hanging out with the amazing friends, I’m not on Facebook. I’m on Facebook at 2 AM when I can’t sleep or during a layoff (like the current one), when I haven’t left the house in 3 days because no one is around and all my friends are working like normal people and I am bored out of my mind.
Facebook might actually be the devil. I’m really not sure. And I’m so well aware of this, and yet I think that as soon as I broke the ban on it, I binged on catching up for like 2 hours. I was ridiculous.
So I’m not sure what my long term Facebook goal is, but it’s certainly to spend less time on the stupid site and to be aware each time I click over to it.
While the experiment didn’t go 100% as hoped, I think it was still pretty successful. Realizing I’m a Facebook addict, getting better sleep and spending more time with my family all sound like wins to me.