Last week, I instituted a challenge to myself—to stay off of Facebook for 30 days. The razzings have already started from some of my friends, the ones I can see in person. Some people may not care about Facebook, but for twentysomethings like me, it’s an institution. Schedules, party invites, work networking is all done on there.
Part of being a writer is making sure you carve out time to do your writing/editing. Too often we use all of our nifty networking tools to the point of distraction. Checking people’s status and keeping in the loop becomes a habit, where we refresh the page every few hours to see what’s going on, and perhaps doing a few quizzes and apps along the way.
One of the most precious items allotted to me is my free time. I have a full-time job, I sleep, and I have a few hobbies, so balancing time is extremely important to me. I realized last month that I probably waste a good hour over the course of a day doodling on Facebook. I also spent a lot of time playing WoW (World of Warcraft for you non-geeks) and feeling bored. Bored, for crying out loud! What do I have to feel bored about when I have a book I’m editing for hopeful publication?
We so often ramp up our writing only to take so many little detours out of a need for a break that our breaks become distractions, and the distractions cause us to lose focus of our true goals in life. Sure you want to watch those TV shows – but if you watch so much TV that you’re putting your writing away four nights a week, you’ve lost all of that time.
Thinking about how I spend my evenings, I realized I could easily cut out or reduce my distractions and be focused and therefore much happier about how my time was spent, rather than enjoy a few empty hours only to be frustrated at my lack of fulfillment. No matter how much we enjoy things like games or reading writing blogs, they will not leave you with the satisfaction that your time was plumped with activities that gave you something, something that advanced your goals, hopes, and dreams.
Here are the things I cut out/reduced:
1) Reevaluated my blogs and other info sources. I now don’t compulsively check the news every few hours.
2) No Facebook for 30 days, to see if I really miss anything.
3) I retired my raiding spot in WoW (huge time commitment), and I’ve found I don’t miss anything. I still get to talk to my friends, and I’m spending time sunk into my writing worlds.
4) I cut out a lot of TV. I found myself watching old seasons simply because I enjoy them. Darn you, Hulu.
5) Looking at houses and whining about wanting to own one (I’m cursed with bad landlords)
Because of all of this, I not only have more time for my writing, but all of a sudden I have time for more reading. I’ve always read a lot, but this winter I only read 1-2 books a month as opposed to my usual 6-10. Reading is more satisfying than TV for me.
Will I go back to Facebook after the month is up? Yes – I don’t want social annihilation. But I don’t think I’ll be checking it every few hours anymore.