The computer can't tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what's missing is the eyebrows.
3 and a half weeks ago I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted Instagram off my iPhone. It feels pretty great. (note, I began writing this post in December 18th, 2013 - but only really pulled the plug on December 30th, since I was meeting people in Italy, and Facebook was the only way to keep in touch, unfortunately)
My relationship with Social Media & Apps
“Wow you have so many apps on your phone” is probably one the most common lines I get if there is an acquaintance looking at my phone while I unlock it.
I’ve had 5 different blogs in my life. I’ve started online forums, Vimeo and You Tube channels. I even taught a social media class at São Paulo Digital School for PR professionals that was 100% of the times (fortunately) sold-out.
I’ve also came to the realization that constantly consuming social media is just like eating candy, it will bring you that instant gratification, but it’s not worth in the long haul. I’ve learned that after losing over 15lbs in 2013.
For about 3 years, I had an extremely weird ego-toxic morning routine. While still in bed I would check all the networks as soon as I woke up. It was like crack. Or some sort of attention-cocaine habit I could not get rid of. I would do an email dump, scroll through the messages, not open any of them, go to Facebook, read, but not reply to anything. Open Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and sometimes OkCupid or Tinder.
After that, I would get up and go to the bathroom for the usual personal hygiene routine.
My relationship with work
I used to be that guy that was proud of never taking time off. I pulled it off for almost 4 years.
Work 12 hours a day? Yes! Inbox zero on Sunday? For sure. Canceling a vacation to Floranópolis with college friends to work alone on that side project during the holiday? Count me in! I was on the hustle train and felt unstoppable. Until of course, I crashed and burned out.
I must admit that I've been taking it slower in the past 3-4 months. I mean, in comparison to where I was before I know that I’ve significantly slowed down. I feel that now I am back at the beginning of my peak performance again, but it does take a while to recover from that entrepreneurial combo of "burnout-depression".
In between Q2-Q3 I just fell off the wagon of productivity and my email / work / social media life became extremely overwhelming. It was ridiculous, and I hated it.
The moment I decided that I had to change things for good: I took a vacation day from work (a Friday!), to secretly work, without people having to expect a response from me and on the same night had this “nightmare” about never being able to finish my inbox and tasks at hand.
I decided it was time to change things for good. GTD and David Allen helped quite a lot, as well as a productivity course I took with my friend Thiago Forte - By the way he is one of the best GTD consultants in San Francisco (In case you need some help as well).
Facebook became purely a newsfeed of egotistic updates or shitty jokes. I guess that’s what happens when most of your friends work in tech and own a startup. Instagram was also providing little value. Sure, I could see who was going to Bali, check out the snow in Boston or even remember how hot some of my Brazilian high school friends still look hot. However when scrolling pictures on Instagram, nothing real usually happens.
Maybe I am doing it all wrong but it became a major time-suck and energy drainer. I kept using the prime hours of my brain to do things that would just not bring anything back. It takes a while to get back into “focus-in-the-zone-mode” and there is a limited amount of decisions we can make on any given day, after just turning on the auto pilot (aka, poor judgement)
Social Media is the nicotine of our times and the cigarettes are the smartphones.
I felt like checking Facebook at least 6-8 times during the first days in addition to the 3-4 Instagram checks. Instead of doing that I actually followed up on important business deals, finished cleaning some spreadsheets and have 2 great in person meetings with people I haven't seen in a while.
Taking some "time off"
I went to Cuba and the Dominican Republic for a week during Thanksgiving and learned amazing things while there. I spent Xmas in Europe with my family . Before that I was in Austin to watch some Formula 1 with great friends and spent a couple of days in Denver to celebrate 2013 results and plan for 2014 with co-workers at SendGrid.
Vacation, resting and getting away from your own reality are extremely necessary things. As a matter of fact I am fascinated by this new concept I was introduced to called Vagabonding. Thank you Tim Ferriss for starting your own Oprah book Club.
I will return to all social media channels
I do actually a fair amount of business on Facebook and really engage with people that I legitimate care. I'm just not sure when I am actually going back, but for now this break feels pretty amazing and liberating form the usual FOMO that most of us that work in tech usually feel.