Social media morning blackout

Katy Bateson — №27 with Tomasz Szymanski

The vision

It’s early morning and I put my key into the front door and turn it. The lock clicks, I grab the handle, pull it down and swing the door open. As I open the door, the driveway and street are filled with people I know and every single one of them has a placard in their hands.

The placards are everywhere and they are filled with opinions, headlines, links to articles, photographs, videos. There are updates on children, views on politics, articles about murders, condolence messages, birthday wishes.

As I push my way through the crowds of people, some I know very well and some less so, every message enters my brain. Some make me feel happy, photos of kittens, invites to events, good news about friend’s successes.

But others make me feel sad, headlines about suicide bombers, deaths and disasters. Then there are those that make me feel angry, links to sexist websites, people’s endless moaning, Internet trolls and hate speech, words flung without thought or feeling.

By the time I’ve pushed through the crowd, my mind feels frazzled! Filled with the ideas, opinions and emotions of others. I feel very different to when I left the house.

This is how using social media in the mornings had started to make me feel!

The habit

I had gotten into the habit of checking social media in the morning. It definitely wasn’t the first thing I did when I woke up, but it was certainly something I did before leaving the house or starting work.

This is a routine a lot of people follow. Social media has become a way of feeling connected with others and the rest of the world. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends, advertise events and share interesting links. But this habit wasn’t working for me.

The impact

I’m a highly sensitive person and even though my social media feeds are probably 90% positive — with interesting articles, good news and funny photographs, it was the 10% that I was finding had the biggest impact.

When I saw posts in the morning, no matter how briefly, they stuck in my mind. I could start the day feeling upbeat and positive but I could be incredibly affected by upsetting events and headlines. I had noticed that this impact was strongest at the start of the day — scrolling through the feeds after lunch or in the evening didn’t sway my emotions as much.

Not only was my mood being affected, but so was my creativity. I’d start the day feeling fresh and ready to work, but after checking social media my mind felt overloaded. There didn’t seem to be any room for innovation or creativity as my brain was already swimming with the things I’d absorbed.

I had already hidden the main culprits who continually posted things that I didn’t want to see. Others that I did want to connect with would occasionally share things that they, and others, would find interesting, but unfortunately I’d find upsetting.

I was also struggling not to log back in to see if I had any more responses!

Although this experience and these emotions may not mirror others’ encounters with social media in the morning, it was having an impact on me. As I’m always on the lookout for habits that will make me feel happier, more playful and more productive. I knew I needed to act!

The challenge

I decided to commence a new mini project, which I called “Social Media Morning Blackout.”

Essentially this meant that I would not login to any social media platforms until after 12pm every day.

No ifs, no buts, no exceptions. Absolutely no access to Facebook and Twitter until after 12pm. I didn’t set a time frame for this mini project, I decided to just start and see what happened as I went along.

The project

At the beginning on the project I found myself logging onto social media in the morning purely out of habit. If I was bored and had a few minutes of spare time I would automatically begin to in. Luckily my brain realised and I quickly exited the login process. I was surprised and a little shocked at how automatic this process had become.

I also found that if I had posted something the evening before, the desire to check the next morning was pretty strong. Social media can give us a buzz and that little buzz can be pretty addictive. I’m proud to say I resisted every urge. The world didn’t fall apart by me checking or replying in the afternoon rather than the morning.

Once I’d set the boundaries of my experiment and applied them it was a lot easier than I thought. I could then apply the time typically dedicated to social media, to the pursuit of more productive activities.

It also led me to the idea that maybe I should treat social media like my emails, inbox zero them! I should only login with the idea to zero — check messages, alerts and reply if I need to. Not check them and decide to reply later, browse and then have a further excuse to login in later to reply to the messages.

The result

It is now two weeks into my mini project and I’m definitely having happier more positive starts to the day. My mind is now filled with my own ideas and opinions.

I feel more productive, social media can enable and inspire, but it can also be a procrastination rabbit hole. Often, before we know it, quickly double checking if anyone has answered your post becomes hours of scrolling through your news feed.

So the ultimate result? I have more time in the mornings — if I spent just five minutes an hour checking social media, between the hours 8am and 12pm, I have lost twenty minutes. Think of what you could do in those twenty minutes!

The space in my brain is filling up with creative ideas. Since starting my social media morning blackout I’ve begun working on some really interesting, fun projects.

I will definitely continue with this mini project and at the moment I don’t think it will end. Whilst there are times when I’d like to post a link or send a message, that really can wait until lunch time. The positives of my social media morning blackout far out way any negatives.

As Austin Kleon said, although I’d argue that it should be the afternoon and not the morning! “The best thing to do is click publish and walk away. Close the laptop and go back to work. In the morning, you can return, like a hunter checking his traps, to see if any-body has taken the bait.”

Katy batson

Katy Bateson

Katy believes in the power of positivity and is a Productivity and Creativity explorer. She works as a Productivity Ninja for Think Productive and is an Improviser and leader of her improvisation group, We Are Improv. Katy is fascinated about creativity and set up Bee Creativity, running online courses helping people rediscover their creative selves.

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