One of my goals for this year was to take a social media retreat for one week a month. Today is my first day back from my first retreat and I have to say, it was fabulous. I missed my friends on social media, Twitter especially, but holy crap you would not believe the difference it made in my productivity and, more importantly, my focus.
I thought that I would see an increase in my productivity because I wouldn’t be spending time reading, posting and surfing social media, and I was right. What I hadn’t counted on was how much more focused that time would be. Since none of my attention or thought process was going into thinking about social media or the news from social media or anything like that, I was so focused. I’ve tried to multitask less over the past few years because I feel like I’m working harder and longer and getting less done. I’ve read the studies, I am passingly familiar with the debates about whether multitasking is good or bad for us. I don’t have any big answers but I do know that, for me, single-tasking is better. I can do more, faster and better if I focus on one thing at a time than if I have to keep shifting my attention from thing to thing. I hadn’t realised how many of my resources (emotional, creative and just straight-up attentive) were being used by social media even when I wasn’t actively on those websites. It was astounding.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Twitter and I’m not leaving it, but I expect to spend less time there than I have been. In fact, I’m thinking of expanding my social media retreat to two weeks a month. That’s right. I’d be off social media for 50% of the time. We’ll see. I’m not making any changes just yet, but it’s something I’m thinking of, for sure. If you were intrigued by my social media retreat and considered trying it for yourself I definitely recommend it.
On a pseudo-related note I am participating in A Month of Letters again this year. A Month of Letters, or LetterMo, is the brain child of Mary Robinette Kowal. In 2010 she took a month off the internet (not just social media) and invited people to write her via snail mail if they wanted. She was surprised by the number of people who did, and that inspired LetterMo. The challenge at the heart of LetterMo is this:
- In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
- Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.
I participated in A Month of Letters last year and I found it to be extremely rewarding (blog entry about it here: A Month of Letters). In part it’s about the same thing as my social media retreats — slowing down and focusing on one thing (or person) at a time. Plus it gives me an excuse to buy pretty new paper from my favourite stationary store.
If you are doing A Month of Letters I go by the shockingly creative handle of Rhonda over there and I would welcome your friend request (though I won’t actually use the website a whole lot). Also, whether you are participating or not, if you would like for me to write you during the month of February I would be very happy to do that Send me your snail mail address whatever way you feel comfortable with (reply here, message on the Month of Letters site or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you something in February. It may be as small as a postcard or as long as a multi-page letter, depending on how many addresses I receive and how talkative I’m feeling when I sit down to write, but I will mail you something. Also, while I’d like to think it goes without saying, just for the record, I will never give away or sell your address.