By the middle of June I was done. I looked around my studio and felt such overwhelm despite having fulfilled a lifelong dream: a room of my own.
Walls full of scraps and notes, images and quotes. Piles of artwork, lots of art material. Tons of sketchbooks.
Then I opened my computer and my Trello jumped at me, the sheer number of boards, braindumps, ideas, wishes, etc. And yet, I felt I was doing very little. I finished the day exhausted, my eyes were itchy, my brain swirling around, forcing solutions that would not come.
On top of that, the world.
Oh the world. This relentless insanity, relentless evil, feeling powerless, afraid, worried, anxious all the freaking time.
The guilt of feeling worried about “my art” and trying to go business as usual while waiting for the next wave of bad news.
It was the bottom of the well. Despite feeling like I was working at a maddening pace, I was seeing no results. I felt so scattered. I made bad decisions on where to spend my time.
It’s impossible to measure the number of hours that Instagram steals from you with very little return. This isn’t pontification, this is just my personal assesment. I spent just too much time on it. Every free second of the day I would scroll. Even as I clicked to turn it off, three minutes later I was again looking at it.
I wanted so badly to delete it but that famous FOMO or worse, what will I do without it if I’m trying to promote my work? How will people find me? How will I interact, how will I collaborate?
But… when will I do all the things I want to do if I’m trapped in here?
And then I decided: it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing scenario. What if I delete the app from my phone for the summer. Not for 30 days. For the whole summer. And in September I can install it again and see if I can find a little balance.
We all know how difficult it is to grow your audience. When I uninstalled the app I was still hovering at around 500 followers. There was nothing I could do a part of intensifying the stories, the posting, asking for engament, in short: spending more time in the app itself and there was no guarantee of anything. Plus more followers does not mean more people are going to see your stuff or, that a part from liking, they are going to take any meaningful action. I know because I myself rarely take action on an Instagram post.
I didn’t want to delete my account.
It seemed like a good compromise.
So I did. I wrote the inevitable “explanation post” which was totally unnecessary, but made me feel official and I deleted the app.
So what’s happened since?
It feels like I’m on vacation.
In This World Again.
But I did observe some interesting phenomena immediately after deleting the app:
- The impulse to share is quite powerful. As I kept making art, a phantom feeling of needing to share was intense.
- I started to “forget” my phone for an hour, two hours, an entire morning.
- I would take my dog for a walk and not bring the phone either.
- Photos were unnecessary
- I started to tick some very old to-do’s from my list.
- I wrote much more in my journal
It’s been two weeks and a half and since I started to wear my watch I also forget my phone in my bag. I don’t need to check it for the time either.
It’s unrealistic to completely delete your accounts, despite the best arguments, but you can use them differently. As an independent creator, you need to have a place where you can refer someone quickly and encourage some sort of communication. For me it was Instagram.
I do use Facebook mostly for the groups, but that also became a problem in the following ways:
- Under the guise of helping others and finding help I became a little lazy in searching solutions myself. Sure, these are time saving groups but when you see a question like: how do I open an Etsy shop? you realize that by not doing your own homework you are also wasting other people’s time.
- Groups are for upselling and cross-selling stuff. Unless the group has a very straightforward and honest reason for being, most of them will be helpful to a certain extent. A little beyond that and they will try to sell you another course or e-book. Which is fine, that’s business, but again, there comes a point in which scrolling down looking for an answer and only finding a link to purchase yet another e-book is not a productive use of your time.
This is the least problematic for me. I follow very few people and since it’s basically the far-west of the Internet, I can only take a bit at a time. I follow current events and occasionally rant.
Use them on desktop and free yourself from your phone.
If you are a creative person and most of all, a self-taught creative, you will fall into the rabbit hole of learning, researching, looking for inspiration and comparing your work to other’s. At one point this will become unhealthy (speaking from experience).
By removing temporarily the apps from your phone (a week, two weeks, 30 days or more) you will be able to take things at your own pace. I promise. Days will feel longer, your mind will feel more rested, you will start seeing the path (your path) a little clearer.
Allow yourself a few minutes to go check on Instagram on your desktop, if you really like certain companies or people, you can still check them out. I have a few friends whose posts I really love and I can go and peek into what they are doing without getting lost. And since you can’t post you aren’t in the dopamine loop waiting for the hearts and follows.
For additional Social Media detox help
You can install Simple Blocker on Chrome and Block Site on Firefox to stop the impulse to check Social Media when you’re on your desktop more than necessary.
As with every trick, from the Pomodoro Technique to all productivity advice out there, you can only succeed if you start by doing a little at a time until it becomes a habit.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing
The world works this way. We can’t escape it, as much as I feed my fantasy of relocating to a cabin in the woods. I allow myself a little bit and while I have identified my worse problem which is the time I waste instead of creating or making art.
Hope the idea of temporarily taking a step back and physically removing the apps from your phone, you can really enjoy the summer.