Will I be more productive without social media?
One of the many benefits of not being on social media is increased productivity and if you’re asking yourself, Will I be more productive without social media?’ The simple answer is of course, much more productive!
If you spend on average of 3 hours a day on social media, then in theory you should be 3 times more productive than you are now. But let’s explore what that looks like in real life, what does it actually mean to be productive, is the purpose of quitting social media to actually be more productive, or is it something else entirely?
What is productivity?
According to the Oxford dictionary, productivity is, “the rate at which a worker, a company or a country produces goods, and the amount produced, compared with how much time, work and money is needed to produce them”
So when you sit down at your desk at 9am, if you’re not distracted by social media, and checking your phone every five minutes, then it stands to reason that, in theory, you should be super productive!
As business owners, being productive looks like so much. It’s much more than just how much content we can churn out. It is also the time spent on creating courses, preparing webinars, making videos or podcasts, replying to emails, client work, marketing activities and the other million and one other things we do on a daily basis.
So, when we think of leaving social media, we think about all of the ‘business’ activities we can be doing with our new-found time and freedom. And, to have that time suddenly become available is quite exciting!
It’s not quite as simple though as swapping your 3 hours a day scrolling for 3 hours a day writing blogs or sending pitches or planning webinars. Especially given that much of our time spent on social media might be late at night or at weekends or early in the morning – not specifically during working hours. Therefore to answer the question, how much more productive will I be without social media, we have to look at the bigger picture.
More time and energy to do what you want
Personally, I find my own productivity difficult to measure. I was under no illusion that leaving social media would suddenly turn me into the most efficient, productive and organised person I know – it didn’t, that is just not who I am.
But it did force me to look at the areas of my business that I had been neglecting due to ‘lack of time’ or noticing that I had been putting off a really powerful marketing activity because it felt scary and it was easier to convince myself that posting on Instagram or replying to a comment in a Facebook group was just as good and maybe, actually, this was the comment that would get me noticed, or this post would be the one that went viral and I would arrive!
Before I left social media, I didn’t ask myself how much more productive will I be without social media? But rather, what lovely things can I do now that I don’t have to worry about social media anymore?! Whether your desire to leave social media is for business or personal reasons, I think the key thing to remember here is that you will gain the time, freedom, energy and choice to do something else, anything else. Or as one of my friends put it – a thousand and one worthwhile things!
Does leaving social media mean increased productivity in terms of more focused work, the amount of work you get done or does it look like being more productive in other ways such as reading the books you want to read, getting the jobs done around the house, all your admin up to date, meal planning and actually, with the time spent away from social media, do you want to ‘be productive’ at all?
Do you even want to be more productive?
I love what Oliver Burkeman says about productivity in his book, Four Thousand Weeks
“Productivity is a trap. Becoming more efficient just makes you more rushed, and trying to clear the decks simply makes them fill up again faster. …The day will never arrive when you finally have everything under control; and when the fully optimized person you’ve become can turn, at long last, to the things life is really supposed to be about. None of this is ever going to happen. But you know what? That’s excellent news.”
When I read that, I was so happy.
For me, being “productive” was not actually a goal as such when I quit social media. As you can hear in this podcast episode, my reasons for quitting social media had very little to do with producing more work, but rather improving my mental health, distancing myself from the addictive nature of social media use and other non-measureable, but equally important reasons. As it happens thanks to the benefits I experienced, I did actually get more focused work done as well as enjoy more free time and of course, feel so much better about myself and my business.
Flow and focus are more important that productivity
You could argue that actually, being on social media means that you are super productive. After all, it takes an awful lot of time, effort, energy (and money if you’re paying for ads) to produce enough content for daily posting, never mind all the comments and DM’s there are to reply to and people to ‘reach out ‘to.
I don’t mean though that we should be productive for the sake of it, or to be clearer, be seen to be busy. Actual productivity in business, for me is not just ‘being busy,’ it’s what Cal Newport calls Deep work.
Which is, “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfilment that comes from craftsmanship”
Or in other words, working smarter, not harder, or being in flow, or engaging in business activities that may be more challenging, require more effort, more thinking, more concentration and more of you than a quick reel and zooming down your Insta feed liking things without even looking, and getting side tracked along the way.
Not all distractions are bad
Cal Newport also goes on to say that “social media fragments your attention, which has a detrimental effect on your concentration.” So if ‘deep work’ requires focus and concentration, and Social media is a really good way of providing distraction and procrastination, it seems clear to me then, that if you remove social media then you should, in theory, be able to engage in more deep work, which is to say be more productive.
That’s not to say that there won’t be distractions, and you won’t find yourself procrastinating, because you will. This morning alone, I’ve put in two loads of washing, taken the dog for a walk and put my white beans on to cook. So if you think that simply freeing yourself from Facebook and Instagram will instantly bring about Zen like focus and concentration, think again.
However, the distractions from writing this blog post were, I feel, quite productive and while out walking the dog, I worked through my writers block and a couple of new ideas came to me. Plus I got in a few thousand more steps and some fresh air before it gets too hot. A far better use of my time than getting lost in ‘the scroll hole’ as one of my friends puts it.
Quitting social media therefore not only rids you of meaningless distractions but, allows you the space and the freedom, the time and the clarity to work though the inevitable distractions, loss of concentration and struggles we all face as human beings so that you can get better at moving thorough them, figure out why you procrastinate so much on certain tasks, and look at the areas of your business and your life you want to spend more quality time on.
Quality over Quantity
As I shared in my last blog post about how my business changed when I quit Instagram, I can’t say that the quality of my work has significantly increased (yet!) but I do have the time, energy, focus and concentration to spend on researching a blog topic or writing a podcast episode or getting clear on what it is I want to be offering or creating.
This not only stops me from inadvertently doing similar or the same things as others in my field are doing, or worrying that I’m not. It also helps me to be true to myself, focus on my own strengths, uniqueness and skills which in turn makes what I do more aligned with me as a person. And, this deeper, more thorough content provides far more value to the clients and customers consuming it.
And it is being known for producing high quality, well thought out, super helpful content or work that is really well done and of a high standard, that will get people talking about you, coming back to you and your business and sharing just how amazing you are at what you do. And this is probably the most powerful marketing activity you can do.
What I am saying is that quitting social media won’t make you super productive and producing best selling material over night, but it will give you the opportunity to try, to practice, to get better and more confident. To hone your skills, to find the thing that really lights you up, to give yourself the space to trust yourself and find your feet which you just can’t do if you are being constantly bombarded with other people’s content – whether you think you are consciously consuming it or not.
Choosing Life over Productivity
I would also argue that instead of asking, ‘how much more productive will I be without social media? A perhaps, more important question is the one I asked earlier on which is: “What lovely things can I do now that I don’t have to worry about social media anymore?”
Productivity or time well spent doesn’t have to be limited to creating content, working with customers, or slowly getting round to ticking off the things on your marketing without social media check list. Your time and energy can also be spent doing what Oliver Burkeman refers to as, ‘the things life is really supposed to be about’ the things that should be done first, before you sit down to write your pitch to that magazine, or other business or marketing activity.
Yes, without our businesses, we can’t do the things in life we want to do. But equally, spending all of your social media free time on purely business activities is not what we’re about here at Life not likes. The life part is just as, if not more, important than the business part. Things that won’t necessarily bring you more money or clients, but will make you feel far more fulfilled and whole as a person.
Things like, spending time with your kids, doing the course you’ve always wanted, reading those books piled high on your bedside table, lying in the bath just because, going for a solo walk, making an effort to meet a friend for coffee, actually sitting down to eat your lunch, stopping to look at the flowers when you’re out, taking a yoga nidra nap in the middle of the day instead of rushing through everything because you have to get it done.
Balance and perspective
Perhaps you will value the time away from scrolling and want to use it in a non-business related way. As we’ve seen, our social media use creeps into all areas of our lives and business, mood and energy, and even though you might be using social media just for business, I’m pretty sure that you are frequently engaging in social media outside of business hours.
It makes sense then that quitting social media will free up, not just business time and energy, but also your own personal time and energy.
It brings me back to the question which is the title of this blog post, “How much more productive will I be without social media?”
The answer… Perhaps being more productive is not the goal of leaving social media after all.
What do you think? Is productivity high on your list of positive outcomes of quitting social media, or is it something deeper which can’t actually be measured?