Monday, June 10, 2024

I Completed a 7 Day Media Fast

 The rules are simple: no media for 7 days. This includes:

  • TV shows, movies, and short videos (YouTube, TikTok, etc)
  • Music, audiobooks, and podcasts
  • Social media
  • News, blog posts, articles, and books
  • Video games (physical games are fine)

Basically, it's anything that you consume. It doesn't matter if it's "good" or "bad" because the point is to take a break from it all. This also includes turning off any notifications related to it. On challenges like these, I tend to eschew exceptions (if I'm doing it, I do it all the way), and I'd encourage you to be uncomfortable.

Oh yeah, and only check/reply to email during two 30-minute chunks.

If you've never tried it, I recommend it. I did it 15 years ago and loved it. The difference this time is that I did it with a friend.

The 4-Hour Workweek

I first learned about the idea in Tim Ferriss's book The 4-Hour Workweek. The point is to help us identify how much information and distraction exist in our lives by doing a media equivalent of an elimination diet.

Like most things, distractions sneak up on us. On both occasions, I was surprised at how productive I was. Although I was mentally exhausted at the end of the day, I felt like I genuinely gave my 100% best, which, if I'm honest, isn't something I could say for a long time.

Then, once you're done, you can be intentional about what you allow (or not!) back into your life. For example, I turned off my email notifications during my fast 15 years ago, and they're still off.

My Observations

I found myself reflexively grabbing my iPad to "kill time" and remembering I wasn't supposed to do that. I was doing it a lot! That's something I want to continue now that I'm back to normal. I want to think of a few items I can put next to my iPad, so I grab one of them instead. Maybe a deck of cards?

It turns out that I don't miss the news. I was a little bummed that I didn't get to watch SpaceX's launch, but then my brother gave me the play-by-play afterward, and in some ways, I think it was better. Though, I plan to watch it because he made it sound pretty exciting. As for everything else, I don't know what I missed, and I'm OK with that.

Driving in silence is... OK. I think it's good to let my brain rest and process instead of instantly putting something on in my ears. Though, on a couple of occasions, I had a half-hour drive and found myself bored in the middle. But maybe I need to be bored more often? I might put a 5-minute rule in place: no listening to anything for at least 5 minutes when I get into the car.

Like 15 years ago, I completely caught up on my email and reached that mythical Inbox Zero. I want to get back to having regular, but limited, focused time for email. My 90-day summer goal is to have at most 20 emails after checking my email. I can do that without a problem if I keep a similar email discipline.

The evenings were the hardest. Because of some health issues, Jessi goes to bed pretty early (~9pm), and that's typically when I watch a movie or play video games. I'm not ready to sleep, but I'm also not in the mood to work on something. I never found anything worth doing. Perhaps my next 90-day goal should be to find a new evening pastime.

Doing it with a friend is fun! You can encourage and commiserate together. It also makes you seem less of a weirdo if people know someone else is doing it because it comes across as "I'm doing a challenge" instead of "I have a problem."

It really did shine a light on how much information and distractions are in my life. It's something that slowly crept up, and I'm glad I did this to reset. I'd encourage you to give it a try. I think it would be good for me to do it once a year.