May 29, 2012

The 1 Week Experiment

First thing first, I apologize to all those who were inconvenienced by my 'bizarre' experiment of not accessing FB, Msgs and Lync for a full week. This life experiment was called everything from 'stupid' to 'manic', which is understandable. But the fact is, this is not the first time I have done something like this. Those who know me for a long time would know about some of my past similar life-experiments. In fact, I am a self-proclaimed life hacker and a life hacker keeps on hacking his life, trying new stuffs to see what works for him and what doesn't.

This post is about explaining why I conducted this experiment and what I achieved as a result of it. Let's talk about them one by one:

1. Facebook: 
Less than an year ago, I simply hated Facebook because :
a. I was (am) a Twitter fan and majority of my friends were on FB instead. 
b. Facebook gave me a feeling which we call as 'Big company syndrome'.

But somewhere during July/August I decided to finally make an FB account, not for myself (of course!), but for friends' sake. Now, I will not hesitate to say that I had a great experience being part of FB. In fact, I have been blamed for putting too much information too frequently there, which I believe IS correct.

You want to stay connected with friends all the time. And hence, I have been guilty of checking FB too many times during the day, even when I am on the move. When you get addicted to anything, it leaves a hollow feeling inside whenever you use it. I have had similar problems with Twitter last year, and I was experiencing the same with FB recently. It just didn't seem as much enjoyable. And none of the strategies, whether to not use FB at night times, or use it on alternate days; were working. But what always works for me is a blanket ban!

The habit of checking FB frequently had been ingrained so deeply, during the first 2 days. I found myself typing facebook's address unconsciously on my mobile's browser (I assure you, I cancelled it before the FB's page loaded :)  But I still won't call it addiction, because I didn't feel the urge to check it while I was engaged in other works. And accessing Twitter instead did help me not to miss FB!

Now, while I return to FB 'cured', I must be careful not to engage myself in it more than required.

2. Messages:
In past few months, the self-taken responsibility of updating friends about my whereabouts on a daily basis, has converted me into a text junkie. I found myself texting first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and so many times in between. In fact, it affected me so much that I was not talking to friends on phone for weeks at a stretch. 

But conversation is always 2 ways. I don't get replies to almost 95% of my messages (and hence I am grateful to those who reply). Messaging seems like an effortless activity. But when you have to send it to more than 3 dozen people on a daily basis, it does consume a lot of mental energy. I wanted some respite, and hence no messages for a week.

Well this one was very difficult to execute, because some of the friends prefer to communicate over messages, which meant almost no communication with them for a week. And I faced a lot of situations during the week where sending a simple message would have solved a lot of discomfort. But while it sucks to inconvenience others, I am proud to say that I didn't make even a single exception for anyone whatsoever.

Not sending messages meant I had to call people during the week, and I am sure all those who received calls from me would be pleased. At least, I was very happy to hear their voice after a long time :)

Going forward, I plan to send messages when I 'really' have something to say, and preferably to those who can reply (I am NOT a messaging service!). I also relieve myself of the pressure to communicate with everyone. It's not Just MY responsibility. But, I would like to continue calling people more often, even though it discomforts me.

3. MS Lync (Work place's internal communicator):
The purpose of this tool in office is to instantly connect with people for 'official' tasks. But we end up using it to chat at work. And people who have ever tried to work peacefully would tell you how much difficult it is to work without distraction with IM open all the time.

When you have a lot of friends and contacts, you are bound to be contacted every few minutes (ain't complaining just stating the fact). And setting the status 'busy' doesn't help because friends don't care how 'busy' you are! I myself have been guilty of checking whoever is online every few minutes, which is fine when you don't have work but is a big productivity-killer when you are trying hard to finish off a task. 

And people would tell you how much difficult it is to 'chat', with dozens of team mates lurking around. I have been 'caught' by seniors with many chat windows open, and while I was not reprimanded, it's not a good feeling. So, what's the solution? When you are not connected, how will you get disturbed?!

This one was relatively easier. You change the settings so that Lync doesn't autostart, and minimizes to notification area, instead of task bar and voila!! You are free from a nuisance. I should say that when I got tired at the end of the day, I did have urges to chat for 'a few minutes'. But, it doesn't take much for 'a few minutes' to become 'over an hour'. 

I will be logging into MS Lync this week onwards, but I will have to be careful not to be connected all the time. So, while I work, I will work without distraction. And while I chat, I will chat without guilt. 

In Conclusion...
And there you go. All said and done, the experiment was fantastically done and completed. And the objectives of conducting it (to find more about myself) were accomplished. While I did miss the feeling of being connected, and my usual conversations, chatter and banter; I really liked the peace of mind that I got in return. But, I hope I don't have to repeat such an "idiotic" thing again, because it wasn't as easy as  it sounds like. Having said that, my experiments with life will continue!