As a full-time writer, few things in life are better than receiving fan mail. Earlier this month, I received an uplifting email from a woman named Emily from Illinois. With her permission, this is what she wrote:
“I wanted to start this year by thanking you for sharing the offline balance movement through your book Log Off. I read it a few weeks ago and realized, to my horror, that I was spending an average of seven hours a day on my smartphone. Some of that was at work for professional communication — I’m 27 and work in a ‘young’ office where everyone prefers to text — but most of it was social media scrolling, wading into the cesspool that is Facebook comment sections, and feeling falsely connected to people I hadn’t had an actual conversation with in years.
“I fully deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts a week later and can’t believe how much my life and mental health have improved. It’s only been two weeks without social media and I have already noticed that I have far more energy for creative projects and feel much less anxious throughout my day. Your book totally changed my life, and I am sharing it with all of my Instagram-addicted friends. Thank you again for spreading this message.”
Emily’s experience closely mirrors mine over the last 12 years since first abandoning social media, deleting my phone alerts, and logging off for large sections of my workdays, nights, weekends, and vacations. In short, the added energy and free time gained to relax and create is astounding.
In my case, I estimate that limiting my phone use to only 1-2 hours per weekday (and less on weekends) saves me nearly 20 hours a week. Not watching TV saves me an additional 20 hours. So between those two screens alone, I get a full-time job worth of bonus time every week!
Obviously a large portion of those gains are spent on domestic duties and rejuvenating downtime. But an equally large portion is spent on creating things. Nurturing passion projects. Building side hustles. Some of my most recent finish lines include shipping my second full-length record (hitting stores Jan 31), conducting dozens of interviews for my third book (pictured), and getting my nonprofit off the ground to help more people like Emily change their life and reclaim lost time.
Granted, I was born with energetic DNA, and there are a lot of people who create and do a lot bigger things than I. But I wouldn’t have been able to achieve some of these minor accomplishments had I used the default and more popular smartphone, social media, and screen settings. That’s the real power of logging off. It buys us the most precious, finite, and fleeting resource that all of wish we had more of: time. And with even fewer digital distractions in life, we can do and be and relate to an even greater number of things, people, and relationships.
A close friend recently joked, “Stop doing impressive things, Blake. You’re making the rest of us look bad.” I’m honestly not trying to, but I am trying to demonstrate what’s possible after logging off.
I’m not the only one. The dentist from Bogota, Columbia that read my book says so. The tech worker from Sweden who read my book says so. Most recently Emily from Illinois says so.
What would you do with a part- or full-time job of extra time each week?