This is an extended version of my recent interview published in Small Business Trends by Rob Starr.
I am an entrepreneur, growth hacking consultant and new-age marketing trainer.
Most of my work is about creative business growth through online channels.
Been an entrepreneur since 2009, I now train other entrepreneurs and marketers at Mapplinks Academy to help them leverage unconventional, emerging and creative channels for rapid, experiment-driven business growth.
I run my business while traveling the world. I’ve adopted various productivity hacks to help me stay on top of the game while living the digital nomad, location independent lifestyle.
I was an active social media user until 2017, until I got rid of my social media newsfeed by adopting a ‘Minimalist Facebook’.
I was operating at a zero-content
consumption usage of Facebook throughout
But I was still very actively sharing content, averaging to at least 1-2 posts a day on Facebook and Instagram. This was followed by checking the notifications intermittently on the content shared.
I was actively sharing my uber-cool-digital-nomad-lifestyle through my Insta-stories and Insta-pictures.
Beautiful beaches, good times, and all that jazz.
I would also reply to all the ‘Where is that place?’ and ‘I envy you!’ messages quite often.
Here’s how I was using these channels:
I was using Facebook for both personal and business reasons. The business reasons were more on the lines of adding value to Growthnation, a community of entrepreneurs and marketers I’d created from my course students. I have completely quit the personal aspect of Facebook, while I’ve retained the group activity. In fact, this new life experiment has allowed me to focus much more on my community.
I was using the Stories, Messages, and Posts features. And from time to time, I would fuel my wanderlust with beautiful travel handles and spend hours browsing through the beauties our world has to offer. I now experience those by completely being in the moment and off the feed. I can still get travel inspiration through travel blogs and fellow-nomads I meet in real life.
I was recently asked by a close friend, ‘You work in the digital marketing ecosystem. How can you quit social media?’
My answer was simple.
It is precisely BECAUSE I work in this ecosystem that I decided to quit social media.
The first, biggest reason I quit social media is
because I know how it works. And I know
what it’s supposed to do.
Think of social media like a slot machine.
It is designed to re-wire your brain by designing new habit loops that lead you to become addicted to the ‘rush of the notifications’.
Whether you know this or not, your brain is
changing. Each time you open that
I recommend reading ‘The Power Of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg to understand how Habits loop work and how much time each notification takes away from your life. Even after you’ve closed that social media app!
Which brings me to my second reason: Productivity and Deep Work.
Deep work, categorised by concentrated activities that create NEW VALUE, improve your SKILL, and are HARD TO REPLICATE, requires distraction-free environments.
Facebook & Instagram were the biggest
distractions for me in creating these
environments necessary to facilitate deep
I recommend reading ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport to understand more about this concept. There is an entire section of the book dedicated to ‘Quitting social media’.
The third reason: Digital Minimalism for Productivity.
Since I travel full-time and work lean, my output only depends on how productivity I am in using my time. On most weeks, I limit my working hours to 10 working hours a week which means I have no time for BS. ‘Digital Minimalism’ is my concept of de-cluttering my digital presence to focus on what’s essential. I’ve also complied all the tools I use to achieve high productivity using digital minimalism here.
Quitting Facebook & Instagram has taken my
digital minimalism efforts to the next level –
the next level of less, the next level of
I always say I prefer control over quitting and that’s more precisely what I’ve done. Though I’ve completely let go of Instagram, I’ve quit only my personal updates and the newsfeed on Facebook. I will continue to add value on the community I manage and help people over messenger when I can.
Maintaining this control without deactivating my accounts gives me an extra boost of confidence and tells my brain that this guy deserves an additional serving of the ‘will power’ juice in all other areas of my life.
Growth hacking involves using a lean model to come up with business hacks. This lean model is driven by EXPERIMENTS.
I’ve also extended this model to my life and
designed many ‘life experiments’. I run a life
experiment for an initial period of time, see
how it works, and then scale it based on the
performance and output.
This can be seen as an agile approach to life, similar to how growth hackers design experiments.
Experimentation is the core of a growth hacker’s spirit, and in the same spirit, I’ve designed to run this FB-free and IG-free life for a year until 20 September, 2019.
Based on my observations and findings, which I’ll be sharing throughout this time via channels such as this blog, I’ll be deciding the next steps on my Digital Minimalism journey.
My hypothesis is, from this experiment, I will achieve:
First: A simpler life.
The amount of content and communication around us has no limit. It is for our brains to filter. I want to reduce that work for my brain and remove that clutter for my life. This is only one of the steps on my journey to a simpler life.
As the first step, I 80:20-ed by life and sold everything I owned back in February, 2018. Once I’d got rid of my physical possessions, everything that followed was focused on Digital Minimalism.
Second: A productive life.
Facebook and Instagram, at best, can be considered sources of entertainment and In Cal Newport calls them, ‘Unsavoury’ sources of entertainment.
Besides, they’re mostly high-quality sources of
Third: A social life.
Yes, that’s right. Being more social off social media is really being social.
Here’s what things look like as of now:
- It’s been a few weeks since I quit FB & IG, and I already feel LIBERATED!
- It has freed up my will power which can now be used to create better habits.
- It has made me much more productivity with my time.
While some people might feel I’m going to be missing out on those conversations with people, I’ve actually got much more relevant, more GENUINE conversations in the past weeks outside of these channels.
It has started appearing to me that the virtual world is becoming the real world while the real world is starting to look virtual by most people who’re hooked to their device screens. Smart phones aren’t making people smarter. Far from that, they’re being enslaved in dark habit loops they can’t get out of.
I really don’t need that sh*t in my life, and my future.