On May 27th, 2021, I decided to embark on an experiment: A 60-day social media sabbatical. Not just that, I decided to journal about it every single day for the entire 2-month period. Originally, this was a document on Google Drive, but I figured it would help others too if I were to publish it on the blog.

The journal will be updated here every Thursday, with updates from the week gone by. Since this is an evolving piece, I will be sharing updates just once a week to keep it easier for me to streamline the journaling process. Warning: Super long post ahead; you can use the table of contents to skip directly to the week you want updates on.

Through the course of the journal, I will be referencing books, links, tools, courses and resources that I found useful during the sabbatical. Some of these will be affiliate links. So, standard disclaimer enclosed below:

This post contains Referral/Affiliate links. What that means is if you click on any of the links and make a purchase, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Read my complete disclosure policy here.

Why I Decided to Embark on a Social Media Sabbatical

This was actually born of a discussion I had with a client of mine in mid-April. I was seriously impressed with how she had grown her blog traffic organically and without social media between June 2020 and March 2021. She went from 8000 page views a month in June to 50,000 sessions per month by March. I’d briefly referenced it in this post too: Do you take the easy way out?

The interesting part? She’d actually been following MY advice: To focus more on SEO traffic and ignore social media.

Even as I was writing the post and contemplating the idea, it came to me that here was someone who had taken the mantle of content creation and given it her all. She’d genuinely worked on creating high-quality content that would endure the test of time and would not be subject to the vagaries of algorithms.

That’s when it struck me- the fact that I had a social media presence was secondary to the fact that I was a writer. I’ve always been a writer. Social media has come second and always will.

But the question remained: Would my business be able to survive without social media? Given that I was both a blog and social media coach, did it make sense?

The only way to find out? Do the experiment myself. 

Hence, the idea was born: 60 Days without Social Media. At the end of 60 days, I would have hard data to support whether or not a business owner can actually grow and thrive without social media. Of course, bear in mind that I HAVE got the benefit of being on social media since 2013, gently building connections over time.

The question is: Do I need to stay there in order to continue growing? That’s the experiment.

What I did in preparation

1) Started copying all of my Instagram content( the captions) from Creator Studio into Google docs so I can repurpose them. Finished doing this for 20 posts so far.

2) Responded to all comments and messages on my social media channels and then logged out. No, I am not deactivating my accounts (except for Twitter, which I permanently deleted in March this year).

3) Let people know how they could reach me if they needed to via Email (shailaja@shailajav.com) or by signing up for my free weekly newsletter here.

Intention for the next 60 days:

A)
Create a fresh piece of content for one of the following places, provided I don’t face any unforeseen circumstances. If I feel so inclined, I may post more often a particular week.


1) My personal blog: https://www.shailajav.com (Mondays and Fridays)

2) My Medium blog: http://www.shailajav.medium.com  (Wednesdays)

3) My Podcast: https://www.shailajav.com/podcast (Tuesdays)

4) My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/ShailajaV (Thursdays or Saturdays)


Here’s a link to the excel sheet where I will be updating each day’s content link. Feel free to make a copy for yourself, if you’re keen to try this experiment too.

B) Alongside creating fresh content, I’d also like to track older content of mine that is performing well and optimize that for search, following my SEO principles. I’ll be tracking conversions and traffic sources- from a business standpoint. I will work on this 2 days a week.

Fun fact: This post on Blogging without social media has been getting regular SEO traffic. Ha, I had a message waiting in my Google Analytics and never knew it 😉

An interesting experiment would be to see which of my sales pages could use improvement, especially if I am going to rely on my newsletter, SEO, and word-of-mouth referrals for business these next two months.


WEEK 1: Days 1 to 7

Day 1: Friday, May 28th, 2021

For the first day of my social media sabbatical, it is interesting to see how I tend to gravitate towards the ‘f’ or ‘i’ letters in my Chrome browser, every time I find myself with a bit of free time.

In case you didn’t know, I removed both the Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone many months ago. Facebook, a few years ago actually. But, on the laptop/desktop browser, it was almost like I felt compelled to check my Facebook or Instagram messages and this was interesting to observe.

One tool I have been using for over a week now is the Intention Chrome extension. It’s absolutely brilliant! Do you know how we need to pause before opening social media? Intention does that for you. It also asks you if you want to open the website for 1 minute or 5 minutes or 15 minutes. Using this is helping me keep track of my intention.

Journaling is also helpful, so if I do have a few minutes to spend, I come and update this journal. How cool is that?

Delighted to have published a long-pending blog post today. This was a post I actually repurposed by combining two older posts that I published on Medium a few months ago.

Word length: 2100; Total time taken: 2 hours

Link: https://shailajav.com/work-less-do-more-in-business/

Reading this post and loving it too!

https://wanderingaimfully.com/social-media-detox-recap/

The other fabulous thing that I discovered? How to convert YouTube transcripts into a blog post. OOH, I have my draft ready for next week’s blog post. So excited!

Today’s RescueTime Report: Zoom Sessions (over 2 hours) were when I was attending a meeting. And Social media (the tab in red) shows 3 minutes of Facebook. That wasn’t the platform itself, but Creator studio, which is where my Instagram posts are saved.

Day 1 has been a resounding success.


A kind note from Inderpreet Uppal on the sabbatical:

Dear shailaja@shailajav.com I am so impressed with all the ideas and how you have seamlessly flown from one SM to the other. I find them very different from each other and end up working irregularly on all or none. I agree with the idea of repurposing the SM posts as blogs and podcasts. Even though I want to see myself doing Youtube, podcasts are what I am gravitating towards. This especially after your post outlining how you did it. I had checked about podcasts a few years ago and I was baffled by the tech involved.  All the best for this 60 day project. I will keep following you, thanks for all the inspiration and ideas. Hugs and health to you. 


 Day 2: Saturday, May 29th, 2021

As timing would have it, I just got a brand new laptop last night (the HP Pavilion X360 14-inch) and there’s a part of me that really wants to test it out with social media and everything, but I am also keen not to break my streak, especially on day 2! So this is going to be fun 😉

No new content to be published on the weekend, so I started the day by working on my second draft for Monday’s post. The first draft is already 6000 words long so I have a fair bit of work ahead of me. But this is kind of an in-depth post which is also something I’d like to rank for in terms of cornerstone content, so I don’t mind the work involved. Will update progress by end of day today or tomorrow.

Got a few very sweet e-mails yesterday, in response to the sabbatical and I am truly touched that people will miss my content on Instagram, but I’m right here. Just email me and we can chat. Or if we’re connected personally, let’s talk on the phone 🙂

In other interesting news, I got my first dose of the vaccine today so I am equal parts thrilled and tired. Looks like this will be a natural rest day for me. 

The rest of the day was spent in bed since I had fatigue and pain at the point of vaccination. Developed a fever around 9 pm and ended up going to sleep after taking a paracetamol.


Day 3: Sunday, May 30th 2021

Today has been a complete rest day given the side effects of the vaccine.

Developed high fever again today and needed to sleep/ rest it out 

In other amusing news, I received an email from Medium which gave me the top writer tag on the topic, ‘Social Media’ 😀 You’re seeing the irony, right? 😉

Depending on how l feel tomorrow l will work on publishing a new blog post draft.


Day 4 : Monday, May 31st

💉 The vaccine and its side effects are having a field day and my body is still reeling from it all. Hoping things improve soon. Had to reschedule a group session meant for today. Looks like l will need to push the publishing of my blog post to later in the week as well.

📲 On the social media front, except for Day 1, when I felt tempted to check FB and IG messages (I didn’t),  I haven’t had the impulse to do it after that.

💼This week I have 3 paid sessions with clients. One of those came via a word-of-mouth referral, one is a previous client and the third found me through Instagram, I think.

📖Currently reading ‘The Joy of Missing out’ by Tanya Dalton.

🧘‍♀️Completed 42 days of daily meditation

Published a post on Medium: Can you create content without social media validation?


Days 5 to 7 (June 1st to 3rd)


Day 5 Tuesday: Uploaded podcast episode 5- https://anchor.fm/shailajav/episodes/Creative-Affluence-How-to-Never-Run-Out-of-Inspiration-e12061s

So very chuffed to see this less than a month after launching and with just 5 episodes. 



Day 6: Worked on the SEO for an older blog post plus created some pin images for some blog posts. Need to dive back into exploring Pinterest from the perspective of growing an organic email list.

Day 7: A full day but a fun one! Shot and uploaded my YouTube video of the week on how to use Google Keep as a productivity tool. Wrapped up the Q and A sessions for the Instagram course.

The co-working session was vibrant and productive today! Wrote one of my longest emails ever!


Week 2: Days 8 to 14

Day 8: Friday, June 4th 2021

Sent out my super long newsletter today with insights from my first week away from social media. Signed up for the TLC by George Kao and realized I’d need to access Facebook to join the TLC group. Logged in to do that via the desktop but wasn’t tempted to check either messages or notifications. I’m counting that as a win.

Still not compelled to check Instagram or LinkedIn at all, which is a tad surprising given how regularly I would check both until the sabbatical began.

A previous client reached out to ask if she could refer someone for my coaching on email marketing using Mailchimp. So lovely when the Universe works in ways that you barely expect. 

Doing some research on WOM (Word of mouth) referrals and how I can integrate that into my coaching system.



Day 9/10: Saturday & Sunday, June 5th/6th 2021

Very relaxing weekend. Deep cleaned the kitchen sinks and also the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and also cleaned up the family room to make it more presentable. Committed to two projects that I’ll be participating in, as part of my business mastermind group.

Finished reading ‘The Joy of missing out’. Finished uploading the SEO post to the blog.

Watched Inside Man on Sunday and Taxi 9211 on Saturday night. Both enjoyable movies. Also did a 30-minute evening walk at home. Should stick with this.


Day 11: Monday, June 7th

Restarted my workout routine with Fitness Blender Low Impact Program: Today was Day 1.

Published new blog post on website 

(Stage 2 content: https://shailajav.com/blogging-without-comments/)

Published new post on Medium (Talked about the TLC program with GK):

https://shailajav.medium.com/how-i-suddenly-have-more-time-on-my-hands-6cfafc02a637

Sent my workshop newsletter for June

Set up my own Medium Publication. This should be interesting. Not really sure of the benefits, but it took me 10 minutes, so no harm done.

Seriously want to read Jaron Lanier’s Book.


Day 12: Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Finished 50 days of daily meditation. WOO HOO!! This is kind of incredible because I’ve never crossed more than 20 days in the past. The tide is turning.

Day 2 of Fitness Blender’s workout: Upper Arm workout with dumbbells

Client calls at 8.30 AM and 11 AM.

Published blog post:

https://shailajav.com/non-technical-guide-to-seo-for-beginners/

Figured out a great way to ensure I get my 2 litres of water per day. Start with 500 ml and then drink at least 5 bottles of my 300 ML bottle. This worked great yesterday!

Podcast episode published and also realised that it takes me only 30 minutes to record, upload, add show notes and publish the podcast episode. So neat!

https://anchor.fm/shailajav/episodes/How-to-Always-Find-the-Motivation-to-Create-Content-e12d0v0


Day 13: Wednesday June 9th

Published blog post on Medium

https://medium.com/authentic-solopreneurs/why-every-business-owner-needs-a-daily-calendar-5aed6998ed97

Published new post on Blog

 (repurposed from 5 Instagram posts)

https://shailajav.com/simple-ways-to-practise-daily-mindfulness/

Had a lovely call with *** for their speaker line up in August and it went well! They sent over the contract I need to sign as well as the line up of what’s expected.

JC signed up for a paid MailChimp session next week! (My first referral!)

Call with KB finally 🙂 and have sent her the link to my SEO training package. Also revamped the SEO training page to make it look better.

Baked oatmeal cocoa cookies today in the air fryer! OH MY GOD, they were so good! 😀

Also learning that when I get into deep creation mode, it’s a meditative experience. Much like baking. Plus baking teaches you patience, way more than you’d anticipate.


Day 14- June 10th, Thursday

Published a new blog post

Co working session in the morning as well as the evening using Focusmate

Bought Jaron Lanier’s Book and have started reading it 

Drafted and scheduled my newsletter for Friday.


WEEK 3: Days 15 to 21

Day 15: June 11th, Friday

Started the day with sweeping and mopping the house. One of the best exercises ever. Given today’s time taken, I am thinking I can do this at least 3 times a week. Will be a nice change-up from the structured workouts when I get bored with those.

Made Pongal and Gothsu for breakfast. Given that Gy’s online classes have begun, breakfast prep is an early affair these days. I wind up cooking by 7.30 AM. Always a good thing. I usually have a glass of ragi malt every morning by 7 AM and have my own breakfast between 9 and 9.30 AM. Gave up morning tea almost 3 months ago. Again, don’t miss it one bit.

The newsletter for the week went out at 9 AM. Heard the news that a good friend’s cousin succumbed to COVID. He was just 48. Both painful and heartbreaking. Hoping for better days ahead. The news does say that the positivity rate in the city is declining, so there’s some hope, although we shouldn’t let our guard down. Have a few active cases in the community right now.

Halfway through Jaron Lanier’s book and it’s fascinating!

My workshop newsletter and my post on Medium both seem to have helped with increased affiliate income this month. Pleasantly surprising and also a reminder that we don’t really need social media to make affiliate marketing work well.

My husband has installed a pull-up bar at home and I am so hopelessly weak in the upper arm area that I can’t even hang by it! Dang it! Need to improve my upper body strength training. He, on the other hand, is effortlessly doing between 10 to 15 pull-ups every hour. Hmph.

Been listening to Carnatic classical daily and I am greatly energized to restart my music practice as well as revive my Soundcloud account. Videos of me singing make me feel awkward. Audios, on the other hand, are much more comfortable. Link to some of my older audios here on Soundcloud

Spoke to M and she readily agreed to be on the podcast soon! So excited! That makes guest 2 for the podcast and I am so thrilled. She also shared the recipe for Mango jam which I am keen to try out soon.

Also, on the culinary front, I tried a new recipe for Pavakkai Pitlai and the fresh ground masala was such a hit that I’ve started grinding the sambar/rasam masala fresh for every meal now. The family is very happy with the fresh taste of the powder in comparison to the store-bought masalas.

Revamped my Podcast page on the website by adding new custom gallery images for each episode. Interestingly, it was my daughter who kept suggesting this. Change the image for each episode! As a result of researching how to add custom links to gallery images, I got the brainwave for my YouTube video tutorial so recorded and uploaded that as well.

Added new YouTube video: https://youtu.be/1fCC80Y9FqI

How to add custom links to images in WordPress. This was a fun tutorial 🙂

Exploring YouTube SEO and getting really excited about it! Heard about this extension called VidIQ so testing it out. Added a few custom public playlists for the YouTube Channel.


Day 16: June 12th, Saturday

Started the day with poori and chole. I love weekend morning breakfasts- relaxed and indulgent, don’t you? 

Also deep cleaned two bedrooms, changed sheets and swept the house. Watched a very interesting video that has given me an idea about my personal wellness. Also read a fascinating article about why we need to read more fiction and it felt like it was speaking to me directly.


Started with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s ‘Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ this morning.

Published new blog post on Why I Deleted my Twitter Account. Hadn’t really planned on it; just happened!

Got two new YouTube subscribers. Such a lovely thing! I can’t believe people are actually interested in my tutorials and I think some part of me will never get used to it either. Such gratitude for those who make the time to read/watch/listen to my content.

Lost a few email subscribers after yesterday’s newsletter. The perfect stoic’s example of balance- you win some, you lose some. And that’s okay. No hard feelings.

Finished reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and oh what a book! What writing! I simply love the way Taylor Jenkins Reid can spin a story and keep you hooked. Also one of those rare times that I started and finished a book in a day! So delighted.


Day 17:  June 13 2021 (Sunday)

These days, when  I wake up, the first thought is- ‘How can I make this day matter?’ And I don’t mean that in the sense of productivity or achievement. I believe that the feeling is one of enjoying the day in all its glory.

So I then think about how the day needs to unfold in minutes and hours. It’s easier to do this self-appraisal on a Sunday when you have a more relaxing day.

For instance, how many minutes should I spend meditating? How long should I read a novel, losing myself in the middle of its pages? How about music? The joy there is in music is rivalled by very little else in my world.

If it’s a working day, those questions can segue into topics like what content should I create? Who should I reach out to this week in my business? What admin tasks do I need to complete this week?

Through them all, I find there’s a gentle rhythm that exists even without my trying too hard. But that rhythm has become even more pronounced in the last couple of weeks, especially when I chose to take time away from social media.

In other words, my brain wasn’t getting pulled in multiple different directions. Think about it. Before the sabbatical, this was my brain:

And two weeks, later, this is how my brain is able to process things:

See what I mean? There’s very little stress and practically zero overlap. Time blocking ensures that I stay mindful of my minimal tasks and do them to the best of my ability, with complete and utter focus.

I have more time to commit to deep work and just one task at a time. It’s absolute bliss.

Finished listening to Derek Sivers’ book ‘Anything You Want’ and loved it! The audiobook version where Sivers himself narrates the book is great because you get such a clear insight into his thinking process.

Published this as a post on Medium today:

How my Brain processed things differently now after moving away from social media

I’ve removed the Chrome browser from my phone as it’s completely distracting me whenever I pick up my phone. All my saved bookmarks show up and it’s tempting for me to check that when I don’t need to. Installed Firefox instead.

Similarly, removed work email from my phone and turned off auto-synchronization for my personal Gmail. When used as a tool, email is wonderful; not that great as a distraction.


Day 18:  June 14 2021 (Monday)

Washed dishes, made breakfast and meditated in the morning. After that, made a list of actionable items I want to work on, for the blog and business.

Started with Cleaning up my Acuity Booking calendar and moving calls around to different categories.

Started reading a new book – With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Finished reading ‘With the Fire on High and absolutely enjoyed it! I’m so delighted that my fiction reading gene has been restored after a long slumber.

For honest recommendations on good fiction books to read, I usually rely on two people: Soumya Prasad and Nabanita Dhar. These two women are voracious readers and their reviews are always spot on. They’re both very active on Instagram but I also follow them on Goodreads, which makes it easier for me to track reviews especially on a social media break.


Day 19: June 15th, Tuesday

Published a new blog post on Medium- Authentic Solopreneurs- today.

What I learned from this Gentle Habit

All of yesterday I practised this at home- the art of speaking gently and without raising my voice- an intentional approach, if you will. The way the family responded was incredible. No arguments, no slammed doors, no raised tempers (and with an almost-15-year-old you know that’s an achievement!) Making this an integral part of my daily intentions.

Oh, I’ve also started playing devotional music first thing in the morning, as soon as it strikes 6 AM. This has the effect of gently rousing the household without my having to repeat myself ad nauseum.

Published my next podcast episode: Starting a Business? Don’t Do it for the Money

This one was a brand new episode with no prior written content; Will probably repurpose it into a blog post later.


Day 20: June 16, 2021 (Wednesday)

Had a great client session with an author who wanted help setting up his MailChimp newsletter. So much fun because we completely eliminated all of the fluff in Mailchimp and focused on just 3 or 4 main components.

Received such kind emails from subscribers and one specific one today that touched me so much! She was reaching out to get my opinion on a specific bundle of courses and if it was worth investing in it. What does that say about my subscribers? That they’re simply the BEST!

Published a new post on the blog:

Repurposed from two Medium posts.

Gotta say that I am rather pleased with my rate of content repurposing. In the last 21 days I have created 18 pieces of content across the blog, Medium, YouTube and the podcast. So chuffed!

Did some research on how to delete/archive Facebook content on one’s personal profile, plus backing up and downloading all content posted on the platform. If you’re interested, here are two links that will help you. I briefly logged into Facebook to download the content earlier this week; will get to the deleting/archiving part of it when I am back on social media in August.

How to Delete Your Older Facebook Posts

How to Download a Copy of your Facebook Data


Day 21- June 17th 2021 (Thursday)

Woke up with the awareness that I need to definitely switch off all screens – TV/Phone/Laptop/Kindle by 9.30 PM at the latest. It’s messing with my circadian rhythm and the ability to have a well-rested night.

Had a delightful co-working session with my weekly accountability buddy, Leah, and I must say this is one part of my week I truly look forward to. We traded insights and updates on all things- biz/personal- and then got down to working on our respective tasks. Highly recommend this practice to anyone looking for buddy vibes to get their work done.

Published blog post:

This one took just 30 minutes to write and 30 minutes for all the add ons- screenshots which I had to crop and resize, mostly.


Website tasks completed this week:

  • Update the ‘Now’ page – DONE
  • Update Podcast page with links to all the relevant platforms- DONE
  • Create a link to my newsletter at the foot of my Medium posts- DONE
  • SEO Package Page Rewrite- DONE
  • Started working on adding a new course platform to my third WordPress site. If all goes well, I will be shifting all of my paid/free courses here. This will reduce my reliance on external platforms to a large extent.- About 80% DONE

Finished reading Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts. Let’s just say I have a completely new level of awareness when it comes to social media. More details when I return from my sabbatical in August.

Made a batch of idli batter using the wet grinder and I gotta say, much like baking, grinding batter is another lesson in patience and joy. Plus let’s not forget the cleaning up that can be a very meditative process.Takes me back to the time my grandmother used to do it and the sheer happiness we had, watching her. By the way, this is my recipe for idli batter and it uses just 2 main ingredients.


WEEK 4: Days 22 to 28

Day 22- Friday, June 18, 2021

Completed 60 days of Daily meditation

Completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge for the year too. Have to admit though that I stopped looking at that number once I started reading with a lot more gusto and interest.

Today is turning out to be a day of milestones 😉

Completed 21 days of intentional work thanks to the Intention app

Bought Leonie Dawson’s course today. I am super curious to know how I can truly grow my business without social media and thrive as well. I’ve really enjoyed her content so far that  I have been reading/watching, so I think this is going to work for me.  At least, here’s hoping. The course starts on July 1st.

In case you’re keen you can check out details here: Marketing without Social Media (That’s an affiliate link, by the way)

Made the most amazing pumpkin peel chutney for breakfast to go with the fresh, home-made idlis. The taste was to die for! (Yes I know I am singing my own praises; let’s just say that as a reluctant cook who has bloomed very late but who has started enjoying the art of cooking, this is a joyous feeling.) If you’d like the recipe, this is the one I followed:

Pumpkin Peel Chutney

An amusing/scary thing that happened was a pigeon entered the house. It was sitting on the doorstep outside and when I opened the door, the damn thing flew right in my face. Suffice to say I spent the next 15 minutes screaming, which sent my husband into fits of laughter. He finally managed to coax it into the balcony and then my maid managed to pick it up (that woman has nerves of steel!) and let it loose. Fortunately, it wasn’t injured but I know I am going to open the door with a LOT MORE CAUTION from here on out.

The newsletter went out at 9 AM as always. Interestingly, so many thoughtful email responses these days and it makes me want to continue this practice of connection for a long time. 

Also lost a few more email subscribers. I’ve come to expect this so it isn’t that much of a shock to me anymore. I do want to be sure that I am only in your inbox if you want me to be there. More than anyone else, I know how overwhelming emails can be and I want to be the last one to clutter your inbox. So, as I mentioned last week, no hard feelings at all. Not a big fan of a number-based value anymore whether that’s on social media/ my Medium engagement and followers or my email subscribers. I’ve learnt to fall back in love with anonymity and obscurity, preferring to let my work speak for itself.

That led me to write this post on Medium today:

How to Stop Relying on External Validation & what to Focus on Instead


Day 23: June 19th (Saturday)

Woke up with a very heightened sense of awareness. It’s almost as if my limbs and body were processing the deep silence and quiet that surrounded me and I wanted to sink into that feeling and stay there.

This led to my publishing this post on Medium: Why You Need Quiet Time

Updated the thumbnail images and the descriptions/tags for 11 of my YouTube videos. 21 more to go. The description now includes a structured reference to my website and other channels. Working on Vid IQ and Tube Buddy to figure out better Youtube SEO practices.

Moved the journal to the blog and published it as a post: My 60 Day Social Media Sabbatical

An interesting note: Do I tend to bookmark a lot of content? I think that, without realizing it ,I’ve fallen prey to the Collector’s Fallacy– Bookmarking and saving content with an intention to read and consume more. Result? I am reading more, yes. But am I reading intentionally and with purpose? Where am I making the time to implement every single thing I read? And how much of it is duplication of the same content? Food for thought.

Heard of Tsundoku, right? The Japanese term for collecting so many books that you leave unread. 

Tsundoku is the condition of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them.Buying books does not equal reading books. We all know that. Yet, so many end up victims of tsundoku anyway.

One of the tasks on my agenda this week is to declutter all of my bookmarks and saved articles across Medium and Pocket. Retain just a handful that I want to re-visit and take notes from. The rest need to be archived or binned.

At some point I need to do it for all of those courses I’ve accumulated over the last 3 years.

Update:

Deleted over 450 articles from my Medium reading list. Have taken notes from the ones that were instructional and let those go as well.

Since I spent the better part of today cleaning up my Medium bookmarks I was wondering if I’d have time to publish a new YouTube video. Fortunately, I recalled that I have 5 videos in my content database that I created for a free bootcamp a while ago.

Uploaded one of those as my video for the week: How to use Affiliate Marketing In Your Niche

Today was a good day in terms of content: 3 pieces published across Medium, my blog and YouTube. Repurposing has its benefits!


Day 24: June 20th Sunday

Published a Medium article on Why You Must Stop Bookmarking Articles to Read Later

Added a Table of Contents to the Sabbatical post so people can skip ahead to the content that interests them.

Finished updating all the thumbnails, tags and captions/descriptions for my YouTube videos

Zoom meeting with my 6-week group (Intro session) went well. Looking forward to the next 6 weeks of content creation and repurposing.


Day 25: June 21st, Monday

Uploaded video 3 in the Affiliate Marketing series to my YouTube channel .

For the first time in 8 weeks, our lockdown has relaxed and our community has also lifted the embargo on so many other things. It will be delightful to get out for walks and breathing fresh air again. Oh, how I’ve missed this! I love working from home but let’s face it- fresh air has another level of joy!

Uploaded another video (a short) which I remember publishing on Instagram a while ago. Do you recall how I said I am trying to move all of my content off social media? This is moving one step closer in that direction.

I think, from here on out, all my videos will be only on YouTube. I find them to be a better use of my time and honestly, my IG audience is wonderful and don’t need me to do videos in order for me to stay relevant.

So much more time to journal these days and I am loving it. The other thing I’ve done is turn off/mute status updates from everyone on Whatsapp. I’ve learnt that Whatsapp can become a time suck of the highest order, especially when it stands in for social media time. Removed my display picture as well on the app and I’m only checking in two or three times a day, am focusing on messages from immediate family members and one community group which sends out important updates.

Given a choice, I’d leave Whatsapp too but it’s kind of a necessary tool at the moment especially with online schooling.

Another very important discovery I made was that I can actually log into my Facebook Business Page from my second admin account! YES! That means I can access Creator Studio as well without logging into my main profile. This will make it simpler for me to definitely leave Facebook in early 2022.

Had a lovely group coaching session today and enjoyed the questions/insights from the participants. Teaching is my favourite thing in the world next to writing.

Started something new today with the blessings of my Guru; I’ll share more details when I am ready. Either way, wish me luck 🙂


Day 26: June 22nd Tuesday

The agenda for the rest of the week is to do some maintenance work/upgrades on my website. Am also interested in yet another book (when am I going to finish reading all of these wonderful books?!)

I had a cleansing process today as I wrote this post on Medium: How to Embrace Obscurity as a Writer. I actually sat down and cried as I finished writing this post. It was so cathartic to put it all out there and to talk about the sheer joy that comes from creating content for its own sake- to not be tied to social media validation or fall prey to the idea of what people might think.

And soon after writing that post, I read this one that beautifully encapsulates how to be quiet like Keanu Reeves. And I cried again, because honestly, this is what I have been craving for so long- to return to who I was before social media made me this person who had to be online all the time. The quiet person, the thinker, the slow-to-react individual who stayed away from anger, confrontation and opinions lobbed into a fire without thinking about it.

In other words, I write because I am a writer. What a powerful self-affirmation that gifts us the freedom to explore beyond our wildest dreams.

Cooking has become one of my favourite parts of the day, which is so strange because even up to a year ago, I’d dread entering the kitchen. These days, with such an abundance of time on my hands, I give myself completely to the hour of cooking in the kitchen. 

I’ve realized that I am a slow cook but that’s something I’ve turned into a strength instead of a weakness. Time spent studying new flavours, mixing them to get a fresh taste and playing with spices has become my creative outlet apart from writing.

Today’s lunch was my all-time favourite arbi fry made in the air fryer and pumpkin mor kuzhambu which turned out lip-smackingly delicious.  I took the recipe for the latter from here. I no longer follow a recipe for the former, but if you’re keen on one, this one by Veena is perfect and pretty much how I make mine too. Love the guilt-free emotion and practically zero-oil indulgence that is the air fryer 🙂

Spoke with my first podcast guest today and it was so very delightful. I can’t wait to share more about our conversation soon.

Pleasantly surprised that I published 11 pieces of content this week, so will be taking a break from fresh content for the rest of the week and work on some updates to some of my older posts on the blog.

Also, did I mention that I am enjoying the idea of doing nothing- a whole day of it, if possible? This post by Aytekin Tank may explain what that means.


Day 27: June 23rd 2021 Wednesday

Woke up to discover that my phone had completely switched off and was refusing to restart. Not sure what that means in terms of an overall message. It did result in my wondering how much we tend to rely on our devices.

For instance, the only thing that I was actually wondering about was the inability to use my banking apps since that’s the default form of payment these days. Everything else in terms of data and contacts are backed up online so I don’t have to worry about it.

Temporarily switched my SIM card to another phone so that I can continue to make/receive phone calls and messages. But honestly? I don’t have a sense of urgency or FOMO without the phone. And I actually have a working land line, so the people closest to me can actually contact me without my needing to use the phone.

When I really thought about it, I only needed 5 apps that were important: 3 of them were payment apps, one was a calendar tracker and the fifth was my Insight Timer Meditation app. Even those were a convenience more than a mandate.

Everything else? They don’t actually need to be on my phone. But how strange that the app store makes you believe that you are in need of these multiple apps on the phone! No wonder we feel hooked and dependent on our devices.

Uploaded the fifth video in my affiliate marketing training series to YouTube and that’s a wrap on repurposed content for that segment. 

Didn’t record my podcast episode this week because I had planned to do it today, using my phone; well, that couldn’t happen for obvious reasons. Guess I’ll just skip this week’s episode and catch up next week.

Since I didn’t have the need to create any fresh content for today I took most of the day easy and it was a much-needed and welcome mid-week break. I did end up binge-watching a series on Netflix so I’m not sure if that’s a win or not, but hey I felt relaxed, so no complaints.

Recorded another guest for the podcast and again, I can’t wait to share more details very soon.


Day 28: June 24th 2021, Thursday

As I come up on a month away from social media, here’s an overview of the kind of tasks I’ve been spending my time on. This is from my Rescue Time report for June, 2021.

Last month, this was very different, as you can see from the image below. This was May 2021.

Clearly, being off social media has made a massive difference when it comes to my creation and my business time. I know that personally, of course, but seeing it in the form of hard data, that’s quite another feeling altogether.

*Even though I deleted my Twitter account in April, through May, I would click on a trending hashtag on Twitter to stay updated on current events. By the way, you can do this without an active Twitter account. Over the course of that month though I began to feel the pointlessness of this exercise. If a news item is that important, I’d get to know about it from other sources. June is evidence of how effectively my social media sabbatical broke that impulse.

On to week 5 and month 2 of the sabbatical.


Week 5: Days 29 to 35

Day 29: June 25, 2021 (Friday)

Revamped my Shop page on the website and I’m hoping it has a better flow to it now. Started updating my Coaching page with some fresh testimonials as well and should have it done over the next few days.

Created the draft for my first podcast guest episode and will have it ready to publish early next week.

Culinary Update: Made this week’s batch of idli batter in the wet grinder again and it struck me how much more convenient we have things these days. This same grinding process was done by hand by my grandmother and even my mom until the mid-80s. That wasn’t too long ago! My husband commented how that generation is naturally fitter and healthier because they didn’t have these ‘time-saving’ contraptions.

Once again, how much happier life can be if we were to embrace time affluence and abundance, instead of running around as if we were short on time.

The one good thing about using the heavy-duty wet grinder? I need both hands and all of my senses to be wholly present in the process. I can’t check my phone or flip through news updates when I am unloading the batter into vessels for fermenting. 


Google Effect: On that note, my phone which crashed a few days ago appears to have breathed its last. Currently using my backup phone and thinking about whether I need a new phone or if I should just stick with this one. I barely use the phone these days anyway so it’s not a huge deal. Plus let’s not forget about the impact the phone has on our memories. There was a time I prided myself on my excellent memory for dates, phone numbers and events. Nowadays I rely on reminders. But what if I were to wean myself off the Google Effect and focus on training the brain for better recall and retrieval? At 43, this may be a tad late for me to start but I am going to give it a go. 

News consumption: I think this is important to note here because over the last month, my anxiety levels have either tapered off or disappeared on most days. Not being on social media meant that I wasn’t being subjected to hot button topics and hot takes on the latest news. I’ve realized that was the most damaging part of social media for me – opinions over facts. Plus the never-ending relentless stream of data which was harming me in so many ways. Found this fascinating article on the topic: How to Stop Living in Infinite Browsing Mode

These days I check only news sites for information directly relevant to my city and stay away from opinion pieces as much as I can. If you’re also struggling to make sense of all the news online or if you get your news via social media, try this out. It will largely reduce the echo chamber effect that you get via your curated social media feeds.


Day 30: June 26, 2021 (Saturday)

The first half of the day went in attending the school’s virtual Parent teacher Conference. Must say I was very impressed with how seamlessly they’d organized it. We ensured that we met every teacher and it is heartwarming to see how much effort the teachers are taking when it comes to their students. If front-line workers (doctors and medical professionals) need to be lauded in this pandemic, I’d say that teachers deserve that laurel to a very large extent too.

Imagine how they’ve adapted to this scenario so admirably. Also, slight mom joy moment when each of the teachers said they were happy with Gy’s commitment to the online class schedule and her assignments. I don’t say it enough but I am so incredibly proud of this child of mine who has taken this change in her stride. 

One huge benefit of keeping weekends work-free now is that I can commit myself completely to her needs and on spending more time with the family.

Watched a couple of episodes of Jeopardy and was reminded of why this was one of my favourite shows when I was growing up. A quiz show where you had to both think on your feet and answer in the form of questions? Sign me up!

That also led me to write this piece: 7 Ways you can Counter the Google Effect


 Day 31: June 27, Sunday

Okay, I just made the most killer mint-coriander chutney for breakfast as a sandwich spread and I am mighty pleased with how it came out. Trust me. You don’t need to be a cook to make this recipe. Just pop all the ingredients into the blender and you’re done!

Worked out a plan for my free workshop newsletter where I will make it a more structured, actionable set of tips. The weekly Friday newsletter will be more of a conversational one. Excited to see where this goes. Decided to also offer free monthly Q and A sessions to the students of all of my courses.

Had a very profound meditation session today where I got some answers to certain questions that I am facing. Highly recommend this daily practice to anyone struggling with challenges or anxiety. Also started a nightly prayer practice of writing slokas in my journal just before bed.


Day 32: June 28, Monday

Sent my workshop newsletter to my subscribers including links to all of my coaching calls. Also sent a special note to some of my loyal clients who have been with me over the past year. Relationships mean everything to me, more than money and I’ve learnt that in business, the same rule holds good.

Updated the blog post and podcast drafts to be published tomorrow. All ready to go!

Also doing a detailed data analysis of my Medium content which means I get to dive into Google spreadsheets so am super excited about this. Can you tell I’m a creative nerd? 😉

My daughter’s first set of high school tests have begun so I am taking this week off from client calls to ensure I am present for her. This has been such a relief, instead of overwhelming myself with both client work and family. Plus it’s about time for my periodic break from fresh content creation anyway. Will be back to client calls from next Tuesday.

Unrelated note: Idli batter made at home lasts longer than store-bought ones! Yes, it’s a bit of effort each week to grind the batter, but looking at the long-term gains through the week, not to mention the cost-effectiveness, I am happy to include this as part of my weekly ritual.

This afternoon, my teen and I had a splendid time diving into my days in college. She stumbled upon my Masters’ thesis and wanted to know all about the process. As I explained how we used to write down all the content by hand, get it verified and then typed up, edited and formatted for publishing her eyes grew wider and wider. When I added that we had to go in person to libraries (one in another city) to do our research, she was left staring open-mouthed at the amount of work involved. To the internet generation, I can imagine how this must seem like a lot, but we honestly didn’t think much of it, did we? We just enjoyed all of the reading and research (at least I did) and lost ourselves in the creative process.

That reminded me of this nostalgic post I wrote a few years ago. It’s very much a ‘What if’ scenario and I do think about it from time to time. Should I get cracking on my PhD soon? What do you say? 😉

Delighted that three people signed up for coaching sessions based on my newsletter today. Also got a wonderful idea to start doing my case studies with previous clients. Excited to put the wheels in motion for this next stage of my business.

Spent the evening listening to my daughter practise for her Music Day performance- what bliss.


Day 33 – June 29th, Tuesday

Started the day with meditation as always. There’s so much peace and comfort when I start the day on this note. 

The next part of the day began with a podcast interview where I was the guest this time. As always, I love talking to people who have similar mindsets when it comes to content, marketing and connection. Will share the link when the episode is live.

Published Caroline Leon’s interview on the blog and her interview on my podcast.

 Read the post here: How to Grow your Business using Ethical Strategies here featuring Caroline Leon

Listen to the podcast episode here: How to Grow an Online Business featuring Caroline Leon

Affiliate income for the month of June has been better than expected and the good news? All of it was through my website and email list- not social media. I can definitely see myself moving off social media in the next year or so. 

Added a new page on my website to house all of my coaching options. Can’t think why I waited this long to get it done. Coaching with Shailaja; also finally, finally updated my About Page. Must say I’m rather pleased with the flow and the way it looks now. Changed it completely from what it used to look like earlier. Created my case study form to send out to long term clients. Excited to see how that develops.


Day 34 – June 30th, Wednesday

Last week, I had a very interesting conversation with my sister. One of the things she mentioned was how a talk that she’d given last month had garnered a whole lot of interest, after the creator had put it up on his YouTube channel. The number of views that video received was staggering, so much so that YouTube had reached out to the creator to ask if they could start showing ads on his channel. The creator gently turned down the request with the message, ‘Thank you for that offer, but we are doing God’s work and we don’t want to monetize this.’

That message stuck with me, for some reason.

Woke up this morning with a realization that my website is like my home. It’s a space for guests to enter, put their feet up, get a cup of coffee and relax. It’s a place where I go to serve my audience. As a result, I don’t want to run ads on my website anymore. I’ve reached out to my ad network to start the process of removing ads from my site. Will keep you posted on how this goes.

To clarify, I don’t believe that ads are bad or not a good source of revenue. I can definitely attest to the fact that it was a steady source of revenue for me over the last 18 months, so this decision impacts my bottom line more than you know. But, at some point we need to take a call on what matters to our personal sense of self and wellbeing, while keeping the interests of our audience in mind. It’s my belief now that I need to move away from advertising on my website.

Worked on creating and updating a Testimonials page on my website this morning. Using Facebook business page reviews was the easiest way to do it. Took me less than 15 minutes.  Maybe I’ll do a video tutorial on this soon 🙂

Uploaded a video to YouTube on tips to find your target audience. This was originally a video that I shared in my free Facebook group. Repurposing of content saves you so much time when it comes to content creation and I highly recommend it to all creators. Will be editing it with some chapter headings and hopefully, publishing it by tomorrow.

Cleaned up/trashed so many pages on my website and deleted over 15 opt-in forms that I’d created on Mailerlite. Also went ahead and updated the top 10 traffic posts/pages on my blog to remove any references to free resources in exchange for an email address.

No more resource library page, no more opt-ins and no more lead magnets. If you see them on any of my posts do let me know and I will remove them. This took me almost 3 hours, but it was a long-pending task, so no regrets whatsoever.

I’m calling today ‘Clean up and Organize Day’. It feels like a much-needed purge and fresh slate before the new month begins tomorrow.

On that note, I’d like to share something of a personal nature. While not being on social media has definitely helped with anxiety levels, the lockdown situation in my city has taken its toll on me and my teenage daughter to a large extent. For the last 3 months, we’ve had practically zero interaction with the outside world, unless it’s via screens. She’s also in a critical year of schooling, so my stress levels have been on the rise and I may be manifesting that in my interactions with her. When my husband pointed this out, I was defensive but later sobered up to realise that it was true. It’s a reminder that I need to give a lot more leeway to her as she navigates an already challenging situation and be more supportive.

I doubt that social media would have had any impact on this situation, but I wanted to share this because I don’t want to just share the good stuff that happens in my world. If you find yourself in a similar situation of stress or conflict with your children, please take the time to process the emotions and deal with them in the best way possible. For me, personally, prayer and meditation have been helping to a large extent. Of late, I’m not one to confide much in people these days so even my closest friends don’t know about every waking detail of my life. And that’s okay. Re-reading Jessica Lahey’s Gift of Failure. It is mandatory reading for all parents.

My husband got his old rosewood study table back from a cousin last week and spent the whole week sprucing it up. He first sandpapered it down, cleaned up the surface and then applied a lovely coat of rosewood lacquer paint. Just watching him was such a soothing experience.

And now, I have the pride of using that table for my work. It has drawers and everything and is perfect for my job! 

The table lovingly restored by my husband to its former glory 🙂

Day 35 – July 1st, Thursday

Amusingly enough, I woke up with the screenplay for an entire film in my head. Not saying it’s going anywhere but I just sat down and wrote out the whole skeletal structure before I forget it. It’s very rare that I remember a dream in such vivid detail and to remember an entire film plot? Well, that’s worth saving 😉

Published the video on my YouTube channel and also added chapters since it’s a relatively long-ish video. You can watch it here: How to find your target audience on your blog and social media channels

My ad network got back to me and confirmed that I can leave them by the 30th of July. That ties in perfectly with the end of my social media sabbatical. On that note, I must say that I had zero complaints when working with Monumetric and would highly recommend them to anyone looking at running ads on their site. 

For those wondering why I am leaving a good ad network (and they are one of the best), my focus has shifted more towards service in terms of my free content. I can’t do that while simultaneously running ads on my site. And while a series of blog posts, videos and resources may not be God’s work in the actual sense of the word, I’d like to believe that everything we do should be infused with a noble intention.

So, after 18 months of running ads on my website, this platform will soon become an ad-free zone.

I heard about TidyCal from AppSumo. TidyCal works as an alternative to Calendly and Acuity. At just a $19 lifetime deal (limited time offer) it will probably help coaches on a budget who don’t want to spend a lot on recurring charges.

TidyCal Booking Calendar (Check it out here- Affiliate link)

Fascinating read that one of my teammates sent me (as part of George Kao’s TLC course): 

Why Emotionally Intelligent People Embrace the 25/5 Rule

Point to note: This also marks Day 35 of my daily journaling habit. Alongside daily meditation, daily writing (of content) and daily reading, this is so very gratifying.

Tasks completed in the last 2 weeks for the blog/business

  • Clean up Medium Reading List- DONE
  • Create a caption template for YouTube- DONE
  • Update All YouTube Video Captions with new template + New thumbnails- DONE
  • SHOP Page complete overhaul- Link to all courses and e-books in one place- DONE
  • Revamp the About Me Page on the Blog- DONE
  • Design a new Coaching Page with links to all coaching appointments – DONE
  • Add a link to your booking page or discovery call at the foot of high-traffic posts- related to niche, of course – DONE
  • Create a long-form bio with links that I can share with potential interview requests – DONE
  • Created a form for Case Study for long term Clients – DONE
  • Create a Testimonials Page- Link to FB and Google Reviews – DONE

As we come to the end of week 5, I’d love to leave you with this short video which is well worth the 3-minute watch:

How to Measure our Progress by Becoming More of Who we are

On to Week 6 from tomorrow.

Aside: This is now, officially, the longest post on my website and is currently close to 10,000 words in length.


WEEK 6: Days 36 to 42

Day 36: July 2nd, 2021 (Friday)

Minimalism

Listening to Leo Babauta’s ideas is always soothing. And to listen to him on the Minimalists’ podcast is even better. For the former, I began listening to his book, The Power of Less: The fine art of limiting yourself to the essential . . . in business and in life.

If you can get your hands on the audiobook version and hear Fred Stella speak, it’s a guaranteed way to set your tone for the day. For the latter, you can listen/watch him on the YouTube channel of the Minimalists here – Zen Living with Leo Babauta.

Another wonderful channel I stumbled upon when I was researching the art of minimalism was this one: Nick Keomahavong. He was a practising psychotherapist who left it all behind to become a Theravada Buddhist monk in Thailand.

You can probably tell where this is going, given the theme of the above links. As the next chapter of this sabbatical unfolds, there’s a conscious, pressing message of awareness that is gently guiding me towards the idea of less –  fewer possessions, fewer ambitions and less clutter. Of course, not all of this will manifest right away and I wouldn’t expect it to either. But the seed of awareness has been planted and that’s a good start.

Marketing without social media

Last night, I studied a few lessons from Leonie Dawson’s course and am absorbing the information that she shares in a possible scenario of ‘No social media’. While I am not completely planning to leave social media just yet, it’s good to know that there are options available outside of the standard marketing practices promoted in mainstream culture.

Following fewer people

On the theme of less, have you ever thought about following fewer people online? For instance on Medium, I follow a total of 15 people and 3 publications. On YouTube, I follow and subscribe to only 15 channels.

Why? It’s not because I don’t have time; it’s for the exact opposite reason. More in this post published on Medium today.

For the record, it’s not easy to stay away from being influenced otherwise. We’re constantly ‘recommended’ people/channels to follow on social media, YouTube and yes, even on Medium. But the way to get around it is to use the power of the pause to ask yourself why you’re choosing to hit that subscribe/follow button. In other words, don’t fall victim to the idea of reflex. Exercise intention in your actions and it becomes easier for the rest to follow.



Day 37: July 3rd, 2021

On Setting gentle reminders

The word ‘alarm’ is specifically designed to make us feel frenzied and stressed. It jolts you out of a state and urges you into the next state. Nothing should be done this wayNot waking up; Not working out and Not drinking water or meditation or writing a grocery list.

I think that’s because the word alarm has a connotation and the general feeling of hustle associated with it, which is a far cry from time affluence and abundance.

That’s why I have decided to stop using the word alarm and will now use the words reminders/ nudges/ breaks. They’re more gentle in nature; they don’t jolt you out of a state of being.

I wrote this last night just before going to bed and very strangely, this morning, I woke up naturally and without an alarm at 4.45 am. My eyes just opened and I sat up in bed, taking in the darkness, the stillness and the quiet around me. Spent a longer than usual time on my meditation this morning.

I’ve installed a beautiful chrome extension called the Singing Bowl on my chrome browser which sounds a very gentle gong every 30 minutes to remind to me get up and stretch from my chair when I am working.

Work

Drafted and scheduled my first workshop newsletter in the new format. This will go out once every two weeks, on Monday mornings to creators who’d like a stress-free approach to a specific objective. Edition 1 is all about building a consistent writing habit.

Repurposed an older post on improving reader engagement and published it on Medium here: 6 Ways to Improve Reader engagement on your Blog


Day 38: July 4th, 2021 (Sunday)

Gentle Habits

Last night, just an hour before bed, I watched the most beautiful video by Nick Keomahavong on the concept of jealousy and comparison and it helped me finally let go of an emotional wound that I’d been nursing for close to a year. Woke up this morning with a much clearer head on the situation than I’ve ever experienced.

Watch it here: How to Stop Jealousy & Comparison

This has also led to a fresh level of interest in the idea of Theravada Buddhism and now I want to read a book (or three) on the topic. Found The Four Noble Truths- The Foundation of Buddhist Thought (Volume 1) as well as, Buddhism is not what you think and Buddha in your Mirror.

Probably one of the best articles I’ve read on the concept of Buddhism in marketing is this one by Copyblogger- How the Buddha solved his Marketing Problem

Spurred by the success of my meditation habit (which I’ve now been successfully doing daily for over 75 days), I repurposed a series of Instagram posts on the one-minute rule and turned it into a post on the blog.

The One Minute Rule to Simplify your Life and Stop Procrastination


Day 39: July 5th, 2021 (Monday)

Wellness

I’ve been meeting a cute Shih Tzu on my morning walk everyday. He’s the most vibrant ball of energy in this tiny, fluffy body and he’s aptly named Joy. That’s what I feel everyday when our paths cross. I take the time to squat down on my haunches and give him a good neck rub and how we both enjoy that moment. Sometimes I forget how much we take for granted- from the air we breathe to the fact that we can walk on our own two feet without support.

Today’s daily meditation was made even better when I added the background chant of Om to keep me focused during my session. You can do this in Insight Timer, by the way. I don’t think I will be switching over to any other meditation tool in the near future.

Work

Today will be spent on editing and formatting my next podcast episode and I’ve also got an idea for a video series that I’d like to start on my YouTube channel. Trying to work out the logistics for that before I dive in.

Sent out my first workshop newsletter ( version 2.0 ) and I’m hoping it will be of value to whoever has subscribed. A number of readers responded, saying that they found it very useful. 


Day 40: July 6th, 2021 (Tuesday)

Wellness

Learnt that my deep focus time works well in 25-minute batches. Have started to practise that regularly. 25 minutes of uninterrupted work followed by a 5-minute stretch/walk to the kitchen/ a glass of water.

Work

Published the podcast episode for the week as well as the companion blog post. This week it’s my pleasure to host my good friend, Mamatha Ramesh, who has been off social media for close to a decade.

Listen to the episode here: How to thrive without social media

Read the entire blog post here: Living and thriving without social media – A chat with Mamatha Ramesh

Published a Medium Post on the Depth Year: Why You Need to Follow the Depth Year

Chatted with a fellow business owner and wonderful client for over an hour today on the idea of not starting a business for the money. Talking helps clarify ideas to a very large extent. Something that I highly recommend as a way forward for people who feel confused or overwhelmed with everything that they do.


Day 41: July 7th, 2021 (Wednesday)

Work

Had two podcast interviews today; the first as a guest and the second as a host. The former is on my current topic – the 60 day social media sabbatical. The latter is my first-ever case study so I am excited to share more details about both topics with you all soon!

Uploaded the case study to my podcast, my YouTube channel as well as MS Word online to transcribe the text for my blog post. Deciding to do it right away has made a big difference and helps with editing and polishing it later. Must remember this whenever I feel like putting off a task.

Learning

Attended the first session in George Kao’s Digital Decluttering course. (Affiliate link) I can already feel my brain feeling lighter 😀

A wonderful email from a fellow business owner made my day –  she was emailing to let me know that she was excited for the ad-free experience on my blog later this month as it was something that had been distracting her every time she landed on my site.

Additionally, emails from my special marketing list, all responding to my new newsletter format, made my week. So delighted that I decided to move forward with this!


Day 42: July 8th, 2021 (Thursday)

Work

Published Caroline Leon’s interview on YouTube; worked on the SEO as well.

Got a brilliant breakthrough in terms of how to structure my business tasks every week with more effectiveness, all thanks to George Kao and his True Productivity article. Read it here.

True Productivity for Self-Employed Professionals

Created a business framework and then incorporated specific time blocks each day to work on each of these items on the agenda. Will blog about it in more detail soon, because this has given me such clarity on the way forward.

As part of this new and revised weekly timetable, I’ll be working on the Better Offers Course by Kao because it aligns perfectly with my current mindset and the way forward. Check it out below-

Create Authentically Appealing Offers : Attract the Ideal Clients who will love your work (Affiliate link)

Simultaneously, got another idea for my daily structure that incorporates the 4 Ws of my intention: Work – Wellness – Wisdom – Wonder

Wellness

Completed 80 days of daily meditation today. This is probably the most immersive experience that I’ve enjoyed in the last 3 months. 


End of Week 6:

I honestly can’t believe it’s the end of 6 weeks of my social media sabbatical. Three more weeks to go and I will have a whole lot of insights to share from this experience. After that I will be back on social media – primarily (and possibly only) on Instagram – to talk more about this sabbatical and the lessons I’ve learnt from it.


WEEK 7: Days 43 to 49

Day 43: Friday, July 9th 2021

My business framework is top of my mind as I begin my day alongside the high of having completed 80 days of daily meditation and it’s giving me food for thought when it comes to both habit building and maintaining a sensible calendar for the work week.

Taking the 24 hours available during the work week – that gives me 120 hours from Monday to Friday.

120 hours break up:

If I allocate 20 hours every week for work & spend approximately 40 hours per week sleeping, that still leaves me with 60 hours per week to invest in other tasks.

Let’s say I spend 2 to 3 hours per day in the kitchen; that adds up to 15 hours per week.

Add another 2 hours per day for all the chores/cleaning; now that comes to 10 hours per week

Now I have 35 hours left over – which works out to about 7 hours per day that I can spend doing anything else.

When put like this, just imagine how your day opens up.

Work

Started the morning session with a discovery call with a social media client. I’ve also started editing the draft for my case study which should go live early next week, alongside the podcast episode and the YouTube upload.

Wellness

This is more of an insight than an action. I’ve spent the better part of the last 3 weeks watching a series on Netflix and today, I was just totally and utterly put off by the free use of profanity, gratuitous nudity on screen and excessive violence on the streaming service. I can never understand the need for expletives – either in real life/ online use- and I know I’m probably in the minority here. But the English language is so rich and diverse. What is the point of reducing everything emotional to a 4-letter word? Honestly, I miss network television and the censoring.

Making a conscious decision to reduce/minimize my consumption of mindless entertainment. I still appreciate the documentaries that I get to watch and the one-off family movies alongside clean and enjoyable comedies. Everything else? It needs to really go out the window. Time for me to find something better to do in that pocket of leisure time.


Day 44: Saturday, July 10th 2021

Ever since I started taking weekends off from work, there’s a sense of relaxed joy that permeates my Saturday mornings. Time for introspection, contemplation and processing what it means to truly take time away from the business and the idea of constant connectivity.

I was also mildly annoyed by something that Mark Manson wrote and decided that I don’t really want to follow his line of thought/buy his books. Not saying he’s a bad writer; just that his line of thinking doesn’t work for me.

Started re-reading The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and it’s kind of important reading for everyone who wonders about the time we spend online. 

An Exercise in Training the Mind to Focus

I’ve been reading more about how our minds tend to flit from one thing to another within the space of 3 to 5 minutes. One challenge, of course, is the siren call of our phones and notifications. The next is the presence of multiple open tabs on our browsers. The third (and probably the most important) is the feeling that we have of not being able to do it all, on a given day.

So I decided to experiment with all three situations. Fortunately, my phone is more of an accessory than a distraction these days. I quite honestly don’t use it much, except for phone calls and sending messages. My daughter is highly amused when she asks me where my phone is at any given moment and I say that I don’t know 😉

The second, which is one of my bigger strikes, is the idea of having too many tabs open. It’s a conscious desire to see if I can function with just one tab open at a time. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes. 

Finally, the third one, the feeling of not being able to do it all, stems from the inability to enjoy the moment we’re in. So, every time I feel tempted to switch to a different tab or cut short my activity to switch tracks, I ask myself to pause. The other thing I am doing is using the gong sound from the singing bowl chrome extension. This is reminding me, gently, to stay on task- preferably on a single tab, for the duration of the task and only then switch.

Almost finished reading The Buddha in your Mirror and I am so very grateful for the way it’s come into my life. It’s impacting so much of what I believe about business, relationships and personal wellness in addition to taking responsibility for all of our actions.

Ended the day with a lovely video call with my adorable niece and boisterous nephew, both of whom were jostling to speak to me on the call. How wonderful it is when kids want to be a part of your life and actually fight to make it happen!


Day 45: Sunday, July 11th 2021

Very gratified to learn that yet another wonderful guest has agreed to be on the podcast. Considering that the podcast is just 2 months young, I’m deeply grateful to these early guests who place so much faith in my work.

Been starting the day with meditation, as you know. Additionally, I play about an hour and a half of devotional music tracks every day. The music fills the home and is the ideal way to rouse the household from slumber. This has been in practice for a little over 45 days now. Definitely recommend this for the right start to your day- pick any music that resonates with you and play it on the speakers at home.

Finished reading The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for the Self.

There are so  many gems of wisdom in this book; here are a few of them:

“Buddhism clearly explains that suffering emerges in our hearts because we forget the principle of impermanence and believe that what we possess will last forever.”

“All the happiness in the world comes from thinking of others; all the suffering in the world comes from thinking of only oneself.”

“By concerning yourself with the problems of others, your own problems become diminished, both in perspective, because you realize that perhaps other people have more serious obstacles than yours, and in reality, because when you stop focusing on your own difficulties they lose their mastery over you.”

“No matter what a person may be exhibiting at any given moment, it is only one part of a whole human being; each person contains the seed of enlightenment within and therefore deserves respect.”

Today was also the day we recorded my daughter’s music performance for this year’s Rath Yatra program. Extremely proud of her effort and dedication to the art of music, even in the midst of one of her most challenging academic years.

The other thing I’ve been trying to attend every Sunday evening is a Satsang session with my alumni group from college. This has been refreshing and rejuvenating on so many levels. For one thing, it reminds me of all the good that I have the fortune of being in touch with and for another, it is an assurance that the Almighty is watching over me, even if I forget about it.


Day 46: Monday, July 12th 

Today was Rath Yatra– a Hindu festival in praise of Lord Jagannatha. On the occasion, my daughter performed a few classical pieces and the reception from family and friends thrilled her. I can’t tell you how this made me feel. Mom pride aside, there’s something incredibly satisfying about music and how it speaks to your soul. Delighted that she makes time for her music every single day, even in the midst of her very busy schedule.

My in-laws arrived tonight to stay with us for a while. Made a fresh batch of idli batter this evening and also cleaned up the guest room to ensure that things were in place for them.

Work

Started finalizing the blog post/podcast/Youtube related to my first case study. Should be ready by tomorrow.

Client-wise, I got two clients for this week. One was a well-known and long-term connection of mine and another was a referral client whom I chatted with last week. Ever since I started stepping back from constant connectivity, the quality and nature of my connections are more refined. There’s a much greater awareness of where my time goes and how I can spend it without getting overwhelmed.

Also, if you haven’t read it yet, I definitely recommend The Buddha in Your Mirror. It gives you far greater insight into the idea of actionable Buddhism in life, work and relationships while staying true to your values.

Ended the day with this week’s Coaching call for George’s TLC course. That sparked an idea for a blog post which I will put down and flesh out later.

Wellness

Recall how I mentioned that I started including the Om Chant last week during meditation? I’ve increased it to 21 Omkars, which we used to do every morning when I was in college. (I should do a post sometime, about my two years in an Ashram-style college; that will also explain a lot about my overall outlook on life and business).


Day 47: Tuesday, July 13th 2021

With my in-laws in town, I somehow assumed that my schedule would be different/thrown out of sync, but strangely enough, I’ve managed to stick to it, possibly due to weeks of conscious and intentional planning.

Did a client session in the morning related to time management/productivity and also published my first ever Case Study with Ranjitha Jeurkar!

Catch the audio version of it here, on my podcast: Case Study with Ranjitha

Watch the video here

With my daughter’s birthday a few days away, things are also in motion for a quiet and exclusive family celebration. Sometimes I can’t believe I have a 15-year-old and other times, I get reminded of it frequently when tempers get frayed 😉

One thing I’ve been following for the last few weeks is the principle of 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks) daily. As part of that, each task should be related to one of the three areas:

Personal: Reading a book/ Cleaning a part of the house/ Listening to or practising music

Professional: A Business-related task to do with content/connections/clients/collaborations

Wellness: Meditation/Workout/ Prayer

Once I complete those tasks for the day, I count the day as a success and start my wind-down ritual. No more working late hours or trying to burn the midnight oil or hitting all of the targets, which can be a never-ending cycle, as you know. Try it out and let me know 🙂


Day 48: Wednesday, July 14th 2021

Woke up with a strange realization that I find my day incomplete without this daily journaling exercise. Probably a gentle reminder that I must continue to do this even after my sabbatical ends.

On the day’s agenda is to publish my case study on the blog as well as my article on Medium. In addition to that, there’s some fun work with audiograms that I’d like to explore. If time allows, I will start working on my next e-book. Possible launch by August? Here’s hoping 🙂

Updates: 

Published the blog post here: Case Study with Ranjitha: How to use Instagram with Intention

Medium post published here in Gentleness Ambassadors: Why Stepping Back is More Important Than You Realize

Created an audiogram for one of my podcast episodes. Took me about 15 minutes. I can definitely incorporate this into the weekly schedule! Here’s a sneak listen from the one I created as a preview to episode 7 of my podcast.


Day 49: Thursday, July 15th 2021

This week has been so interesting in terms of perspectives and priorities. It’s also reminded me, that yet again, I don’t have to stress myself out about constantly creating fresh content like a hamster on a wheel. Repurposing definitely has its benefits.

My very first case study was created as 3 different pieces on my podcast, my YouTube channel and my blog. Each platform has different benefits and a different purpose. Since none of them are necessarily customer-facing in nature, it’s much easier to plan this kind of content and create it accordingly.

Spent the better half the day catching up with family who were visiting. That means the only actual biz-related work I did today was work on my newsletter, this update on the blog and this super-quick video tutorial upon request from a client. Took me exactly 10 minutes to put it together. Love serendipity!


Thoughts at the end of Week 7:

Things are on track for my impending exit from Facebook by January, 2022. If this sabbatical has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t need to be on every social media platform. I will be sticking to Instagram to create content and connect with my audience; I will continue to use Linkedin primarily for networking.

Among other things this week, I worked on revamping my home page by adding client testimonials. This wasn’t exactly a productive task which impacted the business needle, but I call it my feel-good task of the week 🙂 We all need that from time to time.


WEEK 8: Days 50 to 56

Day 50: Friday, July 16th 2021

Sending out my newsletter for the week is such a special moment every week. It’s with some joy that I open my inbox on Fridays because of the genuine warmth and kindness that fills my email that day.

Published a Medium post on the One Thing to Remember when Choosing a Service provider

The rest of the day was spent replying to emails (yes, there were quite a few of those!) and planning next week’s business/content goals.

The One Tab experiment needs to improve. I still end up having at least 3 tabs open at any given time. But I’m not going to give up on this. Onward and upward as I work on fine-tuning my focus!

For Clients: I’ve done away with the paid discovery call option and instead have changed it to a free discovery call for people to book. Service above profit is my mantra now 🙂


Day 51: Saturday, July 17th 2021

My daughter turned 15 today and it was such a beautiful, intimate family celebration. We were fortunate to have both sets of grandparents present this time and the birthday girl was pampered royally, as was to be expected. 

Had ordered cake from a neighbour and made pizzas at home using the Air Fryer. All in all, a day very well spent, although I was bone tired by the end of the day. The cake was a whole wheat, eggless cake made with jaggery and the flavours were cocoa, coffee and crushed walnuts. When I say this was a cake that every single person enjoyed, you know this was worth it!

It was practically a screen-free day, if you don’t count the replying to countless birthday messages.

Also completed 50 days of distraction-free, focused creation work. I’m mildly amused by the fact that for 50 days I got a Unicorn symbol. Looks like it really IS that difficult for most of us to focus, if a rare, mythical creature has to be used as the celebratory symbol for 50 days away from social media/ distracting sites. 🙂


Day 52: Sunday, July 18th 2021

Woke up rested after an exhausting day. It definitely means more work when the household has more members. But the principles of joyful productivity can work in this space too.

For one thing, it’s important to relinquish control over your schedule when you have more people around. If you stick too rigidly to your timetable, it can lead to stress and resentment. Instead, focus on the big tasks, let go of the smaller ones and focus on enjoying the time with the people you love.

It’s always a joy to spend time with my folks and my in-laws and this time, I loved the fact that I could let them all sit back and relax while I worked in the kitchen. The happiness that comes from feeding other people is unparalleled.

Since there was plenty of food leftover from the previous day I didn’t have to cook lunch, although I did make a fresh and hearty breakfast. Managed to chat with my doctor about my feet swelling and she’s recommended a couple of tests. Need to get those done. In the meantime, I am exploring a few home remedies to reduce the swelling.

Daughter received a bunch of reference books from a neighbour who generously gave them away without asking for a fee! The same things cost a fortune online. So very grateful to such souls, who willingly share knowledge with others.

Had my weekly check in with the 6-week Mastermind group. As always, interesting and invigorating! Also completed 90 days of daily meditation.


Day 53: Monday, July 19th 2021

Started the day with a very soulful meditation session and a new awareness with respect to my wellness routine. For so long, I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing when it comes to health and fitness. It used to be about pushing harder, going higher and achieving more when it came to health. And I’ve paid the price for it too.

Instead, now when I start my meditation daily, it’s with a profound sense of gratitude for what I already have- a body. In other words, treat the body like the temple that it is; don’t abuse it and don’t overdo it. This awareness is all we need when we decide to work on our bodies with care and gentleness. That starts with a number of things – the food we eat, the water we drink, the movement we allow ourselves and the reminders that we have a body (any body) at all is so much more important than a number on a scale or a dress size.

Last night, before bed, I did 10 minutes of Viparita Karani and I’ve had the best sleep that I’ve enjoyed in ages. As I let my body relax into the pose, it was as if a larger insight had emerged from such a simple exercise. It’s not about pushing the body or hustling when it comes to fitness; it’s about awareness of what your body is capable of doing and treating it with kindness.

After the meditation, I drafted and sent my workshop newsletter (edition 2).

The rest of the day was mostly spent in rest, as I try and recover from a hectic weekend. I did draft a post and submit it to a Medium publication later in the evening. Interestingly, I got an email offering me a free Styled Stock Photo subscription for a month and went ahead and took it up. Spent a good chunk of time downloading some lovely templates for Instagram and Pinterest, as well as a slew of stock photos. You can check out the subscription here (An affiliate link; I am not sure if the free trial is still valid, though)


Day 54: Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

Keeping my 3 MITs rule has been working so well for me, especially if I don’t want to overwhelm myself with all of the tasks on any given day. For example today’s professional MIT is my client call in the morning. The optional MIT is my podcast recording, which I will do later in the day, if time allows. Keeping this kind of gentle scheduling pattern with my calendar is enormously helpful when it comes to handling demands of both work and home.

The air fryer was such a boon today! Made karela fry with just a tablespoon of oil and then turned it into pitlai. Later in the day, I made both Zucchini fries and potato wedges with just a spoon of oil each time. Healthy indulgences and tasty to boot!

Received such a warm and glowing testimonial from a client who took my productivity session last week. She sent a 5-minute voice note on Whatsapp and it had me grinning all evening! So very happy when clients are able to see a positive shift in their days after these sessions.

Had another client session in the morning, also to do with productivity and it’s fast turning out to be among my favourite sessions to do! Will need to get working on the sales page for that call ASAP.

10 days to go before I can remove ads from my site and I have to admit I’m waiting eagerly for that moment. Ever since that decision formed, it’s something I’ve been anticipating with some impatience.

Ended the day with recording my podcast episode here: How to create from a space of love

Since I also recorded it on Zoom, I’ve uploaded it to my YouTube channel as a video, which I will edit and publish on Thursday. Content repurposing for the win 🙂


Day 55: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Started the day with a sense of tiredness and heaviness thanks to the cycle. I was so grateful to be able to sleep in and was pleasantly surprised to wake up to a steaming cup of green tea made so thoughtfully by my daughter.

Decided to take the rest of the day off from work/business and just put my feet up (literally and otherwise). Remember my article on how you need to take a day off mid week and not feel guilty about it? Highly recommend it.


Day 56: Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

Woke up to 2 lovely emails. One was from a client who’d had a discovery call with me, saying that there was so much clarity now regarding how she needed to approach her work. The other was from a client who’s booked a session for next week, based on a very generous referral from a previous client.

Published the blog post version of this week’s podcast episode: How to Create Content From a Space of Love

Published the video on YouTube as well here:

Worked on my newsletter for the week and will be ending the day with a deep dive session with a new client. 


Thoughts at the end of Week 8:

Another week to go before I return to social media. At this time, my path has become clearer and there’s so much more beauty that I see in how to approach the space of connection. I specifically loved this one sentence I heard – strangely enough – in a TV series I just finished watching- God Friended Me.

Technology is a miracle, as long as we’re using it to help others.


WEEK 9: Days 57 to 60

Day 57: Friday, July 23rd 2021

Set up the blood tests my doctor had recommended and I should get my results by early next week.

Today was a lean day on the content creation front and I am actually proud of myself for being able to take a step back from constant creation these days.

Ended the day with an intensive 90-minute group coaching call. Love these intimate sessions where I can truly address specific concerns of my clients.

Joined George Kao’s new program- CORE- More details here.

I’ve also disabled my Medium Pro account for now even as I continue using Medium to showcase my work. I will possibly resume the membership if and when India ever qualifies for the Medium Partner Program. At the moment, I’m going as minimalist as possible when it comes to my outflow and expenses.


Day 58: Saturday, July 24th 2021

This week has been rough on the personal health front, but also eye-opening in so many ways. Spent the better part of it in bed and I was so grateful for the fact that it was the weekend and that I could rest while my husband took over the kitchen duties. I’m also very grateful for the fact that we have a fairly equitable relationship in terms of the housework. I do the bulk of the cooking and while earlier it was because I felt I had to, it’s evolved to a place where I want to. Funny how things change as you grow older. He’s always been the better cook, by the way. But I’m secretly proud of how far I’ve come in the culinary space this past year and I can tell he can see the difference too.

Made aloo tikkis in the air fryer this evening and on my gosh, I am wondering why I didn’t make them sooner! With just one spoon of oil used in total to coat 11 tikkis, this was such a hit at home.

The sabbatical is about to end on Monday and I honestly have very mixed feelings about it. Perhaps my reflections on this experience will help with some clarity on the subject.

Today, I ended the evening by discovering Michael Harris through a blog post that I’d shared back in 2017. That blog post led me to checking out his books on Amazon and I’ve bookmarked a couple of them to buy/read later.

These two quotes, however, from one of his books (on Goodreads) struck me squarely between the eyes: 

“Every technology will alienate you from some part of your life. That is its job. Your job is to notice. First notice the difference. And then, every time, choose.”

“Has social media made us socially obese—gorged on constant connection but never properly nourished?”

Michael Harris

In turn, that led me to Roget Ebert’s beautiful essay on The Quest for Frisson. And suddenly, just like that, I knew that my decision to leave Facebook by the end of 2021 was the right one. I had been a bit on the fence about it, but this was the message I had been looking for. 

Honestly, given a choice, I’d leave today. However, I need to finish out my commitment to a couple of paid membership groups until December. I’d also need to set up a way for me to connect with people whom I know exclusively through Facebook. 


Day 59: Sunday, July 25th 2021

Woke up well rested and started diving back into The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, especially after reading the following article by him from 2008:

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Spent the day with my daughter as we caught up on some Olympics events on TV and then ended the evening with teaching her a song that I’ve wanted to do for a while now. 


Day 60: Monday, July 26th 2021

Had my blood test results come in and they’re all okay! Such a relief, I tell you 🙂

Meal prep has become such a saviour on the cooking front. A bit of extra work the previous day, but so much time and contemplation saved the next day. Made rajma masala and rotis for breakfast and it was much relished by the family.

Published a new post on the blog (repurposed from my podcast) on Why You Should Not Start a Business for the Money.

Reblogged it on Medium here; I am considering doing this going forward, similar to what Aytekin Tank does with his content on JotForm.

Taught my daughter another song this evening and this is fast becoming my favourite part of the day 🙂


Even though my sabbatical technically ends today, I’m taking a few more days to process the lessons and learnings from this break and will be back on social media soon. Watch out for a post on Friday, July 30th which will compile all of my insights from this entire journey.

If you’ve actually followed along for the entire journey, you have my heart and all my gratitude 🙂


Shailaja V

I’m a blog, social media, productivity and content coach with over 14 years of writing, blogging and social media experience. Read my story & more about my work here.

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