I have decided to put together a post explaining my situation with this blog and Facebook so that people can both understand my actions but also so that if anyone else finds themselves in a similar position this may be a useful resource.
Facebook has been a significant part of my life. I joined in the early 2000s when the site was very different. It was designed then really to only work on a desktop or laptop, there was no like button and the feed was something you could actually get to the bottom off! Over time the platform has changed and personally I feel that has been a double edged sword. It has brought greater value and connectivity which has allowed me to share my ideas to help further the dental profession in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible a decade earlier. But it has also brought some negative side effects in the form of a very addictive quality to its current platform setup and I will be honest in saying I have found it difficult to achieve a good personal balance with it.
In the summer of 2018 I decided to take a break from the platform and my blog and I deleted the app from my phone. There were a few main reasons behind this break.
- My workload in practice was at an all time high. The move to Pinhoe was going great but was also proving to be a lot more work than anticipated in terms of time and attention.
- I was very much enjoying my work as a clinical supervisor and wanted to further this as well by working through the application to get a post-grad teaching qualification in the form of AFHEA.
- And above all I wanted the summer holidays to be about connecting with my family and recharging my batteries.
I fully intended at that time to be back using FB come the start of the new term. However the “social sabbatical” quite quickly brought some realisations and additional unexpected benefits so I decided to keep the experiment rolling on for a while. The final part of that experiment has been to come back to FB recently, which I have done to help my wife get her new business venture off the ground. If anyone in Devon either has any baby/children’s clothes or toys etc that they want to prevent going to landfill or if they wish to purchase those items at significantly less than the normal price please see here for info about upcoming markets she will be running:
So what benefits have I found from my time away from FB and what realisations have I made by coming back?
- FB most definitely has an addictive draw for me. Even with a 9 month break from the site I have found it very easy to slip back into my old mindless scrolling habits.
- Without that draw I sleep better. Even though I previously had some pretty strict rules for myself of no FB after work and phone on airplane mode at 8pm I still definitely sleep better without that mental niggle.
- I have a lot more attention to give to other things. This includes my family but also other hobbies. I have taken up learning the piano and am really enjoying that.
- I can read for enjoyment. For a couple of years reading was always attached to the idea creating reviews/finding insights to share on the blog.
- My productivity at work has improved. Those that have followed my previous posts will know this is something I am passionate about and have worked hard on. Coming off social has allowed me to improve my skills both clinically as well as personally for my patients.
So it is for all these reasons that I am deciding to leave FB indefinitely. I will be around for a short while to help Jem and to check responses to this post in case others have any questions for me if they find themselves in a similar situation but beyond that will be aiming to leave FB for good. Please note that this is not meant as an attack against the platform or anyone who decides to continue to use it. FB has given me a lot and massively furthered my dental knowledge however I have just decided on balance I will be better without it.
My plans going forward:
I will be keeping my blog website active as a potentially useful resource for the hundreds who have previously said it was or others who may stumble across it. I may return to an occasional blog post just on my website but in a much more relaxed manner than before.
I will aim to connect with individuals more on a 1:1 basis to share my ideas. I am applying to be an academic tutor for the dental school and am very much looking forward to that.
If you wish to reach out to me to share an idea or to get my thoughts on something I would love that and here is how to get that to work well:
1) Have a look at my blog here: http://www.drchrisharper.co.uk If you are seeking info/answers check the relevant sections in the archive and see if they are there.
2) If you still have a question or something to share, go to the contact page on my website and follow the instructions there.
3) Please don’t be offended if I don’t respond straight away. I batch process digital communication to make the most efficient use of my time and attention. If I think it is important I will get back to you.
I have found this type of 1:1 communication with focussed intentions has worked really well since coming off FB. I have had some great back and forth discussions with a number of people and have to say thank you to those individuals who have reached out to me. If you have questions or ideas to share please do so.
And I guess that finally, if this post has resonated with you and you want to either find out more about this topic or wish to research getting some of these benefits for yourself here are some resources you may find useful:
- How to be a productivity ninja by Graham Allcott. The 5th anniversary revised edition really is worth reading.
- Deep Work and Digital Minimalism both by Cal Newport.
- There is a great podcast where Graham is interviewing Cal here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/beyond-busy/id1093968526?i=1000434640672
- The 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris. Even though this book predates FB becoming huge, the mindset in it about making best use of time and focusing on the big rocks applies to this situation perfectly.
- The 4 pillar plan by Dr Rangan Chatterjee. Such a great book which everyone should read.
Love you all
Do you spend any of your time either teaching others or trying to lead a team? Are you a mentor to Foundation Dentists or a Clinical Supervisor for students or a postgraduate course?
If so then it is highly likely that you would benefit from Michael Bungay Stanier's book "The Coaching Habit".
It’s amazing how time flies. I have now been a clinical supervisor for a whole academic year. There was quite a feeling of achievement at the end of my last session with the year 3 students on bays 4 and 5 at the Exeter site who, after a well deserved summer break will be continuing their education journey in Truro. I was so touched by the gratitude (and very generous and unexpected gifts) given at my final session.
Anyway, onto the real reason for this post. I thought that with an extended summer break about to begin it might be a good idea to share some recommendations for books (or audiobooks) that are worth reading to help promote a good mindset or improve critical thinking or even just inspire and amaze. It doesn’t matter whether you have just finished your first year at dental school or are getting close to retirement, hopefully there will be something on this list that will be relevant for you.
Do you take enough holiday days? Do you even track how many days off you take per year? Prior to my recent move to Pinhoe my honest answer to both of those questions would be “No”. Being self employed and with a family to support it is easy to fall into the habit of allowing months to slip by and not take enough proper downtime, especially if you are like me and try to minimise the number of patients you rearrange unnecessarily. I don’t think I have taken an uninterrupted 2 weeks off since starting as an associate 7 years ago!
Dr Chris Harper