Social Media Break : Update

Reflections on My Social Media Break

Back in May, after a couple of months of overwhelm and anxiety surrounding my social media use, I took a step back and decided to take a break from all social media. What was supposed to be a few days or a week, quickly added up to almost two months away from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back! But the nature of my work and my advocacy means that I have to have some social media presence, and I know that FOR ME, completely abstaining wasn’t the goal. My social media break was about evaluating how it was affecting me so I can use these tools in a way to enhance my life, not to quit them all together.

Social Media Break : Update

I learned so much during my break, and I wanted to share some of this new knowledge with all of you. If you’re worried about your social media consumption or behaviors, I think these tips might help you figure out a solution!

  1. Take a week to look at you social media behaviors and track them somewhere. I have a bullet journal where I keep everything, but you could use the notes app on your phone if that works better for you! I also installed the Moment App, which tracks how much time you spend on your phone during the day, and can break down what apps you’re spending the most time on. This was a HUGE eye opener for me, as a person who is perpetually “busy” and often feels overwhelmed with all I have to do. Once I literally saw how much time I had been wasting scrolling social media, I knew a break was in order!
  2. Do your research! Two books that really helped me were How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price and Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time by Victoria Dunckley. The latter was actually a book I picked up as a parent of screen-obsessed kids (more on that soon), but I found a lot of into that was pertinent to my own screen-time habits. The first was an awesome, step-by-step plan of how to cut down on your screen-time as an adult, with lots of tips and hacks (like apps that will block other apps so you can’t use them at certain times of the day!). I highly recommend them both. This podcast (iTunes, Stitcher) actually came out while I was on my social media break, but I thought it was so great I wanted to share it too. It’s a really emotional conversation with Brooke White, the singer and creator, who makes her livelihood on social media…but had decided she needed a break.
  3. Delete all social media apps from your phone. You guys, I tried to keep the apps on my phone so I could still check my work social media and everything for August Light Studio, but it was impossible for me. I kept wanting to “just check in” and see what people were up to. In the end, deleting the apps and then checking work social on my desktop was the only solution and it worked for me.
  4. Make sure you let friends, family and followers that you’ll be on a hiatus. I do a lot of my advocacy work through social media, and a ton of my kids’ school activities are coordinated through it as well. If I just cut off everything without notice, I knew I’d miss out on party invites for the kids and DM’s that needed to be attended to. So I put together a “Social Media Break” post for each social network and posted with my plans, along with ways for people to get a hold of me if needed. I also reached out to friends and family to let them know they should text or call, rather than message or tweet.
  5. Make a list of a few things you’d like to accomplish during your break. I had been struggling to find the time to complete my family photo book from 2017 or submit for a project I’d really been wanting…so those went on my list and I was able to complete both! I also had a few other goals (read some real books, work on content for the blog, get some new clients, etc.) that went on there as well. It made me feel great to know I was using my “free time” wisely and to make my life more full.

After two months away, I felt refreshed and excited about social media again. However, I didn’t feel that way until that point. Earlier on in my break, I wasn’t sure if I’d EVER go back. But I reached a point where I knew I could moderate my social media in a way that was healthy for me and my family. If I reach a point of overwhelm again, I will probably take a mini break before it gets too bad in order to reset. I’ve also evaluated how much I’m posting and when. I no longer post to social media when my kids are around (I save the photos and videos to my phone and then upload them later), and I’m posting only a couple of times a week, instead of daily. I’ve also decided to focus most of my energy on one social media outlet (Instagram!) that I enjoy, instead of spreading my time to all of the platforms. I still have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but they are fairly specialized. For example, I mostly use Twitter for my advocacy and political work, while LinkedIn is all career, such a posts from August Light Studio or client work. I also still don’t have most of the platforms on my phone, and instead post when I’m sitting down at my computer (other than Instagram, which is difficult to post to from a desktop). This helps me create a separation and makes me much more intentional with my posting and scrolling. So far, it’s working for me, but I’m definitely going to continue to evaluate and make sure I feel good…social media shouldn’t make you feel like crap!

Have you ever thought about taking a break from social media? If you have done it, I’d love to hear how you felt about the process? And if you haven’t, I’d love to know why not? What’s holding you back from taking a break? Or do you not feel you need one?

My Social Media Break

For as long as I’ve been writing about my life on the internet (so…14 years, holy crap) I’ve taken intermittent “digital sabbaticals.” I’ve written about them here in the past, with the main objective being taking a break from blogging and focusing more on my day-to-day life. That time has come again, my friends, but it’s different this time around. In fact, I have no idea how many of you will actually even see this post, since I won’t be promoting it on Instagram or Twitter or my personal Facebook. That’s right…I’m taking an extended social media break.

Why social media instead of a “digital sabbatical?” Well, it’s complicated. Except it’s not. The world has changed and while in the past I spent much of my computer and online time perusing and commenting on blogs, these days I find myself scroll, scroll, scrolling on the various social media apps. Most of this social media interaction happens on my phone, meaning it’s within my reach at almost all times of the day and night. This is a disaster for someone who likes to escape from reality…ME!

In the last few years, I’ve found my social media habit increasing as my other poor coping habits were cut out of my life. Don’t get me wrong, quitting alcohol, working toward eating healthy, and exercising are all awesome life changes that I’m really proud of. However, when I need to rest my brain or check out for a bit, my options have become a bit limited. Enter social media.

I’ve felt the need for a break for a while, but in the last few months, it’s really gotten loud out there and my brain was on overload. However, I always found reasons to stay online. I’m a small business owner, and my income depends on me getting the word out about what I’m creating. I’m involved in advocacy, and most of our events and actions have to be shared online. How could I continue to do these things that mean so much to me if I wasn’t posting on social media? I assumed it would be impossible.

In May, there was an incident where I found my social media interaction leading to physical and mental strain. I wasn’t sleeping, my anxiety was through the roof, and while on the surface I handled the situation fairly well, underneath I was exhausted. I knew this was the final sign that I needed a break.

I started with wide perimeters, but quickly realized if I had any access to my social media feeds on my phone, I’d end up scrolling without even knowing how I got there. In the end, I deleted all the social media apps from my phone and posted a social media break message on Twitter, Instagram, and my personal Facebook page. I then deactivated my Facebook account. I am still managing my Twitter and Instagram for August Light Studio and Education First Shawnee Mission, and have kept all of my Facebook business pages up and running, including the page for this blog. Facebook pages don’t require you to scroll through a newsfeed, so I figured I was safe keeping those active.

It’s been about a month, and I’ve found my anxiety has dissipated immensely. I take photos of my kids and upload them to a shared family drive so my close family members can still see them at baseball or camp, without sharing them with everyone on the internet. I have gotten between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. I’ve still been able to do my advocacy work, attending meetings, forums and even hosting a tabling even at a farmer’s market. I have read five books and listened to a ton of amazing podcasts. I talk to my friends daily using the phone (what a notion!) and my Voxer app. I finished my family photo book from last year that’s been sitting on my desktop for six months. I applied for a speaking engagement that’s been on my wish list for ages. I watched the first season of Schitt’s Creek.

But most of all, my focus has shifted in such a positive way, I feel it affecting everything I do. Originally my plan was to be off social media for a month, but a month has passed and I still have no desire to go back. So for now, I’m staying dark on social media, in order to stand in the light in real life. It’s a good trade.

Introducing: August Light Studio

Can you believe it is already close to the end of August? I can’t either…summer flew by this year, and for good reason. I had planned to slow down the business a little bit, restructure, focus on my advocacy work, and spend as much time at the pool with my kids as possible! By those standards, I’d call this summer a success!

One of my largest projects this summer has been creating a new business, and I’m so excited to be finally launching it TODAY! The name of this new project is August Light Studio, and if you’ve been following me on social media this summer, you’ve probably seen the name bouncing around! I wrote a post over on the August Light Studio website explaining more about the in’s and out’s of August Light, but I wanted to post something here as well, because I’ve had a ton of questions from friends and family wanting to know, “Wait, does this mean it’s the end of Crazy Bananas?!”

The short answer is NO! Crazy Bananas will still be here, just like it has been since 2004 (OMG, I’m seriously a blogging dinosaur, you guys). But things will change a little bit.

One of the main reasons I wanted to start a new brand is because my family life has been slowly changing. I suppose that’s actually one of the mainstays of this blog…it’s constantly evolving based on my life situation. When I first converted this space from a blog into a business almost three years ago, I had just quit my full-time job and one of my kids was still only in preschool part time. I wanted to find a way to convert this space into a place where I could still write about our life, but also share my photography and freelance writing projects, in the hopes of building a sustainable business. I focused on photography, because that was a place where I felt I could grow myself and create a business that would work for my family. I could be home (mostly) during the days with my son, and then work at night and during the weekends. It was a great fit! And by keeping it all in one space, here on Crazy Bananas, I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. I already owned the domain, all the social media handles and had lots of content from all of my blogging years. It worked wonderfully!

But in the past year I’ve felt a big shift in my life and my family’s schedule. Both of my kids are in school full time, but are very active in evening activities. I found myself hiring babysitters to take the kids to and from skating practice and soccer games. I was missing out on important moments, like helping with homework and evening time together as a family. I realized that while I love having a flexible schedule, I needed to focus more of my work hours during the day, between 8:30 and 3:30, when my kids are in school.

With my background in public relations, advertising and marketing, I realized that I had something unique to offer to small businesses and commercial brands. I have extensive knowledge of social media marketing, online branding, and more…and I wanted to combine those skills with my photography business to help brands get more clients and do better work. In the last year I’d started taking on a few business-to-business commercial photography projects, such as headshots for staff or project photography for architects and engineers. It felt like the perfect fit for me, but not necessarily a perfect fit for Crazy Bananas.

The idea for a new studio was formed, one that focuses on branding and business photography, as opposed to personal and family portraiture. I’ve worked for months on putting together a business I’m proud of, and I’m so, so excited to be launching today! Along with our online home at augustlightstudio.com, I have moved into a new physical studio space at the Bauer Building in the Crossroads District in downtown Kansas City. This is literally a dream come true, and I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity!

I have to give a huge shout out to the amazing Jenna Murillo from J. Lynn Designery, who created my logo, branding look and website. She is simply incredible, and her process was simple, streamlined and fun. I always loved getting her emails because I knew there would be something beautiful inside! If you’re looking for a web designer or someone to refresh your brand look, I highly recommend her! Please head over to the August Light Studio website to see more, and make sure to follow August Light Studio on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for the August Light Studio newsletter by clicking here.

Now, back to what this means for Crazy Bananas Creative Studio…don’t worry, it will still be here! I created this blog over 13 years ago, and I have no intention of quitting now. The blog will still exist as it always has, a space for me to share my thoughts, loves, happy moments, advocacy and life in general. The photography section of the site will also be around for the time being, as I plan to continue shooting personal and family portraits. As August Light Studio is only focused on business-to-business and commercial photography, I’d like to keep my portraiture side of the business right here for now. So if you’re looking for family photos, newborn sessions and senior photos, Crazy Bananas is still the place to be. This may change in the future, but I’ll be sure to let you know if and when any changes occur!

Finally, I have to thank my family for their endless support and love as I navigate this new adventure. I don’t really have a rational, linear brain, so the idea for this new studio came in bits and pieces and was often difficult to articulate, but I’m so excited they stuck with me and trusted me to make something great! Onward and upward!

The Great Debate : Podcast vs Vlog

A few weeks ago I reached out to my social media followers with a question: Would you rather listen to a podcast or watch a video blog (aka, a vlog)? The answers surprised me a little! Podcast won the vote, but not by much, and many people said it was too hard to choose, because they like each medium, but for different reasons.

I mean, yes. That’s why I asked?! I couldn’t decide, so I was hoping my readers and followers would do it for me. But no dice. Rats.

So what did I decide to do….?

Being a Type A, recovering perfectionist, I decided to try both! The current plan is for the vlog to show a bit of behind the scenes and possibly also some “how-to” type segments, while the podcast is going to be an interview series focused on women who are totally amazing! My goal with the podcast is to talk with other women who have achieved some form of success (in their career, as an activist or advocate, creative, entrepreneur, mother, or just as a human doing good in the world) about how they have failed along the way and what motivated them to keep moving forward.

Do you know someone like that? Bonus if they are from KC or the midwest! Have them send me an email at megan@crazybananas.com or tag them in the comments if you think they’d be interested in being featured! And if you think YOU have a unique story to share, send me a note! I want to talk with you!

The Vlog and the Podcast will be coming out soon, so if you want to be sure you don’t miss them, sign up for the Crazy Bananas Newsletter!

Farm Sunset October 2016

Being Here, in 2017

Friends! It’s the start of a new year…and honestly, it’s a time where I can get easily overwhelmed. In the past I’ve written about lofty goals and ideas I want to tackle in the next 350+ days, but this year feels different. I have been struggling to wrap my head around last year and plan what comes next in several facets of my life. But after a chat with a good friend I realized something really important:

I’m already here.

The last three years or so have been a crash course in goals, resolutions and overcoming obstacles. Almost every facet of my life has gone through a fairly extreme overhaul…from my marriage to my career to my parenting status to my family. Illness and health have been a huge factor in the past few years, both for myself and for those I love the most. After really taking a look back on last year and everything I went through, I felt a sense of calm. Did I accomplish every goal I set out for myself last January? No. Not even close. But I learned so much and one of the biggest lessons was that I don’t have to wait until January 1 to decide to change my life for the better. I make that choice on a daily basis.

Farm Sunset October 2016

Last year was a big one for my business. I completely overhauled my pricing and the way I sell my photography. I created and facilitated the 30 Days of Summer Photo Challenge, which had hundreds of participants. I did a dozen television segments. I went to Greece to photograph a refugee camp. And I photographed dozens of families, newborns, children and couples…it was a fantastic year! Personally, I went through many (MANY) challenges, but I’m very proud of how I came through it all, even though there is MUCH to improve upon. One of the biggest personal goals last year was getting fit, slowly and surely, over about nine months of hard work, exercise and nutritional changes. I feel better physically today than I did in my 20s, which is saying something! I am officially in my mid-30s now and I feel stronger than I ever have. I also started working to find ways to make an impact as an activist in my community. This is something I didn’t plan on when 2016 began, but now I’m grateful for the opportunity.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to some more changes in how I do business, with a focus on continuing to be profitable while also serving my family, friends and community. There will hopefully be a few more writing and blogging projects (which took a backseat last year) and maybe even a new creative endeavor or two! I want to create more than I consume, and make the world a little more joyful every day. I am excited to reach out and work with even more creatives and amazing people doing wonderful work in my community.

If you’re interested in working with me in 2017, or you have an awesome project you want to chat about, send me a note at megan@crazybananas.com. Let’s make this the best year yet!

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