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.
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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?