This is the first in a series of posts on taking a break from social media, my decision to become a digital minimalist, and my approach to social media moving forward.
Last month I took a break from social media. In advance of my break, I crowdsourced advice on how to prepare for it to make sure it was a success. This is a mix of the advice I received and observations I made after I completed it. If you want to do a social media detox, implementing these ten ideas will definitely help you execute it successfully.
10 Tips for Taking a Social Media Sabbatical
Choose when you will take your break thoughtfully. I chose July because I was in between seasons of my podcast and my focus was not on promoting content. It was on being head down working and spending time with my family. Determine a time that makes sense for you based on when you can step away from social media and achieve your goal most easily.
Delete the apps off your phone. Reset your browser cache. The fewer reminders you have about social media, the easier it is to resist the temptation of mindlessly tapping a button.
Let people know you’re taking a break. Add contact info into your social bios. If you have an audience or community you serve, don’t just disappear.
Have a plan to replace your social media time. Elizabeth Barnes Bober gave me this advice: “have a book handy, a nail file, friends you want to text, whatever. Some activity to distract your brain and fingers when you get a craving.” This was perhaps the most helpful advice I received. Be prepared to fill the time you used to devote to social media with something else. If you know you’re going to want to scroll Instagram while you’re in line at the store, figure out in advance, something else to replace that activity to lessen temptation when it comes.
If you have content that needs to be promoted or you need to keep some form of content flowing, consider alternatives such as: scheduling content before you take your break or asking someone else to be a ‘guest poster’ for you for certain days or a week at a time. This second approach is a tactic that Lin Manuel Miranda uses from time to time on Twitter.
Have a plan for responding to any comments while you’re gone. Hire a virtual assistant to respond to comments one or two times per week. Give a trusted friend or family member your login info and have them check in on it from time to time.
Take it up a notch--have designated times and spaces for your phone. Ie no phone after 8pm, no phone in bedroom, etc. Cal Newport, author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism recommends leaving your phone in your entryway each night. This is a great way to move your phone from “constant companion” to strategically used tool.
Choose a time where at least part of the time your routine is out of the norm. For example, a family member is visiting or you’re going on vacation.
Have a plan for capturing moments and photos. I loved creating an album on my phone of the highlights of the month. Instead of losing them forever to the album of thousands of photos on my phone or the disappearing photos on Instastories, I now have an album of 30 or 40 photos that encapsulate some of my best memories from the month. I’ve already started making one for August because I enjoyed this so month. And if you feel like you will really miss sharing photos on social media, you can even make an album on your phone of “to share later” photos and video. You can choose to share later, or not.
Jot down the observations you make about your break. The goal of any break isn’t just to go back to the way things were before, once it’s over. Writing down your observations will give you insights as you move forward after the break.
Like any discipline, there are things you can do to help your detox be less tempting and less uncomfortable. Applying these ten tips was so helpful to me, I really wasn’t sure if I was ready to come back to social media at the end of my month. I’m looking forward to my next break! Have you taken a break from social media? What were your takeaways?