Do you ever catch yourself feeling slightly panicked when you clear out all of the Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus notifications? Do you find yourself briefly checking these again and again and you can’t focus on what to do next. It’s OK to answer yes, even though you are reading this blog and are obviously interested in the value of social media. Don’t get me wrong, there certainly is great value in it. But social media, like money, is a great servant, but a poor master. And like anything else that we over-commit to, one eventually begins to experience diminishing returns on investment. I often find myself just feeling overstimulated with all of the constant inputs. Heck, social media is my job and even I have to take a break from time to time. In fact, I took one just last weekend – and it was glorious.
My wife and I were house-sitting for her vacationing parents (truth-be-told, we were dog-sitting, but that’s neither here nor there). This gave me the perfect opportunity to get out of my usual environment. I took this as an opportunity to hit refresh on my brain and block out the constant inputs. By the time the weekend was over, I felt more refreshed than I had in weeks. I’m not saying I shut off all technology, but I just put on some restraints to keep it from re-taking the reins as master.
Below are the steps I took. Replicate these on your own and you will experience the same benefits.
1) Delete social media from your phone.
Calm down! I didn’t say delete your accounts, just the little smart phone apps that are so tempting to tap every time you pick up your phone. They can easily be brought back without any loss of data, but you will be surprised by how much less you feel that urge to check Twitter when you don’t see that little bird icon staring back at you.
2) Use this Chrome extension.
Go download the StayFocused extension from the Chrome Store if you want to forcibly block certain sites. I even use it throughout the week to limit my Facebook usage to no more than 30 minutes from 8AM to 6PM. For serious addicts, try the Nuclear Option, which will completely block whatever sites you elect, for any amount of time you choose.
Beware, once you’ve done this, there’s no turning back.
3) Distract yourself.
For me, getting out of the house and walking the dogs was a great escape. It replaced that boost of endorphins that social media often provides. Also, my wife and I decided to burn through season 1 of Homeland, which is pretty awesome. Keeping my mind occupied all day, while still relaxing, was perfect for my social media holiday.
4) Enlist some help.
Have a friend keep an eye on you. Pay them to slap your hand every time you reach for your phone. My wife took on this job for me and gently reminded me to stop working and pay attention to the show.
5) Make a plan to come back.
I actually read about this one after the fact and wished I had done it this way. A social media sabbatical should be no less than 24 hours, in my opinion, but instead of going one full day, try going sundown to sundown. For example, plan to cut it all out for one full day beginning at 9PM on Friday night. This way, you can get back to it the following evening at 9:01PM. Think of it as a reward for a job well done, err…not done.
Give these tips a try and let me know how they work for you. Tonight is a great time to start!