Sure, social media is wonderful: It helps you engage with others in your field, keep current with news, and promote your own personal brand. The downside? It can be incredibly addictive, and if you’re not using it smartly, whether it’s a Facebook page or a tweet, it can sabotage your business. Maybe you’re too distracted by it to focus; maybe you begin over-posting and over-sharing, muddying your message; maybe you’re spending too much time watching what your colleagues are saying and not enough time honing your own messaging.
“I can tell when it’s time to take a break,” says Washington, D.C.-based public relations and branding strategist Carol Blymire. “I scroll through Instagram rather than getting work done when I’m hours away from a deadline. I peruse Facebook photos of friends of friends of friends and wonder aloud why their bridesmaids had such hideous dresses. I try to get my nephew to say funny things just so I can Tweet about it,” she (half) jokes.
Taking a break from your social network can replenish your creative fire and renew your focus. Here are Blymire’s best practices for unplugging—for a day or more.
Say it, don’t spray it. “Before going off the social media grid for an extended period of time, let your clients and colleagues know. That way, if you rely on social media as a news feed like I do, others can flag articles or other posts you need to know about so you can handle it when you’re back in action. You can even put “on a short social media break” on your Twitter and Facebook bios so people know what’s what. But don’t be one of those people who dramatically announces a social media break for the world to see. As much as we think everyone in the world is hanging on our every Tweet or Facebook comment, they’re not. Chances are, no one will really notice you’re gone and that’s OK,” she says.
Take a weekly social media sabbath. “My clients know that, once a week, I take a full day away from social media (and email and television)—usually Friday night through Saturday night or Sunday morning. I read, go for an aimless walk around town, see friends, cook delicious food, listen to podcasts, and putter around the house cleaning and organizing. When my brain gets a break, it’s amazing what great ideas pop up. If there’s a work emergency, clients and colleagues know to text me. But otherwise, my apps and email stay closed,” she says. No, the world won’t fall apart if you go off the grid for a day. In fact, your clients and colleagues might respect you more.