I’ve been writing about social media detoxes/sabbaticals/retreats/fasts since 2013. In my many articles on this topic I gushed about the benefits of digital media sabbaticals, and my own experiences with increased mindfulness, focus, and productivity. I don’t often say something is a “best practice” for everyone, but I’m making an exception here.
I truly believe everyone would benefit from taking a long break from social media at least once a year.
But if you haven’t been convinced by anything I’ve written so far, I doubt there’s much else I can say to change your mind.
I thought about how I can make this easy so that anyone who is intrigued by the idea, but has doubts and fears about it can still put it into practice. And I came up with this:
My Digital Detox Guide: A self-guided program that helps you achieve better focus, relaxation, and more constructive use of free time. (For only $10.)
It’s essentially a workbook that takes you through preparation for the detox, and invites you to check in every day during the detox.
Preparation is extremely important, because that’s how we can avoid temptations or replacing one unhealthy habit with another. Preparatory tasks include:
- Finding your biggest motivation and a reward for a completed detox.
- Examining your current habits and needs.
- Setting realistic rules that you will follow without exception.
- Important actions related to digital communication channels.
- Actions related to habits you want to strengthen.
The core digital detox program is quite simple, yet effective. Daily planning, check-ins, and quick journaling prompts help you notice how you’re sabotaging yourself and using unhealthy replacement behaviors to fill the void. You’ll be able to course-correct each day, and learn a lot about your needs and habits that will empower you to develop a healthier relationship with media and technology even after the detox.
I use this guide myself! Even though I have many years of experience and I know all about the best practices and potential pitfalls, it’s still a great reminder and it keeps me on track and committed to my goal.
So let’s talk about why people typically avoid trying a digital media detox.
Excuse #1: I don’t have a problem
Maybe some people are right. If you only have one social media channel that you check every other day and spend less than 20 minutes on it, that sounds reasonable. If you’ve never felt overwhelmed by incoming comments and messages, never get into exhausting discussions with acquaintances and strangers, nor have you ever been told by a loved one to please stop looking at your phone while they’re trying to have a conversation with you… You may in fact be a unicorn, or over 60 years old.
If you ever:
- Feel like your phone is glued to your hand and you rarely put it down.
- Find yourself falling into a cycle of refreshing the same apps over and over in hopes that something interesting will appear.
- Feel the urge to share commentary, photos, or videos immediately while you’re experiencing something exciting, fun, or meaningful.
- Feel overwhelmed by the amount of online communication your work and life requires.
- Feel nostalgic for the early 2000s when the Internet was more quiet.
- Switch from one screen to the other during your day, and rarely get tech-free relaxation time.
- Feel overwhelming FOMO when you’re not able to check social media and email for a few hours.
- Complain about “The Algorithm” or online ads.
I’m sorry to say, you do have a problem. But whether you’re willing to face it is entirely up to you… I won’t tell you what to do, I’m just asking you to think about it.
Excuse #2: It will harm my business
I get it. I used to have the same fears as well. But those fears are not rooted in reality.
I’ll do a rapid-fire list of all the ways this assumption is flawed:
- We were able to run our life and business without social media for centuries. Just because it’s different, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
- You don’t have to give up everything. I usually stay available through email, which is my main work communication channel. I also use direct messaging apps with close friends and family.
- Taking a week (just 5 workdays!) away from social media won’t make a difference in your business. At all. I took over a month off multiple times, and nothing bad happened.
- People don’t care as much as you think. Most won’t even notice you’ve been gone.
- You can always take a scheduled unplugged vacation and let your clients and audience know you won’t be available. (If you’re afraid of taking a vacation, that’s a totally different topic that is best discussed with your therapist and/or business coach.)
- If you really want to, you can schedule content in advance.
- If you have a virtual assistant, social media manager, or an employee that can handle your communications, you’ve got it covered.
- If you don’t have any of those, there are ways to ensure important information still reaches you. (My guide goes into a bit more detail.)
- Even if you do see someone’s comment, mention, or a private message too late, it’s quite a normal thing to take time off social media and nothing to be ashamed of. If the other person is mean about it after you explain why you didn’t respond sooner, that’s on them, not you.
The opposite is true: your life and business blossom when you take time away from all the distractions.
It allows you to put energy into worthwhile activities that make a much bigger impact than ephemeral posts.
Excuse #3: I get paid to manage other people’s social media
If that’s you: thank you for your service. Because of your work, other people are able to step back and have a healthier relationship with social media.
But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. As I’ve already mentioned, you can schedule your social media detox to coincide with a work vacation.
What if the clients complain? Well, what do your clients do when you’re sick? Do they complain too? If yes, then you need to either fire or reeducate those clients, because that’s not right. Nobody should have to work during sick leave.
You have options:
- Your clients take over their own social media while you’re gone. You could schedule posts in advance, so they only need to respond to comments and if something time-sensitive comes up.
- A trusted colleague takes over your duties. You can announce this to your clients a month earlier, and if they’d rather not work with someone else they can choose option 1.
Making changes and setting boundaries takes courage, and building this skill will help you in many ways, beyond developing a healthier relationship technology.
Excuse #4: It’s never a good time
There’s always something happening that requires you to be present on social media:
- You’re launching a new thing.
- You’ve just been interviewed by a media outlet.
- You’re traveling and really want to share your adventures with loved ones.
- You have a lull in your business and need to make some sales soon.
- You’re elbow-deep in work and want to engage the clients you’re working with on social media.
If you’re looking for excuses, you’re going to find them. All of them sound really good and reasonable.
But think about it this way. If you created the kind of life that doesn’t allow you to take even a short break from posting online, then you’re likely headed towards burnout, if it’s not already happening.
Humans are not robots. We’re not designed to be constantly online, to constantly post content, to constantly engage. We’re just used to it, and breaking this habit is difficult.
Instead of waiting for “the perfect moment” to arrive spontaneously, schedule your break in advance, like you would a vacation.
Look at your calendar and find a week when nothing important is happening that would require you to post online. Then book that week for your sabbatical, and do not book anything else that would require using social media. That’s how it’s done.
Anyway… if you already know you want the guide, here’s the buy button:
* VAT may apply in certain EU countries.
If you want to learn more about it, the full product page is right here.
What’s stopping you from taking a break?
If you want to explore this question, write about it in your journal. Or record a voice note and let it all out. You may get some interesting realizations.
Feel free to share in the comments why you don’t want to try a social media detox. If you want my advice, let me know and I’ll see if I can share anything helpful. If you don’t want advice, I won’t question you, I promise ;)
If you want to read my other posts about social media detox, here’s a list:
- Mind Detox Retreat – A Cure For Burnout And Overload
- Creative Clarity Retreat – 31 days without social media
- How my 31 day social media fast went
- What I did during my Summer Social Media Sabbatical 2019
- Creativity in digital isolation
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