Spending less time on social media
In my last blog post, I mentioned how I’ve been thinking about my relationship with social media lately. The constant news cycle, the bickering on Twitter, the comparisonitis that can come from constantly seeing other people sharing their best lives. It can be an exhausting place at times.
And yet – there are so many things that I love about it – not least the relationships I’ve built up online over the last who knows how many years. I also use it to promote my work, and I help authors use it to promote their books. It’s not something I want to quit and give up forever.
But I DO want to keep reflecting about how I use it. Towards the end of last year, I put in some pretty clear boundaries for myself about how I use my phone, but as the year has gone on, I’ve noticed myself slipping into bad habits again. A month or two ago, I started to feel unhappy again with the balance I had. For me, this looks like:
- Checking my phone compulsively for new messages
- Getting sucked in to looking at other people’s Instagram stories every time I check in
- Which results in not being able to focus properly on the work I’m doing
- In terms of my feelings, the thing I notice most is that when I spend a lot of time scrolling my phone, my self-doubt goes through the roof. Everyone just looks like they have they shit together, and even though I *know* that isn’t the case, spending my downtime on social media makes me feel like they do.
It’s not ideal.
I am all about creating marketing plans that work for people, but if my own plan isn’t working for me, then what?
Well, it’s time to change the plan.
I still want to spend time there. As I said before, I really enjoy the relationships I have built up over the years AND I still want to use it as part of my marketing plan. I don’t spend that much time there in terms of length of time online. I just check in way too frequently, and it distracts me from what I’m doing.
The tension between those things is something I’m still working on. I’ve found that something will work for a while, and then it becomes less effective and I need to re-evaluate. But this is what I’m doing right now that I’m finding helpful.
Think about why I’m getting sucked in so much
Apps like Instagram are designed to be addictive. So, that’s part of the reason why I’m spending so much time online for sure.
I also think, right now in particular (it’s currently the Easter holidays and schools were only open for 3 weeks of this year due to the pandemic), the lack of any other adult socialising is definitely making my phone appeal to me more.
I’ve been working from home, without any other adults, not really able to see anyone else, for months and months now. Of COURSE I’ve been using my phone more to connect, because human connection is a basic need. But the question I then needed to look at was – Am I getting that connection from the app?
Sometimes I am having meaningful or funny or interesting conversations in there. Sometimes I’m learning. Sometimes I’m just using it as a way to stop myself thinking about stuff. Thinking about why I’m opening my phone is helping me realise when I should find something else to do.
Make it harder to check my phone
My brain goes to my phone regularly. I wonder if I have a message? It thinks, and my hand automatically reaches out to check it.
Now I’m trying to interrupt that pattern. I wonder if I have a message? My brain thinks. Yes, I might have a message, but it can wait until I finish whatever I’m doing.
Easier said than done! Habits are hard to break. So, I’ve also put a physical barrier to interrupt that automatic response. That’s just a tiny thing – I put my phone under a book. But it’s an extra step that wasn’t there before that slows my response down enough for me to remember that I’m actually doing something else.
Set office hours
Apart from a few exceptional cases, where I have asked someone to message me about something in an evening or over the weekend, I now put my phone away after 7pm and log out of Instagram (the app that I find most addictive) over the weekends.
As a first step, I was using the Threads app over weekends. This is from Instagram, and allows you to post to stories, and reply to messages, but only really shows you content from people on your ‘close friends’ list. You can’t see your feed, and stories are chronological, which feels WAY easier to switch off from.
However, having used that for a few months, I think I’d rather just switch off completely over the weekends, so I’ve deleted the app.
It is safe to miss something that is shared over a weekend. Really, truly. It’s okay.
Plan my content more
I’ve been thinking more intentionally about my content.
I set aside time to think about how I want to talk about my work, and then I put aside time each week to create that content. If I’m promoting something specific, I have a bank of ideas to pull from.
This has DRASTICALLY cut down on the amount of time I think about ‘what to share on social media’.
I’ve also decided that if I’m not promoting something specific, I do not need to be consistent.
The algorithm would love me to post every day (or at least a few times a week, which is what I have been doing) and maybe I would grow faster if I did, but… that’s not my priority right now. I want to focus on growing my marketing channels OFF of social media, so I would rather put my consistency effort there.
Listen to my own damn advice
I have not got this nailed. I give great advice to my clients and then don’t always follow it myself. So I’m trying to treat myself like a client (or at least, being a better boss to myself). Prioritise, focus on building marketing channels outside of social media (this blog, my newsletter), and remember that not everything needs to be replied to within a few minutes.
How are you feeling about your relationship with social media? I would love to hear how you are feeling about it right now.
If you’d like help coming up with loads of brilliant ways to promote your book online, so that you have that bank of ideas ready and waiting (which can be used on your blog or newsletter or podcast as well as on social media), my next author workshop is on the 21st of April, and there will be a replay available for anyone that can’t make it on the day.
- I loved these two episodes from Ruth Poundwhite’s podcast – one with Helen Redfern on taking a social media break and one from Ruth on her own talking about her relationship with social media.
- This 5 days series from Astrid Bracke looks brilliant and is something I’m planning to dive into later on this year.
- An open letter to female business owners about Instagram (loved this)