What a 48-hour Social Media Detox Taught Me

Photo credit: Ideology Photography

Photo credit: Ideology Photography

After spending all of February working through Amy Kuretsky's #28daysofcreativecare challenge, I was finding myself tuning in more to listen to what my body & mind truly needed. Towards the end of the month it was decided - I needed a break from social media. 

I truly love the connections that I've been able to make through social media, especially through Instagram, but with those wonderful connections came a pressure to constantly be on, constantly respond, constantly want to support, be in the know, and engage with others. Then on top of that - I was needing to create quality content to post on my own. All of this led me down a path of major burnout, and instead of plowing right through, I knew I needed time away to reflect and figure out a better plan forward. 

When I decided to take a break, I wasn't sure how long it was going to be. I didn't want to give myself a deadline because I wanted the break to feel organic. I would go back when I felt ready, and that ended up only being 48 hours. Even though that doesn't feel like very long - honestly, I was surprised at how quickly it took - but I came back feeling refreshingly rejuvenated. Giving myself that permission to walk away for a couple of days was exactly what I needed, especially at a time when personally, I need to be focusing more on some personal relationships. 

Here's what I learned from my 2 days away from social media

I don't have to be a slave to the notification. 

In a world where we don't want to miss a thing (cue the Aerosmith), it's hard not to be distracted by each new notification that pops up on your screen. I've recently joined a few Instagram pods, and while I love being able to connect with these groups more intimately and support one another, I was finding myself leaving my train of thought or workflow to respond as quickly as possible. That left me feeling scatterbrained, and it took me a few months to realize how inefficient my workdays had become.

Now, I've decided to schedule in dedicated Instagram breaks into my day. I'm starting today, so I'll let you know how it goes.

In a period of creation, I need to set up systems to remove myself from the temptation & distraction of social media.

I know you know the feeling. You're scrolling through Instagram, and you see someone doing something spectacular. Their client roster is booked up for months, they've got a new speaking gig, and their home office is a Pinterest dream. While you are happy for their success and wholeheartedly believe in #communityovercompetition, it is HARD to not fall into that comparison trap. You start to question why you aren't good enough and what you can be doing differently. Even though you know that things aren't always as they seem underneath the Insta filters, sometimes you have those days when rational thought just. can't. win.

How can we expect to create something extraordinary and uniquely us when we feel that defeated? We can't. Or at least I for sure can't. So that's why when I need to time to create something, I have to remove myself from social media distractions.

I know that I do my best writing in the early morning hours, but I had let my morning routine slip into catching up on client work rather than focusing on what I needed to do for MaggieGentry. I believe it was this gradual change that finally led to this need for a detox and a true reset, and I'm eager to get back to what I know works for me. But this detox brought to the surface a few more systems I've known for a while now that I need to implement...

Planning my social media content needs to be a priority for me. 

You know the saying the cobbler's son never has new shoes? (Or it's something like that, right?) What it's saying is that whatever your skill or profession is, you do that well for others, but hardly take the time to do it for yourself.

Case in point: Planning out your social media in advance. I work with clients to brainstorm their content calendars. Share in my Own Your Why workshops how to create these systems for yourself. Yet, I don't take the time to do it for my own business. We all put a lot of time and energy into creating our social media content, and I know that I can't produce quality work when it's done haphazardly. (True story: In the past couple of weeks, I was using voice text to write my captions into my scheduling app while driving. 🙈 Yeah, really not good.) 

So I'm reclaiming those early morning hours for MaggieGentry work only, and making sure that my social media is scheduled before I even get to my car. 

Now I have an even better grasp of my own limitations and the boundaries I need to create to allow myself to do my best work.

Social media isn't the only distraction for me. But what I am even more grateful for, is that this detox helped me see where other distractions were popping up.

  1. I need to keep my phone away during dedicated work sprints. I have a renewed obligation to protect my early morning hours for just MaggieGentry work. To ensure that I'm not tempted by the notification buzz from my phone - I'm keeping it away from my desk. It'll remain in my bedroom (clear across the house) until I'm finished with what I need to accomplish that morning.
  2. Turn off desktop notifications for Gmail. I have it set up so that I receive desktop notifications from my work email, and I never quite noticed how jarring it is. Similarly to the buzz from my phone, if I see an interesting email or one from a possible lead, I can't help myself but go check it. And that completely throws me off what I was doing. I check my email enough throughout the day - I don't need another reminder of what's waiting for me in there.
  3. Turn on the Do Not Disturb setting on my computer. Another notification I was receiving that I didn't even realize until now was so distracting - receiving text message notifications on my computer. Even with my phone away from my desk, and Gmail notifications off, I was still receiving text message notices. By turning on Do Not Disturb, I now have a truly distraction-free zone to get my work done.

I'd love to know: Have you done a social media detox before? What were your greatest lessons learned? And what systems do you have in place to remove distractions from your workspace?