Over the holidays I took a total break from social media. I disconnected and stayed off Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t update this blog. I didn’t even try to get my video of the week posted. It was a break…and it was good.
For all the benefits of being connected as much as you want, it was helpful to me personally to take a break. In previous years I would have worried about what would happen if I didn’t post to the blog for a week or if I missed something good but I’ve realized that it’s much better to disconnect during breaks.
In fact, the idea of disconnecting is something I’ve been working on for a while now. In the early days of social media (and developing my social media consulting business) I was always connected. I couldn’t get enough. I had to be doing something or reading something or writing something. When I started blogging in 2006 I wrote five posts a week. Every week. For over a year. All the while I had a full time job and a growing family.
Since then, and particular over the last twelve months, I’ve tried to unplug more. So here’s how I approach it now:
Be on during on time and be off during off time.
It’s that simple but it means I had to decide when on time and off time were in my life. For me,”on time” is the bulk of my day through the end of my work day. After that I’m with my family and in order to be with them I can’t also be tied to social media. I know myself too well. It’s too distracting and I’ll get pulled in too quickly. Something will be neglected so I choose to neglect social media in those times.
Weekends are largely off time for me too. I’ve tried over the years to get better about protecting weekend time and, again, it’s almost entirely a disconnected time for me.
Finally, vacations are off time. I have talked on this blog before about the struggle I’ve had taking vacations and actually being off during those times but I’ve found that the disconnect from work and even social media is helpful there also.
Fear Keeps You Connected
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. I have found that the overarching thing that keeps people connected when they should disconnect is fear. Fear of missing a message. Fear of missing an opportunity. Fear of not being in the know. Fear of not responding to something. Fear of not appearing to be active. Fear of losing momentum.
Fear not. It will be there when you reconnect. The benefits of disconnecting will outweigh anything you might gain otherwise. Take it from a guy who’s reconnecting after a nice break away from it all.
PS: The photo in this post was something I found on Pinterest recently that linked back to Brene Brown’s blog. Great idea and it sums up the idea of “off time” quite well.