When social media starts to consume your life, and hours or days disappear down the black holes of Twitter and Facebook, you can do one of two things to kickstart a digital diet. Both work – it’s just a matter of which works best for you.
- Analyze your current social media habits, and shock yourself at how much time you are wasting.
- Take a digital detox. Pare everything back to a minimum, and see how much you can do on a bare bones social media schedule. You’ll likely be surprised at how much you can get done.
Since we already covered the first option on Social Caffeine, this article looks at how to conduct a digital detox.
When to Start Your Digital Detox
You know when you need to detox by looking out for the warning signs.
People detox their bodies when they’re feeling sluggish, suffering from unexplained headaches, or finding it difficult to lose weight. Likewise, you should take care to notice the warning signs that you need a social media detox.
Do you feel uninspired by your social media output? Or do you waste hours online when you should be doing other things? Or perhaps the thought of writing yet another Tweet leaves you cold?
If social media is more pain than pleasure, then a detox is what you need.
You shouldn’t detox at anytime, however. Set aside a week when you know work will be quiet – not during a product launch, or at another time when you must be active and fully engaged on social media.
What is a Detox?
A detox is a time to rest and recover.
A food detox involves giving your body a break from the most difficult foods to process. These are typically unhealthy and fatty foods.
A digital detox involves giving yourself a clean break from social media, so you can objectively look at which of your social media habits are healthy, which are unhealthy, and which could be tweaked to boost performance.
A full detox involves complete withdrawal from social media for a set period of time – ideally at least one week. This is more realistic than it sounds. You can schedule a week’s worth of updates in advance for the week you’ll be away. Or you can just let your followers know that you’re taking a break.
You can also do a partial detox, by severely limiting your social media usage. For this, a maximum of 15 minutes per day is ideal. In a partial detox, your aim is to cut out as many bad behaviors as possible, including:
- Spending work time on personal social media accounts
- Wasting time passively browsing social media, rather than posting updates or engaging with fans
- Surfing the web aimlessly
Conducting a detox has two main aims:
- Rest and recovery. Following your detox, you’ll return to your social media accounts refreshed, with new ideas for engaging your fans.
- Reflection. By stepping away from social media, you’re given the perfect opportunity to see how much time and mental energy you devote to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You can then evaluate whether to continue on a digital diet program, or return to the way you were using social media before.
Detoxing from social media can be just as addicting as social media itself. Remember the ultimate aim of your detox is to re-engage in social media more effectively, not withdraw altogether.
What’s more, when you’re detoxing, you don’t want to alienate your fans and followers by going AWL. At least let them know what you’re doing, or schedule updates for the time you’re away.
Also, keep an eye out for social media addiction during your detox. If you suffer severe withdrawal symptoms while you’re avoiding social media, you could be a social media addict. You’ll get a lot out of the detox, but the feeling of cold turkey will make it extra hard work. Use your detox time to create a long-term plan for managing your time on social media.
Extreme Digital Detox: Going Unplugged
If you find a social media detox helpful, chances are you could also benefit from an extreme digital detox: unplugging from everything electronic, or simply from communications devices such as the phone or the Internet.
This might sound impossible, but most people can manage it for one afternoon at work, or for a full week on vacation.
Experiment with going unplugged to see how much it changes your productivity and energy in other areas of your life.
To learn more about digital dieting, pick up your copy of the Social Caffeine ebook, The Digital Diet: Smart Ways to Maximize Your Social Media Minutes. Get your copy from Amazon here. Amazon UK users: get your copy here.
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