There was a scary revelation I heard yesterday that helped me make a decision: I'm taking an extended sabattical from social media. This isn't a new concept, even for myself, but it may be the prelude to dropping social media altogether. It was all prompted from a great conversation coach Jenny Blake had with writer Alexandra Franzen:
I started to become very aware about my time, mental and creative energy was getting tied up in Twitter. I actually did a little experiment where I recorded how long does it take me to write, edit and post one tweet, and then how much time I was spending tracking that tweet, like who has commented, etc.
I came up with this estimate that I was spending 10 - 12 minutes of my life into every tweet. Then I looked at how many times I had tweeted and it was like thousands! Multipled those tweets by those 10 - 12 minutes per tweet and multiplied that by the next 40 years of my life - and found that if I keep using Twitter, by the end of my life, it would be something like three years of my life on Twitter. I felt very sad.
I'm no spring chicken, so it proved to be a nice reality check. As unplug compadre Baratunde Thurston said, his break would be perfect for the American holidays. And so would mine.
Starting today, I'll be taking a sabbatical from social media until the new year. I'm not sure when I'll come back.
Here's why you should consider it, too:
Know your business will run without you
Entrepreneurs, and particularly solopreneurs myself, have a problem delegating. It's understandable: You make big sacrifices to make a particular goal and, since you are usually the one getting hands dirty, you have a higher insight into what your customers needs. This is also the reason why founders often get in their own way, as it often means having a static view of your business and a myopic perspective that isn't compatible with growth.
Walking away forces you to drop the ego and pick up some help! In my case, I'm leaning on MeetEdgar to push out any relevant social media connected to my column and my books. I am directing people to my revamped newsletter, so I'm not completely dependent on social media (another great lesson in independence). I'm also putting a notice on all my active platforms that I will be heading out. You may want to bring in a virtual assistant into the mix, too, to keep things organized online.
We all need systems, no matter how small our operations. Not only does this prepare us for future growth, but it allows us to be away during times of illness, vacations or other necessary circumstances.
Know your own thoughts
The social media echo chamber is strong, especially nowadays with quickly degrading political discussions and vitriolic arguments about truth. The rabbit hole has never been more prevalent or more dangerous.
What many of us need is a hard reset. In tech terms, a hard reset is when we shut things down and completely reboot the system. Have you ever left your phone or computer on for days straight? It not only raises in temperature, but also builds up excess files in its temporary memory. It eventually begins running slower and, sooner or later, it will shut down on its own.
If you are a fellow creative, then you need to be away from the peanut gallery to recharge your mind and solidify your unique perspective. Without the latter, you don't have a brand, nevertheless a voice. You also need it to determine your goals, which should be independent of the public noise.
Get more done
Look to your left or your right. If you're like me, there is a stack of magazines, books and other items you are yet to touch. The daily sip of the social media firehose has kept me away from quiet research.
In the podcast conversation, Franzen talks about her business boosting after breaking away from social media. She could concentrate more and truly focus on connecting with her customers in person, in her newsletter and in her work.
Personally, the philosophy also leans on the Zeigarnik Effect, which, being a completist, affects me more than most:
Social media encourages incomplete ideas: A quick peek can quickly expose you to five must read stories ("BREAKING! READ NOW! A THREAD!"). We can only read so much, which means they are bookmarked, tabbed or paged. It doesn't mean all aren't worthy of your time. It means you have only so much time to spend - and that's time away from the business of your business.
And, to be honest, I'm way more excited than nervous. It reminds me of being a new parent and actually looking forward to solo airplane flights, runs to the grocery story or even the dentist office as it actually gave me the space to shut down, get quiet and catch up with my own thoughts. It feels the same, except this baby doesn't need me. I'm putting it to sleep for a while.
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