How To Digital Detox as a Freelancer / Small Business

Digital detox – you might have heard the term. Essentially it means to disconnect from some or all social media accounts. Although the science behind a dietary detox is pretty shoddy, there are good reasons to take a break from social media. When done well, you can come back refreshed and with a better focus.

Christmas and New Year is the ideal time to take such a break. But with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, SnapChat, Pinterest and so many others dominating our lives, how do we go about it?

Why Do You Want to Digital Detox?

Before anything else, you need to think about why you want to digital detox. This can be anything, but some of the most common include:

  • Feeling it’s a waste of time as you get no traction, views, comments etc
  • You have run out of ideas and need to mentally disconnect
  • Loss of focus for your core reason for being on those platforms
  • Getting sidelined into non-work activity (or even fake work) too often
  • Spending too much time on social media

All these are valid and don’t worry if none of these are your reason for wanting the break. Your reasons are your reasons, but if you’re thinking about taking a break then there’s a good chance it will do you some good.

How Long Do You Want to Take Your Break?

On a slightly related matter, think about how long you want this to be for. A week seems normal, as per a typical Christmas break, though some people might go longer. If you’re running a small business, social media is one of your major outlets for customers. That apprehension about losing followers and visibility is a constant threat but I wonder just how important it really is? You can get that back – assuming you lose it in the first place. Always remember though that likes and follower numbers is no guarantee of extra business. Your break will not impact you as much as you think it might.

Once you know this, you can set a return date. Knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel should stop the temptation to dive online and end up back at square one. Think of it as a self-imposed period of isolation. If you know there is a time when you will be back, it’s far less tempting to break your self-imposed exile.

Keep the “Need to Know” People in the Loop

Depending on your type of business, this will either be clients who you most talk to on social media, friends or a support network, or a community (like Twitter’s writing community). If you don’t tell the people closest to you, you will likely receive contact from those people – which will almost certainly lead you back into that social media vortex.

Disable / Uninstall Smartphone Apps

While you might survive not posting on social media for a few days, your smartphone might be your only business lifeline. If switching off your phone for a whole week or month is out of the question but you still want to avoid social media, try something else: simply uninstall or disable the apps that you’re most likely to get sucked into. If you work primarily from a laptop but use a smartphone as a supporting device (like I do), it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Think About Scheduling Posts – But it Might Be More Trouble Than It’s Worth

If you really worry about lost visibility or don’t want to break the continuity during your downtime, think about using a post scheduler. Facebook and Instagram allows post scheduling through Creator Studio. Twitter added a schedule Tweet option last year. (there is still Tweet Deck) Pinterest now permits scheduling too.

Be warned though that if you are used to getting regular comments on your posts/tweets, you might be sorely tempted to respond to them – breaking the whole point of having a digital detox! It’s best to avoid visiting and posting altogether.

Devise a Content Plan

This should take you back to thinking about why you want to take a break. If the answer is overwhelm, frustration, or even a lack of time, you could benefit from a regular content plan. Create an Excel spreadsheet, or just use a calendar, to plan something to post every day. With three blogs (this one, Salmonweird, and photography), and multiple social media sites, I need a content plan. So you’re going to see more of me posting this year than last with a much more focused approach.

Don’t Make Yourself Miserable for Perceived “Failure”

Your reasons for having a digital detox for your small business are your own. There is no reward for success, nor punishment for failure. If you feel the self-imposed exile is too long, or you aren’t getting what you need from the detox, then by all means go back to it. The point is to give your brain some resting space. Only you can decide when that rest should come to an end and how you go about reconnecting with them.

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