Ask any marketing expert and they’d agree – if you’re running a business, especially an online business, the more you’re on social media (SM) and post to SM the better. I’ve been running an in-person and online business for 3.5 years now, and I’ve been consistently posting to social on average 5 days/week that entire time. I took an extended break for the first time last June, and it was wonderful! I thought I’d miss it. I thought I’d crave it like a person coming off an addiction… 😉
But I didn’t.
In fact, I didn’t miss it at all. I knew I needed to take the apps off my phone, so I did that as soon as I started. At first, I’d go to click on an app without even thinking about it and it wasn’t there. It was a huge reality check for me, realizing how many times I was unnecessarily just clicking into apps for no real reason at all.
Bored? Quick check email and social accounts.
Have a minute? Quick check.
Doing something mindless? Quick check.
Going to bed? Getting up? Transitioning from one thing to the next? Check, check, check.
The problem wasn’t my scroll. I actually wasn’t spending a ton of time scrolling. My problem was that I was clicking into the apps numerous times/day – FAR more than necessary. I could say that it was out of my desire to provide good customer service – to be able to check if I had any DM’s, comments, or emails that I needed a response. But if I’m being honest with myself, it probably had more to do with the dopamine hit that comes when you see a new notification. I don’t have notifications “on” on my phone, so I needed to go into the app and check if something new was there. Although I made no conscious effort to do this, it happened naturally on its own without me trying or even thinking about it! Our brains are pleasure seekers, and my brain was looking for a little hit here or there many, many times/day.
The good news is that breaking the pattern was easy, especially when I took the apps off my phone. If I had kept them on, there’s no way I would’ve been able to break them. The bad news is that over time I pretty much went right back to my old patterns. I thought about changes I could make or what I needed to avoid in order to change, but I never really implemented anything and I found myself back in the same place by the end of 2022.
So in January, I felt a nudge from the Lord to take the month off, and after a little processing, I again decided to take the plunge. This time it was even easier, (thankfully)!) and I became even MORE aware of my habits and the necessity to make some permanent changes. In a perfect world, I might never come back to SM again. However at this time, I feel led to keep my business online and so I face a predicament – how do I run an online business with very strict SM boundaries?
I wish I had all the answers for you. I wish I was a year down the road of implementation and I could tell you what I tried, along with what worked well and what didn’t work. Hopefully, in a year I’ll be writing that blog post for you instead! 😉
But for now, I’ll tell you what I’m going to try:
- STRICT boundaries with going on social. I need to film things in the app for work. We did process the possibility of me keeping the apps off my phone completely, but it would honestly create MORE work than the payoff. Instead, my goal is to only go in 1-2x/day on my LAPTOP (not my phone) to respond to questions/comments/DMs which will be a whole lot easier to keep boundaries with than my phone.
- Better phone boundaries in general. Have you ever looked at how much screen time you have each day, or how many times you pick your phone up? It’s mind-boggling. I’ve been doing really well keeping my screen time low, but even yesterday, without ANY social time, I spent just under 2 hours on my phone. 50 min was spent reading and replying to text messages alone! A good chunk of the rest was spent on Voxer (voice messaging app) and email. Still…two hours, and to think when I was active on social a couple of months ago, my numbers could be as high as 4 hours/day!
- I plan to keep my phone in the bedroom when I’m home and not working. When I’m driving it stays in my purse. When I’m with my kids or husband it’s not in sight. I want to be FULLY PRESENT to the things I’m working on, the person I’m with, and the task placed in front of me.
- I will NOT click on work email (or social) when I’m not working. This is CHALLENGING. But there’s really nothing that I do (outside of a pt emailing to reschedule her appt because of a sick kid or bad weather) that needs to be answered in less than 24 hours. So that email coming in at 7 pm doesn’t need to be looked at until 9 am the next day. If I had a traditional job, I wouldn’t be checking work email at night, so why do I treat this any differently?
- In general, we’re not going to be constantly swayed by the changing tides of SM trends. This past year we spent a TON of time filming reels, finding trending audio, etc. And while that was a great strategy in 2021-2022, midway through 2022 it stopped working. We did ALL the right things that we were told to do, and we didn’t grow. And in the meantime, we also changed our SM strategy to conform more to what we were told the app wanted vs. what felt natural to our brand and the followers we have. So I’m done conforming in 2023. We’ll still be wise, but not to the point that we start to get dragged down by the constant guessing game of IG content creation and growth.
There ARE a few pros to social media. It has been a huge piece of business growth for Refine and I’m incredibly grateful for that. I would never be serving women all over the US and in other parts of the world without social media. I love connecting with others in a way that I couldn’t otherwise, and I appreciate the opportunity to be creative and grow a business without needing to run an ad in the paper or on the radio like we used to.
But the cons have to be considered, especially for our mental and emotional health, as well as for productivity, efficiency, and better work/life/home/family balance. I’m praying that I don’t end 2023 the same way I ended 2022, and I’m hopeful that by the end of the year, God’s shown me a healthy balance to continue to use this space I’ve been given wisely, without it leading to chaos and anxiety.