You would think that as the so-called “Instagram Chick,” I'm all over social media - all day, every day.
I’m sure most people imagine me on my phone 24/7, lookin’ a little something like this:
After all, I make my living teaching Instagram marketing for online businesses, entrepreneurs and service providers.
Ready for the secret of the century?
I'm in my social media apps for less than 1 hour each day.
I update my Instagram Stories throughout the day, but don't obsessively check the stats. I only respond to comments at specific times during the day and I no longer constantly refresh my page to see the likes on my latest post.
But it wasn't always like this.
When I launched my freelancing business as a social media manager back in 2013, I lived and breathed Instagram. I was one of those stereotypical millennials: I was on my phone all. the. time.
For hours, I'd be on the app researching hashtags for clients, manually posting, writing captions on the fly, commenting on photos, liking posts and following cool people.
It consumed my life and it wasn't long before I had to take a step back and assess my relationship with the app.
I spent more time scrolling through Instagram than I did working on my business. It was stopping me from growing and getting to that next level.
So I made the very tough decision to…. cut back on my Instagram usage - I know, I know, I’m so strong.
“But… how? HOW did you do that, Elise? How did you do this seemingly impossible task?”
I’ve got you, fam.
Here’s how you can dial social media back before it takes over your life.
1. Turn Off Your Social Media App Notifications
Social media notifications are a serious threat to productivity.
I mean, how many times have you sat down to finish a 30-minute task, and have it somehow end up taking 1.5 hours just because you kept taking little “Facebook breaks” or “Instagram breaks” inspired by those pesky app notifications.
“Ahh… just a little 5 minute scroll won’t hurt anybody.”
Before you know it – you’re 5 blog posts behind on your blog plan schedule, people.
(If you follow my blog, then you know clearly that I speak from experience.)
I get it. It's hard to stay in the zone when your phone is buzzing every couple of minutes or flashing that dopamine-serving notification light out of the corner of your eye.
What's harder is resisting the urge to look at your notifications once you know one is there.
Nip that temptation in the bud by turning your notifications OFF.
Seriously. For the sake of your business, of your relationships, of all that is good and sacred: do it now.
You'll silence your FOMO (fear of missing out) and will start investing more time into tasks that are going to put actual money into your pocket.
2. Limit Your Social Media Usage
Imagine if a friend or family member kept randomly turning up at your house uninvited. While it may have been a nice surprise the first time around, it may also soon become annoying.
Perhaps you were just getting ready to go to the gym, about to step into a relaxing bubble bath, or just busy working hard on your latest awesome project.
To solve this problem, you’d have to set boundaries with this person to maintain your sanity and ensure that that person respects your time.
The same goes for social media.
You need to limit the amount of time you spend on it to have a healthy relationship that doesn't negatively affect your life.
One of my favorite apps for helping me stick to my guns is Forest. If you want a break from your phone, you plant a seed. As time goes on, the seed grows into a tree.
But if you can't resist the temptation of picking up your phone and exiting the app, your plant will die.
Yes – that’s right.
You will not only be killing the basil plant that’s sitting on your kitchen counter (is that just me?), you’ll also be killing your digital tree by checking social media, too.
Visual, fun AND good for your relationship with social media; it really is a triple threat.
(P.S. Even more good news about the Forest app? REAL trees are planted on your behalf, too!)
Another Hot Tip: Block your Facebook newsfeed with my favourite Chrome extension News Feed Eradicator for Facebook.
My desktop Facebook feed has been non-existent for over two years now and I don’t miss it. I only check my feed from my phone, and that’s when it’s designated “scroll time” and not “work time.”
What’s “scroll time”?
3. Treat Social Media As a Reward
Spoil yourself with that endorphin rush of likes, comments and follows.
Just like you might get a facial or buy a new pair of shoes to reward yourself, do the same with social media.
Only allow yourself time on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter AFTER you've done something productive. This is what I call “scroll time.”
This way, you change how you interact with social media. It no longer becomes a time-consuming habit, but an intentional reward.
You’re the boss of the relationship.
Social media works for YOU. Never the other way around.
4. Plan Your Social Media Schedule
With apps like Buffer, Tailwind and Later, you can plan your entire content schedule out for the whole week or even the month.
I like to take a few hours out on a Monday morning or Friday afternoon and schedule everything for the upcoming week. I've created a social media blog promotion plan which I follow to make sure each post is getting all the love it deserves.
For Pinterest, by using a template from Canva, I don't have to waste time thinking about the design for each pin. Instead, I change the title and the image, and I've got my pin for my next blog post all ready to go.
For Instagram, I make sure I have enough edited photos for the week (whether for my personal feed or client accounts). I spend time planning out my grid, I write all my captions out in one go, I research my hashtags and then I schedule all my posts.
When next week rolls around, all I have to do is press post.
I don't have to worry about thinking up a witty caption on the fly, racking my brain for hashtags or going back and forth about what picture to post next.
(Although… I’ve definitely #beenthere more than I’d like.)
5. Take a Break and Log Offline
Are you spending more time on social media than with people in real life?
Are you checking your follower count and the number of likes on your last picture obsessively like a crazy person?
Is your cat sick and tired of all of the photos you’re taking of him for your Instagram?
Then you might need to take a sabbatical from social media.
Delete those apps off your phone and give your brain a chance to get over its addiction.
How long you stay offline is completely up to you.
If you need social media to do your work (hello, social media managers!), go cold turkey on the weekends when you don't need to be online. Plan a remote camping trip where the WiFi signal is weak and reconnect with the real human beings in your life.
You can even unplug your internet *insert shocked gasps from my blog readers* for a few hours at night after you finish work.
I know the idea of not having internet for a few hours is scary, but trust me – you’ll come to truly appreciate the good things in life, like the company of your partner, the smell of freshly baked lemon bars, or just going for a nice, totally casual stroll to the beach.
You might be surprised at how used to randomly reaching for a phone or checking for the latest notifications you are!
By freeing up that time usually spent aimlessly swiping, you'll have more time to do other things, more important things; whether it's leveling up your business plan, reading that book you've never got around to or learning a new skill that can boost your bottom line.
6. Unfollow Those Accounts That Make You Feel Like Sh*t
Ever heard that quote: "Comparison is the thief of joy"?
That's social media in a nutshell – if you aren't careful.
You're in control of curating a social media feed that brings positivity, motivation, and inspiration to your life.
Next time you log into your Instagram or Facebook accounts and someone else makes you feel less than – unfriend them, unfollow them, unsubscribe or hide their posts.
I’ve done this a handful of times – even if it meant unfollowing people in my industry – and I felt LOADS better afterwards.
As much as you can justify needing to “keep up” with others in your space, if you’re finding that you feel down, stressed out, low or unmotivated after reading their posts – say it with me: UNFOLLOW THEM. Your mental health and wellbeing deserve it.
This little practice will do wonders for your mindset, and you'll notice an increase in your overall happiness, life satisfaction, and self-esteem. (100% speaking from experience here!)
7. Outsource Your Social Media Tasks
If you're at the point in your business where you can afford to hire a virtual assistant – do it.
You can outsource a variety of tasks, like: responding to comments on Facebook, scheduling your Pinterest pins for the week, or uploading a photo each day onto Instagram.
Use the time that you gain from outsourcing on bigger projects or better yet: on activities that recharge you mentally and allow you to keep going in your business.
Going out for a doughnut with a friend is something that gets me out of my business mode and totally recharges me.
(It’s probably the going-out-with-a-friend part that’s helpful, but the doughnut definitely doesn’t hurt.)
When you're building a digital empire, you need to make sure you're:
focusing your energy on the most essential tasks… AKA the money-making, revenue-generating, putting-dinner-on-the-table tasks, and
allowing yourself the time and space to refuel, have some fun and come back to your business at 100% again.
One of my favorite quotes around this topic comes from Greg Mckeown, author of the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.
It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
A Proposal: Travel to Bali, Disconnect from Social Media And Grow Your Biz with Me
After the success of my Lisbon digital nomad retreat in June this year, I’m hosting another trip to Bali in February 2019!
For 10 days, you’ll get to work on your biz with me while exploring lush jungles and slurping down delicious dragonfruit smoothies. We can even do a digital detox together!
(I mean, this is Bali we’re talking about… Bali kind of demands that sort of thing. 😌)