ABIDE: Assess the time you spend on social media.
Now is the time for you to take an honest assessment of the time you spend on social media. Some of you have already done this before you signed up for the challenge. The rest of you should do it now. Here’s how:
- Determine the amount of time you spend daily on social media. Use your Screen Time feature on your iPhone or an app like Rescue Time for Android. For the most accurate results, track it for a week. If you are starting your break soon–like today or tomorrow–you can estimate. If you need a benchmark, the average person spends 2 hours a day on social media.
- Take that number (i.e. 2 hours per day) and the year you joined social media and plug them into our nifty calculator (link to landing page or insert calculator to PDF). This will show you how much time in months and years you’ve spent on social media since you joined.
(Sure, you can do the math manually because you are smart, you are kind, and you are important. But why would you choose to make it so hard when I’m making it easy for you?)
(Plus, I paid this nice guy from Bangledesh to create this calculator, so I’d like for you to use it, please, and thank you.)
When you see your total number, don’t cry. Yes, it is sobering–that is why I’m asking you to do it. But this is not a judgment on you. It’s just data.
If it makes you feel any better, wanna know how much of my life I spent on social media before I took my hiatus in 2019?
→1 year, 3 months ←
ABIDE: What’s your plan B?
So, now you’ve got these numbers–the hours you spend per day and the months and/ or years you’ve spent on social media since you joined. By taking a social media break you will be freeing up that time. You just gave yourself a gift.
But in order to make the most of this opportunity, you must decide now–before your break–how you are going to spend it.
Think of this like a budget: if you get a pay raise but do not allocate exactly where that money will go, it will likely be absorbed into your day-to-day spending for things like toothpaste and baby wipes. Without even realizing it, your spending will expand to include your new salary and you’ll get to the end of the month and wonder, “Where did all that extra money go?”
We don’t want you to get to the end of your break and ask, “Where did all that extra time go?”
So now is the time to create a detailed plan of what you will do with your newfound free time. This is the fun part! You probably just handed yourself two hours a day. What do you want to accomplish by the end of your break? Do you want to complete a project? Connect with some old friends? Take a class? Clean the attic? Read some books? Organize your photos? Dig into God’s word? Try some new recipes?
Decide now. Be specific.
If you do not have a specific plan for your extra hours in the day, you may just find yourself picking up your phone and incessantly checking emails or looking at doppler radar on your weather app. Or maybe you’ll hop onto your husband’s neglected Facebook account and scroll through his feed–updating his profile picture to include a cute picture of the two of you and “liking” all his birthday wishes that he ignored. (This describes exactly how I spent one of my first extended social media breaks back in 2014.#truestory)
ABIDE: Inform your closest people that you are taking a break.
For your personal accounts:
Depending on the length of your break, you may want to post a short announcement on your social media. This is not mandatory. People have strong feelings about social media break announcements. Whenever I have posted one, I have received at least one snarky comment. (i.e. “This isn’t an airport…no need to announce your departure.” *eye roll emoji*) You may want to slip out quietly to avoid potential drama, and that’s totally fine.
However, if you primarily interact with certain people on social media and you’d like to stay in contact during your break, then give them an alternate way to contact you. This is simply telling your mom, your sister, your BFF, and maybe your kids that you are taking a short social media break and encouraging them to call, text, or email you instead.
One of the biggest fears moms have about taking a break from social media is missing out on something important. (We will talk more about fear on Day 1 of our Make Social Media Small 7-Day Challenge) So, to calm your fears today, let’s enlist an ambassador: someone to be in charge of letting you know if she sees a post during your break that is urgent (i.e. time-sensitive alerts from your child’s school or illness/death of a mutual friend.)
(Also, you may need someone to text you funny memes. Like I said, only things you absolutely need to know about.)
For your business accounts:
If you have a large number of followers and/or a business account where you promote your work or interact with clients, it’s the thoughtful and responsible thing to let them know you will be gone, especially if you are taking a full 8-week break. You may also want to give people an alternate way to reach you during that time if, in fact, you want to be reachable. For my business contacts, I gave them my email (not my cell number). It’s okay if you don’t–just be sure to let them know you cannot be reached. Send DMs where appropriate, as everyone will not see your exit post.
Give people time to see the post before you move on to the next step–at least a couple of days. If you are beginning your break today or tomorrow, post this ASAP and hope for the best.
You will inspire many of them to take breaks of their own, and that’s really cool. Look at you…all thoughtful, responsible, and inspirational. Can I be your friend?
ABIDE: Deactivate your accounts.
When you deactivate, your profile is not visible to anyone until you reactivate it. You are not deleting your account. Facebook and Instagram will make you feel like this is a “really big deal” and will give you all kinds of opportunities to change your mind before you deactivate. You must give a reason why you are leaving. When you answer, they will give you other ways you can achieve your goal besides deactivating–they do not like when you do this. They will show you pictures of your actual Facebook friends (the top five that you engage with) and tell you how much they will miss you.
The first time you do it, it will feel weirdly intimidating and final. But I promise, you can always reactivate it when you come back and everything will still be there. (Well, truthfully, I cannot promise you anything about what social media will do with your data. They could shut it all down in a day without warning, erase your content, or put you in social media jail….)
Also, fun fact: if you deactivate IG and then reactivate, you will need to wait a full week before you can deactivate again. So, if you want to play around with deactivating and reactivating “just to make sure everything is still there,” then you won’t be able to go right back in and deactivate. You’ll need to wait another 7 days.
Don’t want to deactivate your account? That’s okay. Alternatively, you can simply log out without deactivating. However, if you choose this route, I would recommend that you also have a trusted person change your password and keep the new password under lock and key until the end of your break.
But Sandy, this sounds so extreme!
Yep. If you are addicted to social media like I was, you will need to set up guard rails to avoid falling off the wagon.
This step feels scary for people. Don’t be scared. Social media is primarily an “out of sight, out of mind” form of interaction. The algorithm removes you from your friends’ feeds all the time without warning or logic, and you don’t even realize it. This means that most of your friends already don’t see most of your posts. And most of them won’t even notice you are gone.
Ugh. This is both good news and sad news, yeah?
ABIDE: Eliminate temptation.
Uninstall/delete the apps from your phone. Close out your tabs on your laptop. Again, none of this is permanent (as far as they tell us…but they may and can change their minds without warning). You can reinstall the apps at the end of your break.
This added step will make it a little harder for you to succumb to the pull that is sure to come while you are on your break.
You’re off to a great start!
In five simple (but not necessarily easy) steps, you are now free to ABIDE without the pull of social media. I hope you feel good about your decision. I can’t wait to hear how this goes for you.
People don’t succumb to screens because they’re lazy, but instead, because billions of dollars have been invested to make this outcome inevitable.
~Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism