In our digital culture, there’s no doubt that social media has revolutionised the way we communicate with one another. When you consider the strides forward we’ve taken in the field of technology over the last twenty years, it’s actually quite inspiring…and a little bit frightening. But what about social media burnout? Is it important and what do you need to be aware of?
Social media burnout is a very real thing, and it’s becoming even more prevalent of late. Our lifestyles are increasingly played out online now, and I’ve seen many good friends in the blogging world succumb to the utter boredom and exhaustion social media burnout can cause. It’s a shame, but to be honest, it’s not that surprising. In many cases, ‘social networking’ has become anything but ‘social’. What happens when we begin to view our digitally cultivated friendships as just another component of a marketing strategy?
Workplace burnout and digital burnout
Burnout in the workplace isn’t uncommon, and for many of us, the digital world is our workplace now. I spend the vast majority of my working day tied to my computer, tablet or smartphone, scheduling, hashtagging, writing and networking. It comes with the territory, I know, but it is becoming hard for many of us to keep on top of.
I remember when Facebook first came out. Everyone was still using MySpace, and you had to have a university email address to even join up. It was new, fun, and not all that serious. Now, Facebook and many other social media platforms are becoming little more than another means to an end for the shapers of our digital landscape. It’s tiresome for many, but especially for those of us who need to remain part of the network for our jobs.
So how do you avoid social media burnout when most of your work involves being ever-present online?
Getting a grip on being ‘social’
In 2019, I plan to get a real hold of my digital diary. I probably said that at the beginning of this year, but I’m serious about this goal now. I’ve seen so many people I actually care about pull themselves out of the online world completely because of burnout, and I don’t want that to happen to me.
So before we head into the New Year, here’s my 37-point plan for avoiding social media burnout.
- Plan on paper, complete tasks online — by using a paper-based planner I can reconnect with my real-world ideas and goals in a distraction-free way, and be more efficient with my online time.
- Impose a curfew — no staying up ridiculously late tweeting, schedule things in advance and get some proper sleep.
- Plan meal breaks and stick to them — stop eating at your desk.
- Streamline your ‘work’ social media and your ‘personal’ social media.
- Work in hourly chunks — structure your time into the most vital tasks and pause for breath in-between.
- Have a cut-off point for work-based social media.
- Have a set time for personal social media.
- Implement tech-free days at least once a month — unplug completely and see how it helps.
- Learn which scheduling tools work for you and use them.
- Invest some money in paid scheduling if you need to.
- Identify the social media networks that work best for you and that you enjoy being part of.
- Remind yourself who is worth your time — by this, I mean cultivate your online friendships carefully and treat them as you would reality-based friends. Don’t be a dick just because you can’t see someone in person.
- Take time to plan a social strategy on paper — similarly to point one, planning a few months out on paper can help you really gain clarity in your thinking, and help identify the right social media communities for you.
- Get outside and refocus. Leave your phone in the house.
- Write/blog in the mornings, be social in the afternoons.
- Schedule a time to sift through emails — stop letting them interrupt your flow of work.
- Avoid biting on controversial threads — even if the argument is irritating you, it’s literally not worth your time.
- Make time for your personal life.
- Research the things that make you tick and write about them.
- Interact meaningfully online — is there anything worse than those bot comments on your Instagram pictures? Yeah, don’t do that.
- Streamline your systems — remove yourself from the 3,000 Facebook groups you’re idle in and just work to be present in the ones you actually find helpful.
- Help others on social media — there are lots of people who you can share advice with. Be nice to them.
- Plan a holiday — seriously, plan it, book it, and then work hard to feel the benefit of it when the time comes.
- Forget about what everyone else is doing — stop comparing yourself to others, just do your own thing.
- Find other social media avenues to explore — I’ve recently started following some writers’ hashtags on Instagram and also some about Viking mythology. Social media doesn’t always have to be related to your work.
- Use the mute button if you need to.
- Use video content more often.
- Engage in Twitter chats purposefully — don’t waste time and energy on them if you’re not really getting anything out of it.
- Take some time away from social media if you need to — or better yet, plan a scheduled break from it and make it known in advance online.
- Don’t lose heart. Work smarter, not longer.
- Remember that your digital footprint doesn’t define you — your reality is the most important thing.
- Look for ways to refresh your earlier work and re-share things — you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
- Try to make time for your real-world friendships.
- Share the load — if you have a team or someone else who can help, ask them to get involved with a few tasks.
- Block any negativity or troll accounts instantly — don’t engage with them.
- Stick to the schedule and cut-off points and don’t let social media take over your life.
- Read paper-based books. Your brain and your eyes need them.
The key thing to remember about avoiding social media burnout is that even though it feels like you have to be ‘always on’, the truth is, you don’t. It’s not healthy to be immersed in the online world 24/7, and it can have a massively detrimental effect on your health if you are.
Planning in advance is hopefully going to be my secret weapon for 2019. I’ve also been fairly lucky so far in avoiding the nasty underbelly of social media, where the trolls reside. It’s a sad truth that some people can’t separate the two anymore, but don’t let them suck you in. The block button is there for a reason; use your social media in whatever way you wish (as long as it’s not to troll others).
Have you got any tips for avoiding social media burnout? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve ever experienced it yourself. Please drop your thoughts into the comments or as always, you can get in touch over on Twitter or Facebook.
Originally published at actualar.co.uk on December 14, 2018.