Sometimes using social media for work is akin to spinning plates whilst walking on a balance beam. In these times of austerity, the reality is often that we are increasingly asked to deliver the projects, deadlines and outputs that we have always been asked to deliver, only with fewer staff, less hours, higher stress levels, more pressure…
So with all of these stresses in recent months, I’ve had to re-evaluate my life on Facebook, Twitter and the like, and to initiate my own ‘cuts’ in order to prioritise what’s important and, moreover, to keep myself sane. Thoreau said:
“…simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.”
It all started a few weeks ago, when I was feeling particularly stressed with juggling it all, and I realised that although I find digital comms and social media incredibly enjoyable (both personally and professionally), it was FOLLOWING ME EVERYWHERE and something had to give. But what?
I started by asking myself what was I spending time doing that I resented… And what did I wish I was doing more of? What was important? My instinct in pressure situations is to walk away, and so I even toyed with the idea of getting rid of Facebook and twitter altogether.
I am torn about Facebook as I use it for groups, and more than anything else, to keep up with my family in the US, so as much as it takes from me, it gives back more… But the advertisements, the pressure to be ‘friends’ with people you barely know (though this can be mitigated somewhat by setting everyone you don’t know well as ‘acquaintances’ and set your posts to be seen by ‘friends except acquaintances’), and the fact that you can’t turn off Facebook messaging make it a bittersweet experience for me. Its really not been easy. I’ve deleted blogs and Facebook pages, turned off almost all notifications, deleted every app I could and removed myself as administrator from over 10 Facebook groups. I’m learning to let go.
On the other hand, I have spent 5 years at work building up my social media presence (to some acclaim) and I don’t want that to be for nothing. Its easy to focus on the negative, but I used to be evangelical about Twitter, and I seem to be letting something that used to lift me up, somehow bring me down… But I figured it out:
I removed Facebook and Twitter from my phone.
I realised that every time I saw my phone, I was seeing notifications that screamed for my attention. Let’s face it, we’re not delivering kidneys here, people… Facebook and Twitter can wait until I am at home (or work) for their allotted time. If people need me, they can text, email, Skype, etc. I’m not unreachable.
The KEY is that these things have to be on MY TERMS. I have, for example, left Instagram on my phone, because (a) I love pretty pictures and find it relaxing to look through them and (b) I love TAKING and SHARING photos. So Instagram stays.
The other thing I have done is completely rearrange my icons on my phone. Gone are Facebook and Twitter. My Calendar, Wunderlist, Banking, Email and other ‘productivity’ apps are all relegated to a later, less important screen. My home screen now only has these:
Audible, Kindle, Headspace, Instagram, Camera and Withings. Things that make me happy. Things that contribute to my day, and most importantly, things that don’t chase me.
Stripped down to the necessary and the real, life is a little freer. I get the occasional urge to tweet something, but if I start thinking that Twitter NEEDS me to post things IMMEDIATELY, I’m kidding myself. Rein in that ego, girl; the twitterverse goes on without you…