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Photo courtesy debaird.

Hi, my name is Kelley, and I’m a social media addict.

Have you ever felt this way?

A few weeks ago I realized I had a problem.  My husband had been scolding me about checking my phone at the dinner table.  I was zoning out on family walks and during playground time.  I couldn’t unwind and watch TV on the couch without hopping on Facebook or Twitter, and I had developed a nearly Pavlonian response to the dings and whistles of my phone constantly alerting me to new updates.  New updates that just had to be read.

At my laptop I’d sit down to work and have 20 new Facebook messages or 15 new e-mails that had to be responded to.  I’d engage with Facebook and e-mail, and conference planning or business development tasks would go undone.  Facebook is just so much easier than forcing your brain to do the sticky, not-so-easy business owner stuff.

I was starting to feel burned out and unmotivated in my business, and I knew it was because my life was slowly being swallowed up with my new love: Femworking.  So, wife and mother guilt looming and work productivity waning, I decided I’d disconnect.  I wanted to be able to take a break from it all.  To step back, regain my perspective, clear my head, and enjoy it when I dove back in.  I needed to unplug.

Unplugging wasn’t easy at first, but these 5 tips helped me get there:

1) Keep your phone on silent.  This became the standard when my daughter was born, and I wish I had thought to do it sooner.  My phone is almost always on silent, and maaaaan is it peaceful.  I control when I engage with it, it doesn’t control me.  The hubs is not a huge fan, but he can always do a find my phone alert if he really needs me.

2) Turn off notification badges.  You know those red circles on top of your apps with the numbers in them?  That innocent little “1” that makes you say, “oh, it’s just one message let me see what that is,” or the “17” that translates to, “holy cow I’ve GOT to get on here and catch up with notifications before this really gets out of hand!”  Turn them off.  Don’t let them control you.  Your messages will be there when you decide to engage.

3) Move your apps.  I moved my work e-mail (gmail app) to the second screen of my phone, and just not having to see it every time I unlock my phone helps.  You could do this with any of your social media apps.

4) Decide when you want to engage with your social media, and what’s an acceptable amount of time to spend engaged.  Most days, I know that I only have 3-5 hours to work.  This means I need to manage my social media in 15-20 minutes.  I have to work smarter, not harder, and early on I learned that keeping Facebook and Twitter open in my browser was a huge time suck.  I love them, but when I sit down to write, create graphics, manage finances, or do any of the other 50 jobs solopreneurs do, social media has got to be closed.  At a minimum, I check social media in-depth twice a day.  This means responding to all requests, messages, tweets, and follows.  This is usually the first thing I do when I sit down to work, and then I close those browser windows and focus on my list of tasks for the day.

5) Take baby steps.  When I first decided to distance myself from the pull of social media and e-mail, I think I had this underlying fear that my business would fall apart.  So start small and give yourself a chance to acclimate.  Don’t check your phone for the first hour you get out of bed.  Then graduate to three hours without checking your favorite social media platforms.  Start thinking of your social media as another piece of your business to manage, not a playground of distractions from the grind-y stuff that’s got to be done to make you successful.

Now I’m proud to say that I control my social media, it doesn’t control me.  I thought managing social media in 15 minutes a day was a myth – but it’s not, and you can do it too.  Implement what works for you and I’d love to hear if and how you find success.

Have you ever felt addicted to social media?  Have you had to take steps to scale your social media use back?  Do you have any other tips for unplugging?  Leave a comment and let us know, we can all learn from each other!