This past year I decided to do something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time – I took a blog and social media break.
Taking a sabbatical from social media has changed my life. I feel like I am much more intentional with the actions I take, and I am able to focus on what I truly love.
Okay, so I've still been around working a little bit, but not nearly as much as usual.
But since I’ve taken a blog and social media break, I’ve received a lot of messages, comments, and emails asking me about what’s going on.
“Is everything all right?”
“Are you not having fun traveling anymore?”
“Is your business no longer making money?”
My social media break has really confused people, and it feels like nearly everything I've heard has assumed that something bad has happened.
People assume something is wrong or that I’m unhappy because I’ve been posting less on social media than I normally do.
Truthfully, my social media break was not planned. I’ve just been busy with other things and enjoying living in the moment more.
Today, I want to talk more about the social media break that I randomly took, why I decided to go on a social media hiatus, why people automatically assumed something was wrong, etc.
And, I know a social media break sounds crazy, especially as a full-time blogger who gets paid to be on social media.
So, what happened?
It all started with posting less on Instagram.
I used to publish every single day on Instagram for what felt like years.
Then, I didn't publish for about a week, and it kind of just stuck.
Over this past year, I’ve only posted on Instagram around 3-4 times a month, and it has felt amazing.
And, this pretty much extended everywhere else in my life. I stopped looking at Twitter as much, Pinterest has pretty much disappeared for me (other than scheduled posting that I outsource), and Facebook has become something that I hardly look at.
I've also had a pretty relaxed year with Making Sense of Cents and my whole blogging business as well.
Yes, I'm still writing, but only when I'm really interested in a topic, and I'm no longer publishing three times a week, like I used to.
I've also limited the amount of interviews I'm taking part in, no new courses (instead, I'm simply focusing on the two that I already have), and working very minimally on Making Sense of Cents. Oh yeah, and I also didn't attend FinCon or any other meetups/conferences.
Another change I've made is that I changed the way I publish income reports so that I feel less pressure (among many other reasons).
In How I Made Over $1,500,000 In 2018 – Is This The End Of Income Reports?, I state: “I feel pressure to keep my income up every month and that’s just not the way I want to run my business. I want my reports to focus more on what I’m doing and the actions I’m taking, instead of people just looking at the numbers. Yes, I realize that this is a personal finance blog. But, instead of just looking at the numbers every month, I want the focus to be on what is actually being accomplished and what is being worked on.”
And, after several years of blogging full-time and spending 100+ hour weeks on my blog, it's been nice to relax and focus on other areas of my life.
I do want to say that I wasn't feeling burned out or anything with Making Sense of Cents. I still love running this blog, but I knew that I needed to be more mindful with how I use my time online. I no longer want to be hooked to my laptop and phone for both personal and business social media browsing/blogging.
What else caused the change?
I've been dealing with really high blood pressure for about the past 2-3 years, like extremely high.
So high that I get stressed and cry just thinking about it, because I have tried so many things to naturally lower it. And, I'm a very active person, so fitness wasn't my issue.
I started to realize that the problem was simply overworking myself for so many years, although I did not want to admit it. I also was spending far too much time mindlessly scrolling on Instagram and other websites.
There have been other things that I’ve been focusing on too, such as a few family emergencies.
While I absolutely love Making Sense of Cents, taking a social media break this past year has been extremely refreshing. I've had a lot going on outside of the blogging world, so spending more time focusing everything else has been nice.
Now, I feel more ready than ever to get back to it. In fact, I have really missed it.
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Because I know this social media break came as a bit of a surprise, I want to answer a couple of questions I’ve received and talk about my break a little more and some of the other things I’m doing to live in the moment even more.
Am I enjoying life?
Life has been really good. So, please do not worry about me.
Being able to focus on the traveling part of my life has been wonderful, and I feel like I have grown a lot in the past year.
For some reason, many people thought that me not posting on social media meant that I was not enjoying myself. Which I found to be interesting because it was actually the exact opposite!
Am I still making a good income even with this semi-sabbatical?
Thankfully, all of the hard work that I've put in over the past several years has paid off.
Even with me working way less, my income is still at a great level.
So, no worries here either.
Now that we got past all of that, I'm sure you're wondering about some of the changes I’ve made.
Here are some of the things I have done in the past year to be more present in life:
I'm trying to stop rushing through EVERYTHING.
This is one of my worst traits, I will admit.
I can be extremely impatient at times. While sometimes I am the most laid back person on earth (to a fault, many times), I am also guilty of rushing through stuff. I’ve learned that this doesn’t allow me to enjoy some aspects of my work and everything else that is happening around me.
I’ve decided that I really need to slow down, enjoy what’s happening right now, and to live in the moment. I want to be more focused so that I can truly enjoy whatever it is that I am doing.
Life goes by so fast, and I'm sure many of you are wondering how it's already the end of 2019. Your children are growing up, you might be experiencing big changes, you may be feeling older, and so on. Life just goes by so quickly!
Because of that, I want to make sure I am able to experience more of this beautiful world that we live in.
Here are some things that I am doing to simply slow down and enjoy life more:
- Instead of multitasking everything, I am enjoying every little process.
- When a good song comes on, I stop and close my eyes, and just take it all in.
- I try to not bring my laptop to bed anymore.
- I stop what I'm doing and enjoy sunsets and sunrises.
- I’ve reduced my distractions.
- When everything is quiet around me, I’ve been enjoying the silence.
- I’ve started stretching and doing yoga more often.
When it's nice outside, I enjoy it.
Yes, it's that simple.
I’ve started to plan my days by thinking about what adventure I want to go on first, then think about work second.
Before, I would wake up and go straight to work, and I would only stop working if I finished whatever it was that I was doing.
Now, I wake up and go for a hike, snorkel, sail, or whatever else, and I think about the work that I need to do later.
I built a business with a flexible schedule, and now I'm finally taking advantage of that!
I'm more mindful of my time spent on social media.
Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling…
Despite my social media break, I was still spending a lot of time looking at social media. But, I’ve started wasting a little less time on mindlessly scrolling through the different social media accounts that I have.
Like I said earlier, I simply started posting less on Instagram, and it all just went from there, unintentionally.
I don't have Twitter or Pinterest on my phone anymore.
I don't use Snapchat.
I'm on Facebook and Instagram a LOT less too.
Simply deleting apps off my cell phone has helped me tremendously.
If you’re interested in taking a break from social media, one of the best ways is to just delete the apps.
I unsubscribed from a lot of emails.
I've subscribed to many emails over the years, and as a public blogger, I've also received lots of unwanted subscriptions from people signing me up. Yes, this does happen.
My email is subscribed to so many sites that I get several hundred emails everyday. Some automatically go to my “Promotions” box, but others end up in my regular inbox.
I used to spend so much time each day going through these emails, but they were mostly junk. It was tedious, and sometimes real emails get lost in the mix.
So, I have been unsubscribing from almost all emails, except for blogs that I enjoy and whatever else is absolutely necessary.
I used to just delete emails in bulk because that was easy, but now I'm slowly going through and actually unsubscribing from them as they come in.
I highly recommend taking a few minutes to go through your emails and unsubscribe to any that aren’t necessary or meaningful to you. Your email inbox will feel like less work, trust me.
I am checking my email less often.
Speaking of email, I have always been awful with managing my email.
This is an area that I am pretty bad at. I have an addiction to checking my email – I used to literally reload my email inbox many, many times each day.
This wastes a huge amount of time, and there's really no need for me to answer all of the emails I get the moment I receive them.
I think the problem for me is that I feel obligated to keep checking my email in case something pops up with my business or if a reader has a question. I want to be as available as possible, but that means I am constantly checking my email.
This is a hard thing when you own your own business as you want to be available to your readers or clients. But, you will be a much better business owner or employee if you are able to create a better work/life balance. And one way to address that is by cutting back on how many times a day you check your email.
While it may not feel like you are spending that much time checking your email, the time it takes to switch your focus back and forth can really add up. It can also lead to losing your train of thought when you should actually be doing something else, like working or enjoying what’s around you.
If you’re checking your email all day long, set time aside throughout the day to check your email. You can even set a rule that you only check your email after you finish a task, and you can turn off email notifications if they are distracting you.
You may want to work down to only checking your email just a few times a day, or even (EEEK!!!) once a day.
This will probably be hard at first (it was for me!), but when you realize how it helps you become more productive and live in the moment when it comes to personal things, you will have wished you did it sooner.
I watch a lot less TV.
I go through stages with TV. Sometimes I watch a lot of TV, then not even turn the TV on for months. Right now, I haven't watched TV since around August or early September.
Between this and my social media break, I am feeling great!
I love a good TV show, and I can honestly say that I’ve wasted a lot of time watching TV. This isn’t uncommon – the average person watches TV for over 35 hours per week! I’m not sure if I was watching that much, but I know I was close.
Can you imagine what you could do by reclaiming just half of those hours each week?
You could work more on your side hustle, spend more time catching up with your family and friends, and just live in the moment even more!
I actually have firsthand experience with what you can do when you stop watching so much television. When Wes and I moved into the RV we got rid of Netflix, which was our only form of TV. When we got rid of Netflix, I was able to spend more time on my blog, spend more time exploring the new places we were traveling to, etc.
I'm outsourcing more work.
This has been a key part of being able to take time off work and take a social media break. It’s also allowed me to focus just on the tasks that I enjoy doing for Making Sense of Cents (such as writing blog posts and interacting with readers!).
I've slowly been passing more work to my editor and virtual assistant, and it has been great.
Because I don’t always have internet, outsourcing some of the day-to-day tasks means I’m less stressed when I don’t have a connection. These include tasks such as:
- Scheduling articles on social media (such as Facebook and Pinterest)
- Updating pins on past blog posts
- Moderating my Facebook groups
- Approving Facebook group requests
- Replying to certain emails (I still reply to all reader emails myself!)
By outsourcing, I can focus on whatever else it is that I need to do each day. The tasks above are all pretty repetitive, so having someone else do that takes a lot of the tedious tasks away from me!
For years, I did nearly everything on my own for Making Sense of Cents, but it has been nice to have help as the blog has grown.
When I tell people that I run Making Sense of Cents 95% on my own, they are shocked.
Many people think that there is a team of people running this business.
But, nope, it's just me, my editor, my virtual assistant, Pinterest assistant, and my tech person – and they only do part-time work for me.
If you find yourself low on time, then you might want to consider hiring someone to help you out. There are virtual assistants, personal assistants, and everything else out there. You can designate certain tasks that don't exactly need YOU in order to function.
Plus, you may find that outsourcing certain tasks will give you more time and energy to reach other goals.
Even if you aren’t a business owner, you can outsource by finding someone to mow your lawn, clean your house, or do car repairs. This will give you more time to start a business on the side, or whatever your goal might be.
In order to outsource effectively and to make sure that it’s actually allowing you to live in the moment, you will want to think about a few things, such as:
- Could outsourcing some tasks help you earn more money, or would you be better off doing the work yourself?
- Do you feel comfortable doing the task, or would you be better off leaving it to an expert?
- Would outsourcing the task help you focus on your goal?
Outsourcing can be hard at first if you feel the need to be in control of everything. But with good help, you will probably find that you have more time in your day to devote to other things, like being able to live in the moment and focus on more important things.
I’m spending less time dwelling on negative thoughts.
There are some things that I really love about social media, like seeing what my friends and family are doing even though we’re hundreds or thousands of miles apart. It’s a really nice way to stay connected while traveling full-time.
But, one thing I’ve noticed is that social media can impact others in a negative way.
There have been a number of studies done on how social media affects your mood, and many studies link social media to increased rates of depression, jealousy, low self-esteem, and more.
The problem with social media is that many people start comparing themselves to other people. It’s really easy to only post the good stuff on social media, and then that’s what other people see. You don’t see how stressed out people are, how long it took to pose that beautiful photo, how much debt someone has, how a person is in a bad relationship, etc.
It's easy to look on social media and feel as though everyone around you is living an amazing life, and then feel negative about yourself.
This can be very dangerous, and if you’re feeling this way, then taking a social media break is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
It will help you avoid so many negative thoughts so you can focus on what it is that you love about yourself, how you can make changes for the better, and more.
Do you think you are mindful of your time? How much time do you think you spend on social media each day? Have you ever taken a social media break?
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