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Social Media: How to Avoid Burnout

Happy 2013!

If you’re an astute Writerland reader, you noticed that I took a break from social media over the holidays. I didn’t blog, I didn’t tweet, I didn’t Facebook or Google+ or pin. I played Angry Birds (the board game, not the iPhone app), Rush Hour, and Munchkin, I solved the Perplexus Rookie (anyone want to buy me the Epic for my birthday?), I sang Christmas carols (and then had to listen to my 5-yr-old son sing Hark the Herald Angels sing on loop for two hours one morning), I went rock climbing, slack lining, ice skating, and did lots of hiking. I found several geocaches (I’m getting addicted to geocaching and am saving all my kids’ leftover party favors to do trades), I finished season two of Damages (I can’t get enough of that show!), I read my friend Laura Davis’s wonderful new novel about human trafficking and generally partook in holiday merriment. WOW, you’re thinking. I blogged and tweeted through the holidays, and I’m exhausted. I want to take a break, too! You can! You can! Read on …

Something we don’t talk about very often in the world of online networking is the importance of taking a break. We hear a lot about the value of posting to our blogs, Facebook and Google+ pages, and Twitter accounts frequently and consistently. We read about the necessity of blogging on a schedule. The most successful bloggers will tell you they “have never missed a scheduled post.” But what few people talk about is the importance of setting your social media tools down and putting your feet up, of taking a vacation from your online life the same way you take a break from your professional life for a couple weeks every year. (For those of you thinking, “But social media is fun; it’s not work,” you’re probably using it for recreational purposes. Those of us who use social media as professional and marketing tools eventually tire of it, and the best way to avoid burnout is to take periodic breaks. Here are a few tips for doing so:

1. Announce your scheduled break.

Don’t feel guilty about it. Just tell the world, “I’m going to be offline for the next two weeks while I sunbathe in the Caribbean/watch every episode of Battlestar Galactica/clean out my attic.” It’s better to announce your break ahead of time than to disappear from the Internet without warning. And don’t apologize for your absence when you return. Just jump right back in. Most people won’t even notice.

2. Preschedule posts.

Another method of taking a break is to write extra posts before you go offline and schedule them to post while you’re gone. The problems with this method are: a) It doesn’t feel like much of a break if you have to write double the number of posts before you leave and b) Your readers/followers may wonder why you’re not responding to comments if they think you’re posting live. Only take this route if writing extra posts is not going to be an extra burden, and be sure to let your followers know that you’re going to be on the beach drinking margaritas and will respond to comments when you return.

3. Host guest bloggers.

In order to keep your blog posts consistent without taking on the burden of writing extra posts while you’re gone, you may want to host guest bloggers and preschedule their posts before your break. Again, be sure to let your followers know that you will be offline for the duration of your break.

4. Repost old posts.

Many of our best posts get buried beneath newer content. Social media breaks are the perfect time to repost a “Best of” series, which you can preschedule before you hop on that plane. Just remember to let your followers know how long you’ll be gone and when to expect you back.

How about you? Do you ever take breaks from your online life? What has your experience been?

22 comments to Social Media: How to Avoid Burnout

  • I believe in taking the time off from social networking. I did the same thing over the holidays. My kids were home and if I planned to write, something had to give. By not blogging during that time, I was able to write 2 K a day. That made for one happy writer/mom.

    • Meghan Ward

      Stina, that's great news that you wrote 2k/day! I wish it were easier to fit it all in. I'm constantly sleep deprived trying to do it all. The break was really wonderful.

  • Kristan

    Even though I'm a more recreational than professional user, I've tapered off social media over the years, to a point that I feel I can sustain. I do not tend to announce when I'll be absent (b/c I don't like people knowing where I'm going to be — or that my home may be empty — and for how long) but I try to make sure to schedule something if I'm not going to have internet access or it's going to be longer than a week.

    As with most things in our life, there's the potential to become overwhelmed, and it's always good to take a step back and breathe before things get to that point.

    I hope you had a nice holiday!

    • Meghan Ward

      Thanks, Kristan! I had a wonderful break. I don't travel much these days, and when I do we usually have a housesitter or catsitter, but I understand not wanting people to know where you are or when you're out of town. The same reason I don't use Four Square. I hope you had a great holiday, too. I look forward to catching up on your blog!

  • annerallen

    This is so wise. The guest blogger thing works great for me. No way would I have been able to publish 7 books in 14 months if I hadn't had a lot of help–especially from my wonderful permanent guest/blogpartner Ruth Harris, who takes the reins once a month.

    And I think it's good that you put "announce your scheduled break" as #1 there. I advocate breaks and "slow blogging" but that doesn't mean random blogging. The best way to keep readers is to keep them informed and let them know when they can expect you to blog.

    • Meghan Ward

      Anne, I am envious that you have Ruth as a regular guest blogger! I would love to have more time to blog, although I do have occasional guest bloggers. It's so important to make our writing our first priority. It's mindblowing, by the way, that you released seven books in fourteen months! Very impressive!

  • drchristinahibbert

    Thank you for this post! As a mom of 6Thank you for this post! As a mom of 6, Psychologist, Blogger & Author-to-Be, I was feeling the burnout by Christmas too. I also took those weeks "off" from all of my work; we went to Las Vegas for Christmas, and I was able to really spend time with my kids and husband & just "hang out," which is so rare since my teens are never home anymore!

    For me, it all comes back to self-care, which many of us are just not good at doing. It's so important to know our limits and set them, for it re-energizes us and our work. As a parent, self-care is important too, not only so I can be a better parent for my kids but so I can model for them how to take care of themselves too.

    Keep up the great work, Meghan! You've inspired me to, once again, step back from all that I think I "have" to do and instead focus on what I really need.:)

    • Meghan Ward

      I can't imagine juggling all that you are! I was so sleep-deprived and exhausted the week before Christmas. I couldn't have continued without a break. I'm so glad to hear tha tyou took some time away to hang out with your kids. And I am not looking forward to the teenage years! I miss my kids just thinking about it.

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