• Meghan Ward
  • [NETWORKING FOR INTROVERTS] Social Media: How to Avoid Burnout
[NETWORKING FOR INTROVERTS] Social Media: How to Avoid Burnout
Written by
Meghan Ward
October 2018
Written by
Meghan Ward
October 2018

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.

I have not posted to my blog for two weeks (which is possibly what broke my blog—I'm working on fixing it now), and I can tell you that taking a break feels fantastic. I know that when I return to my office at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto January 7, I will be refreshed, revitalized, and ready to dive back into social media again. Meanwhile, I have played a dozen games of Chicky Boom, made paper snowflakes, launched water rockets until I was soaked head to toe, solved the Perplexus Rookie, watched a Denzel Washington movie, eaten too much chocolate, and begun rock climbing again. I would say that's a pretty successful use of my time away from social media.

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


* This post was originally published in December 2012.

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  • Joanne Barney

    Meghan, I spent a few months reading the posts on my Facebook page, maybe an hour a day or so, when I realized that I didn't give a hoot what someone I hadn't ever met had eaten for breakfast, or what her grandboy said when he saw a frog.  My "friends" were people I'd added because I joined Facebook with the goal of building a platform on which I could  sell my ebooks and become rich and famous. Then I realized that I hadn't really written anything worthwhile for weeks, exhausted perhaps by the grandboy's exclamations.  I quit Facebook, its daily email announcements  of friends wanting to communicate disappeared, and my writing life settled down into . ..writing.  When I quit, Facebook warned me that I'd not be able to get another chance with them.  Well, maybe not me, but the resulting book, Graffiti Grandma, may just get its own chance to find friends.

  • Meghan Ward

    Julene, your method of blogging sounds relaxing :)

    Kate - I'm so glad you took some real breaks from social media. We all need them!

    Kathy - Lev is right that no one knows what's going to work. And blogging should never take the place of real writing, although many of us do use it as a procrastination method (myself included).

  • Meghan Ward

    Nancy, I don't even know what my Google blog rating is! I'd love to hear what people have read or heard about this.

  • Meghan Ward

    Eleanor - Thanks for reading!

    Dani - Here's to a new beginning in 2013!

    Tele - I understand the desire to keep up with everyone else, but we all need breaks. And in the end, we'll be better bloggers and writers and humans if we unplug now and then. Your fishing trip sounds fantastic!

  • Meghan Ward

    "Nobody really seems to know what works and what doesn't.  It's a crazy business." Well said, Lev! And great to hear from someone who has the perspective of being in the business for a while. Thank you for your comment.

  • Meghan Ward

    Sherrey, I'm so sorry to hear about your losses and about your daughter's cancer. I hope your time away from your blog is restful and rejuvenating. I just took three weeks off, and it worked wonders for me.

  • Karen Dawkins

    Great advice. I need to remember the "Best of" when I'm going to be gone or offline -- the holidays! I'm better prepared for December now!

    I greatly appreciate guest bloggers -- especially those who live anyplace other than NC. If interested in swapping guest posts, please message me. I blog at Family Travels on a Budget

  • Azara

    I needed to read this right now. I have a completely recreational personal blog, and I'm allowing it to become stressful instead of fun. Time to dial back on trying to build my readership.

  • Julie Luek

    I love hosting guest bloggers-- love the fresh perspective and it gives me a break. 

  • I just completed a two-week holiday break for my blog, One Minnesota Writer. I post on my blog every Tuesday and Friday, with occasional special posts. When I schedule a break, I also schedule blog posts to run on my regular days that say I'm taking a break and note the date when the blog will resume. That way, people still hear from me on days they've come to expect without my having to do posts ahead of time or find a guest blogger to keep things going. Now, if I could just coordinate the next blog break so it's at the same time as a break from the online poetry journal I help edit (Every Day Poets), that would be divine!

  • Renate Stendhal

    Ah the guilt!! And the ambivalence of having to be out there, extroverted, always productive. It can create a backlash in the form of silence, une aussi longue absence. That's for sure my case! Thank you for the recognition and encouragement!

  • M. Kinnel

    Great post and great advice!

  • Lisa Thomson

    All of this social media is sure fatiguing after a while. A break is a good idea. Great suggestions.

  • Kathy McIntosh

    I lean toward agreeing with Lev. Social media is today's City of Gold. The key is to write more, but fear drives me to social media. And I am like the person who doesn't announce a hiatus because time passes without my realizing it! 

    And of course Sherri helps us realize that there are many things more important than words on the Internet. 

  • Avril Somerville

    So timely, especially at the beginning of a New Year, when we really need to take stock of whether we are on track with our own personal goals.  Part of the inspiration I try to share with others, through my writing, is the urgent need for quiet introspection. What better way than to preach it than to teach it?! Thanks for the wonderful tips! 

  • Nancy Davis Kho

    Great post as usual, Meghan - and timely. My New Year's Resolution is to unplug completely on Sundays and I realized that I never told anyone that...so was slightly panicky all last Sunday (I started early) about not responding to tweets/blog comments etc. I think advance communication is key, everyone understands the need to take a break. One comment about reposting old material though - I've heard this is a big Google no-no, that they ding your blog ranking if they see you doing this. Anyone know if it's true?

  • Kenny Bodanis

    This is a great point! As soon as I announce my intention to step away from my social-media-ing for even a short stretch, I feel tremendous relief.

    The biggest downside to blogging and networking (especially in the age of smart-phones which alert you to any activity) is the constant sense of urgency the author can feel. I LOVE my short breaks. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tele Aadsen

    This feels like such an important point! I get a break every summer when I'm commercial fishing in Alaska, completely unplugged during the couple-weeks-at-a-time that I'm at sea. As my blog and other writing commitments have amped up, I've felt a new anxiousness about this, like, "Maybe I should break down and get a smart phone, so I can check in and post from out there when we happen to venture into a pocket of service." In saner moments, that seems ridiculous. Why deliberately destroy one of the last refuges, when part of what my audience seems to seek is that vicarious experience of a slower, wilder, seasonal life? The absence is part of the story.

    Thanks for this, Meghan, and congratulations on your break! Sounds successful indeed. 

  • Dani Alpert

    This is one of the hardest things about social media and I can honestly say that I suck at it. I don't announce a hiatus mainly because I don't know that I'm taking one until I see that 2 weeks have gone by and I haven't written a goddam thing. Here's to 2013. Thanks for the tips.

  • Eleanor Vincent

    Great tips, Meghan. Thank you.

  • Lev Raphael

    I think life on-line is the new City of Gold.  I've been publishing for years and it's always something that's being pushed at us as "the answer."  Years ago it was postcards and tchatchkehs; then a web site; then attending conferences in your genre; blogging; then a blog tour; now social networking.  I may have the order wrong because it's been a long day, but I don't see that any of it makes much difference without luck and good timing.  Nobody really seems to know what works and what doesn't.  It's a crazy business.

  • Sherrey Meyer

    Taking one now, but not only because of social media burnout.  2012 was a year of devastating loss in our family, and then we came to the end of that year only to learn our oldest child has cancer.  Needless to say, I posted that I was going on hiatus on both my blogs and that I'd be back in three months.  Yes, three months because I have a lot of healing to do inside.  My hiatus will, however, provide time to work on an ongoing draft, hopefully begin another, and look at how I want to handle all this social media stuff when I return.  There are other things in life I enjoy and this will give me time to discern which are the most important.  After my writing, of course!

  • Daphne Q

    Good post, thanks Meghan