As social media consultants, we spend A LOT of time online: scrolling, posting for clients, and engaging with potential clients and other influencers. We value unplugging and spending focused time with our friends, families, and our own hobbies. We pride ourselves on our accessibility for our clients, often texting early in the morning and late into the evening. With that kind of 24-7 availability, being mindful about screen time becomes a challenge. Over time, we have figured out five ways to unplug without letting down our clients.

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Social media has no office hours—so make your own

Working in social media means you can, literally, work around the clock. Obviously, that’s not necessary—or healthy. While accessibility is critical while working with clients, be upfront about any off-limit times. At Take Flight, we don’t work on Sundays, and we do our best to log off social media channels by 7:00 p.m. Every client has different needs, and there are exceptions and emergencies that may require attention during “off” time. For the most part, though, we stick to our designated hours.

Delegate and tag team with co-workers

Hours increase during busy times of the year, like they do in any profession. Whether we’re talking about a new product launch from a client or just a seasonal increase, like during the holidays, we still strive to carve out unplugged time. One thing that helps is sitting down with each other and splitting up the work that needs to be done during “off” hours. Rotating Sundays or working every other evening isn’t as bad as completely opening up the floodgates to screens at all times.

Be honest about what is work—and what isn’t

The mindless, endless scroll presents the biggest obstacle to truly unplugging for the day or the weekend. There’s always one more article to read, one more Facebook message to answer, or one more analytics report to pull. Being honest about what is needed for work, like engaging with social media comment, and what is just a semi-work-related bonus, like getting lost in related hashtags that interest us.

Use technology to divide work and personal screen time

At one point, we worried our smart watches would be just another screen-filled time suck. Surprisingly, they help unplug. We can glance down at the vibration notification and see if there’s a fire we need to put out immediately. If not, we don’t even touch our phones! Apps can help, too. We don’t connect any of our personal accounts to scheduling apps, like Hootsuite or Buffer, so we’re not tempted to dive into our own feeds when we should be working.  

We also love keeping ourselves accountable, and the Apple software update (12.0.1) lets us do just that with the Screen Time feature. Not only does it track your screen usage, but it breaks it down into game time and productivity time, which is revealing—and a little shocking the first time you see a full day’s worth of data. Android users on the Android P OS get the same information under the “digital wellbeing” banner.

Turn to other resources

The ease with which we can search for information online changes how we seek and process information. We’ve all been at dinner with friends--or at home--when someone brings up a news story they’ve heard about or a book they want to read. When we can’t remember a title, we reach for our phones, which can read to a rabbit hole of clicking and searching.

To limit screen time, do your best to find other resources to answer your questions. Dust off your library card if you need to and look for books or journals answering your questions instead of reading five articles skimming the surface of your curiosity. For example, we’re looking deeper into how to limit distractions, so we checked out two books from the library to help us figure out what will work for us. If you’re interested, check out Deep Work by Cal Newport is the book about limiting distractions and she also recommended Unselfie by Michele Borba.

Do you have any favorite tips for limiting screen time?