In last week’s Accountability Call for The Flawsome League a client said to me “My goal is to get my posts scheduled for while I’m away next week.” My response might surprise you.
I didn’t admonish her for using automation in her business. I didn’t tell her she needed to hustle more and vacation less. And I certainly didn’t give her a big list of things to do before she left. There’s enough hustle culture out there already, especially when it comes to social media. It feels like every other motivational guru is telling us to work harder so we can hit that next level…whatever that next level is.
I told her “Awesome! That’s a perfect goal. Way to #BeFlawsome!”
Because as entrepreneurs WE NEED TO NORMALIZE TAKING TIME OFF!Normalize entrepreneurs taking time off.Click To Tweet
How does a small business owner “get away” from social media?
It’s not easy or simple, but it is necessary. There are a few things you can do to facilitate taking real time off and away from social media.
- Hire help! Even as a freelance social media strategist I’ve asked Michelle at Bold and Italic to be the contact for my clients a few times over the years. This gave me the freedom to really turn off all the notifications while knowing my clients had someone to call if they needed something on short notice. When I employed a virtual assistant she would take care of clients while I was away.
- Schedule evergreen content. If someone on the client end is managing the engagement side (answering messages and comments on pages) you can also schedule engagement content, but if you’re asking people to answer a question or otherwise engage with a post, be sure someone is watching the post and responding in a timely manner.
- It’s also absofuckinglutely ok to just go silent for a week. Announce it ahead or don’t. It’s up to you. Just be sure you actually come back and say “I had a freaking amazing vacation and now I’m back!”
Have a plan for your social media
The best tool you have for finding time off is your social media plan. If you know what needs to happen on your social profiles regularly, it becomes a whole lot easier to actually schedule the content and take the time off. You’ll be able to relax more knowing that your content is being posted and is working towards your business goals BECAUSE it was content that was part of a larger plan, not something you just threw together to get you through the time off.
Best tools to help you take time away from social media
If you’ve decided you’re going to finally take that vacation, you’ll need to prepare a few things, of course.
- Choose a scheduling platform for that content you’re going to schedule.
- Set up your Facebook Automated Responses to take care of common questions your Page receives. Enable the same on Instagram.
- While you’re in there setting up the automated responses, don’t miss out on setting up the “Away” feature. It will tell people when you’ll be back to respond to their enquiry.
- Set an email autoresponder to let people know how to get help while you’re away.
- Update your voice message greeting appropriately.
Small business owners need to set boundaries
Set some damn boundaries! You do not need to work all hours of the day, seven days a week. Figure out when you are most productive and set your hours. Then you need to stick to it. Let clients know about your work hours and DO NOT RESPOND to them outside of those hours. My most productive work time is 9am – 1pm. I’m a workhorse for those four hours, and I often end up taking a nap, running errands or spending time with my teens after lunch. I don’t feel guilty about not working all eight hours because WHO SAID WE HAVE TO WORK EIGHT HOURS EVERY DAY ANYWAY?
If you can’t manage to take the widely recommended one week per quarter vacation, here are some of the other ways you can set boundaries that allow you to consciously uncouple from your laptop on regular basis.
Set up an “Always On” automated email responder. If you’ve emailed me in the last four years you’ll know I always have an autoresponder on my email–not just when I’m away from my office. It lets you know I’ve received the email and if you read it, you’ll know when I’ll be able to respond. It also answers a few top questions about how to book an appointment and what type of clients I’m taking on right now. I often get emails from people who want to book an appointment, they receive the autoresponder and then use the calendar link to book their appointment. All before I’ve even had a chance to read the initial email.
Stop answering every ding and buzz on your phone after hours. Trust me, it can wait. If you just cannot ignore the buzzing and dinging of notifications, turn them off at the source. Go into the notifications settings for the social media networks you use and turn off “push notifications”, or at the very least cull the list of the ones they’re giving you.
For example, do you really need a notification every time someone new likes your Page or follows you on Twitter? Do you need an email for that? NO! It’s just time you waste clearing notifications and emails, so go find those settings and turn off everything that’s not vital. You won’t believe how quiet your phone suddenly becomes.
Here are a few more tips for your phone:
- Set the quiet time feature on your phone to stop all notifications from coming through at certain hours.
- Keep your phone on buzz or silent.
- Use your phone settings to turn off notifications from platforms that don’t give you enough flexibility in their own settings.
If you do all of this, the notifications you still receive might actually be important and you’ll spend a lot less time checking notifications.
Stop believing rest is “unproductive” time.
Better yet, we need to stop believing all our time must meet the societal, capitalistic and patriarchial standard of being “productive”. You need time away from your business, and especially social media, to rest, relax and recoup. That’s why I take most evenings and weekends off completely. It took me a few years to get to this point, but it is possible to create your own work boundaries even if you’re an entrepreneur working by yourself.
You deserve time off and so does your business.
Vacation time improves mindfulness, boosts brainpower and productivity, and even has benefits for your heart due to reduced stress.
So if your only social media goal for this week is to vacation prep your business for next week’s time off, that is A-OK. Not all our goals have to be about growth, clicks, calls and website visits.
Dear small business owner, take the vacation!