Let me tell you a little story.
"There were once two women who started their own craft business because they loved craft and believed in it's ability to help people feel good. They had lots of ideas but had never run their own business before. They learned fast, worked hard and built a business from scratch spreading the joy of craft as often as possible. They had small powerful computers (smart phones) in their pockets which they had with them all the time. This meant they were able to keep on top of the business wherever they were. They had apps for marketing, apps for accounting, apps for design and emails direct to their pocket. They got through a lot of work and the business grew.
However, they started to notice some worrying trends, they felt constantly distracted, they were checking in with their smart phones immediately upon waking up, their children were commenting on how often they had their phones in hand, they noticed that when they were scrolling through apps they didn't feel good, they had imposter syndrome and were striving for 'perfection', they were not sleeping properly, were struggling to concentrate and were feeling anxious. They decided that something needed to be done."
Sound familiar? Recognise the people in the story - us and quite possibly you or someone you know. This level of dependence on our phones is not particular to small business owners but I know that it can be the thing I tell myself to excuse excessive usage.
So, complete digital overwhelm and burn out loomed. One of our core beliefs is that craft makes you feel good. It's pretty difficult to continue projecting this belief if you are not living it, the amount of time I spent on digital devices meant there was almost no time for actual craft, not good! I wanted more time to explore new crafts and develop the crafts we already love. I needed to form better habits around the blend between business life and personal life. But, with no change there is no change. So, I took action.
In May I turned 40 and had an amazing four day break in Lisbon. I decided to turn off all notifications, that included all social media, emails (both business and personal) and I only allowed myself phone use to take photos and keep in touch with family by WhatsApp and text. Prior to this my 'screen time' reports were a complete embarrassment so this was quite a shift.
Those four days were a revelation and I knew that some of the changes needed to stay in order to help manage anxiety and whilst it sounds dramatic, so I could have a better quality of life with my family.
Following on from this I reflected what had worked for me and so here are my top tips for digital detox:
Have time off - completely off - no social, no emails. This allowed me to focus only on the moment I was in. Apart from feeling more connected to my family (quite a biggie!) another huge benefit of this is coming back feeling rested, inspired and motivated.
Plan - if you use social media for work then to really enjoy the time off, plan...lots! Scheduling tools for social media (such as Later) have really helped us with this and we are also in the early stages of using a workflow tracker (Asana).
Turn off notifications on your smart phone and close tabs on your desktop - this has been a revolution to the way I use social media and respond to emails. Ultimately it means that I decide when I check in. Previously - notification = quick look = mindless scrolling and distraction. Now - I have to actively find out if I have notifications = transformative.
Set screen limits - I have put screen time limits on my phone and set 'downtime' between 10pm and 7:30am. This has helped me to recognise my usage as I get a prompt when I'm nearing my limit which I have set at 2 hours per day. There are days when I go over this but overall my screen time has dramatically reduced - hooray!
Focus - Now, I choose when I look at social media and emails. I'm trying to ensure that my use has focus and purpose; whether that be, engagement, content creation or inspiration. This has allowed me to (in the main) follow some good advise I had recently which was to focus on three tasks per day and do them well.
Be Vigilant - the phrase 'old habits die hard' is so true. I have noticed that on occasion the old habits have crept back in. I had a period where I was checking social more and feeling the need to immediately respond to emails. This sat in the weeks leading up to two weeks leave so I was trying to get through a lot of work. So, when I could have really benefitted with being super focused I was getting sucked into mindless scrolling - what is that about?!
Doing less digital has allowed time for more crafts! YAY!! This has allowed us to bring you some lovely new craft workshop offerings, you can check them out here.