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I Went Off Social Media for 16 Days and Here’s What Happened

I Went Off Social Media for 16 Days and Here’s What Happened

I deleted Instagram from my phone on December 18th with the intention of being social media free for the weekend, which is pretty standard for me. (I haven’t had Facebook on my phone for nearly a year and it’s been awesome.)

On a usual week I would have re-installed the app on Sunday night and done a post to kick off the week. But when Sunday night rolled around, I didn’t want to.

I wondered if Monday would be the day that I started posting and checking in again. But I was too busy celebrating the Solstice and the Grand Conjunction to be bothered. Then I was wrapping up work for the holiday break, then prepping for Christmas, and then before I knew it, I’d been off for over a week.

Pretty soon I stopped checking in with myself to ask if today was the day I was going to re-install the app because I felt so darn good not thinking about what I was going to post, not needing to moderate comments, and not ending up in the mindless scroll loop.

As our company holiday break was drawing to a close, I knew I had some reckoning to do.

Being off social for so long was deliciously refreshing.

If it felt that good not to do it the way I had been doing it before, I knew if I was going to go back on (which I was giving myself permission to consider not doing), then I needed to set some new boundaries and change my approach.

If you’re re-evaluating your relationship with social media, I’m sharing what I learned from my time off and how I’m approaching it now in case it’s a helpful framework for you.

5 Things Being Off Social Media for 16 Days Taught Me

In 2020 I dove deep into learning about the nervous system. What I’ve learned supports my
“Body first. Business second.” motto so beautifully.

In order to do our best work in the world, we need to feel safe. During my break I realized the degree to which social media had become a space that triggered hyper-vigilance in me. 

When I felt the difference in my body and how calm I was without the app on my phone and without posting on the fly (more on that in a moment), I knew something needed to shift. Keep reading to find out the changes I’ve made.

My Instagram engagement prior to the holiday break had been tanking, and a friend had sent me an article about why that might be and what to do about it. 

While I won’t be making Instagram my J.O.B. in order to feed the algorithm anytime soon, by running what the article said through my own “How does this feel to me?” filter I was able to craft a weekly rhythm of the number of times I will post per week and the types of posts.

Right now it’s one Reel per week, a feed post once a day on weekdays, and Stories a few times a week. (These are trickier and I’ll explain why in a moment. Still a work-in-progress.)

I reserve the right to change my rhythm whenever I need to.

I had been “meaning to” start pre-writing my posts and pre-scheduling them for nearly 18 months when I took my unplanned break.

The break showed me how distracting and draining it had been to have “What will I post today?”  in the back of my mind all day and then needing to actually do that and respond to comments.

Energy management is the key to making our highest contribution , and it was Caribbean-Sea-clear that having my little Instagram mental program running at all times was draining my energy in a big way.

I’m super proud that I’ve started using the Plann app to pre-write and schedule my posts at the beginning of the week, and it feels like a hallelujah of saved energy.

(That doesn’t mean that every now and again I won’t be inspired to post on the fly or that I’ll always stick with my plan, especially if events shift and it’s more important to address what’s happening than my planned content. But that’s going to be the exception.)

Folks talk about using social media intentionally or strategically, and I’m here for that…but I’m way more interested in it being devotional. 

When I infuse my business activities (be they a meeting with my accountant, teaching a course, or writing an Instagram post) with the energy of love and purpose and mix that with full presence, the actions are not only far more impactful, I’m also nourished by the act of doing them.

Setting myself up to plan my posts in the same way I set myself up to write my blogs (which is the same way I wrote my books) is energizing for me and will call far more of my ideal customers to me than if I’m posting because I feel like I should or like I’ll miss out on something if I don’t.

This includes quiet, setting an intention at the beginning, and sometimes a candle, a meditation, an aura spray, and occasionally an oracle card pull.

I like to make sure the muse knows she’s welcome. ;)

I noticed that when I would go on to post, even if I intended to hop right off, I would get sucked into the scroll.

So, for now at least, the app is off my phone 90% of the time, and someone from my team is now posting to Instagram from her phone. I can then answer comments through the Plann app.

I don’t know if we’ll do it like this forever, but it’s working right now.

As a Gemini Moon, I LOVE social media. I love how I’ve met incredible people through it and built lifelong relationships. I love how much I learn, hearing new perspectives, and getting inspired.

And, my break told me that it had gone from energizing to draining for me– at least right now and at least in the way I was doing it.

It’s helped me to get really clear that social media is simply a channel to give people a taste of what’s possible when you embrace the Do Less Methodology. But I’ve never been more clear that in order to make our biggest impact, we need to invite those who are ready deeper into the experience (first our email list, then our books, membership, and other programs).

I’ve met enough people with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media who couldn’t pay their rent or didn’t know anything about running a business to know that focusing on growing there for its own sake isn’t where I want to devote my precious energy.

I’m here to help people have more by doing less and, at least for now, that means less social media for me.

How’s your relationship with social media going? What needs to change, if anything? What boundaries or practices do you currently have that are working? Leave a comment and let me know!

  • I so love this reflection…and you. Your biz mechanics are a model I appreciate emulating.
    Be devotional. <- That is everything! Thanks for investing here (blog) again. See you in Origin. ;-)

  • Wendy Wojtysiak-Erickson says:

    Yes! I’m in the middle of the deleted social media off the phone and not logging in on the desktop either! I started 1/1 and the first couple days when I would mindlessly pick up my phone and go to the place those apps would normally be found were quite telling for me. I’ve had to search out the sources I want to know about whether it be news, business, or people.

    I completely agree that my body is telling me this is the best decision for me right now. I’ve got a stack of books, that is only getting higher, that I continue to say I need to read – well if I stopped scrolling, I suddenly found plenty of time. And I just feel more at ease and not scattered in my thoughts.

    I know for myself with an addictive personality over here, I’m hesitant to figure out how to wonder back with intention. As you mention in your article, there are a couple of groups/people I’d like to keep up with, but I know I’ll side track way too easily. So for now, my break is the month of January, but who knows how long until I can figure out this balance.

  • Mary O'Leary says:

    The relationship is changing here too. Incorporating the act of “self harvesting”, an Art of Hosting strategy to check in on yourself before taking action, has been key.

    Great post. Thanks.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Oh I love that! I don’t know about the Art of Hosting or “self harvesting” but I love the way that sounds!

  • Nherie says:

    This is the real deal Kate. I’ve lessened Facebook activity and taken the app from my phone. But I hadn’t done so with Instagram. Plus, neither of the social media accounts I have are business drivers. I don’t have to get stuck there. I’m rethinking all off this stuff. It doesn’t align with me anymore.

  • Whaaw this is so recognizable for me! I had the same experience during Christmas, but it’s difficult to ignore Instagram. But after reading this, I deleted it! :-)

    Thanks!

  • Jen Lachman says:

    Kate, thank you for this gold. It’s super helpful as I’m working to find a social media plan and rhythm that increases my visibility AND works for me, my nervous system, and my mental health. It looks like the link to the article your friend shared may be sending me to the wrong page. I’d love to see that article when you’re able to fix the link. Thank you!

  • This resonates so much with me. Thank you for showing up exactly when I needed to hear you.

    I’m being more mindful of when I go on FB (and to some extent IG as well). I will post a few pictures once a week, mostly for a lot of our family that live out of town.

    But, I do not feel my best when I spend a day on any kind of social platform!

  • Fida says:

    Because of this article I have immediately delete Facebook from my phone, thank you Kate ❤️

  • Thanks for this. I been off social media since watching The Social Dilemma back in September, but my current challenge has been wrestling with how to be in integrity about if and how I use it in my business.

    I built a six-figure business with my not-quite-ex husband and we built our email list up to 20,000 people, so somewhere along the way, anytime I wanted to launch something new, I could get it to fly with usually just a single email to our list, social media was just a bonus.

    Now that I am no longer involved in that business and dealing with just a few hundred people on my own email list, I feel like I “should” be using social media to promote my webinars and grow my audience. And yet, part of me (the part I will end up listening to) wants to take a stronger stance on it and build right into my branding that I am anti-social media, and that’s why you won’t find me posting on any of the platforms. But then I feel like social media has been such a powerful mechanism for promoting social justice, is it really true for me to say I am anti-social media? 🤔

    Anyway, I’ve followed you since I found your book back in 2014 or so and really appreciate you being another voice and model in the world for being authentic, transparent and vulnerable.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Yes Wendy – it’s complicated. I don’t think anything is all one way or the other. Social media has been an incredible educational and connection tool for me. You’re asking yourself all the right questions and I know you’ll come up with a solution that feels really good and is in total integrity!

  • Cathy says:

    Kate, I so appreciate EVERYTHING about this post. I’ve wasted so much of my precious energy down the scroll rabbit hole or trying to “figure out” what to post. I love your process for planning your posts and I can’t wait to use it. YAY for tuning into your body and doing it the way it works for you. Permission is so luscious. <3

  • THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, KATE!
    I’ve been a deer in the headlights about the social aspect of business, where and when we got hooked (addicted) to feel it is the only way to conduct business, and the fear of “what do I do if I disengaged”?

    I appreciate all you shared and will be devouring the info in the links you had in your post as well.

    I have been “trying” (clearly unsuccessfully, LOL!) to find a program that easily can easily be pre-programmned, does not require my constant thought and energy so thank you for the Plann recommendation!

    I am so uplifted this afternoon as I read you post.

    Many Blessings,
    Holly

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I think you’re going to love Plann! I can even reply to comments in it but I don’t get that same sucked in feeling because there are no notifications or other places to scroll. Enjoy!

  • Samantha says:

    Love this sentiment! I’m absorbing it all but my biggest takeaway is to make the act devotional and to let it give me energy!

  • I hear you! So glad to hear your impromptu break went well. That is truly following your body and your guidance. I just posted today to test the energetic waters for the first time after a 5 month break. And after checking in with my body afterwards, I got a clear NO to going back on.

  • Kala says:

    Thank you. This exactly what I needed to hear. I have been thinking about going on a social media break, but started my online business before the holidays, my ego is telling me I’m crazy to do this but my body is telling me its for my own good. I need to take the time to get the foundations in place before I share my gifts with the world.

  • Thank you for this — it is so inspiring to hear others (you and the folks in the comments!) are taking breaks from social media and reevaluating. I did the same after IG’s announcement of the changes in their privacy rules — I took about 5 days off IG and it was GLORIOUS. It made me see my habits of reaching for the phone in any moment I was bored or trying to avoid something else, and how my finger automatically sprang for the place where the app icon was!! Yikes!! But my favorite effect the break had for me is that I realized I didn’t miss the feed — there was literally only three accounts I wondered about what they might be posting/saying!! I decided I could cull majorly my feed and make it less of a bottomless pit!

    • Kate Northrup says:

      I’m finding something very similar – I’m not missing it at all! And yes – the few feeds I want to check in on I can do so on my laptop!

  • Janine McCarthy says:

    Thanks so much Kate, I learned so much of value from this post and the article you shared. It’s perfectly aligned with my own questions and thinking about social media lately. I haven’t launched my online business yet and will be starting with blogging and list-building, but my business training with you and Amy Porterfield encourage using Facebook groups, where you both have training videos stored as well. I’m reluctant to use this platform as a way to connect with my community so I’m looking for a different way to do that which doesn’t use FB etc. I’m gonna sit with it…. I think I’ll put it on the Universe’s To Do List for me ;) Thanks again for your inspiration.

  • Thank you for sharing this, Kate. Social media sometimes can prove to be “so loud” and distracting. I agree with you on making it devotional. I do enjoy connecting with my Higher Self and soulful inspiration, when I want to create a post. It makes the process more aligned, while that energy and intention create ripples.

  • Sweta says:

    That’s so great that you feel this helped you.

    I’m a Gemini sun and love social media too. I’ve gone through seasons of allowing other people’s relationship create shame for me.

    The truth is…I’m not on there to make money.

    I do share my offerings and have had opportunity come from it.

    But for me it’s about self-expression and building relationships.

    I don’t care about numbers or followers or feel pressure to “influence” or meet everyone’s needs or get sucked into others stuff.

    It’s actually a giving and receiving energy.

    FYI …I’m Commenting to give myself permission to enjoy my relationship with social media 🤣

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