Having a job that relies almost solely on social media can actually be exhausting. It’s like a relentlessly hungry pet that needs feeding, or else it might die. Or eat you – something just as bad. So I’m sat here, on Monday 11th June, the first day of me taking a week “off work” because basically, I’m too stressed out, fed up, and I feel that I need a break, and I figured I’d finally write about why you need to take a break from your work and more importantly how you can do it. Because seriously, how do you take a break from something that kind of requires you to be constantly posting, or responding on? Especially when, as I’m sure it is for most of the cases, we don’t have agents/assistants helping with this and we’re effectively running it all by ourselves? There’s always the common misconception that this job is easy, but the thing I find the hardest struggle is the fact that it’s almost impossible to switch off. For as long as you have your phone in your hand, you have a portal to however many thousands of people try and connect with you via your apps. It can be draining when sometimes you just want a little bit of a break.
I felt this would be an apt time, too, as it is officially holiday season and some of you may be jetting off somewhere nice. Some people may be here thinking “what is the big effing deal? – Why can’t you just turn your phone off and not post on Instagram for a few days? You don’t have to post every single day?” – And yes, they are right. I absolutely don’t have to. But as all people running and growing and building their own businesses, it’s about not losing traction.
Posting consistently was one of the key factors that helped my growth on Instagram, and to put it in real life context, when I went to Tokyo for a week and took some time off, all of my stats (apart from my engagement) completely halved. In fairness, I wanted and needed that break, so I wasn’t too bothered at the time. But when you’re used to succeeding and growing at a certain rate, it can totally be worrying and put you in a bit of a tailspin, making your time off be less enjoyable. So yeah, stepping off the wheel isn’t all that easy when you know there will be consequences. So instead, you’ll find us on our holidays, spending £50+ for a 200mb data package to upload that photo you made your boyfriend wake up at 5am to take on a deserted beach, or worse, feeling the pressure to post to a relentlessly needy platform whilst you’re dealing with issues in your personal life, just because you don’t want to be dealing with additional issues in your work life (aka, a total growth stunt or worse, losing followers.)
So so so, how do I take some time off without basically fucking up my business plan and growth levels and losing traction etc etc etc I hear you call out?
First, you have to define what a week off is for you.
Digital detox and social media blackout? Posting just once a day? Taking a break from your daily life-sharing via insta stories so you can just slob out with no makeup and in your pyjamas? (although, tbh, I always go on stories with no makeup on and in my pjs)
For me, I’ve cancelled all of my work-related engagements this week. I’ll still be working from home, shooting paid content with Gemma, and I kept one coffee meeting, but it means I can focus on doing small, enjoyable chunks of work and there’s far more me-time so I don’t feel rushed to get everything finished before Love Island starts. It’s taken the pressure off. My recent days over the past weeks have looked a bit like this: breakfast meeting, showroom meeting, photoshoot, event in evening – and it’s been mentally exhausting. This week it’s been replaced with seeing my real-life friends (which is great because nobody gives a shit about Instagram and when you say the word engagement, they all think proposals and weddings…) and doing what I want at a much slower, less-pressured pace.
I still plan on posting twice a day to Instagram, and uploading to Instagram stories, simply because of the traction issue – I don’t want to lose it, and I still want to be able connect with everyone.
Put Your Out Of Office On!
The days of working in an actual office, where I could write “for any urgent enquiries, please contact XYZ until my return” are long gone. My old out of office email, as a blogger, used to say that I was on holiday with limited access to wifi but would reply when I can. Trust me, unless you want PR’s responding to that OOO with 3 emails in the space of 12 hours just to *kindly remind* you of something you hadn’t even forgotten about anyway, this simply won’t be good enough to get people to back off and let you enjoy your holiday/ break. I had to get a stricter tactic. So my new OOO bluntly reads
“Many thanks for your email. I am on holiday until X/X/X and will not be responding to emails until my return. Any urgent enquiries regarding current campaigns will be responded to as soon as possible”
Of course, the joy of this is, you can still pick and choose who and what you reply to. Have an amazing campaign slide into your inbox whilst you’re away? Obviously you still reply! It just stops people hounding you with a “have you seen my email?” email x 50, every single day, because at least they know there is a reason
An OOO is just as effective for if you just literally need a break. I’ve put mine on this week, and it just means that I’m not going to feel the pressure to respond to anything, or check my emails as often, and any emails people send me have the automatic response that’s roughly the equivalent to “leave me alone”
Annoying problems that can make this all harder
Soooo you’ve defined what your version of a week off looks like and you’ve thrown your OOO on. Should be sorted, but, the issue I do find with this is people not understanding why you’re still posting on social media. When a shopkeeper goes on holiday / takes time off, the shop is closed. No access, no visibility. Whereas when you’re a business and a person – and your business is your actual self – you’re still there, posting, and visible. You are still using social media to scroll, engage, and post. So it seems weird to take a week off but still be using your very work tool. I suppose it’s almost like taking a week off in an office, but still coming in the next day wearing your casual every day clothes and instead of doing work you sit at your computer and play Sims. “But she’s not really taking time off because she’s still on social” – I’ve heard people say about other influencers who are “taking a break”. Ok I get you, but it’s not weird at all. You’re just keeping things ticking along, but my mind is in Barbados. It’s a mindset change. Just do it anyway. You aren’t just a business – you still want to use social media for enjoyment rather than work. So just use it as you want to and try not to worry of what people may think.
They’re still not taking my out of office seriously enough. Still, despite my OOO, I’ll find myself getting DM’s from agencies or girls in PR who will be like “hey I don’t know if you’ve seen as I know you’re taking time off but I sent you an email about this new fungal nail polish launch and didn’t know if you wanted to come?!” If this is you, I get you have targets and your boss may be laying pressure on but please, for the sake of our sanity, plz stahp. If you know someone is taking a break, let them have it. The same goes for texting. Even when I’m not taking time off, and I receive an email about an event I don’t want to go to/ can’t go to, I find nothing more intrusive than a PR Whatsapp’ing you to ask if you can make it. For me, that completely crosses the line of professionalism. Whatsapp is for my friends, family, and like how the hell did you even get my phone number anyway?!?!! Unless I have a close, friendly relationship with them, I am really not down with it. I just won’t reply, I’ll mute and archive, and if it happens over again I suppose I’d have to block the number?!
So no matter how you do it, or what you do to find solace in this world that’s so noisy on social, make sure you do it. The facts and figures are all there about how social media can negatively impact us, and whilst I know it can be an incredibly inspiring and exciting tool, I also know it can be a peddler for mental health problems unless you’re using it smartly. Don’t ever feel afraid of taking a break, or needing to. When it comes to your space on the internet, you are your own boss.
Outfit: Calzedonia Swimsuit, & Other Stories skirt
Photography by Allie Smith // Rush and Teal