I have enjoyed the last five years of blogging and all of the learning, sharing and producing that takes place with social media. My life has been blessed through it and I trust you have benefited as a blog reader.
Like many who stay active in social space, the journey has been marked with seasonal intensity and inactivity including planned breaks. In fact, I am coming off of one of the biggest ever. Here are great reasons to take a break and the transforming effects it can have:
#1 Maximizing Seasons of Intense Leadership
Stephen Covey wrote years ago that there are only two ways to spend your time: production or production capacity improvement. Sometimes the demands of production capacity improvement require halted production. Think of the highway that must shut down two lanes for three months. Why? To have a five-lane highway for expanded traffic flow some day.
Over the last year Auxano tripled its capacity to serve churches with incredible onsite experiences led by incredible navigators. I have been stretched through this intense period in ways that have forced me to stop some less essential tasks, blogging being one of them. The problem is that I like blogging so much that it would be entirely possible to get distracted during a defining season of growth. (Obviously this applies primarily to those of us who are not professional or semi-professional bloggers.)
#2 Deepening Times of Real Replenishment
With each passing year since the dawn of social media, I saw only the benefits of greater connectivity. At this point in my journey however, I am more aware of the negative cumulative effect with my closest relationships: shortened attention spans, more interruptions, less conversation. To guard the quality of relational replenishment and genuine rest, I have had to literally pull the plug. While I have always taken some breaks, I now see the disciplined pattern of stopping as essential, not optional and reactive. Right now, I plan two days of total downtime every two weeks.
#3 Breaking the Chain of Approval Addiction
Social media is especially rich soil for those of us with a propensity for approval issues. I am an extrovert and a high "i" on the DiSC personality instrument (yellow on the Insights tool), which makes me a people person. But I am also relatively driven. Thus, I walk fairly easily into the infinite loop of checking likes, comparing follows, and counting hits.
Since I am not the only ministry leader with this temperament, its possible that you too, could benefit from a serious social media fast. The greatest enemy to the gospel is any system I can build around myself to validate my worth and value. What things do I have to add to Jesus to "make life work" or "feel good about life?" Social media can make the list for me and when it does it's time to take a break and seek renewal. Actually you'll never know how much it is affecting you until you take the break. Two years ago I would have rather died than to stop blogging for a month. Now its okay.
#4 Improving Your Communication Strategy
Like the old parable of two guys chopping trees, its easy to be in last place because you did most of the chopping. The guy in first place chopped less, but took time to sharpen his axe. Just because you are active blogging and tweeting doesn't mean you are improving your ability to add value to people. For some, it might be helpful to spend the time you would have spent on output to do analysis and tool research in order to take your strategy to the next level. During the past year, I needed some downtime to turn a corner on how I use Facebook. Also, I took more time to find new tools and do analysis. (SproutSocial.com is one of my new favorite tools.)
#5 Giving the World Your Most Powerful Ideas
Have you noticed that social media proliferates ideas whether they are great ideas or not? Have you noticed that more ideas are random and less related (so to speak)? Allow me to explain. Not long ago that it was common for a book to have one big idea supported by well written things called chapters that were all linked meaningfully together. In other words, the writing was integrated. Also, because the book would "go to print" we spent extra time making sure the ideas were expressed with excellence. In short, we achieved beauty and integration because the medium, to some extent, demanded it. Blogging and social media demand less to be in "production mode." Therefore much of what gets produced is less quality. (For example, this post, written over seventy-five minutes is of less quality than if I had written it for a magazine.) Rather than integrating ideas we aggregate them. (For example, many books today are collection of blog posts.) Today its much easier to retweet an idea than to really think about it.
Now all of this is a part of what makes social media awesome- it's fun, its realtime, its less scripted, etc. Remember that my point is why it is transforming to take a break from it. The bottom line is that your best and most powerful ideas may require you to stop "talking" so much and to slow down and to really think about how your best ideas fit together. I don't know about you, but I want to hear your best stuff, and I will gladly wait a month or two for you to put that together. And I think the rest of the world would be glad about that too.
Maybe taking a break is not as much about changing your life as it is blessing others?