Culture: How Sparkloft Unplugs in a World that Never Disconnects

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TL;DR: As a millennial-heavy agency, we are so connected to social media in both our work and personal lives. Sparks share how they take a break from the ever-moving world of social in order to take care of their own wellbeing.

My second day at Sparkloft, our CEO Martin Stoll asked me how I was enjoying it so far.

“I really like it,” I said. “I like to be kept busy.”

As someone on the Gen Z/Millennial cusp, I have grown up with the mantra of constant stimulation. If I’m not being productive, I’m doing something wrong. If I’m not fully engrossed in what I do, 100 percent of the time, I should feel guilty.

I saw this culture of productivity reflected Anne Helen Petersen’s highly lauded Buzzfeed article “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.” She put into words how the seemingly little tasks can feel huge (i.e., errand paralysis) and how our lives online are increasingly a brand to present to the world. Our smartphones have become a tether to work with constant notifications about what we haven’t finished yet.

If I’m not being productive, I’m doing something wrong. If I’m not fully engrossed in what I do, 100 percent of the time, I should feel guilty.

Especially within the social media marketing realm, where we are asked to always stay on the cutting edge of social and respond in real time to trends, customers and changes on platforms, it’s virtually impossible to disconnect.

However, part of why working in social media is fun is that we get to crossover things we do for personal enjoyment into our workspace. We just have to make sure that we step outside that and make in-person connections as well.

Each winter, Sparkloft heads out to Hood River for a social media detox and staff bonding. We disconnect from notifications and reconnect with each other. Our jobs require us to be plugged in 24/7. Being truly out of office means putting down the phone and making connections with the people around us.

Isn’t that what “social first” is really about?

Here’s how some Sparks combat social media burnout:

Corrine Turke, Senior Account Executive

1) Time limit on social media on my smartphone

2) Tech bedtime (no screens after 10 p.m., especially when I’m struggling with sleep)

3) Reading books and putting my phone in airplane mode to limit distraction.

Stephanie Paul, Social Media Strategist

My go-to is a walk outside.

Maya Florendo, Community Manager

Running

Erika Wuelfrath, Social Media Strategist

Yoga or workout classes that don't require your phone are a great way to "forcefully" disconnect, especially if, like me, you have trouble putting your phone away. Also, hiding my social apps on a second or third screen of my phone helps reduce the subconscious habit of opening them mindlessly.

Haley Kretz, Business Development Manager

Just going on a walk while listening to music is a form of meditation for me. It allows me to disconnect and clear my mind while being active.

Marisa Russell, Social Media Strategist

It's old-fashioned, but I like to disconnect with a book! I also set my screen time to stop pinging me with notifications at night, so I can sleep without waking up to pings.

Olga Ivanishchuk, Project Coordinator

If I've had a long day at work, I'll often come home and play my piano. Creating music helps me to take my mind off of the stresses of everyday life and refocus on what really matters.


For me, removing myself from my work entails working from home as little as possible in order to segment the “home” space from my “work” space. I don’t have my work calendar or email synced to my phone and use a physical planner for large deadlines or important meetings. Outside of the work world, I turned off push notifications for anything that isn’t a part of my in-person communication.

Our annual retreat is now a symbolic time to take a step back and breath. Read more about lessons learned from unplugging from our VP of Client Services, Arianna Howe.