Sometimes, when people who work in digital strategy and community management talk about their work to the uninitiated, people automatically assume you literally get to play around on Twitter and Facebook all day long.
“That’s awesome!” they’ll exclaim enthusiastically; “I wish I got to do that at work.”
While that can indeed be part of one’s day in the life of, there can be a lot that happens behind the scenes for social strategists and community managers. If you want to find out some of our dirty secrets, we spill the beans here.
Here’s the Thing.
The Internet is alive.
There’s always a new breaking story to stay ahead of.
A new meme to be familiar with.
An emergent platform to learn or an app to explore.
Updates and platform changes can happen almost daily, if you factor in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
The landscape is constantly evolving, and while it’s an exciting place to be, it can definitely feel a little frenetic at times, even for the best of us.
We know it’s not healthy to be glued to our laptops and devices 24/7 despite the fact we easily could be. Our brains (and eyes) need a break from screens and sometimes taking a bit of distance from a challenge can help solve it in a way we wouldn’t have considered if we hadn’t.
While these tips were devised with social strategists and community managers in mind, we’re sure there are plenty of people across the board in marketing & PR, tech and beyond who could also benefit from heeding some of these tips.
Find out how we (try) to maintain a healthy work-life balance in the busy world of online media…
1. Define Boundaries and Carve Out Personal Time
It’s pretty easy to feel “on call” round the clock with roles that can quite literally have no discernible end to their workload. Simply put, there’s always a post that could go out, a question to be responded to, or a client email to answer. There’s no physical punching-out and leaving when your work travels around with you wherever you go as long as your phone is on you.
Establish some boundaries around when you’re expected to be on the clock as well as when you’re off. While it’s okay to to respond to a few items in the evening if your hours are technically 9-5, what’s not okay is feeling like you’re mentally unable to feel present in your after-work activities because there’s always more to do.
This will only lead to burnout and negatively affect your work, and your employer or business. Share responsibility with team members and come up with a plan for monitoring outside regular work hours.
2. Don’t Neglect Physical / Mental Wellbeing
Being glued to laptops, phones, and tablets for large parts of the day can take a physical toll on one’s neck, shoulders, and back. It’s important to go for that massage and practice some self-care! Alignment and posture are huge; invest in that external mouse, keyboard and laptop stand to avoid strain, and make time to get your workout in. Make sure you have a supportive work chair and be mindful of hunching over your keyboard. A yoga class or other physical activity can do wonders for peace of mind and help stretch out any knots. Taking breaks to stretch during your work day is also advisable and will help keep you focused and productive.
The funny thing about overworking ourselves is the work itself tends to not be our best when we’re under stress, not rested, and not taking care of ourselves properly. Nutrition also factors into this category. When we’re busy, we tend to grab what’s closest to fill our rumbling tummies without much consideration or planning. Making lunch ahead of time or ensuring you have the ingredients to whip up something healthy and fast if you work from home can be a total lifesaver.
(One of our team members loves making “buddha bowls” and we always get jealous of the photos she sends us on Slack. And yes, this also means taking an actual lunch break and not wolfing it down at your desk!)
3. Take a Vacay
While it’s not always possible to take off on a week-long jaunt to Hawaii or a Mexican resort with your phone turned off, make sure you give yourself a little breathing room when you can by taking a couple of consecutive days away from replying to emails, constantly checking your channels, and jumping at every single notification.
If you’re a solopreneur, this can be more challenging, but it pays off in terms of feeling refreshed, even if it’s just minimizing check-in’s on the weekend and not feeling tied to your presence constantly.
Pro Tip: We turn many of these smartphone notifications OFF to give ourselves a little more breathing room and focus on monitoring using our tools instead. In fact, we find taking one day a week to step away from the majority of digital tech can do wonders for feeling recharged come Monday.
4. Don’t Take Things Personally
People can be mean. They can get irate. Sometimes they can say things that might ruffle our feathers, particularly if you’re stuck on the receiving end of a brand account during a PR crisis.
With the Internet comes the cloak of anonymity some people use to fuel their personal vendettas. Don’t react personally — and remember, at the end of the day, they are just people on the other end of the tweet or post. Keeping your composure can work wonders. As my mom always said, “Kill ‘em with kindness” — don’t engage further than a couple of responses if the person remains irrational / rude / offensive etc.
We generally don’t respond to highly offensive comments at all if they only seem designed to stir up controversy or drama.
5. Prioritize Your Side Hustle
Make time for things that matter to you outside work, whether it’s baking cookies for a charity bake sale, playing drums in a cover band, joining a running group, or getting your thoughts out on your personal blog. Having a “passion project” and things that matter to you outside of work will help you enjoy your free time and not make you feel like all your waking hours are devoted to working. It can also help keep us relaxed, make new friends and build our professional network as well.
Finding balance isn’t always easy when you work in the land of social media and marketing. Agency life, in particular, is known to be demanding on its employees and sometimes have a high burnout rate.
At engageQ, we don’t think it has to. We believe the best and most engaged team members are happy team members — this implicitly means allowing room to explore interests outside of work and taking a more flexible approach to management.
Are you a digital strategist or work in social media? What’s one tip you have to help manage daily stressors and job demands while also maintaining balance in your life? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on social.