How to

This year I will be better at…looking after myself

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

Much as working in social media and digital marketing is great and all – and it really is – it can also be problematic. Namely the always-on nature of these roles. You’re staring at screens all day, and most of the evening too. And, as for personal social media use? Ha! Good one! The risk of burnout is very real and, if you’re not careful, can be very harmful. To round off our series of new year’s resolutions, Amy Mollett offers some tips on how to look after yourself in 2018 – and beyond!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our new year’s resolutions articles!

The benefits of working in social media include growing an exciting and diverse career, having fruitful and never-ending learning opportunities, building a creative role with a strategic grounding, and enjoying being able to have the luxury of working remotely.

But after talking with colleagues and contacts in similar roles, our experiences of the challenges of our careers pointed to some common themes: burnout, exhaustion, and poor work-life balance that in some cases was starting to have detrimental effects on our mental health and work-life balance.

Examples included how long hours of screen scrolling across multiple social channels both in and outside of work hours was leading some to feel burned out. A never-ending cycle of planning, scheduling, monitoring and customer service was leading some in small teams to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. And social media feed overload at work was making finding any time for personal social media use completely unattractive for almost everybody.

Below are three positive steps that can help counter burnout, exhaustion, and overload when working in social media. They won’t be relevant for everyone – and please feel free to leave your own tips and experiences in the comments below – but I hope they’re useful thoughts for some at least.

Get a hobby that takes you away from the screens

Probably the most obvious thing but the one that can make the biggest difference to your work-life balance. Volunteering, cycling, gardening, yoga, hiking, cooking, starting a book club, dance classes, going to comedy nights, walking the circumference of your city, woodworking classes – anything that’s completely different to what you do in the office and as far away as possible from social media should do the trick.

If you really want to stay connected, try apps like Go Jauntly. We’re being increasingly told that sitting is the new smoking, so while you’re at it embrace exercise outdoors, which can have huge positive effects on mental health too.

And if someone else suggests starting a Facebook group for your book club or live tweeting that hike, let them manage it.

If your work-life balance is off, seek support from a trusted mentor

If things are bad, consider having a frank and open conversation about how you can improve your work-life balance with a trusted mentor or line manager. And if you manage others, it’s your responsibility to look out for burnout and stress in your team.

On a personal note, 2016 was tough. My social media manager role at LSE was growing fast and was busier than ever, but there was only me working on those projects full time. In addition, I had taken on freelance training projects, and on top of that, I was working weekends and evenings with my co-authors on the final draft of our book, Communicating Your Research with Social Media.

I was feeling exhausted, and my very supportive line manager could see that I was no good to myself let alone the team like that. We spoke at length about work-life balance which resulted in my line manager getting approval for me to take time off to properly rest, and I learned how to manage my time better and how to say no to projects that weren’t a good use of my time.

Use scheduling tools to manage your own social feeds

Social media managers working in any sector will recognise feeling so overwhelmed at the end of a long day of community management that using social media for your own personal enjoyment feels like a chore. There’s also the professional pressure we put upon ourselves: “I need to be tweeting daily and making new contacts on LinkedIn every week to be a successful social media manager”.

So on a practical note, you could use the social media scheduling tools that are familiar to you in your day job to also schedule your own personal updates and free up your time. You really don’t have to be up there on social media every day in a personal capacity – use the likes of Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to manage that activity. And where you can and where you want to, turn off notifications from your devices so that you’re more in control of when you interact with news alerts, emails, and mentions.

This piece was originally posted on Amy’s LinkedIn profile – you should totally follow her and her awesome blogs.

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