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Staying Sane in a Socially-Driven World

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

In today’s globalized world, we are constantly surrounded by and connected to the Internet. Social media has become a huge part of the time we spend online—in fact, we literally consume it. Think of all the people who were glued to their phones and computers during the Boston Marathon investigation—Twitter and Reddit were both instrumental in breaking news and updates to a population waiting on the edge of their seats.

The Pew Research Center notes that as of December 2012, 67% of all adult Internet users use some kind of social media site. 67% of those people use Facebook; 16% use Twitter; 15% use Pinterest, 13% use Instagram… the numbers are astounding. And they keep growing every day.

Keep Calm

But you have to wonder, does all this social connectivity come at a price? Several research studies have shown that all this Internet use might be disconnecting us from our brains, decreasing our attention spans to mere minimums. Think about it—how often do you switch between tabs on your computer? When was the last time you read a whole news article without skimming? Social media has, essentially, turned our world experience into channel surfing—as you flip from one site to the next, you only see a flash of what’s there, never diving into the bigger picture.

Trying to sort out all the noise from social media is enough to make a person go mad. But this is what we, as social media managers, are called to do. Punch through the noise, connect with an audience that’s just as distracted as we are, and convince them to listen to what you have to say. It’s a neverending race to be first place. And it can drive a person insane.

So if social media is slowly driving us all insane, what can we do to stay sane in our jobs?

Make a To-Do List

Because social media is such a scattered industry, it’s likely that your workload will be scattered over all sorts of tasks and projects. That’s why I’m a strong proponent for to-do lists.

When I get lost or distracted during my workflow (which happens at least once a day) and wonder, “What was I supposed to be doing?” my to-do list always grounds me. It tells me exactly what I should be doing, organized by project, day of the week, or even the time of day. It really is my day-to-day lifesaver and definitely keeps me sane.

Some of my favorite to-do list sites and apps include:

  • Todoist – available for your smartphone or as a Chrome extension
  • Wunderlist – so much prettier and easier to use than the standard to-do app on smartphones
  • Plain sticky notes – okay, so they’re not an app or program, but they’re just as effective (and my favorite)

Take Frequent Breaks

It has been scientifically proven that taking short breaks through your day increases your productivity and ability to concentrate on a task. This doesn’t mean that you need to get up and wander off for ten minutes of every hour—instead, try to concentrate on something else. This could be a different project, something fun or interesting you enjoy, or simply closing your eyes and meditating for a few minutes. Just give your brain some time to breathe.

If you’re able, find a break buddy! You can bounce ideas off of each other, talk about interesting things you’ve read, and share cool content with each other. It’s a win-win for both of you, since you’ll both be getting a break from your current tasks while figuring something else out or otherwise enriching your mind.

Leave Your Work at the Office

As a social media manager, I’ve often found it difficult to separate my work life from my home life. Because of the fast-moving nature of social media and the pressure of always trying to be first, it’s tempting to constantly check my accounts for new activity. But this just means that I’m constantly working—through dinner, when I remember something in the middle of the night, when I wake up in the morning.

However, contrary to popular American belief, your job doesn’t have to be your life. (If you want it to be, that’s your choice; by all means, go for it.) Taking your work home with you might seem like you’re trying to get ahead or catch up on missed work, but what it’s really doing is barring you from taking a mental break. As previously discussed, your brain needs time to think of other things in order to be as productive as it can be. Working from home after you’ve worked at the office is doing just the opposite.

When you leave your office at 5pm, leave your clients at the office with you. Most likely, they’re paying you for social media management, but this doesn’t mean that you have to be at their beck and call 24/7. Any problems that arise overnight will still be there for you in the morning.

Remember to HAVE FUN

If you’re lucky enough to work in social media, you have a pretty awesome job. You get to connect with people around the world, come up with amazing content ideas, and be at the forefront of an ever-changing industry. But the pressure, the workload, and the scattered nature of the industry can leave anyone feeling stressed, overworked, and underappreciated.

But social media is supposed to be fun! If you’re stressed, grumpy, and not seeing results, you could be overworking your social media mojo, which makes for some bad workplace juju. Instead, stop:

  • Focusing on the little things – Instead of looking at a single post or Tweet and how it performed, look at your full profile and what you’ve gained over time.
  • Taking user comments personally – People don’t know that you, specifically, are the person behind a specific brand page logo. What they’re saying is directed at the brand, not at you.
  • Beating yourself up for lack of results – Sometimes, a strategy just doesn’t work. And that’s okay. Check your stats, regroup, and try, try again.
  • Making it a race – As the saying goes, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” So it goes in the world of social. Things often don’t happen overnight.

Remember, you’re not superhuman—you’re just human. And you have a really cool job. Make sure you’re making the most of it!