Social media is always “on.” So, does that mean that a social media manager always needs to be “on,” too? Here’s a look at how social media managers can achieve a healthy work-life balance and set boundaries at work.
I have good news and bad news. The good news: You can create a work-life balance. No matter how crazy your personal mix of circumstances, there is an answer out there. The bad news: You might have to try a lot of things to find the perfect mix for you.
And you might not hit productivity nirvana every day of your social media career. That being said, you can find a way to create a healthy work-life balance.
Why am I qualified to talk about work-life balance anyway? First, I have been doing this social media management thing since 2008 (and marketing in general since 2005). Second, while building my business, I have been a single mother, have remarried, had a baby, dealt with a wide variety of health challenges, torn down a house, designed and built a new one, and written a couple of books.
So, I have become adept at juggling many demands on my time! And I am going to let you in on the secrets that make having a healthy work/life balance possible.
Look at the Big Picture
The first step to being reaching a work-life balance is to know what that actually means for you. As the Harvard Business Review shared from a survey of almost 20,000 participants, one of the keys to reaching your maximum productivity is to align your actions with your top priorities.
Questions to ask yourself about a healthy work/life balance
These answers won’t be the same for everyone. The important thing is what your answers mean for you.
- What does success mean to you? Why?
- What are the stepping stones along the way? Where do you want to be in three months? A year? Three years?
- At the end of your life, what is the one thing you want to be remembered for?
- Why did you choose social media management rather than any other career?
- What other parts of your life besides your career as a social media manager are important to you?
- Everyone has obstacles to achieving balance … What are yours?
I would challenge you to put a full hour appointment on your calendar. Find a time free of distractions as much as possible. Put some thought into these questions and write down your answers. They will help bring you clarity the rest of the way through the process.
[Tweet “You can’t know what balance looks like until you know what it is you are balancing.”]
Who Are Your Stakeholders?
“Stakeholders” is another one of those big fancy business words that get thrown around. As a result, we often miss its importance.
In reality, it is a professional way of saying “all the people who have a vested interest in your success.” In this case, all the people who benefit from you being your most productive and best self.
We often only apply this step to business stakeholders (for example, our boss or coworkers). But what about your two-year-old child? She also has an interest in you being able to balance your career and home-life.
Make a list of all the stakeholders in your life
The list might include …
- Clients at your social media agency
- Supervisor or employer
- Team members or coworkers
- Spouse or significant others
- Friends and family
- Your children
Each of these people can have a powerful influence over you successfully achieving a work/life balance. How can you explain to each of these people what you need? Are you discussing this balance and stress management in the workplace? Can you express how it benefits them?
I always made a big deal out of the fact that my boys were my teammates in growing my business. I made sure to let them know well in advance how the choices they made helped Mommy get work done and get new clients. Even when they were only two or three, they were able to understand the basics.
I had a special basket of toys that they could only play with when I was on a client call or presenting a webinar. (Check out these additional tips for working from home with kids.) I always made sure to check in with them that they had everything they needed a few minutes before I picked up the phone. And whenever I got a new client, we would all go out to a restaurant for dinner, something that was a big deal for us.
This part might take creativity. And it requires the creation of win-win solutions. When you all realize you are playing for the same team rather than competing against each other, it is a game-changer.
Use Systems to Your Advantage for a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Now that the foundations are laid, time to get into the nitty-gritty of the action items. Time to set systems in place that work for you. Harvard Business Review recommends looking for areas that you can automate, delegate, and bundle as good places to start.
Do you have a schedule? Are you using tools that make your job easier? What are the highest value items on your to-do list and what is your strategy for getting those done? Are you finding time without interruptions to do your most important things?
If you are balancing children being at home as well, see who in your network of stakeholders might be able to help.
Or how you can get creative with your time by working when your children are sleeping or watching a movie?
Are you also creating space for time to focus on the people in your life that are not work-related? Are there other things you can take off your plate to make more time, such as getting your groceries delivered?
Do you have a routine to keep you at your best? Self-care is important, too. Something as simple as running can relieve stress even if you only do it a few minutes a day. Find those things that bring you joy and help you feel refreshed and make it happen! You may want to implement some new routines.
Here is one example of a morning routine from the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley.
Last, but not least, set boundaries at work.
Set Boundaries at Work
Unfortunately, moving from work to home can be too easy, especially if you are working virtually. Creating space to be checked out is as important as being fully present when you are working.
You can be proactive about this in several practical ways.
Work with your team
Have an effective process for sharing and communicating about social media management. A tool that allows you to label, assign, and comment on individual posts can save a lot of time. This is a great tool for your toolbox if you work at a social media agency and need to work with other team members. But it can also be helpful to get approval for content from your agency clients directly.
Social media can be going 24/7. If you have a larger team at your social media marketing agency, you can manage this by having different people on different shifts. But if you have a smaller team or work on your own then set realistic expectations from the start.
One way to do this is by setting your hours. On Twitter or LinkedIn, you could include your business hours in your bio or description. Facebook makes it even easier by allowing you to create open hours.
Other strategies for creating scheduled time off each day while maintaining great customer service include:
- Create an away message on Facebook.
- Include details about hours and when clients at your social media agency can expect to hear back from you on your website.
- Add business hours to your email signature.
Then make sure to stick to it! Sneaking in a couple of extra work hours in the evening? You may still want to schedule social media content and emails to go out during your advertised hours so that you don’t set up false expectations.
Take time off
Making sure you are not working 24 hours a day is the first step.
Then you should think about the 365 aspects of your work. Psychology Today says that we shouldn’t feel guilty for taking vacation time … In fact, vacation time is necessary if we want to stay at the top of our professional game!
Use all the same tools that you have implemented in your everyday activities to make sure that your time off goes smoothly.
- Communicate well in advance with all your stakeholders.
- Schedule work to be posted at the right times.
- Key in your team members where they are needed.
- Set clear expectations and boundaries.
And of course, come back ready to hit the ground running again after some much needed time off!
Social Media Productivity Tips
Social media itself is designed to pull you in and never let you go. Each social media platform benefits the longer users stay.To be productive, you, as a social media manager or owner of a social media marketing agency, have to take control!
There are several social media tips to maximize productivity, but here are three of my favorites:
1. Bulk schedule
Using the power of brainstorming allows me to create social media content much faster than if I did one post at a time. A tool like bulk scheduling lets me upload to content scheduling all at once. I can use:
All that is left is to customize the posts for each social media platform and schedule.
2. Saved replies
When you are in a rush, it is easy to make a typo. Saved replies mean there is no rush. You can think through your common responses and have them ready to go with just a couple of clicks. This is possible manually by creating a document that you can copy and paste from, or you can use a paid tool like Agorapulse to manage all your replies.
3. Queued content
An essential item for me in any social media content scheduling tool is content queues. The ability to create multiple categories and place them on a content calendar is a great way to use evergreen content.
More Work/Life Balance Hacks
Best-selling author and host of Amy TV, Amy Landino offers her amazing work/life balance hacks in the following video. (You can also check out her productivity tips—because this does tie into stress—from Amy’s guest appearance on our weekly Social Pulse Weekly show.)
Now you have your action plan for work-life balance!
- Look at the big picture.
- Identify your stakeholders and get them on board.
- Create systems that work for you and your unique situation.
- Implement best practices for your social media.
- Set boundaries that make sense.
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