Is it wise for myself, and for humanity, to spend so much time online?
I know that many of my clients struggle with this question. Whether they are nonprofit communicators overwhelmed by the staggering amount of content they are expected to create and interact with to get the word out about their cause (e.g. blog posts, e-news, tweets, Facebook updates, snaps, photos, podcasts, videos) often as a one-person department, or creative solopreneurs who may have chosen to work for themselves to have a more creative professional life and balanced personal life, but instead have found themselves attached to their laptop 24/7, the struggle is the same:
They both have valuable messages, services and products to share, which they hope will improve our individual, and/or collective lives, but the online communication process has become overwhelming, and in some cases unhealthy.
I think it’s time for those of us who spend a lot of our lives online communicating and interacting to take a step back and rethink how we do our work. One way to do that is to re-envision the editorial, or content calendar as a tool to help us keep our online communication time calm, truly connected and balanced.
The Big Vision
Connect with your higher purpose
Take a big breath. Why are you doing this work, on the highest level? What are you trying to change, or bring to the world? Equity, justice, environmental balance, beauty, peace, joy?
Keep it in perspective
You’ve been given one life with many facets and work is just one of them. On your deathbed, will you be thinking about the number of likes your Facebook update got? I don’t think so. You’ll be thinking about the people and experiences you loved, so make sure you make time for them.
Write a work/life balance mission statement
Put it at the top of your calendar. It could be something like this:
I do the work I do to help people spread the word about causes, ideas, services and products that will make our individual and collective lives better while also making plenty of time to spend with the people I care about, do things I love, and take care of my physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Add real value
Keeping your higher purpose and the people you are trying to reach in mind, think about what kind of content would be of real value to them. Will it teach them something they want to learn? Inspire them to take action on their individual creative dream, or for the collective good? Entertain them when their spirits are low?
Help them find you
Keeping your higher purpose and the people you are trying to reach in mind, where do your people spend time online? Even if someone has told you that you’re “supposed” to use certain online tools and be in particular online spaces, that might not be where your people are. Share your valuable content in a form and place where they naturally spend time online. It might take some research and experimentation, but you will find them.
Foster true connection
Beneath all of our frantic online activity is a deep desire to connect and belong. Keeping your higher purpose and the people you are trying to reach in mind, how can you facilitate that connection? Are you commenting as much as you would like to be commented on? Sharing other people’s work as much as your own? Creating online events and communities that bring people together?
Get real about time
How many hours do you want to work each day? When do you want to begin and end your workday? Given the other things you need to do each week, how much time do you have to spend creating content and connecting online? Be honest with yourself.
Really. If you think you can write two blog posts a week, schedule one. If you imagine yourself spending an hour each day sharing and connecting on social media, commit to half an hour. If you have extra time, you can always do more.
Love your stats
Choose a weekly, or monthly date to look at your stats to help you figure out what content is valuable to the people you are trying to reach, where they are, and how to better facilitate true connection with them. Experiment and adjust accordingly.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, or like you’ve been working too much, go back to your work/life balance mission statement. Recommit to adding real value, helping your people find you, and fostering true connection. Get real about time, under-schedule and love your stats.
Whether you are communicating online to share a cause, product, idea, or service that you believe will change our individual, or collective lives, remember that how you communicate and create connection online can change lives too, including your own.
The next session of the Juicy Blogging E-Course: The Art & Play of Blogging is October 3-31, 2016.
Photo by me.