Burnout is a very real problem for people who manage social media accounts for businesses. It can feel like you’re on call 24/7 and that you can never switch off. On top of burnout leading to increased feelings of distress, exhaustion, and lack of motivation it can lead to some very serious physical health issues – with the same impact on your heart as smoking. Yikes!

So what can you do to do prevent burnout and regain control of your social media?

Let’s look at some of the short term tactical approaches, long term strategic approaches and mental health approaches to help you regain some happiness and sanity and keep working in social media. Let’s do it.

Reclaim your personal space

One of the first things to check off the list is to reclaim your personal time and minimise the way managing your business social media accounts is eats into your own time. You might just be responding to one tweet at 7 pm: but really, that is taking up mental energy where you aren’t disconnecting from work. And that disconnection from work is really important for your health.

And if you think about it, if you’re monitoring a social media channel outside of work hours, you’re working for free. No one is paying you to do it. If you check in on your social media accounts from 8 am to 9 pm outside of your 9 am – 5 pm, you are working a 40 hour week on top of your 40 hour week – for free. It’s illegal in France to check your email outside of business hours, so surely you checking your work social media would fall into the same bucket, right?

We know social media is a little bit addictive, so one of the simplest approaches is to put some physical barriers up to prevent you from checking your work accounts:

  • Turn off notifications from your Page: Go to your Page settings, and turn off the alerts on email or notifications. Don’t let it send push notifications. If you check your Page every day at work, you will see the important things during work hours.
  • Remove it from your mobile: Do you have the Pages app on your mobile? Uninstall it. You do not need it away from your work desk. Say oui to working during business hours only.
  • Set “office hours” on your Page: if you are concerned customers will want an immediate response, clearly state your business hours on your bio to set those customer expectations. (See how these guys do it here.)
  • Get a separate login: for some real work/personal life separation, simply don’t manage your business accounts using your personal Facebook profile. Some people manage Facebook pages using dummy accounts (which is a breach of Facey’s T+Cs, but it isn’t an uncommon practice).

Reclaim your time

Many people feel the pressure of having to post constantly to social media every day, on every social network. Instead of spending 15 minutes every four hours posting to social media and interrupting your time for deep work, sit down at the beginning of the week and schedule your content. Coming up with 15 ideas in half an hour when you’re in the zone is much easier than doing it on the fly when you feel like you’re being pulled in different directions between meetings and phone calls and coffee runs.

  • Schedule content: Are you scheduling content already? Use Facebook’s native scheduling, or a tool like HootSuite, and plan your week of content and schedule it to go out during the week. It isn’t to say that you can’t post content live, but it gives you a backup and some time to focus on other work, not chained to feeding the social machine.
  • Recycle it: If you are at capacity and just don’t have the headspace to come up with new content, I will bet that if you took a sample of your top posts from last year and sent them out again this week, no one would blink an eye. Export your data from last year, sort it by highest engagement and just repost it. Save hours of work. It’s a neat trick, but not one you can wheel out every week.
  • Plan your day: Literally close Facebook and only check it every four hours. You might find that is enough for your business to keep running smoothly on social. Check out the Eisenhower Matrix to plan your day to help you feel more productive.

Sort out the big picture stuff

Now we’ve addressed a few tactics to help you in the short term, consider if there is a way to address the bigger picture issues within your business. While you might feel like you don’t have time to spend a day off and just dream about strategy, you might find it saves you hours of work in the long run.

  • Having a strategy: Set aside a day or two to look at your business goals. What is your business trying to do on social media? Are you trying to drive traffic or raise awareness? Review your channels, and see if your channels are doing the thing you would like it to do, and if the channel you are on has the demographics you want. Yes, social media is a long game that takes time, but you might find that some channels aren’t supporting your goal at all. You might reconsider whether you need to post multiple times a day when only once every few weeks will suffice (for example, like Nike do). Step back. Be strategic. It might reduce your workload for the next few months.
  • Preventing a crisis: For some businesses, the things that take up time is dealing with a crisis. Stop being reactive to issues when they come up, and set up a plan now. Setting up internal systems of FAQs and a procedure to escalate issues to management (good and bad issues) is worth its weight in gold and prevents issues from blowing out into something that takes up days to resolve.
  • Log it: Does your boss know that you are essentially on call 24/7? Do they know that you work outside of hours? I’d bet any good boss would want you to have time to switch off, stay sane and be a better employee because of it. Keep a diary of the time you work outside of hours. While it’s useful for documenting overtime pay, it also could be strong evidence your boss needs understand the true scope of the problem. They might be able to either hire a company to manage your social media out of hours, have a roster for who is ‘on duty’ each night, or use it as a case for the CEO to expand your team.

Start unwinding

We can use tactics to reduce the impact of social media on our lives in the short term and reassess our business processes, but sometimes, it still follows us home. Working on our own mental health and learning how to switch off is just as important.

  • Book some time off: If you don’t have any accrued leave, surely you have a sick day squirrelled up your sleeve. In my book, taking a day off for a bit of mental rest is just as important as taking a day off if you’ve caught a cold. Book in a day off. Next week. Next month. Just book it in. Go to a park. Or a spa. Or play video games in your PJs. But don’t look at social media.
  • Permission to switch off: Get into the routine of giving yourself permission to switch off. At the end of your workday, make a list of things you need to do tomorrow. But leave that list at work. Use that time to unclutter your mind from the busy workday. Then focus on living your life.
  • Meditation: Multiple peer-reviewed articles have studied that meditation and mindfulness reduce anxiety and depression, and increases focus and emotional regulation. There are loads of introductory apps, like Headspace or Calm app that can get you started and help you tackle anxiety and stress long term. Exercise also helps reduce your stress – so get active.
  • Talk to someone: It can take a long time to learn the techniques to manage stress or anxiety. But you are not alone. Talk to your GP, or get in touch with a service like Lifeline to take some steps in the direction to help better manage stress.

Let’s recap

Burnout can happen to anyone, but those in social media can feel there is constant pressure on to be always “on”. It can be really tough to find a space to unwind and disconnect when we’re constantly connected to our devices which are vying for our attention.

But setting up some tactics to regain your personal time and space, setting up strategies in your business to give you more control over your social media approach, and learning tactics to help you better manage your stress are all ways to help you step back from the brink of burnout.

Any other tips for helping create some space between work social media and your private life? Share them in the comments.

 

Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today for a free consultation call.