It’s rare that you’ll see a well-rested, socially adjusted, and emotionally fulfilled individual publish rants to a blog or Twitter page. But if you take sleep, confidence, and satisfaction from the happiest of people you’ll quickly see sniveling, snapping beasts emerge.
They’re not evil. Just fatigued. Unfortunately, “I was tired” won’t fix the damage caused by unsightly outbursts. You can avoid many of their mistakes by putting the following into practice:
1. Have a plan
You don’t need a complex content strategy with specific action steps for implementation. A general sense of direction will typically be enough to help you avoid a soul-sucking quagmire of pointless bloviation.
Once you’ve decided on a general goal, write down a few daily actions you need to move toward your goal. You might hate the idea of codifying something as fluid as social media, but you’ll quickly find that having a written plan for your social media adventure will remove a lot of the uneasiness that causes fatigue for so many.
2. Track your time
Know where your time is being spent in social media. Getting into the habit of tracking your time online takes persistent effort before you’ll begin to see results. Right now I use Toggl to track time spent leaving comments on other blogs, reading RSS feeds, responding to email, etc. I prefer to go old school for more focused writing and use an egg timer to give a sense of urgency to my writing efforts.
3. Maintain fueling stations
Say you’re on a road trip and you notice your car is low on fuel. What do you do? Start looking for a fueling station, of course. The same goes for social media only the energy inputs and outputs are emotional instead of petroleum-based. As you’re meeting new people and establishing new connections, keep an eye out for those that have a particular talent for encouraging you.
These people will be of particular value in the future to you as they will help you stay sane in spite of any craziness in your life. If you’re not good about staying in touch with people, make a list of your “fueling stations” and check in with them regularly. Stay present and these people will change your life for the better.
4. Take breaks
The only way your online social network should be able to collapse if you leave for a few days is if you’re running the network off a home computer that loses power. Make a regular practice of withdrawing from your virtual existence to get the full sensory experience of living in the real world. Coffee with friends need not always be a tweet-up. Your dinner won’t taste any different if you fail to become the mayor of a restaurant on Foursquare. If there’s a real emergency, people will call 911 instead of emailing you.
They’ll figure things out. They’ll be okay. Take a break and have some fun, I say!
5. Delay reactions
Social media’s instant feedback makes for a terrible temptation when it comes to publishing overly emotional content. If we were writing letters, making phone calls, or even sending emails it’s unlikely that many of our rants would make it into public view. There’s an attraction to display erratic behavior and emotions though. We’re told that such behavior is a mark of authenticity and “being real.” That’s a conversation for another time and place. In the meantime, I’m certain that, much as it pains me to say it, my mother was right when she said:
Take a deep breath and give it another go when you don’t feel like stabbing somebody.
If you have some advice of your own to add or a question about your own social media process, let me know in a comment.