Thursday, March 1, 2012

Managing Your Social Media Circus: The Follow-Up

Apologies if any of you are seeing multiple versions of this; I posted a prior version, decided I wanted to dither about it a bit more, and am now putting it up with some tweaks. "I Pick Spazzy", apparently.

Hold on to your handbags, darlings - today's post is a difficult one for me to write, since I'm admitting some stuff here that doesn't put me in the Prettiest of lights. We're all about the Pretty here - and totally inappropriate uses of the royal "We" too - and I count honesty except about my age, natural hair color, and any future plastic surgery as falling under that label, so here it goes . . . though I promise we'll get back to deeply superficial topics like the state of shoes soon.

That post I wrote last week about finding balance in your social media life is a topic I've been chewing on ever since, trying to get why this hobby of ours (or job for a lucky few) can grow so all-consuming at times, to the detriment of family and friends, and steps we can take to keep it in healthy balance. I confess I've so enjoyed writing and interacting with you all so much lately that I'm not always totally present when I'm doing my day job of caring of Master P. Not that I'm parked on Facebook or what-have-you all day, but I've had moments of being preoccupied while thinking over a post or checking my phone when the wee CEO was wanting my attention.

Granted, we all need breaks, whatever our jobs, as well as time to pursue our own interests and hobbies. Being the spiffy French parent I apparently am, I also believe in giving Master P a small amount of (supervised) time to himself during the day while I tend to things, be it housework or "me" work like this site. It's just that the extent to which I was "breaking" bothered me.

Turns out I wasn't alone in my musings about this; in addition to the excellent comments you left me last week, please check out excellent posts by Imaginary Internet Friends Amy, AP, and Meg on similar topics, all of which I've found incredibly helpful in coming up with my approach here.

[In lieu of photo, insert irony here of my blogging about too much time with social media - maybe I'll log off here and Tweet / Pin / Facebook / carrier pigeon this too for good measure?]

In case it's helpful to any of you sorting through similar issues, here's a few helpful questions I've asked myself & steps I've taken to feel like I'm more in balance with my social media life and my, uh, real-life life.

If this is a hobby, why are we feeling like we "HAVE" to do it all social media wise (or with any hobby, really?)

Is it keeping up with the Miss Joneses? Addiction? Loneliness? Type A Minus overachiever-tude where I secretly feel the need to be fabulous at everything? Or just, you know, enjoying the heck out of something after years of doing the wrong job, so much so that there simply aren't enough hours in the day to stuff it all in?

For me - and me alone, I speak for no one else here - there's probably a bit of all of the above going on. With the exception of that "finally having fun with my life" bit - finally! - talk about un-Pretty. Ugh.

The trick with the Jonesing and the competitiveness, those ugly things, is of course that we don't know the details of how someone else manages to be an excellent writer or Twitterer or whatever day in & out, when we ourselves can barely find the time to take a shower. We can only know what works for us individually, and how we can best keep this all in perspective for us individually. As for addiction, I'm no expert but figure I also have some plain ol' bad habits here that need breaking.

Here's what I figured out - some day I hope to have more time to devote to getting every post or Tweet where I want it - heck, I'd settle for just marginally decent and less typo-strewn - and maybe even looking into freelance writing. Ya know, for a paycheck and stuff. For now, though, I can only fit so much into a day, and my Mama day job comes first, happily so.

Steps to Keep it in Balance

Here are some changes I've made over the past week, which have helped me keep doing this social media stuff I love while prioritizing my "day job" mom work. I'm not - NOT, you can't make me, nanny nanny boo boo! - claiming I have this entirely figured out yet, at all, but so far this is working well for me:

     Setting a Writing Schedule for the Day

Inspired by Amy, I've started getting up early to put in some computer time before Master P wakes up. I sometimes check email & Twitter during the first 20 minutes or so when the wee CEO first arises and prefers to play independently - then I'm off the computer again until nap time (unless it's one of my two babysitter mornings), when I like to do the bulk of my writing in addition to all the other Real Life Stuff that gets squeezed into that 1.5 hours or so. Once he's up, I try to stay off again until after he goes to bed.

My goal is to shut down my computer & iPhone by 10:30 pm each night - thanks for that idea, Hopsy. I have an iffy record here - Pinterest, you are a jealous mistress (mister?) - but I'm working on this.

Lesson learned: this will come as a huge, HUGE shock to you - I know it did to me - but there is nothing I have to say that it can't wait until the morning and/or when Master P is asleep. There just isn't. What a humbling, mortifying moment it was when I realized that I'd been operating under a different premise.

     Changing Phone Settings & Setting a "Check In" Schedule

You know that mom at the playground whose nose is so deeply buried in her phone that she misses her kid dangling haphazardly off the monkey bars? There's always one, and I fear I was slowly moving in her distracted direction.

I wanted to find a way to keep my iPhone use in check, speaking of jealous misters. Especially when Master P was wee & nursing, it had been a lifeline to the outside world. It was & is mostly a wonderful thing, but it's also something that for me became too easy to constantly monitor instead of being present in the moment.

Shutting off my "commercial" email address, the one constantly pinging with sale reminders and such, was a great first step, not only with this but with my Lenten no-shop resolution as well.

I've also turned my phone to vibrate and am trying to check in only once per hour versus constantly hovering over it; I also don't carry it around with me anymore when I'm home unless I'm expecting an important call.

     Prioritizing Where I Spend the Limited Time I Do Have

I figured out that ye olde blog here and Twitter are my original loves, and where I feel I want to check in regularly; it's also a priority to me to respond to comments when I can and read what you all are writing, though I wish I could do much more on both fronts. Whatever other social media stuff is going on, much as I may enjoy the Pinterest, etc. and learning about whatever new kids come on our tech block - at this point they come second.


Phew . . . not Pretty. I'm reading over this again and wondering if we (ok, I) need to set up meetings with 12 steps, over-sharing, and stale coffee?

Anyone else struggling with this? More importantly, who's in for these meetings - any volunteers for VP of Entertainment (ie, bringing wine)?


Heather W said...

I am feeling my very own version of this social media overkill lately. In addition to my own blog, I write/contribute for a couple of other sites. Add to that a Facebook and Twitter presence for each site and you have a full-time avocation. Add in my actual freelance writing work, and I find myself realizing that I never quite know what I've said where. It's certainly time to take a step back and ponder what is important. I do love the idea of taking Twitter off my iPhone; I certainly have ample opportunities to keep abreast of the tweet world without constant contact!

A friend of mine put forth an interesting idea about blogging this week -- she basically said that she gets so overwhelmed looking at existing blogs because she's almost afraid that everything interesting has already been said.

Good luck streamlining!


Lindsey said...

Fabulous post Melissa!!! I have been inspired by all of you who are openly and honestly blogging about how you are all working on finding the balance because this is something that I am making a priority to work on for sure!!! Thank you!!!

Melinda said...

THANK YOU for being honest! There are times when I absolutely feel "bogged down" by my social media life. All while allowing my REAL life to suffer because of it. I absolutely love blogging and the blogging community. But (of course) I love my daughter and family more. It's quite a delicate balance, and I certainly don't have it all figured out yet. Anyway... Just wanted to say THANKS for a great, honest post. I am right there with ya on this topic.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

As usual, very well said. I'm still struggling with this, and truth be told? I think I will be for a while. It is very hard to find a balance. If I'm gone for a while, I feel such anxiety at "missing something". Oddly enough, I don't feel that same missing something with my family. Which speaks horrors in itself. It's almost like I'm just trying way too hard. I just read that back. Definitely have to keep working on this. Thanks for reminding me that it's not just me with this struggle.

Wendy said...

Great post, and love the honestly. Honestly, probably about a year ago, I was feeling all kinds of pressure to post at least 3 or 4 times on my blog, so my visitors would grow, and maybe there would be a little ad revenue to follow - and then one day, I'd be able to quit my job, and live completely off my blog ad revenue...and then I stepped back into reality and realized the chances of that happening are slim, that, like you said, posts can wait, and if I can't think of anything to write about, I just won't write. So sometimes now I'll go a whole week without posting, sometimes a couple of days. It feels so much better to just post when I want instead of trying to make this whole thing something it isn't. Some blogs I read post the same thing over and over again - like I'm a mommie, this is how I feel, and today I feel the same way, and today here's a brain dump of everything on my mind, and today, here's another one, and another...I just feel like they are posting to post. Anyway, I ramble. And the whole Twitter thing is crazy too. I was heavy tweeting for a while there, but deleted it from my phone and I don't miss it at all.

Milltini said...

Great post! I used to feel the pressure to keep up, in a sense, and then I realized that it was only coming from within. I love to write, and I am happy that others enjoyed what I had to say, but when I stepped away because I need to, it was because I REALLY needed to. Now I am back and maybe nobody is reading anymore, but it brings me back to the hobby of why I started in the beginning...for me. Anyway, I think setting boundaries and balance and blocking time out for this is very helpful in terms of putting social media in its proper place. Either way, I love reading you when you do check in :)

Amy @ Forever 29 said...

First off, two shout outs in one post? You know how to make a girl blush, M. I agree with everything Meg said (as always.) I'm trying out a few new ways to approach the whole game and will probably write another post in a few weeks. I'm going to remove Twitter from my phone..whenever I can figure out how the heck to do it. And then I'll probably add it back in a few weeks when we have a road trip.

Most of all I'm giving up trying to win certain people over. I'm kind of into this game like dating, and sometimes (s)he's just not that into you. And trying to comment only when I really have something meaningful to say. Which we know can be a bit much at times, like this book I just wrote you.

Emily said...

I had to work on this a while ago, but with a different master -- work e-mail. I have always kept my phone on vibrate, but I took it a step further and actually turned the notification for e-mail off. It doesn't even buzz anymore. My reasoning--there will always be an e-mail there, and I don't need it to buzz to remind me. Without the reminder, I'm not as tempted to look at it.

My off Friday home with my boy is so precious, and a lot of times, I spend half of it with the phone still charging on my nightstand. {Also partly because I'm catching up with Hoda and KL.} But I have to be very intentional, otherwise I would get caught up in it.

And without a doubt, blogging happens either on the weekend or after the boy goes to bed.

And Mrs. Pretty, we need legal advice! Should we delete our Pinterest accounts based on that blog post that's going around saying we could be held liable for copyright infringement? What the?

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