Part of living in the now, right now, is being on all the time. Constant notifications about news, meetings, phone calls, texts, emails, gaming (if you’re into that), and of course, social media. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Watching my 21-year-old daughter checking her Apple Watch gives me hives, yet she loves it.
Maybe it’s a generational thing. For her, it’s a timesaving measure. For me, it sends my anxiety through the roof. Maybe you feel the same.
As a writer, marketer, business owner, mom, and human with anxiety and PTSD, I’ve had to navigate ways to manage online marketing work, writing, and self-care, and that’s what I’m going to share with you all today.
Time Management Tools
I’ve been using a social media management tool for over ten years. In fact, I use several, because I’ve yet to find one that handles everything I personally want, however, Hootsuite is my favorite (I receive no affiliate money for saying that). I also use Buffer and Promo Republic.
By using a scheduler, which also has a dashboard that allows me to interact live, I save an enormous amount of time. It’s the best of both worlds: schedule and interact on all social media channels. Most tools only allow for scheduling.
I also use Evernote to jot down ideas, and Slack to share files and communicate with my assistants, my workshop participants, and other businesspeople I frequently collaborate with. I choose to use the apps on my Mac, however they’re also available on my phone and iPad should I need them while away from my desk (and they wirelessly sync). All have free options (none of these are affiliate links, just FYI.)
If you’re still logging in and out of various social media apps manually in order to post or comment, stop that right now. You are dragging boulders up mountains. When writers tell me they don’t have time to market their books, I ask them this:
“How much time do you spend on Facebook/Twitter/IG whining about how you have no time to market your books?”
Marketing is not only social media, of course. It’s simply one plank of your author platform. Writing articles, blog posts, guest posts, sharing visuals, newsletters, etc., are also important. If you want more info on that, feel free to read my other articles here, in this publication, or visit my business blog.
You can also try various time management tools, e.g., The Pomodoro Technique, Task Chunking, a planner (what I use), rewards, bullet journaling, etc. I’m curious what you use and how it works for you — please share in the comments below!
Can you live without knowing what’s trending on Twitter right this very second? Sure you can. Let that FOMO go.
Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed. Is it possible to do it all, all the time? Of course not. We’re not superheroes, no matter how hard we try.
For this section, I’m talking about allowing yourself to have help, whether that means hiring your 21-year-old daughter to help grow your IG in exchange for buying her new leggings and that cute top at Old Navy (ahem), hiring a consultant to set you on the right strategic path (ahem, again), or hiring a virtual assistant (typically, anywhere from $30 to $50/hour depending on their services and experience) who can schedule your blog posts, social media, answer your mail, create your graphics, etc. — all the stuff you don’t have time for, so you can focus on writing and, ya know, breathing.
Writing is only one part of this publishing life, y’all. It took a successful businesswoman friend to tell me, a few years after starting my BadRedhead Media biz,
“You need to give yourself permission to succeed. You are standing in your own way. Hire a damn assistant.”
Best thing I ever did. Not only for my business and writing careers but also for my mental health. I’m the first to admit, I am not a superwoman. When I have too much going on, I start to breathe shallowly and I end up with chronic migraines. I even have breathe tattooed on my right index finger. Asking for, and receiving help, is okay. It’s not weak. It’s actually a strength.
How much is your mental health and state of mind worth to you?
I turn pretty much everything off when I’m writing. My writing time is absolutely sacred. I shut my door, turn off my phone, and write, uninterrupted. (Of course, just as I wrote this sentence, my 14-year-old son came in and asked to go get a tea. Being stuck in the house is driving us all a little mad at this point. LOL.)
Hard to turn off Kid Notifications. I get it. I’m a working mom. However, you are in charge of whether or not your phone, computer, or Apple Watch (or whatever) beeps or buzzes you constantly. Those interruptions mess up your flow. What’s flow? Read more here.
Flow is a wonderful form of dissociation in positive psychology. Writing takes me into this state, as does music. Once you learn what it is, you’ll want to clear your brain of clutter so you can enter that state. For anyone with anxiety, flow is quite helpful. I highly encourage you to learn more about it.
It took me a long time, years in fact, to understand that just because someone tweets me (or leaves me a Facebook or IG message), I’m under absolutely zero obligation to respond, particularly to trolls. Neither are you. Let me repeat that so it sinks in.
If a troll tweets or posts to you, you are under no obligation to respond.
Here’s why: let’s say you do respond. And then they respond. And you attempt to prove your point, and they attempt to prove theirs. Straw-man fallacies abound, ad hominem attacks begin, and before you know it, you’ve spent hours (sometimes days, even) on a flame war when you could have been writing/marketing/exercising/sleeping/reading/with your partner, kids, pets, literally doing anything else but wasting your time on something that’s literally unwinnable.
We cannot recapture that time. Think about how many hours we’ve lost on these arguments. Additionally, for someone with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, these social media “conversations” can also be extremely triggering.
Tip: NO need to argue with people. Simply and quietly unfollow, mute, or block.
Another tip: Almost every social media channel now offers filters, so, for example, if you don’t want to see a certain political party in your timeline, add that word to your filters. If you don’t want to see a particular person’s name, same process. You can also mute notifications from conversations, which is a great option if you’ve been tagged. (I’ll be going into more detail in future social media posts.)
Not all social media engagement is negative, of course. I have a Street Team on Facebook which is quite lovely, as well as a private group dedicated solely to supporting and helping childhood sexual abuse survivors. Without social media, this kind of interaction wouldn’t be possible, and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.
I always advise clients that social media is what you make it. Same goes for marketing, writing, and publishing. You get what you give.
It’s kind of hilarious when people share tips about self-care like ‘take a spa day!’ or, right now with this stay-at-home pandemic situation we find ourselves in, recommendations to paint our nails or watch Netflix instead of working as a form of self-care.
Listen, I love watching shows as much as the next girl (I’m currently streaming Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and enjoying it immensely). And sure, you could probably categorize that as ‘self-care.’ However, self-care is not an occasional treat, like an ice-cream cone.
Self-care is an important part of our daily routine, particularly when we spend the better part of our days on a computer, away from human interaction (I know, the introvert’s dream, right?) I won’t belabor this point. We’re intelligent beings. We know what we need to do.
There are three types of self-care: physical, emotional, and mental. Here’s a list I keep handy:
- Take real, true breaks.
- Breathe deeply.
- Walk around the block.
- Exercise. Even 10-minutes here and there counts.
- Go out for ice cream with your partner or kids.
- Call your mom, dad, sister, brother, etc.
- Send thank-you notes on actual stationery in actual cursive.
- Instead of wishing someone happy birthday on Facebook, send them a card or #gasp, call them.
- Cook instead of take-out.
- Read instead of watching the movie (the book is always better, anyway.)
You get the point.
Is self-care running away? Nope. It’s giving your brain and body a break. We cannot be on all the time. These activities all embrace active resting. You’re not asleep (though naps are pretty damn awesome), so you’re still stimulating your brain, however, you’re allowing other parts of your being to chill. Pretty cool, right?
In summary, you need to figure out how to manage all that’s happening in your life. That’s part of being an adult. Life comes at us fast and hard. It’s up to us to negotiate a path that works. You can do it.