There’s no sugar-coating it – work-life balance for SMMs and small business owners is, well, a B*TCH. The nature of having an online presence means that there’s an expectation that businesses have an ‘always on’ social presence [and hell truly hath no fury like a disgruntled customer who has been forced to wait until business hours for a complaint resolution #calmdownsusanits11pm] That said, Social Media marketing is an industry that has broad appeal to parents, due to being [technically, if not practically] quite flexible. It allows us to work remotely [let’s face it, there’s not a social media manager alive that hasn’t taken the opportunity to work from bed on occasion.] A large portion of us, if not the majority, are doing our best to juggle business ownership with a family, or other commitments. So, how do we protect our space and balance family life with that always-on expectation?
Fit your business to your life [not the other way around]: business ownership is no cake walk, but ultimately those who choose it as a path do so because they believe it’ll fit better with their life than seeking paid employment. If that’s the case for you? Build a strategy around what you’d like your business to look like, and how you envisage it fitting in with the rest of your life. It may seem obvious, but if you set clear parameters? You’re more likely to build a business around the resources you have available, rather than scrambling to resource a business that’s growing in unexpected ways.
Set windows [and turn notifications off]: attempting to do meaningful work alongside a continual stream of notifications is next to impossible. [Trust us.] Instead? We recommend setting up scheduled times to check in with engagement on your social channels – whether that’s checking in hourly, a few times a day, or just once every day. Then? Turn all your notifications OFF [yep, actually OFF.] Find a system for checking in that works for YOU and your mental health and the needs of your family, and make it a non-negotiable.
Triage that shit: while best practice is to engage with things immediately, it’s not worth a compromise to your sanity. Every piece of communication that comes through to your feed or inbox has a level. We wholeheartedly recommend implementing a simple triage system to help decide what to deal with first. The Eisenhower system works well, where we prioritise things according to two factors – importance and urgency – and give them an associated response.
- Urgent AND important – action immediately.
- Important but not urgent – plan to action, and execute when you have time available.
- Urgent but not important – delegate. For example, can you outsource a portion of your community management? Can somebody else respond to comments on your behalf?
- Neither important nor urgent – eliminate. If taking action on something won’t affect your business either way? Don’t.
Manage expectations with a gentle [but firm] autoresponder: It’s really important that we nip in the bud this notion that spending some amount of money with a business provides unfettered access to its owner and employees at all hours of the day and night. [hands up if you’ve ever had a snarky message about your response times out of hours? We sure have.] Putting an autoresponder in place allows you to place an immediate and real expectations with regards to how quickly people can expect their query to be answered, or their problem resolved. Keep it conversational, but be firm. If your platform doesn’t have autoresponder, tee up some quick replies so that your customers feel seen while you protect your space.
Break your phone addiction: Smartphone addiction is very real, and the urge to compulsively check in with social media and notifications can really hamper our attempts to be present and show up outside of work. We recently read this article which had some amazing tips for configuring your phone to work for you and not the other way around- it’s a lengthy read, but after implementing almost every step? WORTH IT.
So, there you have it. And while we’re no means doing a perfect job of managing the juggle [and it IS a juggle, let’s face it] we feel like every day, we’re getting just that little bit little closer to balance.