It’s early afternoon, you have a list of things to accomplish for the afternoon, but for some reason, you just can’t find it in you to buckle down and “get ‘er done”.
If either (or both!) of these scenarios sound like part of a typical workday for you, then you might be suffering from charge-deficit disorder. Don’t worry, it’s common, but generally not contagious (also not a legitimate disorder…). But best of all, there is a cure. More likely than not, you would benefit from frequent ‘re-charging sessions’ throughout a day, week, or month.
On last week’s CMGRHangout, Brit Thompson and Sarah Nagel from Sprout Social, were joined by Erika Balbuena, Mary Mallard, Darryl Villacorta, Maria Duron, Andrew J. Coate and David DeWald to discuss habits of successful community managers to avoid burnout. It turns out, there are a lot of habits. So many, that just organizing them all and thinking about implementing most created my mind to burnout! That’s a bad sign … I know. But really, it helped my to uncover the bigger lesson we can learn from Friday’s hangout, which is to get in tune with yourself and understand what you, alone, as an individual, need to re-charge. And that is no easy feat.
Where do I buy the pill? And why isn’t it already in my medicine cabinet?
If charge-deficit disorder is so common, why haven’t we all found a way around it? Truth be told, some have. But many have not. For many people, the challenge is being mindful enough to know when they need a re-charging session and then being in-tune with themselves to know what type of sessions will give them the charge they need. Understanding yourself is actually the first step to staying pumped up at work – a critical component not only for your own happiness, but the happiness of your community, too.
Signs you need to re-charge
While we may all use different strategies to re-charge, the signs that we need to take action are often relatively similar. Generally, they fall into three categories:
- Stress: are you feeling anxious or sensing other physical symptoms of stress like tension headaches?
- Stimulation: are you over-stimulated by all of the messages that require a response or under-stimulated by the lack of people buzzing around you at your at-home office?
- Distraction: are you having trouble focusing and find you’re becoming distracted by even the smallest items?
If you really want to be effective in your work, you should be checking in with yourself throughout the day to determine if any of these are at play. If you’re really ambitious, you may even write reminders on post-it notes and stick them on your office wall!
Now, before we dream of days with zero stress and 100% attention at all times, it’s probably important for me to mention that everyone deals with some level of these ‘symptoms’ on a daily basis. If we all just up and left for a re-charging session at the first feeling of stress or the first sign of distraction than we’d likely have major issues throughout the entire North American workforce. So this part, I leave up to you: you must decide when these symptoms have gotten to such a level that you need to take action.
Discovering your own recharge station
When you get to the point of taking some action to recharge, it’ll be important to determine what’s most effective for you. Unfortunately for most of us, there isn’t really any succinct research that categorizes both personality-types and effective ‘recharging’ activities. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) But chances are, the general population wouldn’t fit that nicely into such defined buckets anyway. So instead, you’ll have to conduct a little bit of your own research project.
The goal for your research project will be to identify which types of ‘re-charging sessions’ work best for you. To start, you’ll want to find out whether you like to do activities on your own or with others, what type of environment is most re-charging, and what type of activity works best. See the diagram below for help with this.
|Invitees||Social Interaction||vs.||Alone Time|
|Friends, colleagues, family, strangers||Just you!|
|Environment||Busy Spaces||vs.||Quiet Spaces|
|Coffee shops, busy streets, the office lunch room||A quiet corner, a secluded park bench|
|Activity||Physical Release||vs.||Mental Release|
|Running, exercise class, walking, yoga, cleaning||Chatting, crossword puzzle, reading, meditating|
To determine what works best for you, just start implementing different activities. Make a note (preferably in a notebook or on your computer) of how you felt before you left your desk and how you felt afterwards. At the end of the first month, look back on your notes to determine which activities were most effective for you.
As you’re setting out your activities, try to keep two of the three components of a re-charging session the same. Your first group of activities might look like this:
- A quick chat with a friend at a coffee shop
- A quick sit alone at a coffee shop
- A quick chat with a friend in a secluded area of a nearby park
- A quick sit alone in a secluded area of a nearby park
- A run with a friend down the busy city streets
- A run alone down the busy city streets
- A run with a colleague through the quiet forest trails
- A run alone through the quiet forest trails
If you already know your preference for one of the three components of a re-charging session, use it! For example, if you know that you leave the office every day just itching for some social interaction, then just stick to re-charging sessions with other people!
It might seem like a lot, but understanding what activities re-charge you will make you a much more effective community manager and certainly a much more balanced and happy person! From someone who’s put this in to play, it’s definitely worth every planned activity and scribbled note.
Remember, don’t just take care of others in your community, take care of yourself too.
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