I owe a big thanks to Mike Whitmore for voicing the sentiment that has been banging around in my head for a while. I am definitely not in the camp that posits that social media is all peformed by introverted geeks who would rather type in a dark basement than talk to a live human being. (Or shower.) But as the career takes off, I find myself frustrated that I don't seem to have enough time to be as social as I'd like. In fact, my big luxury these days is a retreat from being social: a Friday night at home with my couch, cat and DVR.
What's up with that? Does social media convert extroverts craving connection to introverts craving isolation?
I think that Whitmore is on to something. The tools that got us here require a time investment, and once you reap the rewards, it's more difficult to find time to carry on the same level of social interaction. Once you get the clients, the frantic Tweeting, blogging and podcasting have to be moderated simply because there are only so many hours in a day. The never-ending stream of Tweetups, happy hours, Social Media Club, Tech Café, Tech Karaoke and not-for-profit benefit events can easily consume all a geek's free time and leave no time to actually implement the exciting social media projects on the table!
Ever been too damn busy to blog about all your nifty ideas? I'm there.
Social Time Graph
And what does a geek do when faced with a challenge? An analysis. After Whitmore and I talked last week, I took a closer look at my own work-life balance and made a spreadsheet. I have about 15 waking hours a day, from 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM, and for one week I tracked how I invested my time. I discovered that, apart from my exciting position as Chief Conversation Officer at Spoken Communications, the next two big chunks of my time go to social media and volunteer projects, travel/commuting time, and attending social media events. Dating is the next chunk, and I see the source of the frustration: only 3% of my waking hours are invested in spending time with friends. (FYI, "Miscellaneous" is defined as time spent showering, cleaning, cooking and eating breakfast, etc.)
The chart was quite telling about my priorities. Most of them are spot-on; my awesome job at Spoken and my volunteer social media work are very important to me. But the chart also tells me how I went from a relaxing vacation to overbooked in two days flat: I am trying to increase that time spent with friends, but I'm not willing to give up anything else in order to do it.
I'd encourage everyone who feels she is less (or more) social than she'd like to make a social time graph. This showed me exactly where I was putting my time and energy and gave me ideas on a strategy for the priorities I'd like to shift.
For example, if I work from home one or more days a week, I gain valuable time that would have been spent commuting, and I can invest that in lunch or an early evening drink with a friend, before the evening festivities begin. Or I can limit myself to two social media events per week, which gives me an additional evening for dating or connecting with friends.
Also, one last tip: don't compare yourself to Chris Brogan or Shauna Causey. Not everyone is an Energizer Bunny, and we just need to accept that those guys were granted supernatural powers and will do more before 7:00 AM than the rest of us do all day.
And I'm OK with that.