When I asked my newsletter subscribers for feedback in December regarding challenges they faced, a vast majority said, “I’m overwhelmed!” “I can’t keep up with all of it.” “I’ve no time for social media.”
I’ve struggled with these challenges too — especially fitting in social media. I started writing my blog in 2006 and just kept adding things as they came out — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, G+.
The more social media platforms and tools proliferated like mushrooms, the more stressed I became. Having the ability to be “always on” via my iPhone and iPad didn’t help.
One day in August 2011, I decided to take a break. I stopped reading and listening to the news and music while driving. I stopped reading marketing books, magazines and blogs. I even stopped posting on social media and my blog for a month.
The result? For the first time in a very long time, I could hear myself think.
And boy, did that feel good.
I also got lucky. While taking this break, I happened to be ghostwriting a book about social media. For the first time, I found myself **watching** social media happen instead of participating.
I began asking myself questions such as: “Why was I trying to maintain four social media platforms and a blog — in addition to running a business and raising my son?” “Why did I feel like I needed to be an expert in everything?” “Did I really need to be a top blogger or have thousands of followers to be effective?”
I came back to social media with a much different perspective — one I was afraid to say in public because, well, it’s not what social media gurus advocate.
I realized the fewer gurus I followed and the less content I read, the more I actually learned and the smarter I felt.
I learned my real priority and mission is to be of service to my clients.
I learned that by paying attention to what showed up in my own news feed, I could easily see which social media activities worked – and which ones didn’t – and that I didn’t need to be a genius to figure this out.
I learned that by controlling social media, instead of having it control me, I could regain some peace in my work day and life. I now have plans to plant an herb garden this spring, take afternoons off to go sailing on the Charles, and just relax and enjoy solitude when I can. It feels really good.
I kept my secret to myself for months because revealing it felt like I was pointing out the emperor has no clothes. But then I began reading the new book by Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
When I watched her TED video the other day — a video that has “smashed all TED records” – I knew it was time to come clean.
The upshot? I’m an introvert, and part of being creative is honoring the time I need to think.
Because I was filling my spare minutes trying to “keep up” with social media, I didn’t get this down time. And too, with social media, and the Internet in general, you’re subject to lots of noise and “group think” — a condition where everyone ends up thinking and doing the same things.
Group think doesn’t lead to innovation, new ways of looking at things or creative problem solving, a topic Cain discusses at length in her book.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be because yes, you’re busy. But it may also be because you’re an introvert and need some down time. Watch Cain’s video, then get her book. I think you’ll come away with a different perspective on your work and your life.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below.