Read enough about productivity on the internet – especially in social media circles – and you’ll undoubtedly find counsel to cut down on “distractions” like Facebook and Twitter, or to stem content creation in favor of doing the “real work”.
The Real Work Thing
Ostensibly, this Real Work of which we speak (and I’m sure I’ve probably said something like that myself) is about doing the things that are concrete, tangible, and most likely relative to a day job or whatever work pays the bills. For me, it would be work that’s pertinent to my day job as VP of social strategy for Radian6. For you, it might be dealing with clients as a PR exec, or managing your team, designing websites, or any number of things.
In short, it’s the stuff that you’re supposed to be able to point to and see some kind of “real” result that moves your business or other goals forward. By whose standards we’re judging “real” I’m not quite sure. But there’s something very important to remember.
I have an incredibly demanding job, as I’m sure all of you do. If I wanted it to, it could easily consume my days completely for as many hours as I’m willing to dedicate to it. Plus, I have a home and a family and friends that I want to have time for.
So, things like blogging or time just connecting on Twitter or browsing my feeds for interesting content seems like a luxury. Something that doesn’t have a place amongst the rest unless I want to admit that I’m “wasting” time.
The Reality of New Work
The truth of the matter is this.
These things - this creation and connection pattern – is a tremendous part of the new normal of work today, and even more so in a job like mine.
Writing helps me explore ideas that in turn lead to practical applications of strategy for my job, exploration of new ideas with peers and colleagues, or even the makings of a book.
Connecting on Twitter allows me to participate in awesome conversations (yes, I still have them all the time), say hello to dear friends that don’t share my geography, meet new people, and help or connect with people in relation to my work, speaking, or otherwise. Hopefully in the meantime I might add or share something valuable myself.
Browsing content helps me learn new things, test my assumptions, discover new voices and rediscover familiar ones. It gives me perspective, information, knowledge. And while there’s tons of it out there, I know I’ll never absorb it all, so I take what’s good and make peace with leaving the rest. And having it means I can pass it along to someone else.
This IS real work. These things aren’t merely distractions to be easily dismissed out of hand as wasteful or empty. They are a core part of my work, and not just because I work in and around social media (my job also encompasses things like executive management and leading professional services). They’re just different, and slowly replacing things that might not be as relevant anymore.
To claim otherwise would be hypocritical at best (how can I express how important these things are if I’m not dedicating my own time to them?) and selling the value of it all short at worst.
So I’m rebalancing again by allowing time in my day – deliberately and without remorse – to include and continue to integrate these elements, just like meetings and phone calls and project work. They’re important to the new normal, my new normal, the way that work exists for me today. And they’re integral to what and how I do what I do.
I think I might have started to lose sight of that a bit in the quest to balance everything myself, so I’m going to make a concerted effort to put that back to rights. Hey, even those of us who believe whole heartedly in the value can require a reset.
What’s Your New Normal?
And you? I know I used “I” a lot in here because it’s a perspective I’m exploring for my own universe. But I want to hear your take on this, your variations on the theme.
What’s the new normal of your work balance today that might not have been there a few months or a few years ago? I’m curious about how social media has changed the way that you work, or if. Is creation and engagement a nice-to-have, or is it woven into your work?
Thanks, as always, to all of you for making this adventure so utterly and completely rewarding and worthwhile. Let’s talk some more.