January is always the resolution pollution month. The usual suspects: lose weight, exercise more, work less, more family time, less stress, more sleep, save more, spend less, more vacations, etc.
“I wish I had more social media in my life,” said nobody ever.
My social media resolution is simple and nothing new: to create more space in my life for opportunity.
This is a continuation of an “aha” moment that came to me after I wrote my first book, Social PR Secrets. Once my business coach convinced me to start writing, I finished the bulk of the manuscript in less than three months! I was amazed. How did I complete it so quickly, especially since it took me a year to get from the chapter outlines to writing chapter 1?
Working in the social media world can be more than distracting, as it can easily sabotage the best of agendas, projects, and resolutions!
To get me started on Social PR Secrets, there was business planning I had to do in order to get myself off projects, transition staff to cover for me, and delegate or say no to new opportunities. Charlie Gilkey of Productive Flourishings, my coach, put me on a strictly “spaced” schedule: every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I would start my day with a yoga class from 9:00 to 10:30 and then I would immediately go to the closest coffee shop with my laptop and start writing. No calls, no checking emails, no social media sneaks. I would write for about two or three hours, then head back to my office to answer any emails and tie up loose ends for the day. At first, I thought he was crazy, but I gave it a try. Before I knew it, my book was done! It all seemed to flow from down dog to up dog and out of my brain, and through my typing fingertips.
Social PR Secret: create space for creativity and focus to flourish.
What I realized is that I not only created space in my schedule for something I didn’t think I had time for, but I created space for creativity and focus to flourish. One of the many benefits of yoga is that it allows the creative juices start flowing when your mind and body release the mental blocks. All those deep breaths reset your mind back to its natural state: calm, focused, and sharp.
All of a sudden, I felt like I had three times the space in my brain, resulting in a recipe for #SocialPR success.
Social Media is Calling
Let’s face it: social media takes up a lot of space in our lives. If you work in the social media marketing world, the need for detox (or alcohol!) is almost inevitable. Whether it’s for our personal or professional lives, social media is a space- and time-sucker. It’s an endless task of reading, writing, posting, creating visuals, captioning, tagging, filtering, cropping, chatting, sharing, commenting, and don’t forget the trusty old email inbox! With all of this to do, who has time for anything else?
So, how can we create more space in our lives to actually make those resolutions for 2015 a reality? Since we can’t just buy more memory or storage and our brains don’t come with an upgrade option, we’re on our own to create more space for the things (health, family, friends, vacations, etc.) most important to us.
Here’s a list of things I’m doing to gain more space in my life for what I love and also to make me better at what I’m already doing:
Upgrade Your Memory
Today, I upgraded my computer to the maximum amount of memory it’ll take to speed things up and save time. (I even installed it myself, though I wouldn’t recommend it because it would save time and frustration to hire a professional.) On any given work day, I have more than 20 tabs open in multiple windows in three browsers. I also call and video conference with Skype and use Google HOA for chat and calls. Adding memory to my computer has already helped speed things up. Ultimately, this will create more space in my life in the form of time.
Action item: Check how much memory your computer has and see if it can be upgraded. It’s a cheap way to gain more speed.
Clear Your Clutter
- Desk space: I’m constantly cleaning off my desk space to remove as much clutter as possible and only have what I absolutely need for what I’m working on in that minute. It helps me stay focused and eliminates visual distractions and reminders of other things that I could be doing. Action item: On your computer, create folders and subfolders and organize icons so the ones you use the most are the easiest to access.
Desktop space: I have a very bad habit of saving lots of things to my computer’s desktop and this just so happens to suck up computer speed and memory, in addition to being a visual reminder of disorganization. I’m clearing out the space by saving it all to an external hard drive, in case I ever need it. Baby steps! I’ve created files in Dropbox and starting to wean myself away from using the desktop as one big filing cabinet. Action item: Clear off your desktop every day before and after work.
- Closet space: Last month, I cleared out about about 75% of the clothes in my closet and put them in my garage. More baby steps! I have a homeless charity coming next week to pick it up. This might not seem like something related to work life, but it actually is a very freeing feeling. Action item: Only save it if you love it.
Desk, computer, or office clutter: it’s all clutter and it impacts your brain. Princeton University researchers found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.
Boost Your Brain
- Meditation for business and life strategy: Until now, the most meditation I’ve done comes at the end of a yoga class. Although it happens to be my favorite part, I never really looked at it as if I was practicing meditation. But then I saw the image below on Instagram of your brain before and after a 10-minute meditation and thought, “Wow!” It made sense to me because I walk into a yoga class as one person and walk out as a new and improved being ready to embrace and conquer the world again. In a really weird serendipitous way, one day later, I came across an article in Marie Claire talking about how women are using mediation as a business strategy and how it gives them an upper hand in negotiating and communicating to get what they want. Interesting, right? So, I looked into this even more and found this article on how meditation also influences weight control, reduces anxiety, increases empathy and compassion, and improves memory function. Meditation can basically help us all to be more rational, creative, and likeable people. I’m sold!
- Get up, get out, and turn it upside-down: You’ve probably heard it a million times: take a walk during work, don’t sit at a computer all day, take breaks to restore and rejuvenate, etc. It’s hard to do and easy to hit the snooze on taking breaks. Trust me, I unfortunately specialize in workaholism. The only thing that keeps me honest is my Fitbit, but it’s super hard to get up and do something during working hours, and I’m always scrambling at the end of the day at how many steps I need to do to not feel like I’m wasting my humanity.
- The cost of not doing it: I schedule stuff that will cost me if I cancel. Last week, I had a pilates class during lunch and about one hour before I thought to myself, “This is a huge mistake. What in the world was I thinking? I have so much to do! Cancel, cancel, cancel!” Since I would get charged for the class I decided to go. It was totally worth it, and here’s why. One hour later, I was sitting back at my computer for a #SEOchat on Twitter. All of a sudden, my thoughts were crystal-clear and my tweets just came rolling out. After, I received this message Andy Crestodina, industry expert and author of Content Chemistry, who was a guest on the chat.
Cool Part #1: He complimented my tweets and offered to send me one of his books!
Cool Part #2: I then asked him to be a guest for my University of Florida Social Media Management class. He said yes. I give the credit for all of this to that lunchtime pilates class. It pulled me out of my funk and stimulated the space in my brain to improve my communication skills. Important note: You can replace pilates with walking around the block a few times or doing laps around the mall, down the street, etc.
- Turn it upside-down: Social media has a way of turning your world upside-down, for the good and bad. Why not fight fire with fire? I ended the week with a few handstands and it’s good to know that there are more benefits to handstands than just the physical ones. Handstands can can actually make you feel happier. As the blood flows to your brain, it has an energizing and calming effect, especially when you’re feeling stressed out. Handstands can also give you a mood makeover because they help reduce the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. The magic of handstands will not only de-stress you in the short-term, but it could also help relieve minor depression and anxiety.
So, back to the resolution pollution: if you find space in your life for the resolutions to function and flourish, every little thing will be alright. Don’t worry about a thing!
This is part of a series of articles on space and how the more space you create, the more opportunities you have!
How are you making space in your life for opportunity?
Image Credit: Lisa Buyer and @Yogacam