Press the Issue a MasterWP Podcast

Let’s Talk Burnout and Breaks

Press the Issue
Press the Issue
Let's Talk Burnout and Breaks
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Press the Issue is a production of MasterWP. It was produced by Allie Nimmons. It was hosted and edited by Monet Davenport and mixed and mastered by Teron Bullock. Please visit masterwp.com/presstheissue to find more episodes. Subscribe to our newsletter for more WordPress news at masterwp.com.

Episode Transcript:

Monet Davenport:
Welcome to Press the Issue, a podcast for Master WP, your source for industry insights for WordPress professionals. Get show notes, transcripts, and more information about the show at masterwp.com/presstheissue.

Monet Davenport:
Work-life balance isn’t a new topic, especially since 2020. But the traditional methods of focus, relation, and de-stressing don’t work for everyone. Nyasha and Rob have their own approaches to burnout and breaks.

Nyasha Green:
Hey, Rob, how are you doing today?

Rob Howard:
Hey, Nyasha. Very good. How about you?

Nyasha Green:
Doing well. Really excited to talk to you today about, well, these two articles that we did, breaking… Taking breaks and vacations are my favorite things in life. So just really excited to talk to you. I just wanted to ask you a few questions about the article that you wrote. It was titled Vacations Make a Business Stronger. And first, what inspired you to write this article?

Rob Howard:
So this concept for me dates back probably 15 years, right? In the near term, what I’ve discovered both when I was running a very small agency with one or two people. And now all the way up, we have 18 or 19 people. What I’ve discovered is that by essentially forcing yourself to exit work for a significant amount of time, maybe a week or two where you’re truly not checking email, not checking slack, it’s not a working vacation. It is truly like you are out of the picture, right?

Rob Howard:
It really forces me to run a more efficient business. Right? So what I joke around about with my family is my business is way more efficient when I’m on vacation than when I’m actually here. Right? And obviously that’s intended to be a little bit of a joke, but it’s really true because that compels me to train and systematize. Right? And I think the trap that a lot of people whether they’re business owners or employees of a business gets stuck in, is they, for various reasons that we can talk about, perceive themselves to be indispensable to the business that they run or that they’re part of. Right?

Rob Howard:
And while you can be important to the business, being indispensable to the business can actually be a very unhealthy mindset because then you can never let go. Not only does that stress you out individually, but it also in a lot of ways prevents you from leveling up, right? Because part of leveling up your business is actually taking that owner or the initial founding team out of the equation for some of the important business operations. Right?

Rob Howard:
So if you’re never willing to do that, then you’re stuck because you can only do so much as one individual human being. And eventually, if you do want that business to grow and get bigger, you got to be able to train, delegate, document. And in my experience, vacations are a really fun way to force you to do that. So that was kind of the near term inspiration. And going farther back, I’ve always been in that digital nomad, four-hour work week mindset.

Rob Howard:
I don’t work a four-hour work week and I don’t necessarily endorse everything in that book and in that sort of worldview, but one thing that I do think is really smart and sensible is this idea that you shouldn’t be waiting for retirement or for some distant point in the future to enjoy your life and do the things that you want to do.

Rob Howard:
So I think what I take away from a lot of that four-hour work week perspective is not that you should literally be working one hour a day, but that you should also not be deferring your life until some point in the future. Right? So a lot of people say, “Well, I’m going to work really hard in my twenties or work really hard for the next five years or whatever that is. And then I’ll go to this vacation destination. Then I’ll do this thing or that thing that is on my bucket list.

Rob Howard:
Of course, work has a tendency to be infinite if you allow it to be, right? And what a lot of people discover is that someday keeps getting pushed back. Right? So the philosophy that I try to take is you got to do stuff now. Right? I have a son who’s eight years old and we’ve done a lot of fun things and fun vacations in eight years of his life that we could have easily pushed back and said, “Oh, well, now maybe we’ll do that when he’s older, when we have more money, when we have more time, whatever.” Right?

Rob Howard:
But you got to sometimes do the thing in life that you actually want to do. And I think that applies to vacations. It applies to other major life decisions. It applies to moving to the city you want to live in, right? All these things that they are really easy to put off. And you do that repeatedly. You end up being much older than you expected to be when you finally get around to these things.

Rob Howard:
I think that’s just a negative outcome for everybody. This philosophy basically is like you got to have a business and a job that allows you to actually live life too, and actually supports those other things you want to do as opposed to just being like work for work’s sake, if that makes sense.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah, it totally does. I want to just talk to you about two things you said that stood out to me the most just now. You brought up that people think that they’re indisposable versus they should think they’re important. And that really stood out to me because when I was in fresh out of college and working, so when I was in the insurance industry, they worked me like I was indispensable. They made sure I knew… How much do you think… And that was a really… That was a very, very toxic industry to be in. How much do you think like jobs play in people like working themselves like that to the point where they think they can’t take a vacation?

Rob Howard:
Yeah. I mean, I think it depends on the individual situation, how malicious the boss is actually being by doing that. But I think that there is clearly a… In multiple industries, there is an industrywide philosophy that basically you want to devote your life to this. I think Silicon Valley and Wall Street are both very typical in that way, but obviously, there’s tons of other industries. You mentioned your previous job. I also see this in people who get jobs as management consultants or in some law firms, stuff like that.

Rob Howard:
So pretty much any job could fall prey to this. I think it’s good to enjoy your work and feel important. But when someone says that you are so indispensable, that you can’t take vacation, I think that now has shifted over into a toxic situation, as you said. I think the way that I turn that around is like, “You’re so indispensable that I don’t want to lose you to burnout or to the next job that actually offers you a better work-life balance.” Right?

Nyasha Green:
Mm-hmm.

Rob Howard:
So when you think about what they’re doing, they are in some cases and again, you never know how conscious of a decision this is because you can also just adopt this mindset without even realizing it if you’re around people who think this way for a really long time. But the idea that if you’re not the only person who can do what you do, you’re going to get replaced. I hear that a lot in very competitive like legal law firms and stuff like that.

Rob Howard:
They’ll say, “Well, you have to be the rainmaker. You have to be the best otherwise it’s a dog eat dog world out there.” Right? So that’s an element of it is like are your fellow employees going to compete against you and beat you because you’re not enough of a workaholic? Right? And then of course, there’s the manager who is pressuring you into doing extra work and almost giving you these little nuggets of praise, but they’re also kind of manipulative in a way.

Rob Howard:
So I think one thing that the last two years have done for employees that has been valuable is we all have a lot more options now with remote work with relatively tight job market where it is kind of like an employee’s market as opposed to an employer’s market.

Rob Howard:
So I think you’re seeing a lot of people switch jobs because they’re now saying, “Well, this is just not a good lifestyle for me anymore and there’s other options out there.” So I think that for me I’ve been happy to see that. Obviously, I think we’re ahead of the curve on a lot of those work-life balance things at our company ,so we’ve really benefited and thrived from already being there. But I also look to people who are in other industries or friends or other people that I know, and I’m like, “Wow, I’m glad for you guys that you can achieve or compel your employer to do better.” Right?

Nyasha Green:
Yeah.

Rob Howard:
I mean, I think to go back to your original question, there definitely are people who are just straight up manipulative, but also I think there are people who don’t realize there’s another way to operate, right? Those people who are well meaning, but still stuck in this harmful mindset can, in some cases, be just as harmful as somebody who is actively manipulating you in a malicious way.

Nyasha Green:
Gotcha, gotcha. And as a former workaholic, as I just admitted, it took me a while to get comfortable taking vacation days. Was it like that for you? Or how long did it take you to get comfortable like actually vacationing and breaking?

Rob Howard:
So I have the dubious distinction of hardly ever having had a real job. So when I graduated from college, my first job was at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the major metro newspaper in Atlanta. And it was like a killer job on paper, but I quickly discovered that I didn’t really like working in an office in that type of situation. Newspapers were in a weird place. This was 2005. So I was hired as a web guy, but I was also doing journalism and writing and stuff like that and aspired to that. And interestingly now, 15 years later, here we are running a magazine about websites. Right?

Rob Howard:
So I kind of said like, “I don’t really like this atmosphere. I have always been a freelancer. I could still be a freelancer.” I actually turned down an equivalent job offer at the Washington Post and decided to freelance, which looking back, I probably should have taken that job and just done both. I probably would give myself that advice if I were talking to my 21-year-old self, again.

Rob Howard:
But fast forward, and obviously, it’s worked out and I’m happy with the career path that I’ve taken. But in the very short period of time that I had to count PTO, I was like, “Okay, this is super stressful.” Especially in the world of newspapers, they work every day. So they were like, “Well, you’re the lowest ranking person. You can’t go home for Thanksgiving.”

Rob Howard:
While you’re the lowest ranking person, you can’t go home for Christmas. Right? My family was in New York and I was in Atlanta. So I was like, “That’s actually a pretty big deal for me.” Right?

Nyasha Green:
Yeah.

Rob Howard:
None of that is unusual. It’s all part for the course. Right? But that is an experience that I was like, “Eh, I’m just not into this.” And if I have this other option and at that young age and back in 2005, 2006, it was pretty rare for someone to actually have the option to basically be a digital nomad immediately. But because I was doing web development, I was freelancing, I was already in that world, I was able to basically flip the switch on that very early in my career.

Rob Howard:
So in that context, I was always a bigger vacationer than average, I think. But what I will say is that while it wasn’t so much training myself, it definitely was training my clients. Right? So my clients would be in the mindset of like, “Well, are you going to be checking email while you’re out, or are you going to be available at this time or that time?” And it’s like, okay, well, I had to figure out, especially as a solo freelancer, how to set those boundaries and how to convey to people like a level of trust, but also a level of unavailability. Right?

Rob Howard:
And those two things especially in that sort of 2005, 2008 world, where there was just way less of the digital nomad remote work stuff happening, that was a very challenging thing. There definitely are clients who just chose not to work with me, I think because of that, but the ones who got it and stuck around and who I was able to set expectations with, we’re fantastic.

Rob Howard:
And actually some of them are still working with us on client services today, which is really cool. And I think a nice sort of piece of evidence that you can have a life and take care of your clients. Right? I think there definitely is a mindset among some people and companies out there that those two things are incompatible. So I think while I agree that it’s not always easy, like I think they can be compatible with one another.

Monet Davenport:
Thank you for listening up to this point. Press the Issue by Master WP is sponsored by LearnDash. Your expertise makes you money doing what you do, now let it make you money teaching what you do. To create a course with LearnDash visit learndash.com.

Monet Davenport:
Master WP is also sponsored by Cloudways. Supercharge the speed of your WordPress site and save with Object Cache Pro now available for free with any Cloudways two gigabyte plus hosting account. This is a savings of $95 per month. Visit cloudways.com and save with the promo code MASTERWP25. Now back to the podcast.

Nyasha Green:
So what types of vacations would you not recommend someone take?

Rob Howard:
Good question. So obviously like the vacation where you don’t turn off email is not ideal. That being said, there are nuances to that, right? We have a couple employees who are working from other locations for a month this summer. Somebody wants to go to a different city to help out their parents or something who are going through health issues, stuff like that. And it’s like that is not really a vacation, but it’s not also 100% work. Right?

Rob Howard:
So that’s like a hybrid thing. And then I think on the other end of that is like, “I’m going to go on a sabbatical or a hiatus for six months or a year.” I think that’s cool, but not always conducive to actually running a client services business.

Rob Howard:
So that’s one that I’ve never done. Not to say that there’s not benefits to that, but I have not yet done anything along the lines of the extremely long sabbatical or hiatus. The vacations that I take today are mostly one to two week family trips. Right? So what I try to do is make sure everything is lined up. The team has what they need. And then when I come back from vacation, I just don’t change that. And whoever was doing the stuff while I was on vacation, continues to do the stuff. Right?

Rob Howard:
So after you do that a few times, you end up with like my most recent vacation. We barely had to really change anything. And I almost am at a place where I could just not show up and you guys would just kind of do every… Know what to do without my direct advice. And I think that is actually a really healthy place for the business to be. Obviously, I love being involved, but I also don’t want to be a roadblock ever for anybody on the team.

Nyasha Green:
Gotcha, gotcha. Are you sure the reason you won’t take six months or a year off is because you’re afraid that when you get back, it’ll say Nyasha WP instead of Master WP?

Rob Howard:
I mean, you technically have the ability to do that right now on the site. So I trust you. But maybe I’ll do that hiatus and we’ll see what happens when we come back.

Nyasha Green:
Right.

Rob Howard:
I think BTS WP is probably more likely in terms of the new name you would choose for the company though.

Nyasha Green:
Oh, copyright. They would probably sue me.

Rob Howard:
Yep. Well, when I’m on on a tropical island and I’m getting legal notices from BTS, I’ll know that you finally did that one that you’ve been planning for so long.

Nyasha Green:
You know, they say never meet your heroes.

Rob Howard:
Yep.

Nyasha Green:
And that’s not the way I want to meet them.

Rob Howard:
So speaking of BTS, they recently took a break and inspired you to write an article about taking breaks. Right? So I think it’s always nice to see like the high powered celebrities doing this type of stuff, because to some degree, they can do it because they’re multi-millionaires, but to some degree people who are in that celebrity zone are often just as pressured and cross pressured and more so as like the average person, right? They don’t have more time in their day. They still have the same 24 hours. They have a lot more pressure from a lot more directions and a lot more stakeholders.

Rob Howard:
It’s a big deal to see somebody say like, “Hey, I actually am putting life ahead of work, life ahead of the art that I’m doing and all these things.” Because it makes them, I think come back stronger. So I’m curious to hear from you. You talked about burnout in that article. And one of the things that I’m always trying to figure out is how do you handle and differentiate between work burnout and life burnout, right? Even if work is literally perfect, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have big issues outside of work that are nobody’s fault, but medical issues, having to move, having to do all those other stuff. How do you think about those two things? How do you handle life burnout differently than work burnout?

Nyasha Green:
So I definitely think that sometimes they can blur and yes, that’s going to vary by what you do, what industry you’re in, or if you work from home like I do, or if you work in an office, or if you’re working on the road. I think the big difference between both of them is what you can disconnect from. In my opinion, work burnout is easier to disconnect from than life burnout because just simply saying, it’s life, it’s something that’s always happening. If it’s medical issues, you can’t really break from that.

Nyasha Green:
If it’s family issues, you can’t really break from that. Especially a need to move. If you work from home, that is a work and life issue. So work is just a little bit more doing some of the things you talked about like making sure you’re turning off emails, making sure you’re turning off slack, turning off your phone, taking that break away, not answering calls, things like that versus life.

Nyasha Green:
Once I shut my computer down, I’m living life, but I’m also living life while I’m at work. So just the major difference in what you can get away from. It’s always been interesting to me to hear people either say themselves or talk about people who they just don’t want to go home after work. They work outside of the house and they’re like, “I’m [inaudible 00:22:02] going home.” And they’re volunteering for extra hours or like, “I just don’t want to go home, don’t want to go home.” And I had never experienced that before. I never want to.

Nyasha Green:
That was just unheard of to me. It’s not that all of my jobs have been bad. I’ve had really great jobs. It’s just that I’ve never been a person that wants to work that bad where I will just forsake my life. But doing work from home, that feeling is a little different. And for me recently, it was switched. Work was going great. And every time I did something at work, I was very happy and I was very proud of it. But when it came time to shut my computer down at five, I was like, “Oh, I have to deal with life.”

Nyasha Green:
It was a new feeling. I know a lot of people were probably dealing with this as a result of COVID because so many people are working from home. At my past programming job, this was the first time some people had ever worked from home and they had been working at the job for 20, 30 years. So I think they’re completely different. Sometimes they can blur and sometimes they can change in your life depending on what’s going on.

Rob Howard:
Yeah. And I think, as you said, having more control over work is a good thing. And my experience has been like for better or worse, work is really the thing that needs to flex when life requires more time and energy. And that could be, you have to be out to do something that is a medical necessity. It could be that you’re not sleeping as well. It could be that you have a new child or even a new pet that’s changing your schedule.

Rob Howard:
These things are all varying degrees of importance, right? But all things that can mess with your work schedule. I think one of the somewhat unconventional approaches that I’ve tried to take myself and tried to apply at our company is like, “Work should really be the thing that is flexible because life sometimes is not flexible.”

Rob Howard:
Right? And I think a lot of companies say the exact opposite. They’re like, “Oh, well, that’s great. Well, as soon as you’re done with your 60 hour week where we stress you out and manipulate you all week, then you can go home and deal with those important family issues. Right? And I think, obviously, that at the extremes lend itself to complete burnout or kind of like system failure. But my view is like work is still going to be here when we get back. And we’ve even talked about this and we’ve talked about it with other employees. It’s like this deadline can change.

Rob Howard:
We made this deadline up. We’re building a website, right? It’s very rare that we are in a situation where there is a deadline that is actually associated with an unchangeable physical event or something like that. Sometimes there will be like, “Hey, we really want to send this press release on this day.” Right? But that’s pretty much the extent of the strict deadlines. And most of the stuff we do, like if we really needed to take a week off from the podcast or the newsletter, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Right?

Rob Howard:
And I’d rather allow ourselves to do that than set what are effectively arbitrary deadlines. And there are some jobs where that’s not true. Sometimes you have to show up at court on a certain day as a lawyer and stuff like that. But especially in our line of work, it’s pretty rare that we have true immovable deadlines. So I like to make sure that people know like, “Hey, if you’re sick, you shouldn’t be working through illness to the point that it’s going to hurt you later.”

Rob Howard:
If you need to go attend to your parents or your kids, or any other loved ones, you got to be able to do that. That stuff matters. And it matters, I think, significantly more than like launching that site on that certain day, or publishing that article on that certain day in at least like 90% of cases. And then if there really is something that’s immutable or interchangeable, that’s why we have 18 people and not two, right?

Rob Howard:
So somebody can fill in for you and help you out. And we try to build a culture of that sort of ability to fill in for each other, which I think really helps in the big picture as well.

Nyasha Green:
I agree.

Rob Howard:
So I’m curious, a lot of people, when they talk about burnout, they say, “Well, I started meditating and it really helped. I got this mindfulness app for my phone and now I do that for half an hour every morning.” And while I’ve done that stuff and it’s been interesting, I’ve never really gotten into it to the extent that I feel like it is a long-term habit or solution for me. I may just not be like a super Zen guy. I don’t know. But I’m curious if somebody says like, “I tried that stuff and I’m just not into it,” what are the other ways that people can achieve similar levels of focus, relaxation, and just distance from stress without turning to those meditation and mindfulness type approaches?”

Nyasha Green:
People honestly and actually ask me this all the time. They’re like, “Yeah, I tried yoga.” People are telling me I should go run a 5K or a 10K. People are telling me I should just go drink. And I tell people like, “Do you want to do that?” This is going to sound crazy or this is going to sound unheard of, but you should do something you like to do. And that blows people’s mind. They’re like, “What? Do something I want?” “Yes, you should do something you want to do. I am not going to learn yoga when I can go to the movies and have the same effect.”

Nyasha Green:
I mean, not on my physical health, but if it’s something I want to do just to relax, I tell people I do simple things. I love cooking. Sometimes I will try out a new recipe where we live. It doesn’t have the most diverse restaurants. We usually have to drive either to another state or to a major city to get some really good food. So I will take it upon myself instead of wasting the gas to try to cook something that’s different from my culture or where I eat at.

Nyasha Green:
That really soothes me. That takes my mind off things. I’m just focusing on cooking and I’m excited because I get a good, hopefully good meal when it’s done. It’s same thing with movies. I go to the movies. I get to turn my phone off. So no one in life or work can reach me for at least a couple hours. It’s dark, it’s quiet. And it’s just me and a new movie experience.

Nyasha Green:
Reading books, things like that. People are so obsessed these days with, like you said, the new fancy, “Ah, I need to do mindfulness. I need to meditate.” And it’s like, one, they may not know how to do it. So they jump into it and they’re like, “Oh, this doesn’t work.” Or two, it’s not something that they enjoy. So I always stress to people don’t get too caught up in work or life and forget your joy, and forget things that make you happy.

Nyasha Green:
And everyone does. People will say, “Well, I really don’t have hobbies.” Even if doing nothing is what you like. Sometimes I like doing nothing. If I can sit for 30 minutes and just breathe, I love it. If that’s your thing, do that.

Rob Howard:
Taking naps is a legitimate substitution, I think, for meditation and mindfulness. And that is okay. And it’s interesting. Maybe this is like a sort of growing up in a house that always has lots of food cooking and good smells. That’s kind of where this comes from. And I think that’s kind of a youth experience that we probably both share is that food as an activity is something that really I always get a ton of just personal value and happiness from that.

Nyasha Green:
Yes.

Rob Howard:
Right? And it’s not like you’re not going out and intentionally binging on healthy food, it’s like, you’re really having a food experience. Right?

Nyasha Green:
Yes.

Rob Howard:
And to me most of my favorite experiences center around that to some degree. Right?

Nyasha Green:
Mm-hmm.

Rob Howard:
And I think like you said cooking something new at home, even going out for a really different fun, nice meal, if you can, to me, those are experiences that are significantly more pleasurable and fulfilling than like you said like meditating or exercising and stuff like that. For me, I basically have the most efficient exercise routine that I can possibly achieve because it’s just not something that I enjoy doing. But some people are like, “Oh, I went for a seven mile run and I have a runner’s high and I feel great.”

Rob Howard:
It’s just different for everybody. I think one of the takeaways from what you just said is like it’s okay if you’re not doing the stuff that creates good Instagram photos, right?

Nyasha Green:
Yeah.

Rob Howard:
Like mindfulness exercise. Right? And it’s okay if you do, do that stuff as long as you actually like it. Right?

Nyasha Green:
Yeah.

Rob Howard:
But there’s more than one way to get to that Zen-like state and it’s not always the actual meditation and exercise and stuff like that.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah. And some of those things are pretty… I like them. I’ve tried some. Like just my Apple Watch telling me to breathe. When I first bought an Apple Watch and they told me to breathe, I laughed for three hours straight. I had to. I was like, “Now, the watch is telling me to breathe. Is it going to tell me to tie my shoes next?” I actually did it and I realized it worked. I felt really good. All I did was focus on breathing for a minute and it really did take my mind off everything and I did feel a little better.

Nyasha Green:
And it might be Apple just in my mind, marketing to me to buy another watch. But it really did make me feel good. So sometimes those things, they’re okay, they’re pretty good. But again, just make sure you like it. If I didn’t like that, I would’ve not have done that again. I would’ve told my watch to leave me alone.

Rob Howard:
Yeah. I will say the Apple Watch has grown on me. I got one like six, seven months ago. And the fitness alerts and a handful of other tools, I really don’t use it for that much other than telling time, but the fitness stuff has definitely grown on me and I do use that regularly now and appreciate it. I used to have a Fitbit many years ago and I think this is-

Nyasha Green:
Me too-

Rob Howard:
… basically an upgraded version of that. So I’m surprised how much I like it because I was kind of like, “I don’t want another device.” That was kind of my mindset for a long time. But what I found is that I actually not only can use it for fitness, but I also got the one that has like a cellphone plan attached to it. So I can just not have my phone with me at all sometimes.

Nyasha Green:
Nice,

Rob Howard:
I can still receive an emergency call or make an emergency call or whatever from the watch, and that’s been a really nice change for me as well, because I think just not having the ability to idly almost like fidget with your phone is definitely a good life change.

Rob Howard:
Speaking of fidgeting with phones, I have one final question for you. And we are both using Twitter a lot lately for various reasons. And I will say that while I am usually not into social media for the reason that I just described like I’d rather just force myself to do other things with my focus and with my time.

Rob Howard:
I do think that social media has value like in the context of sharing our articles and advertising for our company. I think it’s a very effective method for us to do that. It’s an effective method for us to have comments on our articles. We are currently hiring a new developer and that has already gone around Twitter a few times. And that’s actually a really valuable thing. And it’s just fun sometimes, right? It is a fun way to interact when it works well. Right?

Rob Howard:
Obviously, there’s plenty of toxicity on social media that you want to avoid, but I’m not of the mindset that you’re better off never touching it. Right? So what I’m curious is how do you think about Twitter, social media? How do you personally handle your own screen time and social media limits so that you can get the good parts of it without getting sucked into the bad parts?

Nyasha Green:
So I’m a social media mega user. I have Twitter, I have Instagram, I have TikTok. I have all of the latest stuff that the kids are using these days. It’s very easy to get sucked into just any wormhole in any of those places because they have become more so education platforms. I mean, yes, for disinformation as well, but they’re largely educational platforms. So you can get sucked into that. You can get sucked into drama, gossip, media, entertainment.

Nyasha Green:
So what I actually do is as far as my professional account, I do have limits on what I tweet. Sometimes I think about it. And this is something… I guess, growing up in a social media age, I didn’t really have to think about when I was a little younger. Just, hey, going to the park today. That’s what you would do.

Nyasha Green:
But for me, I think what would help me is having so many eyes on my Twitter account now. I’m not going to say it makes me want to tweet. It does make me want to tweet less. But also just it makes me want to be more thoughtful. Having to be more thoughtful about my professional account has made me more thoughtful about all of my accounts. And I think you actually helped me out a lot when… It was one time, what were we talking about? Oh, we were talking about the podcast and you were like, “We just want to remember that whatever we put out there, it’s there forever.”

Nyasha Green:
And I was like, “Oh my gosh, I think he’s talking about Twitter.” It made me want to be more mindful. So as a result, I don’t post as much, but there are people who it’s just their life to not post a lot, but they will spend a lot of time looking and consuming. And for that, I do a lot of muting. And if there’s somebody I just know I’m going to get sucked into what they’re doing, sometimes I do mute them. And it’s not necessarily that they’re doing something bad. If it’s something that’s going to distract me, I do mute them.

Nyasha Green:
And most social media platforms have the option to mute temporarily or you can do it permanently. I just set boundaries for myself because I know at this point, after getting lost in so many social media, like threads and trends that it’s easy to do. So just putting up those walls. I don’t work it in like physically writing it down into my regular schedule, but I just keep an eye on the clock. Sometimes I’m like, “Hey, I’ll pop over to Twitter and see what’s going on. And if 30 minutes have gone by and I’m still on Twitter, I’m like, “Oh no, this is too long.”

Nyasha Green:
So it’s something I’ve trained myself to do. Took a really long time, but that’s typically how I handle social media. Like I said, it’s a great place for education. I live in my college town, the town I went to school at, and most of my friends have moved away. Social media is sometimes the only way I can really contact some of them. So very important to have that as a tool of communication, especially in the age of COVID. But we still have to set those boundaries. If not, it can’t consume your life and that’s not good.

Rob Howard:
Yes. As you said, like it is a legitimate communication platform, right? And we even have like a neighborhood Facebook group that is very active because we need to communicate with each other about stuff. And it’s an easy way to do that. Obviously, there were ways to do that in the past, but I think that a lot of these social media apps actually are the best and well-suited for that. But you also have to not get sucked into the rabbit hole, right, as part of that.

Rob Howard:
That’s the balance. One of the things that I even do is I try to not look at the algorithmic feeds, right? I’ll just go to, “Hey, I want to look at this journalist’s Twitter to see what they’ve been up to lately.” Right? Or, “Hey, I want to look at this Facebook group to see what’s going on in my neighborhood and try to stay away from the feeds.” Because obviously those are the things that are primed to distract you and suck you in. And there’s just so many bad incentives around that content.

Rob Howard:
Awesome. Well, this has been excellent. I think we should both go take a nice break now that we’re done recording. It is always a pleasure to hang out. I look forward to chatting again soon.

Nyasha Green:
Nice. Can’t wait to talk again.

Monet Davenport:
Thank you for listening to this episode. Press the Issue is a production of Master WP produced by Allie Nimmons. Hosted, edited, and musically supervised by Monet Davenport, and mixed and mastered by Teron Bullock.

Monet Davenport:
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