What to do when you are drowning in work and have a never-ending to-do list


(Jessica Malnik) #1

A couple of weeks ago, I started this thread about “self care best practices.” Only it probably wasn’t what you were expecting. In that thread, I kind of left you hanging. Here’s part 2.

Ready for it. . .

The answer lies in simplifying.

There’s something called the Pareto Principle or where 80% of the results comes from 20% of the work.

Audit yourself and figure out the 20% of things that you are doing or are on your to-do list that net the majority of results. Keep doing those things and find a way to delegate, automate or stop doing everything else. I realize that’s easier said than done.

Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get rid of everything that isn’t netting the biggest results right away. This is a process, and it takes time to figure out what is and isn’t working.

The next part - which is even more important - is to get smarter about what you are measuring and then tell a story with your data. Data is fairly worthless on its own. The real impact lies in how you analyze it to write a narrative. That’s how you can convince senior managers and executives to invest in new projects, hire more team members and further highlight the community’s impact in your organization.

The cold reality is it is really tempting to overly work for the community at the expense of not tracking and showing how what you are doing directly ties to the bottom line for the organization.

You might be thinking, “You are crazy. I’m doing a great job. My community metrics are on the up and up with hockey stick level growth.”

I’m guessing – this is just a guess- that your metrics are engagement-driven then and probably look something like this:

  • Increased the number of lurkers to active participants by 50%
  • Sentiment is moving progressively more positive
  • Or number of comments increased by 100% year over year.

All of these are great results (Something you should be proud of), but they are all highly tactical, engagement-driven metrics. Most of the time they can’t be traced back directly to business results like increased sales or decreasing support costs. That’s the problem.

As community professionals, we often think way too much in terms of tactics and not enough in strategy.

It is not just about getting comfortable with spreadsheets and Excel. It is about understanding how the business makes money. And how your initiatives play into that.

Community engagement and sentiment based metrics are great but nice to haves
Revenue and profits are the lifeblood of any business.

Number of new comments doesn’t pay the rent or your salary.

You can even take this a step further. It is best highlighted in this tweet from Bryan Harris- founder of Videofruit.


I love being a community manager, and truly believe that there’s never been a better time to be in the community industry. Community continues to play a huge role in an increasing number of businesses. Until you can make the leap from engagement metrics and tactical thinking to strategic analysis, you will always be spinning your wheels and not progressing as much as you could be.

Let's talk about community manager self care best practices
(Anton) #2

Are not there small things that, when done on a regular basis, adds to a great result? Yet those small things might be seen as non-strategic and non-tactical ones alone?

(Jessica Malnik) #3

Yes, there are small tasks that can lead to a big result. However, small tasks by their nature add up and compound over time.

For example, one common small task is responding to all lonely posts (i.e. posts without a response). When you first launch a community, this is a necessary task. However as the community grows, if you are still responding to all of these posts, it is going to take you more and more time to do this. The results are going to be less effective.

When you think in terms of big wins, a better strategy would be to focus your time on:
-Building an onboarding follow-up series for new members
-Finding ways to encourage your active members to welcome and respond to new members.

These are one-off projects that are more scalable and will net consistently bigger results over time.

(Sarah Hawk) #4

Totally agree. For anyone that wants to do some further reading on strategy vs. engagement (and how tactics fit in), there’s this.