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The job of community manager is often described as one requiring passion, both for social media and the brand being represented. And while that’s true, sometimes demanding hours and troublesome customers can turn that passion into burnout.

Contributing her insights to our Community Manager Field Guide, Emily Felton, a community manager for Fossil, talked to us about her strategies for making the best work environment possible. She also is a big advocate of finding the small pleasures in both our work and personal lives. Here’s how she strikes the right balance.

It’s All About Communication

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People skills are another must-have for customer service and community managers alike. Emily said one of her most prized abilities as a community manager is communication. Not only does that assist when she’s building bonds online with customers, but improves her rapport with coworkers too.

“Communication is the most important thing I do,” she said. “Connecting with team members on an emotional level instead of focusing only on the products and tasks to be done keeps a better attitude and a more positive work environment.”

Emily has found that Sprout Social helps her put those communication skills into action on a day-to-day basis. “Managing Facebook and Twitter for multiple accounts is nearly impossible using the native platforms,” she explained. “Sprout makes it easy to communicate with the team, process requests, and make sure everyone gets answered.”

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Draw Boundaries

“When possible, leave work at work,” Emily said. Giving yourself a boundary between work time and personal time helps take the pressure off, especially for community managers who might otherwise feel that they need to constantly be on call.

That’s not always easy to do when those tasks often involve calming and helping angry people. “Don’t take customers’ opinions personally,” she said. “They are upset with the situation, not you as an individual.”

Having a good support network within the office can help you to work through those challenges when they arise, but Emily also said looking inward can assist with creating space between work mode and life mode. “Find the humor in each situation,” she said. “Customers get upset and bad things happen, but if you keep smiling and focus on the positive situations, the little things won’t get you down.”

Make Personal Time

In addition to drawing those emotional boundaries, Emily told us that carving out ‘me time’ is a must for staying sane on the job. “There are occasions after hours that extreme situations arise that must be handled, but make sure you are taking time to do something you enjoy each day,” she said.

That can take the shape of even a small thing to bring some joy to the day. For instance, in the list of her top three tools for the job, Emily included one that had no immediate impact on her tasks. She considers Jamberry nail wraps a must, “to make sure I take some time for myself,” she said. “Plus it gives me something cute to look at!”

She also emphasized the importance of disconnecting for a longer period of time when you need a chance to recharge. Emily said taking vacation time is good for battling the burnout. “Every once in a while, you have to walk away,” she said. “Put it down and trust your team while you’re gone.” When you have that strong rapport, you’ll feel more comfortable in taking some much-needed relaxation and returning to the job fresh.

To see more of Emily’s tips, click any of the images above or visit the Pinterest pin board. Have tips of your own to share? We’d love to hear them! Tweet @SproutSocial with the hashtag #CMFieldGuide, leave comments here, or visit us on Facebook and Google+ to join the conversation.