I frequently hear that community builders are dedicating so much time to their work, that they are not sufficiently prioritizing their self investment, or their own wellbeing. To try to establish some common knowledge, I want to share some things that I think 

community builders should be regularly doing. I’ve tried to give a rough breakdown of the share of time dedicated to these - although I suspect there are many situations where these rough time allocations do not hold.

Self investment I think community builders should do

  • Rest (~10% of time)
    • Holiday - Community Building Grants are made in the expectation that people work ~normal working hours for their location. This includes taking holiday, without needing to “pay back” the hours. For people on other types of grants, I also think that the level of holiday that optimizes productivity for most people is >0
      • Example: EACH (EA Switzerland) make it explicit in their work contracts that they must take a certain amount of time off
  • Self development (~10% of time, more for those new to effective altruism)
    • Cause prioritization - If community builders are to be persuasive when they make the case for effective altruism, I think it is important that they have thought through their own opinions on cause prioritization. I would not be persuaded that I should invest a lot of time in learning and making detailed prioritizations if the person encouraging me had not done so themselves. Additionally, I think it’s motivating to feel you are working on something that is truly aligned with your values, and if you aren’t taking time to revisit the implications of your values, I don’t think this can be true.
      • Example: The coaching pilot for city and national groups led to multiple group leaders committing to re-evaluating their cause prioritization
    • Learning - In the recent post Bad Omens in Community Building the author explains “...in the first session, foundational arguments were laid out, and he was encouraged to offer criticism. So he did. According to him, the organisers were grateful for the criticism, but didn’t really give him any satisfying replies.” This seems bad, and I think it is worthwhile investing in learning to reduce incidents like this.
      • Example: In April and May of this year I read the texts for EA Cambridge’s AGI SF
  • Improving working practices (~5%)
    • Predictions - As CEA’s CBG manager, I get to read the strategies and plans of many different groups. It is exceedingly rare that these strategies or plans make explicit predictions about the impact that they will have. Planning is hard, and by not making predictions, community builders are depriving themselves of a major source of information about their planning.
      • Example: EA Netherlands make predictions about tactical decisions that they are uncertain on, to try and improve over time
    • Working on the collaboration or ways of working - For community builders that work in teams, I think it is important to take time to review how the collaboration is going. What do you enjoy about working together? What parts of the collaboration are frustrating? Are there things you can change to collaborate better in the future?
      • Examples: Organisers sharing their self perception of: Strengths, weaknesses, how they like to receive feedback, personal development objectives (and how the rest of the team can support this); Habit tracking; Identifying and tracking growth areas

Taking the above into account, this then implies 75% of your time should be on object level community building.

What I suspect is blocking self-investment

  • Start-up-ness: Community builders are working in small organisations without fully defined processes, which can lead to a sense of "as soon as we get things under control, we'll rest / focus on ourselves"
    • Possible mitigation: Announcing self-investment in your strategy, to put this on equal footing with other commitments
  • Community pressure: It is difficult to say no to community members, which can cause a long list of projects, causing self-investment to be deprioritised
    • Possible mitigation: Part of my motivation to write this post is to make it common knowledge that community builders should self-invest, and community members should be understanding of this. I think community  members will understand when community builders prioritise self-investment
  • Planning challenges: It is difficult to plan projects that haven’t been done before, especially for people with less professional experience. As such, community builders that intend to spend 75% of their time on direct community building may misjudge how much work takes 75% of their time
    • Possible mitigation: Booking time with productivity and professional coaches seems like it would often be a good investment of community builder time, and would help to address some of these planning challenges

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