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Officers' Quarters: The importance of finding 'me time'

murozond's hourglass
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available from No Starch Press.

Something most nonofficers don't realize is the amount of time that officers spend dealing with guild business when we're otherwise off the clock. Nights with no official events can seem like a great time to log in and enjoy a relaxing solo play session. You plan to work on an alt, level a profession, or earn some achievements.

Then a member whispers you about a loot issue, someone else needs a few alts invited, a third member wants to talk strategy for the next raid, and so on. Suddenly your night is gone and you haven't managed to finish anything you actually set out to do -- especially relax. This week, one guild leader wants to know how to carve out some time for herself.
Hi Scott,

I assumed leadership of our social/casual guild early in the winter, and with the help of two senior officers have resurrected that which was once essentially dead. We have enjoyed the process of breathing life into our little community, and welcomed new guildies with open arms. As the weeks passed interactions between the members increased, guild chat started being used, dungeon runs and retro-raids started happening again, and each week more players entered the fold.

Then with the addition of the spouse and friends of one of our guildmates, we embarked on a raiding career. We are now 5/8 DS 10N, and run regularly two or three nights a week. As is so often the case, we now have more DPS that are interested in raiding than spots available, so we have stepped up recruiting to find enough raid-ready people so that we can start a second raid group.

I sometimes find this process exciting and rewarding, but more and more I am feeling overwhelmed. In addition to raiding and leading the guild, I am also an extremely serious alto-holic. I love questing. I have all the professions covered (some more than once), and on top of seeking out and collecting all the professional recipes, I also collect mounts and pets.

I don't mind putting my responsibilities to the guild and the raid team before my own playtime, but I am finding it harder and harder, with the growth of the guild, to carve out any time for myself.

Lately I have made a stand and told the guild I need time to work on my own characters. When I log onto a toon other than my main I announce in guild chat that I am not available except in case of emergencies, I mark myself /DND and flip to the combat log so I don't even see the chat panel. Some guildies just don't get it though.

I have three active officers who all have responsibilities, and one honorary officer. All Officers have the ability to invite new members to the guild, and all participate actively in recruiting. I know how important proper delegation is, and everything that can be delegated at this point, is.

I want to stay involved with what the guild is doing. I don't want to be seen as exclusionary or aloof. I want to support new and/or lower level members, and help to make them feel at home, but I am starting to reach my wits end.

Am I being foolish thinking that I can lead a guild while playing the game in my own way? Are there other things I could do to resolve this situation? Must I resort to rolling off-server to indulge my interests? Help me O Great Sage. Throw me a lifeline.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Hi, Burning. Your situation is fairly common for a guild leader, particularly when your guild has a social component. The larger your roster grows, the more people will ask you for advice, favors, support, and "just a minute" of your time.

On the plus side, consider it a compliment that so many in the guild look to you for help and for answers. Clearly they consider you a friendly and reliable officer.

Guarding your time

Announcing some boundaries can sometimes help, but as you've discovered, it's not always effective. A player who logs in after your announcement won't understand why you're set to DND. Or else they'll simply tell themselves that tag applies to everyone else but not them. (After all, you're their guild leader, right?)

Every player who whispers you thinks they're the only one who's doing so. "Tell hell" wasn't coined as a theoretical situation; for officers, it's a very real place.

One method I tried was to set aside a specific period during each week when other officers and I would make ourselves available to help anyone with anything they needed. It didn't really catch on, however. I think players were a bit embarrassed to come forward during these specific windows.

A better solution that I discovered was this: When I logged in during prime time intending to do some solo play, I asked right away if anyone needed anything from me. That way, I was able to get most of the requests and conversations out of the way early in my play session. After I'd handled all the immediate business, I was able to enjoy some solo time with fewer interruptions.

Managing expectations

Not all requests are vital, and not everything has to be handled by you. Don't give in to every frivolous urge your guild members may have. If you say no once in a while and establish that you aren't always on the clock as a guild leader, people will have more respect for your time in the long run. As guild leader, I always put my foot down when it was late at night and people wanted to discuss guild business. A Saturday at 2 a.m. is not the time for that!

There are often some good reasons to say no -- to encourage some self-reliance, for example, in a player who turns too frequently to others for help with soloable tasks. Also, some drama is better off being handled between the players themselves. If you step in every time, then your members will expect officer assistance with every minor squabble.

Selecting which issues you will address and which you won't is an important skill for any leader. Sports coaches couldn't do their job very well, after all, if the players brought every little problem to them. That's what agents are for.

Escaping to alts

Of course, if it gets to be too much, you can always play an unguilded alt -- that is, if you haven't shared your Real ID with your guildmates. There's nothing wrong with enjoying the game without the responsibility from time to time.

If you find yourself doing that too much, however, you may be experiencing some serious officer burnout. In that case, you've overextended yourself. You may need to take a break or even step down from your position.

The fact that you're still mostly enjoying your role tells me that you're not close to that point yet. I think that carving out more time for yourself between raids will go a long way to ensuring you never get there.

/salute

Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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