Finding Work-Life Balance

Image of Ernie Crow
Ernie Crow
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One of my favorite features on LinkedIn is the blog posting from their so-called Influencers.  The smart people contributing their thoughts to the LinkedIn community are too many to list, but whatever your interests, you can find many people to follow.  I follow a diverse group.  Some like Ban Ki-moon and Jim Kim lead global organizations that happen to use TeamPeople’s managed services.  Others come from media or technology companies, and some are just smart social observers.  Ari Emanuel is Co-CEO of WME (William Morris Endeavor) one of the top talent agencies in the world.  He is perhaps more famous as the man the character Ari Gold from the long-running HBO series Entourage was based upon.  The sage words reminding us to “stop and smell the roses” are the basis for his post “Thrive or Die” about the importance of finding good work-life balance.  While this blog post devolves into a promo for several of Mr. Emanuel’s high-powered friends and the work-life balance “events” they host (for quite a high admission fee), the message is a good one.  All of us who make our living hustling in the creative/technical worlds of media and production know how hard achieving a good work-life balance can be.  Not to mention controlling the related stress.

According to the American Institute of Stress, about 80% of employees surveyed feel stress on the job with nearly half saying they need help in learning how to manage stress.  According to New York Magazine, only 14% of Americans take two weeks or more for vacation. Of these 14% of Americans, almost 61% check their email while on vacation. So according to these reports, most people feel stressed at work, but hardly anyone takes appropriate vacation. What’s wrong with this picture?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about your work-life balance:

Your Work Environment

Everybody’s work situation is different.  In the past year, TeamPeople has moved its offices to a new building less than a quarter mile from our old location.  While we have more space to move around in and more offices to disappear into, the vibe around HQ has become much more upbeat. How’d that happen?  Well, a smart staff member appointed herself Director of Fun Raising and keeps coming up with new ways to get people out of their offices and interacting with each other.  That’s really working for us.  Maybe you’ve got someone like this at your workplace.  Or maybe you’re fortunate enough to hold a full time job where the employer provides health club or other wellness activities benefits.  If so, I urge you to take advantage of them.  Your work environment and mind-set of the people around you will affect your work-life balance.

Your Vacation Time

Similarly, if you earn PTO, use it. Not doing this is like leaving money on the table.  Time away from your job will help you return more rejuvenated and ready to work than ever.

Your Job Status

The life of a freelancer can be even more stressful with the constant pressure of where the next job will be coming from and when.  Time off is often not planned, it just happens because there’s no work.  Consider finding ways to enhance your knowledge and skills during unplanned downtime.  If you haven’t tried Lynda.com, you should.  There are dozens of useful courses for production people and the cost is very reasonable for courses you can take 100% on your own schedule.  Or, look for a needy non-profit.  I can tell you from experience that there are a bunch of them out there with modest communications capabilities that would profit greatly from people with real-world media production skills.  Often these relationships come with some quality networking opportunities.

So today’s reminder is simply to take the time to take care of yourself, that always pays dividends!

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