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There is no doubt the public relations business is a busy, exciting and hyperactive assault on the mind, senses and body. Simply put: It is a profession that requires you to mentally (and sometimes physically, particularly with those pesky events) give it your all every day. And at one end of the spectrum, these indelible facets of the business are what makes it so great and such a wonderful profession to work in, but they can also be the downfall of many, the cause of extreme burnout, if not managed and dealt with properly.
Which is probably why there are so many damn blog posts, articles, books, and Web sites devoted to work/life balance and effective time management and whether you need to separate your personal life/time from your professional life/time, or if you should choose the new trendy time-management theory of “your job and your personal life should blend harmoniously and in perfect sequence with one another.”
I say bulls*** to all of that.
Seriously. There is no magic theory or great article or blog post you can read that will help you deal with everything that comes at you in this profession or in any other, at least not from a time-management standpoint. Your life is your life, and whether you choose to designate some formal separation from work and home (e.g. not checking work e-mails every five minutes once you have left the office, or not constantly scanning the headlines on your BlackBerry during the weekend to see if there is some big trend rising up that you need to client your client in on), or whether you choose to have a cohesive blend of work and home is your own choice, and it’s one only you can make after a great deal of trial-and-error, introspection and thought about how you want to manage your life and career.
Because you have control over all of this. If you want to separate work from your home life, great. Do that. But know what you are doing, and be accountable for it. Likewise, if you want to be the always-on, “my work is my life, and vice-versa” type of PR guy, that’s fine, too; but again, know what comes with that. So, when you miss a big trend over the weekend that your client would have been perfect for, but you have decided that you’re a “work is separate from my personal life” type of PR pro, be accountable for what happens. Likewise, if you’re “always-on” PR guy, be accountable if you feel like you haven’t stepped off the giant treadmill of work for about 27-straight days.
I’m not trying to say one way is better than the other, or indict anyone who chooses one path versus the other. What I am saying is the constant chatter, articles and blog posts claiming that “work-life balance” no longer exists, or “to be successful, you must blend your life and your career” is a bunch of crap, and needs to stop. It’s your decision, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot of trial and error to figure it all out, and that’s something that none of the so-called “experts” in time management will ever be able to figure out for you.
As for me? I struggle every week with trying to figure out what type of career balance I want to strike. Some weeks, I’m flying along with a great balance of things, and everyone (me, my fiancé, my friends, family, clients, employer, etc.) is happy with how things are going, and the amount of attention I am giving them. Other weeks . . . eh, not so much. And, it’s exhausting sometimes to try to work through all of this.
So, no, unfortunately, I don’t have the magical answer for everyone on this, but I’d love to hear from all of you as to how you balance things out.
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