Is work/life balance possible for PR pros?
Working while balancing a personal life stresses out many public relations professionals, especially this time of year.
Think about today, for example. The kids are back in school. Labor Day weekend is behind you. Co-workers have wrapped up their summer vacations. For the first time since Memorial Day your staff is in one place. What was not even a second thought last week is suddenly urgent.
Do you feel invigorated to recommit to your end-of-year goals, or stressed because so much hasn’t been accomplished this summer and deadlines loom?
If you had a work/life balance, you wouldn’t feel invigorated or stressed, because your year would be balanced. There would be no ups and downs or ebbs and flows of a chaotic corporate existence.
Here are three ways to level out your life:
1. Adopt a rolling 12-month calendar.
Develop a strategic communications plan based on a rolling 12-month calendar. Stop planning your communications based on the calendar or fiscal year.
When PR people live by a calendar year, the “fresh start” syndrome hits every January—complete with quick-to-fail New Year’s resolutions. You spend January and February getting ready to get ready. March, April and May are busy, with pauses for spring break and Memorial Day. You accomplish little in the summer because too many people are on vacation. It takes several weeks to get rolling again after Labor Day—similar to what happens after New Year’s Day. By mid-September you are productive again, and stay focused through Halloween. Then it’s time to plan for Thanksgiving break and Christmas.
Before you know it, January rolls around and you start all over again.
Does this describe you? If so, you have five productive months a year and seven months of distractions.
Instead, aim to accomplish a goal between September 2014 and September 2015. Strategically plan all of your deadlines. On Oct. 1, 2014, extend the strategic plans and goals by one month, through October 2015. Do this on the first of every month, and you’ll have a rolling 12-month calendar.
2. Plan around obstacles.
As you build your rolling calendar, set clear, hard deadlines. Identify when people are inaccessible, such as in the summer, and plan around those challenges.
If you need a team meeting or training program next June, send the invitations now before people schedule vacations. Planning so far in advance will make next summer more productive; everything won’t come to a grinding halt.
3. Budget on a rolling 12-month calendar.
Budgeting will be easier with a rolling calendar. Set clear goals now to spend your remaining budget before the end of the calendar or fiscal year so you don’t lose money. But as you enter your new budgeting phase and make budget requests, schedule exactly when you plan to spend money for training and projects.
This allows you to set contracts early, which legally commits your funds to vendors, thus preventing the boss from taking away your money later should conditions change for the worse.
Stop losing momentum. Adopt a rolling calendar that resets strategic goals and budgets at the start of each month. Too many people live start-and-stop lives. End the ebb and flow to achieve greater work/life balance.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Braud Communications blog.