By Gerard Braud
Is “work – life” balance possible for people in public relations? Experience tells me many public relations professionals get stressed trying to complete job tasks while also balancing their family or personal life, especially this time of year.
Look at your life today, for example. The kids are back in school. The Labor Day weekend is behind you. Co-workers have all wrapped up their summer vacations. For the first time since Memorial Day the entire staff is all in one place at one time. What was not even a second thought last week is suddenly urgent and important.
Do you feel invigorated to recommit yourself to achieving end of year goals? Or do you feel stressed because so much has gone unaccomplished all summer and now deadline pressures are looming?
If you had work-life balance you would feel neither re-invigorated nor stressed after Labor Day because you live your entire year in balance rather than the ups and downs and ebbs and flow 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 and stop planning your communications based on either your calendar year or your fiscal year. When PR people live by a calendar year there is the “fresh start” syndrome of January, complete with soon-to-fail New Year resolutions. Next you spend January and February getting ready to get ready. March, April and May are your busy times of the year, with pauses for spring break and Memorial Day. Little gets accomplished in the summer because too many people who impact your goals and projects are on vacation. By the time you regroup after Labor Day, it takes several weeks to get rolling again, similar to New Years. By mid-September you are productive again and you stay focused through Halloween. Your mind then starts planning for Thanksgiving break and then for Christmas. Before you know it, New Years rolls around and you hit reset all over again.
Did I describe you? If so, it appears you have five productive months a year and seven months of distractions.
Instead, set a goal from September 2014, through September 2015. Strategically plan all of your goals and deadlines for training, publications, etc. On October 1, 2014, extend the strategic plans and goals by one additional month, through October 2015. Keep doing this at the first of every month and you now have a rolling 12-month calendar.
2) Plan around the obstacles
As you build your 12-month rolling calendar, set clear, hard deadlines. Identify the times of the year when people are inaccessible, such as in the summer, and plan around those challenges. If you need a team meeting or a training program next June, send the invitations out now, before people fill their calendars with vacation dates. That will make next summer more productive because you planned so far in advance. Everything won’t come to a grinding halt.
3) Budget on a rolling 12-month calendar
Your budgeting process will become easier with a 12-month rolling calendar. You should set clear goals now to spend your remaining budgets before the end of your calendar or fiscal year, so you don’t lose those dollars. But as you enter your new budgeting phase and make budget requests, you should also schedule on your calendar exactly when you plan to spend your dollars for training and projects using your 12-month rolling calendar.
This type of planning allows you to get contracts in place early, which legally commits your funds to vendors now, preventing the boss from taking your money away should conditions change for the worse down the road.
In conclusion, stop losing momentum. Adopt a rolling 12-month calendar that resets strategic goals and budgets at the start of each month for the next 12-months. Too many people live start and stop lives. Recommit today to end the ebb and flow to achieve greater work-life balance.