October 03

No Marketer is an Island

Cracking the Code of work-life balance

In the world of marketing, I’ve observed a common thread that binds professionals of all ages together – a struggle to cope with the relentless pressures that come with the territory. It’s a field that demands all of you, often without showing the appreciation that you deserve. Personally, I’ve felt the weight of these challenges, and I know I’m not alone.

Working in marketing is akin to a high-stakes tightrope walk. It’s an industry where job security, once a dependable pillar of one’s career, now feels like a relic of the past. The tenure of your role may only last as long as the latest new business win takes to bed in. In this dynamic, 24/7 digital and multi-channel world we operate in, the demands are unceasing, and the expectations are ever-expanding.

In this journey, we face a paradox—an industry that thrives on innovation and creativity often neglects the well-being of its workforce. It’s a world where burnout is a looming spectre, the gig economy is messing with your credit score, working from home is blurring the line between work and personal life. So, how do we navigate this challenging terrain? How do we preserve our mental health and find balance in an industry that rarely pauses for a breath? Let’s explore the strategies and insights that can help us not just survive but thrive in the demanding realm of marketing.

Work life balance is more than a pipe dream

Work-life balance is a concept that refers to the equilibrium and harmony between a person’s professional or work-related responsibilities and their personal life, including family, social, leisure, and self-care activities. It involves effectively managing one’s time, energy, and priorities to ensure that neither work nor personal life dominates to the detriment of the other.

A healthy work-life balance means that individuals can fulfil their work-related commitments and responsibilities while also having sufficient time and energy to engage in activities that are personally fulfilling, nurturing relationships, and taking care of their physical and mental well-being. Striking this balance is essential for overall well-being, reducing stress, preventing burnout, and maintaining a satisfying and fulfilling life both at work and outside of it.

Well being and peace of mind needs a contract

Maintaining work-life balance and protecting mental well-being is crucial for marketers in the fast-paced digital world, but you won’t find it mentioned in your contract. Here’s guidance for authoring and achieving a productive and healthy relationship between you and work:

Set Clear Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Designate specific work hours and stick to them. Communicate these boundaries to your colleagues and clients.

Prioritise Tasks: Identify your most important tasks and focus on them first. Avoid multitasking, as it can lead to burnout. Use task management tools to stay organized.

Time Management: Efficiently manage your time by using techniques like the Pomodoro technique (working in focused bursts with short breaks) to maintain productivity while preventing burnout.

Delegate and Outsource: Don’t try to do everything yourself. Delegate tasks that others can handle and consider outsourcing certain responsibilities to experts when feasible.

Stay Informed, Not Overwhelmed: Stay updated on industry trends, but don’t overwhelm yourself with information. Select a few trusted sources to follow and allocate specific time for industry research.

Limit Digital Overload: Constant connectivity can be draining. Set specific times to check emails and notifications. Consider using “Do Not Disturb” modes during non-working hours.

Practice Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your routine, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. These can help reduce stress and improve focus.

Regular Breaks: Take regular breaks during the day to recharge. Short walks, stretching exercises, or even a few minutes of relaxation can make a significant difference.

Exercise and Diet: Maintain a healthy lifestyle by prioritizing regular exercise and a balanced diet. Physical health greatly contributes to mental well-being.

Socialise and Connect: Make time for family and friends. Social connections provide emotional support and balance the demands of work.

Learn to Say No: It’s okay to decline additional work when your plate is already full. Overcommitting can lead to stress and burnout.

Seek Support: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek professional help or counselling. Mental health is as important as physical health.

Reflect and Adapt: Regularly reflect on your work-life balance. Adjust your strategies as needed to maintain equilibrium.

Set Realistic Goals: Be realistic about what you can achieve in a given timeframe. Setting achievable goals prevents unnecessary stress.

Disconnect on Holidays: When you’re on vacation or taking time off, disconnect from work entirely. Your well-being is essential for long-term success.

Remember that achieving work-life balance is an ongoing process. It requires self-awareness and a commitment to prioritising your mental and physical health. By implementing these strategies, you can navigate the demands of the digital marketing profession while safeguarding your well-being.

Help is at hand for any marketing professional

If you are struggling in any way, I urge you to get help. NABS, the National Advertising Benevolent Society has helped many of my friends and is staffed by people who know all about life in marketing-related professions. 

NABS’ Advice Line is a free and confidential helpline. Their staff give confidential, impartial and empathetic advice to callers in all kinds of roles who are facing all kinds of personal and professional challenges. 

As they say on their website: https://nabs.org.uk/how-we-can-help/advice-line/ they receive calls from people seeking help with a huge variety of problems, from emotional and mental health to financial and family issues. Essentially, we’re here to provide support with any problems that affect somebody’s ability to thrive at work.

Their Advice Line is staffed by a dedicated and first-class team, who combine expertise in counselling, therapy and employment law with personal knowledge of our industry and its organisations, from the pressures of pitching to HR processes.

The Advice Line is also the first port of call from anybody seeking financial assistance. They can even award Upskilling or Support Grants, depending on eligibility.

If you’d like some help, call them on 0800 707 6607 between 9am – 5.30pm (weekdays), chat with their SupportBot or email support@nabs.org.uk for tailored advice and guidance, whatever your level or experience. They will respond to all calls and emails within 24 hours.

NABS offers a range of services and programs aimed at helping professionals in the advertising and media sectors with their well-being, career development, and personal needs. Some of the services and initiatives provided by NABS may include:

Mental Health Support: NABS offers mental health resources, counselling, and assistance to individuals dealing with stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges related to their work in the industry.

Career Support: The organisation provides career guidance, workshops, and networking opportunities to help professionals advance in their advertising and media careers.

Financial Assistance: NABS may offer financial aid to individuals facing financial hardship due to illness, disability, or other unexpected circumstances.

Educational Programs: NABS often hosts educational events, seminars, and workshops to help industry professionals stay up to date with industry trends and best practices.

Well-being Initiatives: NABS promotes well-being and work-life balance among its members, recognizing the demanding nature of the advertising and media field.

Fundraising and Awareness: The organization may engage in fundraising efforts to support its programs and raise awareness about the challenges faced by individuals in the industry.

NABS plays a crucial role in offering support and resources to those working in the advertising and media sectors, acknowledging the unique pressures and demands of these professions. The specific services and programs offered by NABS may vary between the UK and Canada, but both organizations share a common goal of assisting industry professionals in times of need and promoting their overall well-being.

Help is at hand for everybody

Life is a journey filled with its fair share of challenges, twists, and turns. Sometimes, these challenges can feel overwhelming, leaving us in need of support, guidance, or a helping hand. It’s essential to recognize that seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a courageous and proactive step towards bettering ourselves and navigating life’s complexities.

Whether you’re facing personal struggles, grappling with mental health concerns, dealing with work-related stress, or simply seeking guidance on a particular issue, you’re not alone on this journey. There are countless resources, professionals, friends, and family members ready to offer their assistance and expertise. Remember, asking for help is a testament to your strength and resilience, and it can be the first step toward positive change and growth.

You can get therapy sessions for free on the NHS. These services are usually called talking therapy or psychological wellbeing services.

  1. Go to the online NHS talking therapies service finder, and use it to find and contact your local service.
  2. You’ll need to know what GP surgery you’re registered with and be over 18. You’ll also need to give some details about yourself, and a way to contact you.
  3. Within a few weeks someone from the service should contact you to do an assessment.

Help is at hand for anyone supporting a friend

If you are unsure how to help a friend, try Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk They have great advice, I have found useful, such as:

If someone lets you know that they are experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings, it’s common to feel like you don’t know what to do or say – but you don’t need any special training to show someone you care about them. Often just being there for someone and doing small things can be really valuable. For example:

Listen. Simply giving someone space to talk, and listening to how they’re feeling, can be really helpful in itself. If they’re finding it difficult, let them know that you’re there when they are ready.

Offer reassurance. Seeking help can feel lonely, and sometimes scary. You can reassure someone by letting them know that they are not alone, and that you will be there to help.

Stay calm. Even though it might be upsetting to hear that someone you care about is distressed, try to stay calm. This will help your friend or family member feel calmer too and show them that they can talk to you openly without upsetting you.

Be patient. You might want to know more details about their thoughts and feelings or want them to get help immediately. But it’s important to let them set the pace for seeking support themselves.

Try not to make assumptions. Your perspective might be useful to your friend or family member but try not to assume that you already know what may have caused their feelings, or what will help.

Keep social contact. Part of the emotional support you offer could be to keep things as normal as possible. This could include involving your friend or family member in social events or chatting about other parts of your lives.

They also suggest you get in touch with your GP asap and give lots of useful advice on talking to trained therapists, friends and family and Charites.

These are the world champions of help

Samaritans. To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email jo@samaritans.org or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Samaritans Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7pm–11pm every day).

SANEline. If you’re experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000(4.30pm–10.30pm every day).

National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK. Offers a supportive listening service to anyone with thoughts of suicide. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652 (6pm to midnight every day).

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). You can call the CALMon 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) if you are struggling and need to talk. Or if you prefer not to speak on the phone, you could try the CALM webchat service.

Shout. If you would prefer not to talk but want some mental health support, you could text SHOUT to 85258Shout offers a confidential 24/7 text service providing support if you are in crisis and need immediate help.

The Mix. If you’re under 25, you can call The Mix on 0808 808 4994(3pm–midnight every day), request support by email using this form on The Mix website or use their crisis text messenger service.

Papyrus HOPELINEUK. If you’re under 35 and struggling with suicidal feelings, or concerned about a young person who might be struggling, you can call Papyrus HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141 (24 hours, 7 days a week), email pat@papyrus-uk.org or text 07786 209 697.

Nightline. If you’re a student, you can look on the Nightline websiteto see if your university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.

Switchboard. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 (10am–10pm every day), email chris@switchboard.lgbt or use their webchat service. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+.

C.A.L.L. If you live in Wales, you can call the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L.) on 0800 132 737 (open 24/7) or you can text ‘help’ followed by a question to 81066.

Helplines Partnership. For more options, visit the Helplines Partnership website for a directory of UK helplines. Mind’s Infoline can also help you find services that can support you. If you’re outside the UK, the Befrienders Worldwide website has a tool to search by country for emotional support helplines around the world.

In the hustle and bustle of our professional lives, it’s easy to overlook one of the most vital aspects of our existence—maintaining a healthy work-life balance. We’ve explored strategies and insights to help marketers thrive in the demanding world of advertising and media. Now, let’s take a moment to underscore the paramount importance of work-life balance.

Our well-being, both mental and physical, hinges on finding equilibrium between our professional and personal lives. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. When we strike that balance, we’re not just better employees or entrepreneurs; we’re better partners, parents, friends, and individuals.

Maintaining work-life balance isn’t about shirking responsibilities or lowering our ambitions; it’s about optimizing our potential. It’s about recognizing that a life well-lived encompasses a rich tapestry of experiences, both within and beyond the workplace. It’s about safeguarding our mental health and nurturing our relationships.

As we navigate the intricate landscape of marketing and advertising, remember that your well-being is the linchpin of your success. It’s a continuous journey that requires intention, self-care, and an unwavering commitment to preserving the precious balance between your professional and personal worlds.

In the end, the true measure of accomplishment lies not only in what we achieve at work but also in the moments we create outside of it. Work-life balance isn’t a luxury—it’s a gift we give ourselves, a key to lasting fulfilment, and a testament to our resilience in the face of life’s demanding complexities.

I am grateful to all those who have given a few moments of undivided attention when it was needed. I am grateful for all those who are supporting friends at this very moment. In my 40-plus years in marketing, there have been moments when I’ve needed help and support, and I am profoundly grateful to all those who showed up, lending their wisdom, kindness, and understanding. Through it all, I’ve held onto a little mantra that has seen me through even the most troubled waters:

“In seeking help, we display strength. In showing vulnerability, we reveal resilience. And in embracing support, we find our way through the storm.”

It’s a reminder that in our moments of need, reaching out is a testament to our inner strength. Vulnerability is not weakness, but rather a stepping stone to resilience. And the support we receive can guide us through the darkest of times.

So, as you navigate your journey, remember that it’s okay to seek help, to be vulnerable, and to lean on the support of others. It’s these connections and moments of shared humanity that make our professional and personal journeys all the more meaningful. 

Gratitude: a mantra for the small things that make a big difference