As marketers, we’re always on the go. We grab hold of the latest trends and work hard to maximize the channels at our command. We’re at our best when we represent products or services that truly resonate with us, which can easily lead to overworking.
Whether it’s figuring out why our latest PPC (pay per click) marketing campaign didn’t perform optimally, rewording that web copy for the fifth time, or flying halfway across the world to speak at an international marketing conference, successful marketers are tenacious and hardworking.
In all of that business, there’s busy-ness. This means we often neglect ourselves. Many of us tend to put off appointments with the doctor, spending extra time with the family, or even pursuing new and exciting areas of marketing we haven’t yet mastered. Yet, we all understand how essential these things are if we want to maintain peak performance as marketers and as humans in the world.
Why is it that marketers get so wrapped up in our jobs that we often forget to focus on other things? Often, we live and die by lists. Any inbound marketer can tell you about the importance of planning your content; any successful entrepreneur will tell you about the importance of structuring some parts of your day.
Similarly, to take care of ourselves and maintain career success as marketers, it only fits that a checklist will help. Best of all, this list will help you generate more content ideas and topics for marketing discussion.
Life Lessons as Marketing: Take Time Off
Have you ever noticed how Gary Vee and other successful marketers often use real-life lessons when they instruct others? That’s because life lessons are accessible, relatable, and genuine. Gary Vee has covered everything from the value of education and experience to what an intern should do on their first day—and most of the time, he talks, he provides examples from his real life and business experience.
Tony Robbins is another example. He’s one of the most famous life coaches out there, and he’s continually using models from real life. Politicians do it, too, with the additional obligation of amplifying their constituents’ stories.
Life lessons work. They help you speak about your experiences genuinely, and they let you live your life. In the hustle and bustle of work, you can still take time to live, and it will still have meaning and add value to your work.
Instead of feeling guilty about taking vacation time with your family away from the business of marketing, think about it as an essential ingredient in your success as a marketer. How do people execute marketing strategies in the place you’re visiting? What plans do your kids employ to get you to buy souvenirs? While you shouldn’t necessarily actively think about these things, you’ll likely have some light bulb moments while you’re vacationing.
Did you know that 90 percent of human resource managers believe that taking a vacation is suitable for your productivity? If you are unable to get away from your desk, think about that.
Working Too Much Will Take You Out of Play
The worst for your career is being wholly taken out of the field for a time. As marketers, we understand how rapidly things change in our field. The latest strategies, software, techniques—not to mention all the moves our competitors make—these are things we need to monitor daily.
Full-time workers in the United States log an average of 47 hours per week. That’s seven hours over the typical 40. Marketers and other workers who work long hours can experience the following symptoms more readily:
- Cardiac issues, including abnormal heart rhythm: Those who overwork themselves often experience cardiac abnormalities, such as arrhythmia, where the heart feels like it’s skipping beats, then rushing to keep up. While alarming, it’s a thing you can correct by taking it easy and reducing stress.
- Mental health problems: When the mind doesn’t get time to process the day in sleep, and your obligations are significant, it can result in mental health issues. When your relationships experience a negative impact due to workaholism, this can also create additional stress, impacting your mental health.
- Stroke: Over 200,000 people per year experience strokes in the United States and stress is a factor for many of them.
- Diabetes: Sitting at a desk all day and focusing on your job to an excessive degree can lead to poor diet habits, a sedentary lifestyle, and weight gain, all of which can put you at risk for Type 2 diabetes.
- Dental issues such as tooth-grinding: Are you having tooth pain even when you’re up to date on your dental visits? Tooth-grinding could indicate a lack of restful sleep and stress. Are you grinding your teeth at night? Ask your dentist for an exam.
In short, the level of stress will get to you. Health issues accumulate and will take you away from your desk in a big way. Instead of suffering from a stroke, needing hospitalization, and facing the possibility of a partial-recovery, why not take the time to focus on your health while you’re healthy?
Get Some Sleep and Dream of Success
Have you ever had dreams about marketing? These can be helpful or stressful. If you’re dreaming about the stack of paperwork on your desk and all those unanswered emails, you probably have a stress dream. If you have achieved work-life balance and you’re not overworked or stressed, you might be working in your sleep, dreaming about your next marketing campaign. That’s pretty easy, right? The idea’s there—you just need to wake up, head to work, and execute it.
You can only achieve that type of creative dreaming when your mind has enough time to process what’s going on. Without sleep, our body doesn’t repair itself. (This is an easy way for your cold to turn into pneumonia.) We also need rest to rejuvenate hormones and keep our bodies in balance.
It’s normal to spend about a third of our lives sleeping. As marketers, this can seem like wasted time—but don’t think of it that way! Instead, consider all the automated processes and outsourced labor you can use to get menial tasks accomplished while you’re snoozing. Use the tools you have to get the job done so you can enjoy a full, restful night of sleep.
You can always check your email campaign’s open and click rates in the morning.
Stress Reduction Activities
Consider activities that reduce stress. Instead of limiting yourself to the typical list (spa, yoga, etc.), be the best marketer you can and think outside of the box. What truly makes you feel relaxed? This could involve listening to an audiobook while you run, playing with animals, or blasting imaginary enemies in a video game. All of these activities and more are valid forms of stress reduction. Consider which actions inspire:
- Joy and jubilance: When was the last time you felt pure joy? Many people experience this on roller coasters. On such rides, you must give up any sense of control as the roller coaster controls your direction. Are you that kind of thrill-seeker?
- Catharsis: When was the last time you experienced catharsis? Catharsis is when you get to release suppressed emotions healthily. If you have some tensions with your coworkers, it’ll boil over unprofessionally unless you find a way to deal with those emotions. Working through those issues in role-playing games and activities or taking some punches at a punching bag at a gym can help you achieve catharsis, and, as a result, clarity of the mind.
- Creativity: We need to be creative as part of our roles as marketers. Without that, we’re stagnant. Creativity begets creativity, and the best way you can inspire yourself is to observe other creative works. Creative exploration could look like a fancy night at the opera to a relaxing evening with your partner, your favorite pet, a bowl of popcorn, and Netflix.
Additionally, don’t forget to take time for your creative endeavors. Your life’s work may very well be your work in marketing, but you deserve to make time for your creative pursuits. Spending time on creativity can look like writing your book, knitting, or customizing motorcycles. In short, you do you.
Work More Efficiently
Does your workplace offer flexibility? If so, take advantage of that. Without a commute, you can have extra hours in the day. Do not give in to the very real temptation to work during those hours: use your work at home “commute” time to relax, read a book, spend time with your family, and more. If you aren’t taking advantage of work at home days, start.
When you do work at home or on the road, make sure you set boundaries just as you would at the office. When it’s time to log off, stick to that—don’t give more of your time just because you can. The idea is to provide you with more flexibility; for your work to fit into your life more easily. Midday activities are also best when you get work at home flexibility. You’ll have time to pop into those medical appointments you’ve been putting off, have lunch with friends or old business contacts, or even take an afternoon nap—all guilt-free.
Working more efficiently doesn’t always have to involve work at home options. If you’re feeling stressed due to the amount of time you spend in the office, ask for other types of flexibility. You could do a 10 hour workday four days per week, getting a three-day weekend. You might also ask to do one or two meetings on your commute, or have that hour-long train ride on your laptop count towards your workday (since you’re working anyway). Communicate with your boss to see how you can make it work, and log your hours to find areas of potential flexibility or accommodation.
Find Work That Doesn’t Feel Like Work
What parts of your job do you enjoy the most? Maybe you want to start a marketing book club for your department. If your company sponsors it, you could lead a book group discussion, leading a group to read one book per month about marketing.
Instead of escaping the stress of work, you can always find areas you genuinely enjoy and do your best to do more of that. For many marketers, this involves specializing in a specific area of marketing (many of us start as generalists), attending more local events, and mentoring others in our craft.
Build the List
As a marketer, this is your forte. Break down your needs like you would a marketing campaign in the planning stages. What’s your goal? You want to achieve relaxation through self-care, avoid burnout, and ensure you’re present in all areas of your life. How do you get there? That’s where your list comes in.
Your list is a campaign to enrich your life and optimize your efficiency as a marketer. Break down how to get there by considering a few things:
- Your daily schedule and routine: Think about what you must accomplish each day, for example, taking the children to school at 7 a.m., being at work from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Your needs: What brings you joy, catharsis, and creativity? Try working those into your day.
- Short and long-term goals: Just like a marketing campaign, you have immediate and long-term goals. You’ve got the PPC ads of your life, which are things that bring instant result and gratification, and those inbound marketing analogs—those long term goals that take time to see results. Make sure you include both, so you get some fulfillment.
- Scrum life: You can go full Agile on your list if that makes the project manager in you happy. Don’t expect non-Scrum enthusiasts to get it, but if it helps, go with it.
Always make sure to include goal-based tasks so you can feel the accomplishment of checking things off once you do them. If it helps, make a smaller task list daily, or even embrace a “to-done” list to ensure you’re taking care of yourself in addition to getting your work tasks done. Don’t be surprised when your fellow marketers ask how you’re achieving work-life balance—just stay on track and continue to work on it.