When I worked at Yahoo, emails flew at 2 am. No kidding. The drive to respond was real, because you knew that – despite all the happy talk – you were being judged. And, it's only gotten more so for us – that is, PR people – who need to keep up with the news of the day (and the night) as it's happening.
Speaking for myself, I know I'm addicted. I put my iPhone down for a second and feel a kind of yearning for it that reminds me of new motherhood. It's really dysfunctional, but in a way unavoidable. The only way to keep up with everything – Facebook, Twitter, and everything else – is to stay up all night or skip something. That's the sad reality.
That said, we'd probably all be better – smarter and more productive -- if we took a minute to strategically “skip something.” “Lean back” – as Arianna Huffington says – in order to jump a little farther.
In Sheryl Sandberg's new book, Lean In, which comes out next week, she makes the case that women need to work harder and dream bigger. Well, I can tell you from the front lines, we're already working pretty hard. The trick is to find a workable balance that allows you to accommodate work and life. (Despite what they say, I treasure those flights without WiFi when I can read a good book and feel guilt free.)
Back in 1977, when the Concorde resumed service from JFK, I remember wondering what we needed supersonic travel for. I mean, after all, it's only a matter of a couple of additional hours. LOL. In a couple of short decades, things have progressed to the point where global communication is instantaneous. No need for a flight at all.
This instantaneous communication ups the ante as we keep 24-hour watch on, well, everything. All this to say that the 24/7 PR clock is grueling – inspiring and exciting at times - but punishing. And so forcing ourselves to take a little break - whether it's a vacation to Paris (wink wink) or a nap during the day – may enhance our productivity in the end and, like the folks at Keds once said, we will “run faster, jump higher.”
Here are a few of the things I have found most helpful in managing the 24/7 clock:
- Maintain timezone sanity: It's tough to find the perfect time of day when you work for a company in San Francisco and have clients in Europe. You could literally work from morning till night. Set your own parameters, and stick to it as much as possible.
- Exercise in the morning: Not sure this is a 24/7 thing, but it does help keep you in shape, physically and mentally.
- Do what you love: This definitely helps, no matter how many hours a day you're working.
- No office politics: Don't waste precious time and energy getting involving in office imbroglios. Not worth it.
- Don't sweat the small stuff: Ok, after a while, you get a feel for what's worth your time, but the reality is, there's a lot that can be handed off. So do it!
- Appointment viewing: Set aside time each day to check Twitter and Facebook.
- Family and friends: Count on them to clip for you and keep you posted on cool stuff.
- Finally, just say no to 2 am emails.