Between 2000-2003, I worked in top advertising agencies, being involved in large-scale communication projects for clients such as Orange, Scandia, Cosmorom.
Beyond having a cool, creative, possibly well-paid job with which to impress your friends, beyond the satisfaction of seeing your campaigns on TV, in press, online, outdoor, radio or in stores, to work in an advertising agency is a combination of a sprinter, a pole jumper and a marathon runner.
Sprinter due to the permanent pressure of deadlines. Respecting the deadline represents for clients an infallible tool for evaluating your work.
Pole jumper because no matter the obstacles you or your client face, you need to find a professional and fast solution.
Marathon runner because the work implies endurance, being extended beyond the standard 8-hours.
I still see recruitment ads that include ”frequent travel, availability for effort and stress, performing additional tasks drawn by the hierarchical superior”. Translation: prolonged working program, often over 8 hours.
In this context, how do you draw the demarcation line between professional life and your personal life? How fixed / fluid is this limit? How do you act effectively for personal time not to be affected by your professional activity?
From my own professional experience, I understood that when it is often necessary to work over the program, in general such situations are the effect of some causes that can be specifically identified.
It can be a resource problem in the sense that the organizational chart / size of the team are not calibrated to workload.
In this case, it is necessary to have a precise documentation of the work submitted and to present it to your superiors. Even if most of the time the organization chart is not immediately adjusted, you can use this occasion to adjust your benefit package.
It can be a project management problem in the sense that the team / individual accept tasks, responsibilities in addition to current ones.
In MYPRODUCT8 I detailed the way in which I regulated such a situation.
It can be a time management problem when activities such as smoking, 3-4 coffees or excessive socialization contract the real working time.
If you are doing this, then it’s easy to act. If your projects depend on how your colleagues move / deliver, then the regulation of the situation requires diplomacy and tact because it involves collegiate relationships. And no one wants to bother their colleagues.
It can be a problem with deadlines, when to projects or current tasks are imposed unreasonable deadlines (today, tomorrow) or when most projects fall into the urgent / priority category.
In such situations it is good to establish from the beginning what is urgent, which is a priority project and documented that the acceptation of such projects has as a direct consequence the later delivery of some of the current tasks.
It can be a positive discrimination in the sense that an individual with multifunctional skills, able to cover various professional areas is permanently loaded with tasks. I know the example of an exceptional professional, the 4 in 1 type that covers the functions of purchasing, marketing / branding, product registration, reporting and sales support.
Last but not least, it can be a harmful management from hierarchical superior. This is the case with the emails received at the end of the working program (16-17-18) or even after the end of the job (19-20-21) so when you come back to work in the morning you find the inbox full of tasks to be solved, tasks added those already included in your current agenda. It is the case of scheduled appointments at the end of the working program (17-18) because the manager has than time to meet you.
It is the case when company requests to employees to come in weekends to help at fairs, exhibitions, etc.
In these situations, I believe that it is necessary to have a direct approach to the problem and to explain how such harmful requirements influence your personal time and personal life.
Manifest without retention my availability for travel, prolonged work schedule as long as this approach is the result of a personal assumption and not the effect of major dysfunctions such as those mentioned above.
At the same time, I have a deep respect for colleagues and co-workers, so I avoid as much as possible to schedule internal meetings at the end of the program, to send emails with tasks or to discuss normal work situations after the end of the standard program.
Professional urgency is a well-defined category in my standards, situations that exceptionally exceed the limits mentioned above and for which I require understanding from my interlocutors.
I fully understood the demarcation line between professional and personal life when I was hired at DHL.
Moving from the marathon runner work in advertising agency to a “standard” job, I felt it directly, meaning that in the first few days, going home after the end of the program at a reasonable time at 5pm, I was surprised to see the city in the light of the day. It was almost like a visual shock.
It is said that young people today are less willing to make compromise on personal life and time in relation to professional life. It is normal to be so.
On the other hand, a relevant professional career is not achieved without sacrifices. And this is normal too.
However what matters is that the balance between professional and personal life to be in equilibrium. And achieving this balance is 100% a personal decision and a personal approach.
Notification: MYPRODUCT reflects my real professional experience and expertise as well as my subjectivity. I do have a profound respect for all the companies I collaborated to and for all the people I worked with. It is not my intention to approach any sensitive, confidential or offending information related to companies, projects or people. If you the reader deduct or recognise companies, projects or people in my examples, I kindly ask you to respect MYPRODUCT and my professional and ethic approach and to not share any detail, information, situation, name, company.