On the Road to Work-Life Balance: Part 1
”Work-Life Balance” seems to be the new buzzword of the last few years, and why shouldn’t it be? We all struggle to fit the puzzle pieces of career, family, friends, and personal time together. The Hello! family is no different, and we were curious as to what steps our team takes on their road to achieving work-life balance. This month, we’re interviewing two of our young professionals to get their insights while also hearing from two of our working moms. First, let’s take a quick moment to meet our panelists:
Our Young Professionals (YP)
Melissa came to us in 2012 shortly after earning her bachelor’s degree in Event Management with a minor in Hospitality Management from UCF’s Rosen College. An active member of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), she has served as a leader on the organization’s student advisory board. In her free time this Florida native likes attending Orlando Magic basketball games, scrapbooking and volunteering with the Salvation Army.
Texas native Autumn Hoten graduated from Louisiana State University before joining Hello! Texas in 2016 as a Sales Coordinator. In just over a year she transferred to the Hello! Nashville office, first as an Account Manager, and later being promoted to an Account Executive. Autumn is passionate about being organized and creative, having good relationships, and communicating effectively. At home, she loves spending time with her one-eyed toy poodle named Kenzie Marie.
Our Working Moms (WM)
Born in San Diego, Romy brought her deep knowledge of the local scene and 15 years of experience to Hello! in 2017. Romy’s wide-ranging experience gives her great insight into the hospitality industry. Her goal is to make her clients, vendors, and employees happy while also producing the best events possible. She enjoys working out and traveling with her husband, son, and daughter. A happy and outgoing member of the Hello! family, Romy has an eclectic taste in music, listening to everything from Coldplay to Justin Bieber.
Brianna brings more than 11 years of industry experience to the Account Executive role and a thorough understanding of the event management process from start to finish. Described as compassionate and determined, Brianna loves staying connected to the event community. As an Arizona native, she also loves spending time outdoors with her family in the beautiful Southwest. When she isn’t busy planning awe-inspiring events, she enjoys time with her husband and four daughters, who keep her on her toes!
What Techniques Do You Use to Manage Your Stress?
Brianna (WM): When I feel things might be getting a little overly stressed, simply taking a deep breath and powering through usually does the trick for me. Stepping outside for some sunlight and fresh air helps, too.
Autumn (YP): I try to find positive outlets. I’ve been running cross-country since middle school, so running has always been a “go to” for me. As I got older it became a great way to let off steam. On calmer and colder days (I’m strictly a warm weather runner!) I turn to a book for a mini mental vacation and escape to somewhere else. Either activity can be as long or short as needed and majorly helps my mood.
Romy (WM): I agree with Autumn! Working out is how I let it all go.
Melissa (YP): I’m very thankful to have such an amazing Sales Coordinator and Account Manager by my side to help me through stressful times and divide up workload. When I’m with my friends outside of work, we also have a rule that we don’t talk about work when we’re catching up to help de-stress and not make work a constant topic. On days where I can’t always see friends, a nice little run around the neighborhood always does the trick!
For the Working Moms, What Changes Have You Made to Your Work Routine After Having Children?
Romy (WM): There aren’t as many Happy Hours or staying out too late, but honestly, nothing has really changed too drastically for me. I try my best to balance it all.
Brianna (WM): Adapting my schedule to work best for my family. Thankfully, a lot of people in our industry are juggling families while working, so it’s great that we have the flexibility sometimes to adjust our schedules in order to make something else work. Leaving early one day or staying late another depending on our deadlines is very helpful. Formally scheduling everything on my calendar also allows me to not get sucked into something that I can’t dedicate time to on that particular day.
How Do You Find Time for Yourself?
Melissa (YP): It can be hard to find time for myself during certain times of the year, but I plan yearly vacations with my close friends and that always gives me something to look forward to. We spread out planning times and get together usually every month to plan parts of our trip. I enjoy the “girl time” as well as searching for the best things to do in the country we’re visiting.
Brianna (WM): Since I do commute to work on a daily basis, I use my alone time in the car for thinking and getting my mind right for the next action, whether that’s on the way to work or when I’m heading home. Even though I wish I didn’t have to spend quite as much time on my commute, I make the time productive by reflecting.
Romy (WM): I make it a point to try and schedule time to go out with friends, have a date night, take a wine break, etc.
Autumn (YP): I try to plan accordingly and be aware of any gaps in my schedule. I really focus on not overscheduling my down time. While spending time with friends always sounds great, sometimes knowing my own limits is a life saver. It gives me the opportunity to enjoy the time I need for some R&R since my job can be very go, go, go.
How Do You Remain Efficient During Your Day?
Brianna (WM): Trying to work smarter, not harder is very important! By keeping on track with a schedule, I can stay on top of my world with work AND homelife. One of the most important ways I remain efficient is by having a strong and skilled team by my side.
Melissa (YP): I remain efficient throughout the day by having my color-coded calendar appointments to note what tasks I need to get done versus what my meeting appointments are. Plus, having my daily checklist front and center is a driving force in my efficiency, since checking something off my list is super satisfying and pushes me to get things done!
Romy (WM): Three words: prioritizing, reprioritizing, and multitasking.
Autumn (YP): My lists and calendars help me remain efficient. I just have to make sure I use my checklists and prioritize.
Working Moms—Do You Have Any Outside Support System in Place to Help You with Managing Your Family?
Brianna (WM): My biggest support comes from my amazing husband, who does so incredibly much for me and our family. Not only does he have a full-time career himself, but he also picks up all four of the kids from their school on a daily basis, keeps them entertained, totes them all with him to activities, and gets dinner started! Our children are in pre-school, grade school, and we have a babysitter for our younger children, so there is a lot going on, but we love it!
Romy (WM): Like Brianna mentioned, a support system is crucial. I’m very lucky and grateful to have my husband, nanny, and two sets of parents by my side.
How Do You Establish Boundaries to Keep Your Work and Personal Life Separate?
Autumn (YP): They naturally stay separate unless I merge them intentionally…so not really sure there’s a boundary issue there for me.
Romy (WM): I try to make plans and organize play dates with my friends and family all of the time. I like to focus on my family on the weekends, though taking some weekend trips helps, too.
Brianna (WM): In this business, it’s hard to keep our two lives separate because of how dedicated we are to our careers and our clients. I try to follow through as best as I can with my expectations so when I know I need to turn off, I’ll turn off.
Melissa (YP): I have a company cell phone, which means I carry around two phones at times, but it helps me to “turn things off” when I can or be able to focus on my friends and family when I’m with them. Letting my team, as well as some clients, know if I’m out of town on the weekends also helps to set the boundaries.
How Do You Prioritize Your Time?
Melissa (YP): Utilizing my resources in the office is a huge part of helping me prioritize my time. I can share program leads with my wonderful co-worker, Robyn Boyd, to make sure we’re capturing business and that each client is getting the attention they need. My Sales Coordinator and I also focus on upcoming and quick deadlines first and then go through our follow-ups. There is always room for adjustment and keeping parts of the day open for any pop-ups is also key.
Brianna (WM): Being flexible with my day helps me prioritize my time. Creating a list of what NEEDS to happen vs. what I WANT to happen is a “best practice” for me. If I can push something, I’ll push it to help alleviate another stress that might be coming up.
Romy (WM): I take the kids to school in the morning, focus specifically on work during the day, grab the kids again after work, and then catch up on more work after they’re asleep or step out for some “me” time to destress.
Autumn (YP): I’m kind of the same as Brianna…knowing how much time I have to work with and how long specific tasks will take is huge for me. For example, if I know I have to account for a meeting during the day, I can see what items I can effectively check off the to-do list in the time I have, instead of getting started on a task and having to stop midway through. That helps me focus on each task and minimize mistakes.
What is Your Biggest Struggle?
Brianna (WM): Not having enough time in the day! If we can just add, like, five more hours I think it would make life a little easier. Or better yet, if I could just clone myself, that would help!
Romy (WM): Trying to balance a busy life full of schedules and trying to be everything for everybody.
Autumn (YP): Knowing when to let things go. Having worked in several roles, it’s sometimes hard letting others take on a task instead of just doing it myself.
Melissa (YP): I would have to say my biggest struggle is setting priority timelines with my clients. I always want to say “yes” to them and make things happen for their program, but this can also mean working late nights and having a full schedule.
Brianna and Romy—Do You Have Any Tips or Tricks for the Other Working Mom Event Professionals Out There?
Brianna (WM): Finding a partner that understands our world and values your love for the job is so incredibly helpful. We would not be able to do what we do without the support from our loved ones. Being true to yourself and setting real expectations has also helped me a lot. I know I’m going to miss things, but I also know that I am doing the best that I can.
Romy (WM): It takes a village. Life is so busy…try and live in the moment!
Autumn and Melissa—Do You Have Any Tips or Tricks for the Other Young Event Professionals Out There?
Autumn (YP): Find a job you love with a great company. I might be stating the obvious, but I’ve come to learn that not everyone thinks this is possible. It absolutely, 100% is, and you shouldn’t give up looking for it. Second, it’s OK to know and communicate your limits. When I started my career, it wasn’t just another job to me and I was so afraid to lose it that I thought I had to be superwoman, taking on everything that was thrown my way. You WILL get burned out (and quick!) working like that. If you have others that can help, let them.
Melissa (YP): Knowing your limits is something that will be a key tool in being successful, and not over-stressing about things. Having a release or activity outside of work helps to balance your life and keep your stress down. Definitely learn from others and ask questions about things that are new to you, so you know what to expect and how to maneuver a situation.
We hope you were able to find at least one small tidbit in there to help manage the crazy. We’ll be back next month with our On the Road to Work-Life Balance: Part 2, where we’ll get some tips and insight from our teammates who are well established in their position, as well as those who are finding their way through brand new roles.