If you’re not careful, this job can take over your life – ESPECIALLY if you’re passionate about it.
So just like you might have to do in your personal life, setting boundaries Is a must.
Here are five tips I’ve learned.
1. Anything can be a story, and anything can ruin a moment.
We almost can’t help it. It doesn’t matter if you’re with family or out on a date, something happens and your first reaction is: “That’s a story!”. You start jotting notes in your phone, and digging for background information to prepare for Monday’s pitch meeting – even though It’s Saturday night. It’s a good story, dang it! As journalists, we’re always aware that a story can be anywhere. I’ve found myself in the above situation so many times.
After spending limited time with my parents during the last year because of COVID-19, I finally found myself taking them out for a day on the town. That’s when I spotted what looked like a fire. Without thinking, I crossed three lanes of traffic and pulled into the scene. Mind you. This was my day off. Next thing I know, I’m taking pictures, taking video, looking for someone to talk to, sending it back to the station, etc. By the time I got back in the car with my ever-so-understanding family, I’d lost almost an hour of time with them – time that I deeply craved for nearly ten months in 2020.
Be mindful of how your professional life spills over into your personal life. If you get a story tip, jot down the details in a note on your phone and plan to follow up when it makes sense. We already work crazy hours, and holidays. Don’t let the job take away precious moments, too.
2. Turn off your push alerts.
It took me almost 2 years to finally do this. Typing this makes me realize I was slightly addicted to news. But, I had to know what was going on – especially as the rookie anchor on the scene. Not knowing was not acceptable to me – even when I was off of work. But leave it to good old 2020 to teach me a thing or two. I found myself in quarantine and anxious. In addition to day-to-day news, the details of the virus continued to change, and I found myself holding onto every single notification related to it. Seeking therapy for anxiety helped me to realize that I had to find time to shut. it. off….even if it was just for a few hours. Surprisingly, a few hours morphed into full days. I took all news-related push alerts off of my personal phone, and now I only get them on my work phone. That means when I turn off that phone for the weekend, I’m shutting off news-related interruptions, too.
3. You’re exhausted. But, you still have a life to live.
Speaking of the weekend…did I mention I love to sleep the weekends away? Don’t get it twisted. I’m responsible. But once all of my errands and household work is done, I will gladly lay in bed and watch Lifetime until I hit REM sleep. Don’t judge. I’m tired! I consider myself an extroverted-introvert, so while I love people …I also love being by myself and relaxing. I loveee my me-time…and you should, too! But, I think the last year’s taught all of us how important interpersonal communication matters. So, make sure you take time to recharge and cherish moments with other people. If you live away from home, plug into some sort of community. Our schedules don’t always allow us to meet up when everyone else is getting together. But that’s not an excuse.
Get intentional about carving out time to develop relationships, travel, etc.
4. Take the PTO.
5.Find your outlet (Hack: it’s not IG)
I mentioned that I go to therapy. It was the nightside shift for me, baby. I hated it (Sorry, boss lady, if you’re reading this. I think you know that though :D). Everyone’s got their opinion on which shift is best, but we can all agree that this job can and will drain you! So find a way to recharge. I joke a lot about watching Lifetime, but I just love the escape from real life (I have Disney+, too. NOT ashamed). My daily escape is a walk. My nightly escape is the Calm App and diffusing essential oils. My bi-weekly escape is normally a trip to the park or to the beach. See? It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Just find a way to clear your mind from that one source that didn’t get back to you on time, the slow export time that almost made you miss slot, or the memory card that failed you when you needed it most. **It happens.
Recharge…and keep it pushing, my friend.
Shari Armstrong is the 5PM Anchor at FOX 4-WFTX in Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Florida.