Rediscovering The Work-Life Balance

Have you ever walked into a place you’ve never set foot in and thought, “Wow, this feels like home?”

That’s what it felt like when I was given the tour of P&F at the start of my three-week internship almost two weeks ago, even though I had just finished driving 2,227 km from my hometown Winnipeg to Toronto the night before.

As I walked through each of the departments, I took mental notes of everything in the office I thought was cool (a ping pong table, a basketball hoop, communal playlists and Netflix, to name a few). It felt like a place that valued the happiness of its employees.

I come from a very interesting communications program. People who’ve gone through the program, or know somebody who has, know the program as being especially rigorous and demanding. Phrases like, “your dog won’t remember what you look like,” or “better break up with your girlfriend now,” get tossed around.

Sound scary? It can be. Accurate? More like Shaq at the free throw line.

But where else can you learn how to write a personality profile, write a screenplay, write and produce a radio ad, develop a publicity campaign, film a live sports broadcast, and create a magazine from scratch all in one year?

But schooling can only take you so far. Some things come to people naturally, like an eye for aesthetics; some things you can kind of pick up along the way, like work ethic and professionalism; and other things, like writing and attention to detail, you can always train yourself to be good at.

Back home, it’s not unusual to be loved by anyone to stay on campus until midnight as you prepare for a presentation, write and edit copy for three different executions, edit a video on Premiere, and lay out a proposal package for a client – all at the same time.

I left the P&F offices shortly after 5 PM on my first day of interning, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something about that whole situation felt a little off. At school, 5 PM might mean the end of classes, but it does not mean your work day is over. And if you’re in bed before 11 PM, you’re either not working hard enough, or you’ve worked yourself to exhaustion.

I welcomed the late nights of toiling away. I thought of it as my version of “walking uphill in the snow both ways,” except it was more like, “eat your body weight in pizza as you try not to get crushed under your mountain of assignments.”

So excuse me for being taken aback when most people left the office not too long after 5 PM for the fourth straight day.

“Don’t think it’s like this everywhere, because it’s not,” said one Account Coordinator. “But we really like to keep a good work-life balance here.”

Work-life balance.

I hadn’t heard those words in so long I almost forgot what they meant, but being in Toronto, I rediscovered its importance.

Work will always be work, even when you love what you do. I’ve learned a lot in my year and a half of college, and I’ve learned how to apply these skills and then some during my internship, but work-life balance might just be my biggest takeaway.

It might be too early for New Year’s Resolutions, but here’s mine anyway:

My New Year’s resolution for 2015 is to find a good work-life balance, and keep it that way. 

But as a newcomer to this world of advertising, I’m going to need some help with that.

So, how do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

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