5 Ways to Improve Work Life Balance in Production

Posted on: Jul 09, 2024

Photo Credit: Shutterstock // Grusho Anna

By Jessica Mathis

Pursuing a career in the film and TV industry can be incredibly demanding, often involving long hours and commitments that can affect your personal life and relationships. Flexibility is necessary when it comes to schedules, considering factors such as locations, weather and various other elements. Given the demands of this lifestyle, it’s no wonder that finding a balance between work and personal life is a key concern for both unions and freelancers.

Achieving a balance between work and personal life leads to increased focus and higher quality work, which in turn improves the likelihood of being rehired and receiving recommendations. Don’t forget that one of the key incentives for working is to maintain the lifestyle you desire.

Here are five ways to manage the demanding lifestyle and balance time for yourself and loved ones.

Lay Out Tasks and Goals

Having a clear goal and boundaries on the type of work that interests you will help you filter through job offers and refine your job search. Determine the levels of pay, time commitments and working conditions you are okay with. Do these also work for your lifestyle and family demands? If you have a clear understanding of your obligations and make a list, you can easily delegate tasks to an assistant, family member or friend, especially during busy periods. 

Update loved ones with your busy times so they know you aren’t as available for chats or hangs. Knowing your mental, emotional and financial bandwidth can help you choose the right opportunities or know when to ask for help to maintain your own emotional and mental health.

Time Management

Remember that not everything that crosses your path is important to your goals, so prioritize yourself and your family first. By understanding your needs and goals, it becomes easier to prioritize tasks, messages, conversations or people seeking your attention. If you want to stay organized with your planner, you might find it beneficial to establish an email, drive folder or system and categorize the elements based on their level of importance. 

Be sure to place self care and family high on the chart of importance. Unfortunately, it can be easy to neglect them during busy times. Once you’ve developed the habit, you can make more informed decisions about when and how much attention to dedicate. 

Set Boundaries

The boundary between work and home has become increasingly blurred due to easily accessible digital devices. Although this industry often requires “available for duration of project” commitments, it’s crucial to understand the limits of what productions can ask of you and to uphold your boundaries when they are violated. 

For example, demanding enough time between each shoot day to get a healthy amount of rest – including receiving call sheets – is one way to look out for yourself. When considering a job, be sure to interview the production as they interview you to ask how they handle after-hour demands.

Nurture Your Personal Life

When filling your calendar, be sure to schedule specific times or days for yourself and for others and mark them as high priority. Treat those times like another gig that cannot be moved or conceded. Have conversations with loved ones to schedule time for them in advance and be sure to thank them for being understanding during your busy times. 

Have open conversations with them about shared workloads at home and emotional needs. Work together to create strategies that work for everyone to feel like their needs are met. You and a partner may need to use negotiating skills to divide tasks in a way that works for everyone. Determine if hiring outside help for some tasks like yard work may be practical if you’re able to do so.

Embrace Flexibility

Since the nature of the industry can be so unpredictable and flow into feast or famine rhythms, you may find that your scheduled time for yourself and family isn’t every day or week. You may have 6 weeks of an intensive work schedule. It’s important to then schedule an appropriate amount of time off before taking your next gig to allow you to recuperate or connect with your family. This will help you avoid burnout and be ready for your next gig.

It’s always easier to create an ideal list of tips related to time management than it is to figure that out while on the run, but these tips should give you some pointers on creating more balance for yourself and loved ones. Perhaps the next thing you schedule in as high priority will be some time to create a system like this that works for you.

Jessica Mathis (AKA Divinity Rose) is an award winning screenwriter/performer/producer from Louisville, Kentucky. She is the CEO of She Dreams Content Development and Production, which focuses on female forward projects in comedy, docustyle and genre entertainment.

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