By Trent Rentsch
Over my years in the industry, I’ve worked with many people who were notorious for one thing or another. There was the announcer who was always… ALWAYS… at least 5 minutes late for his shift. There was the sales rep who asked for endless spec ads and never converted one to a sale. There was the weekend big band host who had a fully stocked bar under the computer flooring in the studio (much to the surprise of our engineer when he discovered it while pulling cable). And then there was the promotions guy who never took a vacation. I don’t mean “only took a day or two, now and then,” I mean worked 7 days a week, 365… part time.
When he took the job in promotions, we all suspected his real goal was to get a full time on-air gig. He was always finding an excuse to spend time in the studio, and wanted to know how everything worked. It wasn’t a surprise when his duties began to include weekend shifts and fill-ins. What was a surprise was that he was always working… setting up a remote here, a sales promotion there, jocking the overnights on one station, then Sunday morning on another… it’s no exaggeration to say that in two years he never had a day off. In fact, we were so accustomed to his presence that it was big break room news the day he didn’t show up. It was email worthy news the second day, and by the 3rd. even the staff at our sister TV station was talking about it. Where could he be? How long would he be gone? And who was going to do news Saturday morning?
As it turned out, he didn’t do news Saturday morning, or ever again. A week after his disappearance, a brief email was released by management, saying that he had decided to take an “extended break from radio.” Rumor was that the break was more of a break down, and after spending some time in a hospital, he realized the break needed to be permanent.
For some, it’s an easy trap to fall into. If you’re truly passionate about what you do, you want to put everything you can into it. Few people take it to the extreme of never using their vacation, but many do work insane hours, barely taking time to eat right, get enough sleep… LIVE.
I have become an advocate of the vacation in the past few years… not the “get on a plane and fly to a beach for two weeks” kind, but the little moments, stolen here and there in a week, when you get away from all things work related and do something else… or nothing at all.
For me, it has become a ritual. On the way to and from work, it’s jazz or classical or “spa” music, and I do NOT think about the tasks ahead. Believe me, it’s taken a lot of focus to NOT focus on work, but it’s becoming easier to slip into that mode. My commute is only 15 minutes at the most, but that mini vacation leaves me relaxed and ready to attack the day; and since I’ve started this routine, I’ve felt less stress and more focus at work.
I know that mellow music meditation in the morning isn’t for everyone; you have to find your own “get away.” A talented producer I know spends his lunch break in his car, parked under a shady tree, eyes closed, listening to heavy metal. Another drives to a park down the street from his office and walks the hiking trail there. And another volunteers at a local soup kitchen, feeding those who can only dream of the opportunities her job affords her.
I don’t have to tell you that being “Real Creative” is demanding and stressful, and that’s why it’s important to build these “vacations” from being Creative into your week. In fact, I could share darker stories of those who were notorious for not doing it, and how that stress impacted their health. But as important as the mental and physical health benefits are, it’s also amazing how a vacation from work, no matter how small, reboots your Creative process.
Whatever healthy getaway works for you, be it exercise, meditation, reading, helping others, or (insert your getaway here), I encourage you to make it as much a habit as backing up your production files. You might not come back with a tan, but it just might be the best vacation from your problems you’ve ever had.
Next month… the results of the “Love for an Orphan” contest!
Trent Creates words, voices, audio and music. His professional home is Krash Creative Solutions. You can contact him at: