by Sterling Tarrant
November 5th, 1996 7:00 a.m.
I am writing this on the morning of Election Day. Right now I have no idea who is going to be President. I have a few "policy wonk" friends in Washington, DC who are probably hanging on to every word the pundits say today, but me, I'm sitting back and calmly waiting for the outcome. Sure, I'll vote. I'll do my civic duty, and I'll hope and pray that my candidate wins. But if he doesn't, I'm not going to get all bent out of shape over the results. Why? Because, more than anything else, I'm confident that our system of Government will keep the checks and balances in place. I like the whole concept of balance. I just wish that my life could be constitutionally guaranteed to have balance to it. That would be great. However, I'm kind of lopsided on the side of work. My typical day is an average of ten or so hours of intense work, followed by four hours of family time, eight hours of sleep, an hour and a half of getting ready and thirty minutes of commute time. On the weekends I try to catch up to everything else.
I know what you're saying: "Sterling only has to work ten hours a day and he gets weekends off! Wow, he's lucky!" I'm well aware that my schedule may be light compared to some of yours, and I'm well aware that that's the life of a Production Director. It's a life that I love and have chosen for myself. Like I said, I'm just looking for a sense of balance concerning other areas of life instead of just work. This was brought home to me after speaking to Bumper Morgan of Bumper Productions in Nashville, Tennessee. I asked Bumper what one area he wanted to improve on as we near the end of this year (that was my scheduled question for this month) and he totally took me in a direction that I wasn't prepared for.
"I'm looking more and more to keep balance in my life." He told me. "I'm trying to be more involved in different areas instead of just work, areas like community, family, nature and religion."
Bumper continued: "I like to take time to go out to the park. Sometimes you get so closed in that it can drive you nuts."
November 5th, 1996, 6:00 p.m.
Yeah, I'm definitely going nuts. Six p.m. and I am still at work, still not paying much attention to the polls that have just closed in the East, and definitely feeling like I'm going nuts. I've still got three spots to write before I go home. Fortunately, two of them are relatively easy. I'll get them done and probably squeeze the last one in sometime tonight, but all I can think about right now is how tired I am and how much I want to go home. That leads me back to think about some more of the things that Bumper and I talked about.
Bumper said: "It used to be that I'd work work work, and I'd get so sucked into the world inside the four walls of a studio that even though I could see the outside, I wouldn't take advantage of it. Now I take the time to do it, and I'm well aware of the values and benefits of a balanced life."
"That has come about by working out of the house. It's so important to find balance in all areas of your life because it enriches your mind and your spirit, and if we are the product, then it is going to enrich your product. It's an investment not only into your family, but also into your product and into your future."
November 5th, 1996 10:10 p.m.
President Clinton is giving a victory speech. The pundits are saying that the Republicans will retain control of the Congress. It's really what I thought would happen. Balance remains. Tonight my Washington, DC policy wonk friends will probably toss in their sleep, trying to relax after a hard day's work. I, too, will be doing the same, thankful that I have a job that I love, and yet, still grousing over how hard I have to work. To me, I find my labor of love really is a labor and a love. That's the balancing act of a Production Director. However, as we move into the next year, I have to continue the process of finding balance in life, or as Bumper Morgan told me:
"I know a lot of people who are in the studio all the time, but there comes a time when we all must evolve."
As 1996 draws to a close, I hope that Q it Up has helped you gain ideas on how to find balance in this hectic profession. In the next year, we'll all probably produce more spots than we ever have before. There will be more award winning spots, more irritated clients, more Account Executives to train, and more family and personal issues that you'll rely on to get you away from the studio and keep you sane. When I'm working late, trying to please everybody, feeling overwhelmed, I'm thankful for other ragged Production Directors who help keep me going--you guys...the RAP Network. The experiences that you share in this column let me know that I'm not alone, and you provide the aspirin for a lot of work-related headaches. Thanks for being there.
The day is winding down, and President Clinton just said: "Tomorrow we great the dawn and begin our work anew. I will do my best, and together we will build that bridge to the 21st Century."
Together, Production Directors all over the country will exhale a sigh of relief that all of the Political ads are over. Perhaps, they'll be able to find some time to recharge through family, community, nature or religion. Perhaps, they'll be able to restore their sense of balance before all the orders for Christmas production start rolling in.
November 5th, 1996 10:55 p.m.
I just went to bed. I think I'll sleep in tomorrow morning, feed my three-month-old baby his bottle, and go in to work late.