Comms and PR stress, and the workload dilemma

by | Oct 24, 2019

Stress is often seen as part of the job of being a communications, PR and marketing professional.

But I don’t think the pressure we face is healthy, or even necessary.

Sometimes, the people who love their jobs most, are the most stressed out.

My focus is on training people to be more creative, fearless and proud of our work – but how can we do that when under so much pressure?

In the lead-up to Stress Awareness Day in a few weeks, I wanted to share this drawing of a workload dilemma I keep coming across.

I will soon share the results of a survey of 443 PR and comms professionals on the topic of stress, so come back to this blog to discover more about that on Stress Awareness Day on November 6th. [Edit: you can read about this now.]

There I’m going to discuss the common problems we face, what causes it, and who’s to blame.

But for now, here are a few ideas on how we can tackle ‘the workload dilemma’ day-to-day. 

A reality check for PR and comms professionals 

If you love your work, and you want to make a real difference, there are so many opportunities to find, and be given, interesting and rewarding projects to work on.

But what about when this is combined with people giving you more and more tasks and activities, and when you don’t have any clear priorities  – it’s an impossible nightmare.

  • I have amazing new ideas!
  • They want it done today!
  • We could get people interested in this!

Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to take everything on.

If you make yourself ill, you won’t be able to do anything

  • Stress is bad for your body
  • Tiredness means you make more mistakes
  • Workload overload saps your enthusiasm for a job you love

Do overtime if you want, but if you do that too much, you’ll make those hours the new normal.

We all have busy spells, but if it lasts for more than a few weeks, it’s going to impact negatively on your health.

Like parents on a crashing plane, we have to put the oxygen mask on first before we help others.

You are good enough.  The work you do, in the time you’re paid to do it, is great. You CAN prove yourself in a way that doesn’t make you ill.

And you are more important than any job.

Try saying no more often

I hate saying no. If you do too, you can try what I say: ‘I can’t, unfortunately’. It is true, as mostly, we would love to help but don’t have capacity.

Make your own priorities

Even if you don’t say yes to everything, it can still feel overwhelming.

If you put equal energy into everything, you can end up ‘juggling’ – going into autopilot, and doing lots of OK work, but none of it makes you proud. And it makes you feel like you’re never performing at your best.

Brace yourself perfectionists, you’re going to hate this next bit.

To use our talents effectively, we can’t do it ALL to our best ability.

So decide to do just a few things brilliantly. Prioritise. Be known for something you did that was truly excellent.

Then put minimum effort in all of your work that is not high priority: 20% of your work you can put in high effort, and the remaining 80%, you do bare minimum.

Half-ass it.

Better that some of what you do is your absolute best, than all of your work is average, and you’re stressed out.

Try it for a month, see how it boosts your effectiveness, motivation and health.

1 Comment

  1. Meg K

    Diolch. <3 This was the single most important thing that I had to learn this year; I wish I'd seen this sooner and avoided counselling, a six month sick leave, occ health, internal investigation…and all the hassle of being asked to resign (legally!).

    The second most important thing I was taught? "Know your worth, then add tax." #Preach


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Hel Reynolds

Hel Reynolds

Author of this post

Hel is social media trainer and boss of Comms Creatives. She has been working in comms since 2005, and has been brushing up her expertise in social media for brands since the good old days of MySpace. She also draws the Comms Cartoons, and is usually attached to a mug of coffee.

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