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Tips for Staying Afloat at Work When Life Gets Messy


As event and marketing professionals, we are used to keeping it all under control while everything around us is constantly changing. You track the competition, manage the timelines and budgets, and do your day job at the same time – all while managing your personal life whether that involves caring for kids, aging parents, partners and, hopefully, a social life. This can all come to a grinding halt when emergencies come calling.

I reflected on this as I was at the hospital with my brother checking work emails and making sure that my kids had rides to their respective activities. I am lucky that my employer gave me the flexibility to work remotely and shift my schedule as needed. I will share some of my tips for keeping the wheels of progress turning at work while managing personal situations. I would be interested in knowing what tips you, my fellow marketing professionals, have for managing a crisis.

Communicate with your supervisor as soon as an emergency arises.

Let them know what happened, what you need in terms of flexibility and what you will do to make sure the work gets done. The sooner you communicate and clearly outline a plan the more receptive they will be to accommodate your needs.

Review and adjust your schedule as needed.

If a meeting is not urgent maybe you can move it to when the crisis subsides. Make sure to communicate to your colleagues as necessary. You might want to update your family calendar to share where you will be with friends or family who are helping you.

Ask for help from friends and family.

If you are a parent – especially if you are a single parent – you know it takes a village. This is especially true in case of a medical emergency. People want to help, but they need specific tasks and clear communication. You can ask an out-of-town sibling to be the communication hub for the rest of the family. Ask in-town family to take shifts to help with family matters. Call on friends to help with kids as needed.

Prioritize what is urgent and important.

If you are caring for a loved one, no one will judge you if your dishes are dirty (and if they do, who cares). Focus on keeping everyone healthy, including yourself, and the key parts of your job on track. That may mean delegating more at work and asking your boss what the most important tasks for you are to complete.

Ask questions and get answers in writing when possible.

This is especially important if you are dealing with a medical situation, as we tend to forget things in times of stress. Also, be sure you know who has the appropriate credentials to know the right answer. The medical assistant may be happy to give you some answers, but may not be as informed as a registered nurse or a surgeon. And if you or your loved one gets discharged from the hospital or needs medication it will be helpful to have any important information in writing for caregivers who come to help.

Take a break as needed.

If you don’t, you will likely burn out. This could be as simple as going on a walk with a co-worker during a stressful day, taking your kid out to lunch for a little one-on-one time or taking time for a good book after a long day – whatever recharges you.