October 09, 2023

How to maintain a healthy work-life balance during your Production Accounting jobs

I know many people who will skip lunch, skip dinner, or work till midnight because they're in the zone or trying to finish a task. But we want more work life balance. We want to give 100% during work hours and then walk away and leave work so that we can go home to enjoy families, enjoy personal time, books, [media] binging, whatever it is that gives you that sense of happiness.

Foxy Squire is a seasoned Production Accountant who has worked on production budgets of $30,000 to 2.6 million and completed the final application plus workbook for NY Tax Incentive as well as PA incentive tagging.

The costly consequences of an unhealthy work-life balance:  

An unhealthy work-life balance can have detrimental effects on both an individual's physical and mental well-being. Prolonged periods of overwork and stress can lead to burnout, a state of chronic exhaustion that can negatively impact one's productivity, motivation, and overall job satisfaction. Additionally, neglecting personal life and relationships can lead to feelings of isolation and strained connections with loved ones. Physical health may also suffer, with increased risks of fatigue, sleep disturbances, and various stress-related health issues. As stress levels escalate, mental health problems like anxiety and depression may emerge.

1. Breakdown: The number of people I've seen cry in the accounting department is surprising. And I'm not talking about just the accounts. I'm talking about the crew coming in. They are just super tired, and then they have some problem with their check or setting up their onboarding, which just breaks them.

2. Making mistakes: If you're dealing with a lot of numbers in accounting, you're dealing with a lot of people's personal data – a ripe environment for mistakes, rushing to type in a Social Security number and missing one-digit sets of a storm off further mistakes and corrections. In short: stress causes people to make mistakes.

3. Emotional turmoil: An unhealthy work-life balance can lead to significant emotional turmoil. The constant pressure to meet work demands without ever meeting your own needs can create a sense of being overwhelmed and trapped in an unending cycle. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy follow as you struggle to manage all your tasks and find time for family, friends, and self-care. And this cycle only builds: as the emotional toll intensifies, stress and anxiety levels can skyrocket, making it challenging to cope with day-to-day challenges effectively.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance:

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for your overall well-being and productivity. Here are some tips to help you achieve and sustain that balance:

1. Stay organized & don't leave things for the last minute: Create checklists. Delegate. Automate as much as you can (recurring tasks, email filters, grocery delivery, etc). If you can proactively create the work environment you need to thrive, you're more likely to be efficient and leave time for other activities. If you have prep time, that's the point to start.

2. Ask questions from the Line Producer/ Production Manager before starting the gig and set clear boundaries: Your first few questions from your Line Producer/PM should be:

  1. Are we working digitally or on paper? Either way, you'll be able to focus on exactly how you should set up your filing, archiving, and organizational systems. Paper productions require more resources, space, and manual filing. Be prepared!
  2. How do you prefer we store our data? Make sure your whole team is well aware of your intended organization and filing system. If they open the cabinets or digital folders and move things around, they need to know how to put them back or they need to know who to tell if they moved a file.  
  3. What is the budget for Production Accounting purchases, files, labelers, etc., that are purchased or will be bought soon?

3. Prioritize tasks: Identify the most critical tasks and focus on completing them during your work hours. Avoid overloading yourself with unnecessary commitments. If you are called as a Production Accountant last minute on the shoot, you should:

  1. Talk to your clerk and learn about what has already been done.
  2. Ask LP/UPM how they've been organizing everything because they are the ones with their finger on the pulse of the storage system. They may have yet to create any reports or have the big picture of the budget, but they will know about the storage.

4. Learn to say no & unplug regularly: It's okay to decline additional work or social commitments when you already have a full plate. Respectfully declining will help you maintain balance. Take breaks from electronic devices, including emails and social media. Disconnecting will help you recharge and reduce stress. Make time for activities you are passionate about, whether it's reading, painting, sports, or any other hobbies that bring you joy.

5. Schedule personal time: Block out time in your calendar for activities you enjoy or to spend with loved ones. Treat this time as sacred and non-negotiable. Physical health is crucial for mental well-being. Make time for regular exercise and maintain a balanced diet. Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation or deep breathing, to reduce stress and increase focus.

6. Delegate when possible: If you have the opportunity to delegate tasks at work or share responsibilities at home, do so. This will lighten your load and free up time for other activities.

7. Avoid overworking: Long hours and excessive stress can lead to burnout and health issues. Know your limits and stick to a reasonable workload. One of the things I tend to implement when I'm working with and leading the team: we don't work past bank hours.

8. Find a supportive work environment: Seek out a workplace that values work-life balance and encourages employees to take time off when needed. I always believe that work-life balance starts from the top, and if I am leading the team, one of the things that I tend to do is make sure that everyone takes their meals. Workplaces like Revolution Entertainment Services value work-life balance and have HR policies that help employees to take time off work and create a stress-free environment.

9. Know your limitations and communicate with your employer: If you feel overwhelmed, discuss your concerns with your employer or LP/UPM. They can offer solutions or adjustments to your workload. Know your own limitations because if you tell them I can have a cost report ready for you tomorrow and you have yet to open the books, you haven't seen the budget, you're going to be up all night. Instead, ask for a week or a few days' extension when you can genuinely finish the cost report. This will give you enough time to organize all the details accurately.

10. Plan vacations and downtime: Regularly take time off to recharge and rejuvenate. Vacations are essential for your mental and emotional well-being.

It's easy to read this list and think, "How the heck can I possibly implement all these changes?" Don't try everything at once. Set some goals for your current production ("I will take my meals no matter what's going on") and your next production ("I will use this filing system and delegate these tasks and make sure I swim some laps 3x a week"). Transforming these tips into concrete actions that fit into your life and schedule will set you on the right path to more robust work.

The Revolution Team

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