By Uliana Pavlova
“If you think you are indispensable, just die and see what happens.” – Ron Nixon
It seems almost impossible to find a work/life balance when you’re a journalist in a constantly shrinking industry. In the world of breaking news and Twitter, it’s hard to unplug. Nixon, a Washington correspondent with The New York Times, sat on a 2017 CAR Conference panel with Darla Cameron of The Washington Post; Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times Magazine; Cynthia K. Persico, a vice president for Health Advocate; and Andy Boyle of Axios. Together, they shared tips and advice on battling burnout.
What do you do when your boss tries to reach you after hours? Panelists suggested setting up boundaries with your boss early on. Hannah-Jones tells her boss she doesn’t check her email at night and asks for texts if it’s an emergency. Boyle uses email for semi-important stuff, Slack for important stuff and phone calls in case of emergency.
It’s important to find ways to relieve stress. Hannah-Jones throws parties for writers at her house in New York. Reading poetry with like-minded people helps her reduce anxiety. Boyle works out six days a week to take his mind off of work. Nixon never eats at his desk. He said a quick change of environment helps him relax and think.
All journalists suffer from imposter syndrome to some extent. It’s typical to put in more hours when you are just starting a new job or transitioning from an internship to full-time employment. But after a while, panelists said, it’s okay to transition to normal hours and let your life take over.
“No one ever dies and wishes they worked harder,” Persico said.