Author Topic: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off  (Read 833 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Maribeth

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 975
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« on: Mar 01, 2018, 12:56 pm »
In light of the recent posts about burnout and taking time off, I'm posting about my own work/life balance experience right now.

I've been taking time off this past season because I had a baby last summer and have been staying home with him. I've taken a few short gigs, and found some work that I can do from home, but I'd like to be able to come back to stage management more in the future. For those of you who have taken time off, what have you done to stay on people's radar, and what steps have you taken when you do decide to come back?

So far, my strategy has been to take a few smaller gigs (sub positions, short runs, special events) and when I'm offered shows for next year, explaining the situation and letting potential employers know that I'd like to continue to be considered for future positions. But I'd love to hear how other people have approached this!

Michelle R. Wood

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 146
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • website
  • Affiliations: EMC, East Carolina University
  • Experience: Professional
Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« Reply #1 on: Mar 01, 2018, 02:46 pm »
I'd love to hear more about this subject as well. I suddenly took on a resident theatre position in January, so I'm out of the freelancing game for now. However I'll likely return to it in the future and don't want to let all my old gig outlets forget about me.
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." -- Thomas Edison (Harper's Magazine, 1932)

maximillionx

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 259
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« Reply #2 on: Mar 01, 2018, 07:10 pm »
As someone who does not (at times) have a healthy work/life balance, I would also love to hear everyone's perspective on this...It's  been a talking point lately for me and something I need to work on.

juliec

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AGMA
  • Current Gig: Bonjour M. Gauguin (US Premiere)
  • Experience: Professional
Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« Reply #3 on: Apr 17, 2018, 12:24 am »
How fascinating that this thread has several interested posters, and no one has responded with any tips! (Does this mean that SM's tend not to take time off? Hmmm...)

I'm also interested in this. Unfortunately, several of the companies I've had long relationships with have had quite a bit of turnover as well this year, so that hasn't helped very much in terms of network and contacts. Also, problematically, I'd like to take time off for almost a year for an full-time opportunity in another field. I'd love to come back, but there is a serious fear of being "forgotten".

To keep my skills sharp, I'm considering: 1-2 week jobs, jobs in related fields (corporate). Realistically though, these taking on short jobs may be limited because starting fresh at a full-time job another industry can be very time-consuming.

I'm hopeful that when you're ready to come back, you can email folks in your network to let them know and see if they know of any opportunities? My other huge fear is that once I leave, I won't ever come back, will drift ever more slowly away from the industry, and my skills will get more rusty. In part, I feel like those fears are just a hump I need to make it over. It's also scary because how do you keep your resume fresh?

For the past couple of years, I've been limiting the number of freelance jobs I do a year and sometimes I've had to not return to companies for a year or so as I rotate. This has worked well in terms of establishing better work/life balance, but not so well in terms of getting a steady paycheck. If you can solve that problem, it's great. Also, it's hard to remember how a company operates if you only come back every 2-3 years and it can be uncomfortably like starting over - so there might need to be something more than just skill that keeps you in their graces to return. Some companies seem to be more tolerant of this than others. If you do get back in, you may want to start with companies that know you enough that gaps in your resume may not be very important to them.

One important thing for me will be leaving every door open and every relationship in a state that I can reach out to later if the time is right.

Maribeth

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 975
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« Reply #4 on: Apr 19, 2018, 09:52 pm »
I think it might mean that not a lot of SMs on this board take time off and come back to stage management....much more likely that folks slide into related careers like production management that have more family-friendly hours.

Michelle R. Wood

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 146
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • website
  • Affiliations: EMC, East Carolina University
  • Experience: Professional
Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« Reply #5 on: Apr 23, 2018, 04:07 pm »
In regards to keeping skills sharp: I've worried about that as well, but I do think there are some things that, like the proverbial bike, come back to you. My latest tech/opening was Beauty and the Beast, which is of course very cue heavy. I realized approaching it that I hadn't done such a cue heavy tech in nearly a year and half, having served as deck chief or backstage help more often, or serving as stage manager for smaller/less cue heavy shows. I was rather nervous: would I be able to keep up with the LD? Would I be able to keep things moving? Would I remember how to successfully get my book together in short order?

I won't say there was nothing to worry about, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I found myself slipping into crazy tech mode with very little adjustment on my part. I had tried to prep as well as I knew how, but also found myself instinctually doing things I knew needed doing without much extra effort. Calling this show has been a learning curve, but not the steep cliff I was dreading, rather an incremental stepping up of my previous shows.

Per taking time off: julie's point regarding a place you haven't worked in 2-3 years is well taken, as things can change a lot in that amount of time. There's also leaving a geographic area: I'm farther away than my previous home base now, so I'm not able to pop in to quick tech day bursts like I used to be able to do just to keep myself present and "in the know." Not being in the mix, and being more caught up in my fulltime duties at the theatre, I'm not hearing about things I used to know more in advance, or keeping my ear open for opportunities as I previously would, which concerns me as I do eventually think I'll go back to freelancing.

I'm hoping now that this show is open and we have a breather before summer camps start that I'll be able to mingle a bit more in the local community.
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." -- Thomas Edison (Harper's Magazine, 1932)

SamanthaR

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 34
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: PSM - Phoenix Theatre
  • Experience: Professional
Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« Reply #6 on: Apr 24, 2018, 11:26 pm »
I wish I had more to contribute about taking  time off.
My market is very tiny for a "big city".  The idea of taking a season off to be with my new baby is a lovely dream but not a reality for me.  If I were to step away from my resident gig someone else would quickly come up to take it over and I would be SOL.  I try to take as much advantage as I can of my mornings and afternoons that I have to be with her.  Daycare is an interesting challenge as a Stage Manager, especially with an infant, for afternoon options don't exist except in the Nanny sphere.

If I were to take time off, it would probably truly be a career change, and one I might have to think about when she and hopeful future sibling are school age and I'm not able to get one on one time in the daytime hours.
wee but mighty

smejs

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 452
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA, USITT
  • Current Gig: Freelance SM in Denver
  • Experience: Professional
Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2018, 04:27 pm »
I ended up taking some time "away" in a sense, when I spent 9 1/2 years in educational opera, with only 3 Equity gigs in the meantime. I did attend USITT national conference every year, and tried to keep contacts up, kept involved with new trends, and if you know me (or my name), you'll know I'm very active in holding stage manager social gatherings.

About a year before I left, I really started leaving hints to my network that I was looking for something that would let me slip my "golden handcuffs" of health insurance and other benefits, to get back to "real" stage management. I managed to find a job through a Facebook posting, and negotiated with them to hire me for two different shows - enough to have me break those handcuffs. I spent quite a bit of time taking whatever smaller gigs I could, and contacting friends, including Facebook posts "hey, I'm available" etc. About a year in, one friend said, "Are you still looking? My old boss is looking for a new PSM." And short story, I'm now about to do my 4th contract with them in a little over a year's time.

So, my "short" answer is, do whatever you can to network and self-improve, and let folks know you're looking - though networking is also about making friends and connecting, not just "HEY HIRE ME" (caps intended). The honest approach is good for me - I left the opera because I missed the ebb and flow of shows that prepped, rehearsed, performed, then closed. Life happens for those who have kids, too, and maturity can be an asset.

As for work/life balance....while I have to do the unemployment thing, I also use it to go boating as much as I can, and catch up on the friendships (and house organization....) that I've missed while out of town. While out of town, I try to catch friends around the country, and I adore the Roadside America app to help me find fun new things to do. Also, get out of the theatre for a tiny bit on tech days during a break. Don't stay inside your whole break. I'm also grateful for my Netflix account.....

Best of luck,
Erin

BayAreaSM

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Bay Area SM
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Current Gig: Career Change out of SM'ing
  • Experience: Professional
Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Taking time off
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2018, 09:23 am »
If I were to step away from my resident gig someone else would quickly come up to take it over and I would be SOL. 


That's the entire reason I was so worried about having a child. Thankfully my resident gig in ballet was mainly Monday-Friday 9am-5:30pm unless we were in show, which was only 4 weeks out of the season, plus the month of December. (And I'd been there for 9 years and they were cool with me bringing him to work a few times a week.) Now, once that ballet went out of business, I had to switch careers to get something else that was mostly 9a-5pm.


Though I left the biz back in March 2016, I still kept in contact with smaller companies I had worked for, letting them know my new availability. I ended up working for the smaller companies (getting permission granted from my new employer - though I had to spend all of my breaks and time off from rehearsal working for them) a few times until I moved out of state in late 2017. And then I let them know that as well.


Unfortunately, I have yet to achieve any work/life balance, even with leaving the business. We SMs are an interesting type - we are incredibly dedicated and take on ownership of our responsibilities to the Nth degree. (Regardless where we work.) It's why it's hard for us to stop working/take a break/get away. But it is also hard to step away for fear of being forgotten/replaced - but you never know when everyone else's schedule isn't going to work and yours does. Just keep up your contacts, even reaching out to replacements (if your PM moved on, reach out to the new guy, telling him your history and your interest in the company) - that worked for me! Who wouldn't want someone with some familiarity with the company to work for you when you're new and may not know the area?


Since moving out of state, I work from home remotely for my last employer. The time difference is tough, especially when I'm trying to make dinner for my son and they are calling me with questions/problems to solve - or I get a phone call at 1am, because it's only 10pm there. At some point I will find a way to achieve that balance - but so far it's been 6 months and I haven't figured it out yet.

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
31 Replies
11028 Views
Last post Feb 11, 2007, 12:15 pm
by OldeWolf
32 Replies
9890 Views
Last post Nov 11, 2007, 08:28 pm
by Rhynn
17 Replies
4843 Views
Last post May 01, 2012, 02:06 am
by loebtmc