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Balancing fun and work during the dog days of summer

As we inch ever closer to Labor Day, there seems to be a slow-burn panic to have as much fun as possible while we still can. But is there a way to enjoy yourself while still being productive? Most emphatically yes!

Ladders asked communications professional Greta Vanhersecke — whose entire career is based on other people enjoying themselves– for her best advice on finding the balance between work and fun.

As the founder of GV Public Relations, Vanhersecke admits that while her job can be fun “being a travel and hospitality publicist is a 24/7 kind of career and lifestyle. Clients like hotels, resorts, airlines, and cruise lines are always open and running, so the expectation is that you are as well.”

Wait, so that sounds like Vanhersecke’s job skews more to work than fun, though she says that’s not the case: “While I always remain professional, I find ways to enjoy the job where and when I can. This could be by extending a work trip to go sightseeing or visit friends who live in the area, treating myself to a spa massage after work hours, or taking a moment to appreciate the amazing meals I get to experience while visiting my clients.”

Vanhersecke offered some tips on balancing work and fun:

Always have a plan and stay organized

Pay close attention to when you are needed to work and when you can take time for yourself. Don’t zone out in a meeting and don’t leave early or come in late. Check your schedule and mark off time for goofing off … as long as you’ve already met your deadlines!

Be off with you

When you’ve officially taken time off Vanhersecke advises trying to “truly unplug from work calls and emails, so you can really experience the moment and recharge. This will help you mentally, physically and emotionally and will ultimately make you better at your job.

Explain yourself

Not all careers balance fabulous travel and decadent meals, but it’s still important to make your boss or clients realize that you’re still working hard and meeting your work requirements. Vanhersecke’s clients are all in the travel and hospitality industry, so “they understand what this lifestyle entails and have never second-guessed the quality of my work or my work ethic.” She explains that her clients “see me responding to emails at 11 pm at night or 6 am in the morning, or even on the weekends.” There’s never a misconception that if she’s out late the night before she’s in any way neglecting her duties.

Do what you love

If you feel that you need to have more fun or pleasure in life, consider a career that celebrates, understands – and rewards – those ideals. Vanhersecke explains that her clients “are in this industry for the same reason that I am – because of their love of and passion for travel and hospitality. Just like me, they are posting photos of themselves enjoying the perks of traveling for work or experiencing a great meal.”

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Define fun

If you would like to infuse your average day with a bit more fun, it helps to be extremely organized. Vanhersecke says it’s crucial to “decide first what fun means to you and then schedule it into your week, so the time doesn’t get away from you.” She suggests you ask yourself a few questions and find your own definition of fun and then pursue it. “Do you enjoy working out? Being social with friends? Spending more time with your partner? If you want to stay healthy, schedule in some time each morning for a fitness class. If you want to be more social with friends, make sure you complete your work before they’re done with their workday and make solid plans each week that you can’t cancel on. If you want more quality time with your partner, work more hours Monday through Thursday, so you can enjoy a three-day weekend together.”

It may sound counterintuitive to have to schedule in fun, but Vanhersecke says it’s important to make that commitment to yourself and it gives you something to look forward to.

Fun helps you work better

Don’t feel guilty about finding joy in the every day. Vanhersecke believes finding fun moments helps you to avoid burnout. “Fun and play are so essential in making you a happier, more balanced person and I truly believe that taking vacations, getting good sleep, working out and spending time with loved ones recharges you so that you can give 100% when you do work.”

Now go have some fun!

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Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels. She leads corporate seminars on topics including evolving communication and spirituality in the workplace. Rachel is also the author of three award winning non-fiction books.