It looks easy and effortless, but it is not. Producers, writers, directors, editors and many more, spend countless hours creating a production for a television show. Most people have absolutely no clue how much effort and time is put in to make sure that every aspect of a show is running smoothly and properly.
Pitching stories, booking guest, writing scripts, researching, talent wrangling, and supervising content are just a few things that Jen Dixon does on a live morning show every single day. It seems as if someone so busy would not have the time or energy to focus on her personal life and make time to travel and spend with family and friends. But somehow, she does it all with grace and love. She is a true inspiration.
I had the opportunity to ask Jen just how in the world she is dominating and succeeding in the entertainment industry while still making herself a priority.
1. How many hours a week do you typically work?
Jen- Right now it’s been 12 hour days because we are relaunching three new shows in the fall. When you love what you do, you find a way to incorporate it in your life. So even when I go home for the day, if I see something on twitter or I see someone post something on Facebook or a celebrity post something, I am always thinking about a story we can do on the show. Or is it a segment on the show. So I feel like I am always kind of working in a way. I am always checking my email. I am a person that really enjoys ingesting information. And love feeling like I am in the know. I love to know what’s going on Twitter.
“Even if I don’t know about something, I like to learn about it. Even if it means taking a couple of hours out of my week to learn about it.”
2. What does a typical day look like for you?
Jen- I wake up at 3:30am in the morning. While I am getting ready I have an entire routine where I am brushing my teeth, I am reading my email, and I am scrolling on twitter. Or the night before I will send myself reminders or points for the next day. I come in the next day at 4:30am and then I do a little bit of looking on the internet here and then go meet with the team and we figure out what stories will go on the show.
And then at 7:30am we go downstairs and talk to the talent one last time. And then go to the control room while they are blocking everything because they might have more questions and you have to make sure that all of your videos are in before you go live. There might be additions or things you have to adjust. We then go live on the air at 8:00am.
The show goes on from 8:00am to 9:00am. The team then has a meeting upstairs and we talk about what we want for the next day. And then I work with producers on their segments for the next day.
3. After work what do you usually do?
Jen- I like to go home and see Adrian (boyfriend) and we like to either go on a walk or on a run in the neighborhood. You have to get out and not look at your phone for a little bit. So Adrian and I, will go out to dinner or go on a little mini trip but during the regular week I like to stay connected with my family. I might have to call my grandma and she will keep me on the phone for an hour. So a lot of that.
I do happy hours and exercise. I like to get outside and go on a hike or a walk. Getting outside is really important. It’s a way of decompressing. Or say you can’t go to the gym, just taking a walk in our neighborhood it takes a minute and it makes me feel better afterwards. And I am trying to start meditating in the morning for a little bit and just taking a moment because I feel like it sets you up for the day. It really does work beginning your day with what you are grateful for and ending your day with what you are grateful for. When I first heard it I thought it was cheesy but it really does work. You then go into work saying that this is a new opportunity to make my life better and the show better.
“I mean lets be honest not everything goes our way and we are not always happy but I think I genuinely like what I do for a living and to me that makes a huge difference because I don’t hate what I do.”
4. How do you pour into yourself to make sure you are happy and whole because throughout the day you are doing so many things for other people and giving a lot of energy?
Jen- I think for me Adrian my boyfriend, is such a source of energy. He’s my best friend. Even if I am not taking care of myself or looking out for myself he is.
He also, works in the industry, in television so he gets it. He also, has worked with me so he knows how I work so it’s helped me a lot so even he will check me. He will be like, so what are you doing for yourself? He helps me a lot. I will be honest, I am not the best at it. I have days where I will go all day and run myself into the ground. Or you go until 4pm and you are like, wow I didn’t eat all day. That is something that I have to constantly remind myself to try to work on. Lately I have. I have been trying to meditate, and also, read. Reading for me is good because I am not looking at a screen and it is not really work. I like sitting down and reading a book. I’ve also listened to Jay Shetty’s podcast. He is a former monk. He is about wisdom and positive energy. It is self-help type of stuff but it’s something I started listening to rather than music or watching tv.
5. How often do you travel with your boyfriend and to see your family and friends?
Jen- Adrian and I travel often. People think that we are always on vacation, but we are not. I get the same amount of time off as everyone else. But we maximize it.
Just this weekend, Friday I got off of work and he was like do you want to go to Palm Springs tomorrow? I was like sure. So we went to Palm Springs Saturday and Sunday.
The week before that, I saw Sebastian the comedian and we went to Santa Barbara for the weekend. We do like mini trips.
This weekend we are going to San Diego to go and see his dad. So we are like lets go. We travel a lot and then we like to plan bigger trips. Just like we are going to Hawaii in December for a week. I am taking my mom for her 60th birthday.
We try to do trips together. That is like who we are as a couple. We like to travel together and explore new places. And we have like a list of places that we want to go to. That’s really important because even when I am tired on the weekend, sometimes I just want to stay home and watch Netflix all day. It helps you. When you explore and you travel you learn more about yourself.
The more places you go and travel and that is how you take time for yourself.
It doesn’t cost a lot of money either. Sometimes we do go to nice places we also will go to a nice place when it’s cheaper. We don’t go to some fancy restaurant. We try to do it smart financially. And with my family, I like to get home every few months. I am super close with my grandma, my sister, my niece, nephew and my mom. If I don’t see them every few months I feel like I am missing out.
6. How have you been able to create boundaries in your career? For example, saying that you are going to take time for a vacation. I feel like you are the perfect person that knows boundaries without being rude but still being honest and adamant that you need your time.
Jen– I think that you can have people who want you to work around the clock and to not have a life but when I come into work and when I am asked to do something, if I am asked to pitch six things I am going to pitch eight.
“If it is a project that needs to be done by Friday, I am going to have it done by Tuesday. It will be tight and locked in.”
That is just my way of basically being like I am doing this so I can tell you I am going to leave at this time and that is going to be okay. Because I think it’s not about how many hours you are spending in an office, it is about what you are doing while you are there. And are you getting it done. To me I have a hard boundary with that. I will not work myself into the ground for any job. Or I might do that because I want to do that but I am not going to do that because someone expects that from me.
Me- I feel like you are the perfect person that has boundaries but it makes sense because you put in a lot of hard work.
“I make it full proof so that you cannot come at me or at least I try to anyway. You can’t say that there are holes in what I am doing. I always try to do a little extra if that makes sense.”
7. What advice would you give someone trying to have a healthy work-life-balance?
Jen- “I would say have good people in your life. Whether it is a good friend, or a mentor or partner. Have good people that will look out for you because they will be there for you.”
Lets be honest, we all have our moments but I think I have a good core group that tells me when I need to do this or you need to give yourself a break.
To me I don’t know what I would do without having those friends. I have some of my girlfriends at CNN that I still go to when I am having trouble. Even if I am trying to manage something at work. That is how I stay sane when it gets really bad or I need advice I have people that I honestly trust and know they just want me to succeed and they are not trying to tear me down.
“Also, try to rise above the negativity. You come to work and there is just so many people who want to complain and I fall into that trap every now and then but you have to rise above it.”
If you go negative it sucks you. In life try to surround yourself with people who bring you up. When you work in this industry in any capacity whether its in production, an Associate Producer, Producer, Supervising Producer, no matter what you have to remind yourself there are people who think what you do is the coolest thing in the world and they are trying to work their way in. I try to remember that little reality check.