I’m gonna be totally honest… I’m not really good at turning off my brain. It’s something that drives Andy quite crazy at times. When the slow days of winter arrived and I should have been snuggling up with my love for a long winters nap, I was working like a little hobbit into the long hours of the night on our new business. I always know that things are a bit off balance when Andy sits me down and says “Please Love, you need to take a break.” So today I thought it was time to revisit my favorite tips for creating better work-life balance. Creating a work-life balance is kind of like chasing an elusive spotted unicorn. I don’t think its something that ever get’s mastered, but more like a practice that ebbs and flows with the seasons of life. So if you’re feeling a little off-kilter, don’t fret. A few simple tweaks will get you back on track in no time.
4 simple steps to experience better work-life balance this week
1. Schedule “Personal” time into your calendar FIRST, then protect this time at ALL COSTS!!
We’ve all heard instruction “put your oxygen mask on first before assisting those around you.” It turns out this simple instruction was the most important advice I ever received about living a balanced life, although as a mother and business owner it’s also been the hardest lesson to implement. Let’s be real, in a culture where busy is glorified, it can be a bit difficult to carve out “me time” without feeling guilty. Yet without this personal time, balance is simply impossible.
Over the years I’ve learned that not only do I need to create this time, but I also have to physically mark it on my calendar and then protect it at all cost. Whenever I’ve neglected to set this time aside, any opening in my schedule quickly got filled with work, volunteering, or other peoples agendas and by the end of the month I felt frazzled and exhausted. I’ll be honest, even when I did mark it off my calendar it was not easy to protect this time. When work started getting busy and deadlines were creeping in, it was all too easy to cancel my yoga class or massage to power through work. Yet this led to inefficient work, stress, and the feeling of being completely off balance.
This is why I recommend marking off personal time in your calendar at the beginning of each month so that nothing else can fill it. Gym time, date night, alone time, a massage, yoga class, nap time, laying in a hammock reading a book, whatever feeds your soul and will help create the feeling of white space and balance- fill up your calendar with these things FIRST, then protect this time at all costs.
2. Create work hours
A huge challenge for many business owners, especially those working from home, is setting up work hours to separate work time from family time. This is something I struggled with for many years and found that when I don’t have a clear border between work and home time, then everything ends up a chaotic mess. When I’m working, I feel guilty that I should be with my family; and when I’m with my family, I’m thinking about all the things that need to get done at work. The result is loss of joy, presence, and effectiveness in everything I do. As soon as the work/life boundary is established, then it’s possible to 100% focus on what’s at hand. Over the years I’ve found (through endless trial and failure) that the key with setting this work-life boundary is making the boundary CLEAR to both myself and my family. My family knows that dinner time is OUR time- not to be disturbed by phone calls, work or electronic devices. They also know that when I’m in my office with my desk light on, I’m 100% focused on work and not to be disturbed. Try setting work hours this new year and you’ll instantly become more efficient, focused and present.
3. Don’t do it alone
If you wanted to learn or excel at anything in life, be it learning the piano, photography, or improving your tennis game, chances are you’d get a coach or mentor to help you. Yet for some reason many creative business owners try to go about building a successful business completely alone, and then struggle to see why they’re scrambling to gain leverage. Throughout my journey the one constant thing I’ve relied on is surrounding myself with others who can guide and mentor me in areas where I need improvement. It’s the wisdom, guidance, and support of my personal and professional coaches who have helped me make the biggest strides in life. Even now as I teach photographers how to improve their technique and business, I still take joy in learning from the worlds best photographers and business mentors. If you don’t have a mentor or coach, find one.
4. Remember, balance is a journey not a destination.
Last but certainly not least, it’s easy to look at other’s perfectly curated Instagram feeds and feel like: “Crap, everyone has it together except me!” Yet I promise, this is a lie. In todays fast paced world I really believe that we’re all struggling to find ongoing balance and connection, don’t get tricked into thinking you’re alone in this journey. Balance is not a destination you’ll arrive at one day then perfectly maintain for a lifetime, it’s a practice that ebbs and flows with the seasons of life. Be gentle with yourself and enjoy the journey.
ps. While today’s post was more about how to experience more balance, next week I’ll be sharing some tools we use in business to create momentum and success.
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