Creating Work/Life/Blog Balance
We are a generation of doers. We run businesses, manage households, hold down jobs, cook meals, wipe noses, entertain friends, do laundry, and a bajillion and one other things...and that's just an average Tuesday!
Finding balance is often difficult to do, especially when society tells us we should be doing ALL THE THINGS! And as women, we're naturally hard-wired to have the drive to be all things to all people. But the fact of the matter is, we do have to find that balance, or we'll burn out.
I receive emails regularly from bloggers asking me how I "do it all", or how I manage everything. And my short response is simply that I don't. I've learned the hard way that, in all the juggling that I do, there are a few things that help me create a work/life/blog balance.
I don't have a "typical" day, or even a typical week. My schedule varies as often as Rachel's haircut on Friend's reruns. But to give you some background into my situation, here's what I've got going on at this moment:
- My 14 year old daughter is in the 8th grade. Her dad & I divorced when she was three and I've been remarried for 8 years.
- My daughter lives with me & my husband every other week. Her school is in her dad's neck of the woods, which is about an hour from our house.
- As of October, my full-time job of 8 years turned into a part-time job in which I go into the office every Monday and Thursday. My commute? Three hours round-trip.
- I work part-time for Collective Bias as their blog coordinator, about 25 hours/week, all from home.
- I own and operate Sweet Tea, LLC, creating courses, writing blog posts, coaching clients, hosting mastermind groups, etc.
- I also own and operate Sweet Tea & Saving Grace, my Southern lifestyle blog.
I spend roughly 60 hours/week working for either one of my part-time jobs or my own business. In between all of that work, I have a home to manage and all that comes with it - laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping, household budget, etc. I also make sure to spend quality time with my husband and my daughter as often as possible.
With everything I have going on, you might think I'm a little bit crazy, constantly running up against deadlines, dropping the ball on responsibilities, and forgetting to finish putting on my make-up. But, surprisingly, I pretty much have my sh*t together, because I've learned to find BALANCE.
And you can, too. I promise.
5 TIPS FOR CREATING WORK/LIFE/BLOG BALANCE
Before I get into the tips, I want you to keep in mind that no two people or situations are alike, so what works for me may not work for you. My hope, however, is that you might start to shift your perspective on your responsibilities and make smarter decisions to maintain your sanity!
#1 - Say "no" more than you say "yes".
Pre-burnout (circa 2013), I was a "yes" girl. You want me to do a sponsored post? Sure! You want me to collaborate on this thing? Absolutely! A round-up? Yep. I'm in. A group giveaway! Of course!
If you've been around this blog for a while, you might have noticed I'm on a mission to be intentional with everything I do. My word of the year is "intention".
That means being intentional about commitments I make, who I work with, what projects I work on, etc. I don't simply say "yes" to every shiny new thing that presents itself.
It's important to remember that every time you say "yes" to something, you are also saying "no" to something else. So choose your yeses wisely, and only say "yes" to what really means something to you. Which brings me to my second tip.
#2 - Know your priorities & honor them.
Write them down. Seriously. List everything that is truly a priority to you - having dinner with your family every night, helping your kids with their homework, snuggle/TV time with the hubby, building your side hustle into a full-time business.
Make sure you can see your list of priorities easily. You might want to post them on your office wall or bathroom mirror, and perhaps put them on your desktop and store them in your phone, too. You'll need to be able to access them regularly. Why?
Remember Tip #1? When you are presented with an opportunity, your "yes" or "no" should be dependent on your priorities. Is this thing going to get you closer to your goals of business ownership? Is this thing going to take you away from dinner with your family?
Keep in mind that you don't always have to work around someone else's schedule, either. If this thing you've been asked to do would benefit your business but take away from your time with the family, let the host know that time doesn't work for you, then suggest alternatives.
What this looks like for me is going fishing with my husband when he pops his head in my office at 4:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. Work and blog will be here when we come home. Fishing with the daylight we have left? That's an opportunity I don't want to miss.
#3 - Schedule, schedule, schedule.
I've noticed that the people who feel as if their lives are so out of control are also the most unorganized people I've ever met. There's something to be said for organizing your schedule, because you only have 24 hours in each day, and it's up to you to make the most of them.
I'm a huge fan of a paper planner and Google Calendar. My Google Calendar is home to all of my appointments, like client calls, chats with bloggers for Collective Bias, webinars, and so on. My paper planner, an Erin Condren Life Planner that I'm deeply in love with, is my to-do list, plus reminders of appointments like my daughter's orthodontist and things like that.
*Psssttt...want to try out Erin Condren for yourself? Click that link up there to earn a $10 credit. And I get one, too!
Throughout the week, as I go about my business, appointments and to-do's get added to my calendars. Every Sunday, I sit down and sync them together. My Life Planner goes with me everywhere, and I also keep it open next to me while I work. In between appointments, I work on my to-do list.
I even schedule when I'm going to write new blog posts and newsletters, schedule social media posts, send follow-up emails, and work on pieces of larger projects. It's all in there. Otherwise I'd be forever lost.
#4 - Be flexible.
Remember: Life happens. One of the benefits to having an organized and structured schedule is that I tend to always be slightly ahead of schedule. That's a good thing, because inevitably, life will throw us a curve ball, right?
Here's a prime example: A few weeks ago, my daughter came home from a trip to Dominican Republic for her cousin's wedding, coughing and not feeling so well. That cough turned into full-blown bronchitis, a sinus infection, and eventually, pneumonia. She missed two straight weeks of school.
And guess who had to take care of her? Good ol' mom! Yes, I'm able to work from home for the most part, but I couldn't work my usual 60 hours/week because we were running around to doctor's appointments, and I was putting her first because she is more of a priority than my blog or business.
That wasn't in the schedule, but it happened, and fortunately, I was far enough ahead with blog posts and other things that it wasn't a huge stress bucket.
#5 - Give yourself grace.
This final tip is probably my favorite, but it's also the hardest tip to follow. We give others grace so easily, but we don't always give it so freely to ourselves.
It's important to remember that you are only one person, and you really can't do it all. And the truth is, nobody expects you to do it all...expect you! You're absolutely no good to anyone else if you work so hard that you eventually collapse, so give yourself some grace, girl!
- Ask for help. There's no shame in admitting you can't do things on your own.
- Delegate. That's why God gave us kids, am I right? (Only half-kidding...nobody get mad at me!)
- Walk away. When that inner ticking time bomb is about to go off, take a step away and get some sunshine.
- Schedule social time. Make plans to take a day off every now & then and spend time with friends.
- Forgive yourself. You're going to forget things, or make a mistake. You're human. Move on.
- Let it go. Allow yourself to NOT complete something on your to-do list, just once. It's exhilarating, and the world won't come to an end. Promise.
Are you feeling a little more balanced yet? Look, I'm living proof that hard work and balance and slow growth create success. I've built my business from scratch and now have the freedom to work from home, and I get to go fishing with my husband, too!
Stress doesn't solve problems, it amplifies them. So stop stressin', start balancin', and just breathe. You've got this! *knuckle bump*
Your turn: What are YOUR tips for finding balance? Yoga, perhaps? Share your thoughts in the comments below!