One morning not too long ago...
... I woke up and realized that the entire reason I was fighting to become a successful creative business owner and blogger had gone totally out the window.
Actually, that's a lie— it didn't happen one bright morning, although that's certainly more poetic.
The problem was that it didn't happen overnight. I felt the pressure growing, but much like boiling a frog, the small, steady increments were easy enough to bear on their own.
So what was it that made me realize my work-life blend/balance was very much out of whack? Mostly, the time I spent with my husband felt different. We couldn't have a date night or watch a movie without also being on our laptops (both guilty). I felt like I couldn't relax and unwind, couldn't go for a simple walk without feeling like I was wasting time that could be better spent writing a post, meeting a new client, or writing a sales page (insert flashing lights and warning sirens here!)
Wait, what?! Isn't this what I was working for? The joy of a cup of tea in the morning because there was no one to enforce a strict work day schedule? Wasn't it the short work day I was striving for?
I kept telling myself I would bring things back into balance when I just launched this next service, or made x$, or had x steady clients (nevermind the fact that there will always be a next goal).
Here's how I finally pulled the plug on the hustle, and brought back the happy.
1. Set needful goals.
Goal setting is great, but I'll be the first person to admit that I sometimes get carried away with goal setting. I set necessary goals, then I set stretch goals, then I set even crazier mega-super-stretch goals— leaving me never satisfied, and never feeling like I've 'hit' the goal.
While stretch goals can be a great motivator, motivation here was clearly not my problem. So I took some time to decide what actually needed to happen over the next quarter to grow my blog and to keep a steady flow of income. The blog is set up, services and products are in place, and I've launched the second blog— there is no reason at all to be at full-throttle all of the time!
Once I decided on my goals, I broke them up over the upcoming summer months and promised myself I wouldn't spawn heaps of new goals until that time period was up.
2. get productive.
Wait, didn't I just say that I was trying to cut back on the hustle?
Yes, yes I did. But in order to cut back on the hustle I needed to up the productivity and drastically reduce the amount of time that was being wasted throughout the day. It was time to take my own medicine (and actually stick to the Pomodoro method).
Actually taking these breaks rather than desperately plodding on like a marathon-runner near the finish line (drenched in sweat, legs dragging, pausing to up-chuck on the side of the road) means that I could be better focused and producing better work during the times I was working.
Building a successful blog may be a marathon, but my individual workday had to be sprints all the way.
3. Get outside, bring the tea.
One of my favourite things ever is sitting outside in the fresh but warm morning air, watching the sunrise, listening to the birds, and drinking a cup of tea. I can feel my breathing slowing even as I'm writing about it here. It's the best ever.
So... why on earth have I stopped doing this? Why am I not taking advantage of the fact that I can work whenever the hell I want? What is it that makes me feel like I need to jump up and get onto the laptop within milliseconds of waking up and start answering email, writing blog posts, and getting started with client work?
No, no no no no.
Now, I've been getting up, checking my email for time-sensitive emails while the kettle boils (but not answering any of them), then heading outside with my book and my tea until the tea is pretty much cold.
4. Set a closing time, stick to it.
Although I'm a big believer in the short work day, somehow, someway, I had become that person that worked away until 8pm, always attempting to get in just one more task like it was the most important thing in the world. When I wasn't working, I felt like I was throwing away valuable time (as though the only valuable things I could possibly be doing were related to work).
So I set a work-day cut off time, and I'm sticking to it— 4pm. At the end of this season, I plan on chopping another hour off of my workday, but because of the loss of daylight, it'll probably be from the other end.
And since I've started doing this? I work better. I'm more productive because I'm aware of the fact that I can't just keep puttering away all day. I have a deadline.
And when that time comes it's so much easier for me to shut off and spend some time reading or knitting or spending time with my husband. It no longer needs to be justified. It no longer feels like I'm using my time unwisely because if I'm sticking to my rule, I'm simply not allowed to be working. What else am I to do but relax, water the plants, and knit a few rows of my sweater?
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Have you been neglecting the 'life' side of the work-life balance? How are you tipping the scales? Let me know in the comments!