I’m definitely not the poster child for work/life balance, nor do I claim to be. Being a blogger/consultant/entrepreneur/photo stylist/writer — I choose when I’m connected or not connected. Since I can work at any hour of any day — nights, weekends, normal days — I can also play at anytime as well.
I try to work during normal business hours so I don’t overwork too much, and also so I can spend time with my husband and friends when they are off work as well. BUT because my schedule is flexible, I can also do things during the work week that other people can’t. Like go to the grocery store when it’s not busy, and workout when the classes aren’t super full.
So, while most of the time I’m working 8:30 am to anywhere from 5 to 7 pm Monday through Friday, I also usually work for another couple of hours several nights a week after I get done making dinner (if I’m not at an event, I make dinner every week night). I also work for at least several hours each weekend — although I’ve been trying to scale that back.
I also work very seasonally — in the winter I never want to go anywhere (hate cold weather), so I work more because I’m home more. Now that it’s warm I want to be outside as much as possible, drinking on a patio, reading by the pool, even just taking a walk and soaking in the sun.
Another important part of my job is cultivating relationships. So even though “going out to lunch” or “getting drinks” with someone sounds like fun, often it’s someone in my industry that is an important relationship for me to have.
Usually when I take time out of a work day to do something relaxing or just plain fun, I end up working that evening, that weekend, or longer days that week. However, I don’t feel pressure to make up the hours if I don’t have anything pressing going on. I’ve worked more than 40 hours a week (probably more like 60-70) for the last four years, so taking an afternoon off and not going back to work is necessary for my brain sometimes.
The “balance rules” I try to have are:
+ Read a book instead of being on social media/working before bed.
+ Be present wherever I am. I am VERY mindful about not being on my phone when I’m spending time with people. I think it’s SO RUDE!
+ Take time to just let my mind wander, versus always having to be stimulated by something (even if it’s a podcast I’m learning from). The brain needs wandering time.
+ Allow myself the time to do things right (this is another entire post in itself). Basically plan enough time for projects and tasks, and then add more time because you’ll probably need it. I don’t mind pressure, but I don’t like rushing.
+ Don’t stress too much or dwell on the past or things you can’t change. You can only change what you do today and tomorrow. Focus on that.
+ Be spontaneous. Go out and do things, experience things.
+ I schedule things that are important to me. I put EVERYTHING on my Google Calendar. Beyond meetings, photo shoots, and deadlines, I schedule in my workouts, lunch/brunch with friends, research time, and in the summer I look at the weather and go home early at least once a week to read by the pool when it isn’t crawling with kids.
I think the older you get, the more your body tells you when it’s done for the day. There have been times where I’ve tried to work late and my body was like, nope. You’re done for the day.
The Italian phrase il bel far niente or dolce far niente – the beauty/sweetness of doing nothing, has always stuck with me. I’m getting into another post I want to write here, but I think as Americans we are very hard-working and we have a hard time relaxing regularly. Sure we’ll go on a crazy vacation for a week, but as far as our daily lives, it’s rare to meet people that really relax, enjoy life, soak it up — and aren’t stressed about something.
When it comes down to it — life is about the people you love and your happiness. Work can be important, and is very important to me — but what’s life without the ones you love? I just try to keep the big picture in mind — even when I’m GSDing. I think that the more balance you have, the more effective, the more creative, the happier you are — the better all around. For you and for everyone you work with, live with, and love.
To see all of the other responses to this question in The B Bar‘s linkup this month, continue reading!
Photo by Dionna Dorsey (me on the Georgetown Waterfront, view of the Key Bridge)