By J.J. Long
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
Every Entrepreneur's Dilemma
Every entrepreneur at some point in time has probably had issues with work-life balance. You know how it goes, you get super involved in a project in the studio or at the office, lose track of time, and then before you know it it’s past dinner time and you decide to order a pizza to keep you fueled up so you can work into the wee hours of the night burning the midnight oil. You might even sacrifice family time, because you really think the project you are working on is that important and you can justify it in some way.
A lot of the times we might do this because we are trying to reach a certain deadline. Other times we do this because we’re in a really good creative flow state, and other times we do this because it’s just in our DNA and we haven’t learned to shut off the workaholic gene yet (I totally get this from my dad).
For the past 3+ years or so, I’ve spent a lot of time studying life style design, which means structuring my life the way I want, scripting out my days, removing bad habits, adopting healthier ones, and doing my best to maintain a balanced lifestyle in alignment with my dreams. There are a ton of tips I could list here (I’ll probably do another post about this topic at some point), but here are my top 5 tips that I live by and I think will help you out on your own work-life balance journeys.
1. Stick To A Schedule
This might be common sense for some people, but if you don’t already stick to a schedule this will totally be a game changer for you. I remember when I first became a self employed artist I was super excited because I could create my own hours, come and go as I pleased, and didn’t have to answer to a boss. This was all fine and dandy, but in the beginning I never had a schedule in place and as a result my days were always uneven and I’d wake up overwhelmed and anxious because I felt like I had to “do it all” in one day. Not having a game plan is basically planning to fail.
When you script out your days you eliminate a lot of anxiety because you know exactly at what time you should be doing what activity. You should not only be scheduling obvious things like appointments, meetings, and taking little Johnny to soccer practice, but you should be listing out other important self nourishing things like meals, showers, reading, exercise, meditation, journaling, etc. When you plan out your day, it’s not just the workday, but it’s your ENTIRE day (this is where the balance comes in). Plan out from what time you plan on waking up in the morning to what time you’re closing your eyes at night. Work time, family time, and personal time. Script out everything.
An amazing planner that I’ve been using for years is called Passion Planner. My sister, brother in law, and I rave about this planner. It features month at a glance views, 7 day at a glance views with time slots ranging from 6am – 10:30pm, plenty of lined paper and room for notes, as well as motivational quotes every week to keep you inspired. Definitely check them out when you get a chance, they make a great quality planner.
2. Understand That Everything is Equally Important
All areas of our lives are equally important, although many of us put work ahead of our family and ourselves sometimes (I am guilty of this as well). Since we are entrepreneurs, we are always chasing after our next freelance gig or trying to find innovative ways to make our next paycheck, so it’s easy for us to push things like our social life or fitness out the door.
When we’re desperate for money, other areas of our life suffer and we end up in this endless OCD loop where we are starving ourselves of balance because we are so focused on making that next paycheck. It’s so easy to do, but once we realize that everything is equally important in our lives, it sort of puts things in perspective. If you say to yourself, “Going to the gym is equally as important as family time”, or “Working on this project is equally as important as going to the movies with my friends tonight”, then you cut out favorites and you begin to live life a bit more balanced. Not only that, but you begin to really cherish the present moment when you’re now engaging in that activity.
(Image credit: Pexels.com)
3. Be Conscious of Bleed Time
Bleed time is when you go over on time for a certain task. So for example, say you’re giving yourself 1 hour to work on your social media posts for your business and then after that you plan on exercising for a half an hour. If you take 1hr and 15mins to post on social media, your bleed time is 15mins into your exercising time. And guess what happens then. You say to yourself, “Well now I’m only going to have 15mins to workout, so maybe I’ll just go to the gym tomorrow instead”.
This happens over and over again for most of us, every day on different tasks. But…if you understand that everything is equally important, then you begin to respect the boundaries of your time. Once you commit to this belief, another conversation with yourself might be, “Ok so I know I have at least 15 more minutes of social media posting BUT the gym is equally important to me and I don’t want to miss it, so I’ll either finish this last post later on or it can wait until tomorrow, I really want to stay healthy and look my best”. Be weary of bleed time, it can be a silent killer.
4. Learn How To Prioritize
I know it’s hard to stay on point every day and stay on task in the allotted times for everything you have to do, especially if these are new habits you are trying to adjust to. You’ll experience bleed time here and there and you’ll still favor some tasks over others. Not only that, but you’ll probably get the unexpected interruption, email, or phone call that throws your day off course. This is to be expected and something you need to strive towards. But regardless of all of this, you should still have your daily priorities identified.
Your daily priorities are the one or two things on your to do list, that are musts for you that day! This is whether it’s finishing a big project that you are working on for your business like launching a new website or running off to little Johnny’s soccer game that you can’t miss. If you identify what are musts for you that day, than you eliminate bleed time for that specific task and it sort of frames up your entire day. If you know you have to leave the studio or office by 2pm to get to Johnny’s soccer game by 3pm, then you know you only have “X” amount of hours to dedicate to other tasks. Learning how to properly prioritize the big things helps you frame up your day so you know how much time you can delegate to other important areas of your life.
5. Be Present All The Time
If you’re new belief is that everything is equally important, than it makes it more fun to be present with whatever task you are working on because you shouldn’t be worried about losing out on other things. If you’re exercising, instead of letting your mind wander because you’d rather be working on a creative project instead of exercising (I’m guilty of this), try to be more present while you exercise and give your body the love and attention it deserves. Or, if you’re playing with your children after work, really try to cherish those moments rather than worrying about the invoices you still have to send out to customers. Having work-life balance means staying present in all areas of your life. At least that’s my definition.
To Wrap Up
So I hope these 5 tips will help you manage your work-life balance in some way. Being entrepreneurs we have a lot to worry about and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But by sticking to a schedule, understanding that everything is equally important, being conscious of bleed time, learning how to prioritize, and being present all the time, this will help us achieve more balance between our careers and our personal lives. What are some other tips that have worked for you as an entrepreneur? What are some specific issues in your life that are preventing you from balance? To leave a comment, click on the blue “comments” link underneath the facebook and twitter buttons where you can leave a reply. Thanks for tuning in friends!
5/10/2018 12:59:10 am
Great pointers and reminders! Staying in the moment I have to say is probably key to it all either running aground or sailing smoothly. Moderation and balance is a delicate dance but once you got it down you can almost glide through it all with ease. I’d follow similar steps and things would be going well for a while until I’d find myself out of it. One reason would be the result of, as you mentioned, that silent killer bleed time and all that it entails. Another was simply being stuck for too long, not knowing the direction to step next to advance. But I’ve learned any step is a step, even if you go back one to get a better placement to reach for another. All in all, to keep in the flow I’d say fairness to yourself is an important philosophy to keep in mind. Everything will get done, all in good time.
Thank you so much Silvia for taking the time to read the post and also for the thoughtful comments. I'm glad you mentioned the "fairness to you" part. That is another big tip. I think it's important to be fair to ourselves and understand that we're not perfect human beings and we all make mistakes. So if we're a little off balance with our schedules, etc. we should still be kind to ourselves. Thanks for chiming in Silvia, I appreciate it!
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1/20/2023 05:43:58 am
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J.J. Long is the founder and CEO of JJArtworks. J.J. has been professionally painting, singing, acting, writing, teaching, and doing voiceovers for over 13 years. The purpose of our blog is to help artists thrive in their own businesses by sharing valuable and sincere content.