It's been a while since I've had to think about work/life balance. In fact, I've actually never had to think about it at all.
When my kids were young, I didn't work.
Ok, well that's not entirely true either.
At one point I worked part-time, but the balance was easy. I worked for somebody else. I had set hours. When I was there, I was there, and when I wasn't, I didn't give it a second thought. It's easy to plan your life around predictability.
But now I have found myself in a very different situation.
I own my own business. Me. I'm the business, and I am selling me and my brand. And with that, comes everything you need when you own and run a business, creating products, marketing and research. Along with that, I run 2 websites for my business. I also help my husband with his business. In addition, I am the President of my synagogue, and although I volunteer to do this, it's the equivalent to a full-time stint I own for the next two years. To top it off, although my kids basically no longer consider it their permanent residence, I still have a household to maintain.
And I wonder why I occasionally just stare blankly at the wall, not really sure where to turn next.
So how do I keep it all together and actually feel like I have a life?
Let me take a step back and share some thing I tried that didn't work.
I sat and separated out all my jobs.
- I have my personal website
- I have my online art gallery, J. Mane Gallery website
- I have my presidential duties
- I have my house
I didn't count helping my husband, because that's more of a personal assistant kind of thing that's a bit more on demand.
My thought was, I would schedule my week by devoting one day to each area. I had 4 areas, 5 days of the week, so one day could be the flex day. This way, I could put all my energy into that one area on that day and think about nothing else.
I didn't really go very well. Why? I don't know what business can survive only being "open" one day a week.
So, here's my secret. I schedule everything. Not psycho-schedule, like everything down to the last second of the day, but I schedule what I am going to do when, what day, and what time frame. I include deadlines. I meal plan dinner and I plan my downtime.
I love lists.
1. I carry around a good old-fashioned spiral notebook everywhere I go. I use it for everything. I use it when I take notes at meetings. I make huge brain-dump lists of everything I have to do or remember to do, sometimes pages long that go throughout the whole notebook with meeting notes often inserted in between. Currently my list is up to 112. Every once in awhile, after I've crossed a bunch of stuff off (and there is nothing more gratifying than crossing stuff off your list), I start a new list, adding the yet undone stuff first.
2. I have 2 jumbo desk calendars, one for my website and one for my volunteer work. Essentially, I use those for deadlines. Did I forget to mention, I am a very visual person? Well, most artists are. I schedule and add deadlines for the entire year. They are hung up on my wall so I can look at them everyday.
3. Then I have my regular-sized, weekly planner. You know, the one that has Monday-Friday with nice lines you can write on. This is where I schedule what aspect of each business I am working on when. I try to be consistent and work on the same things on the same days each week. I always go for a funky looking planner, not just your basic color. It may be a little more money, but it makes me feel good every time I look at it.
4. Finally, I have my phone. It's always with me and therefore every appointment and meeting is scheduled here, usually with alert reminders. Plus, I keep my daily to-do-list handy, and it's easy to make quick changes.
Always look for cute, quirky, fun, expressive calendars and pads that show off your style and make you feel good. It's so much easier to get though life.
PS-Do you have an excellent work/life balance system? Do tell!