A lot of times, I see people saying how do I set aside time to just be with my family or to just work. My answer wants to be there’s a time to work and a time to play but the reality is that it’s very, very hard to separate the two most of the time. I would love to say that I am super great at setting my phone on silent at a certain time and ‘calling it a day’ to just be with my family but that isn’t always the case. Like now for instance. It’s almost 6pm EST and while my phone is indeed set to “Do Not Disturb”, I am in my office writing this post because it wasn’t something I was ready to do earlier. And let’s face it. Kids.
Instead of telling you what you ‘should’ do, I am going to tell you about what I try to do everyday as far as a work/life schedule. Maybe you can find something in there you can try or learn from-good or bad. It’s a daily struggle, absolutely. You feel like you’re either not a good business person or not a good parent or hell, some days it’s both. This is part of life, we feel guilty, we have ups and downs, and there are peaks and valleys. Welcome to entrepreneurship and parenthood combined.
My work life tends to take place either at the beginning of the day or during nap time. When those things don’t happen or if we have to rearrange that then I truly just try to find a few solid hours where I can get some work done and in those few hours, I don’t goof around. I spend every second getting what I need to done and I am far more productive than when I’ve had full 8 hour days to work. In all honesty, I have come to really appreciate the few hours here and there and I feel better when I leave my office knowing that I have gotten so much more done. Here’s my other secret- I do not stay up past 10pm to work either. WHAT?! No seriously, I am not one of those people who can do that and feel great in the morning and by 10pm, I really don’t have much left in the tank. We put the kids to bed around 730/8pm and my husband goes to bed around 9pm and I go to bed at the same time. I may ‘play’ on my phone for a bit, but I am asleep by 10pm. The kids typically wake up at 6am (yes, really) and thus, so am I. I get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and it makes a huge difference for me. I would rather be sure to get enough sleep than stay up to putz around and not be as productive while simultaneously falling asleep at the computer. That has always been important for me in order to feel good in the morning and get through the best I can.
Pic Credit: Catalina Devore
Since I have started this and adding two kids to the mix, it has taken some trial and error but I have cut my editing time in over half the time and my wedding turnarounds have been the fastest they have ever been. It’s not perfect, but it’s working for me!
So overall, here’s my secrets:
-get at least a solid 7 hours of sleep at night (yes, seriously)
-break up your work periods into a couple hours at a time. I swear, you will get more done taking advantage of less time in one sitting than a long period.
-don’t be afraid to set aside one day of the week or take the kids or a sitters/family members house so that you can work. Put the cost into your budget, barter, do whatever you need to to get that solid time to work WITHOUT taking it away of the family as a whole later in the evening
-put your phone on DO NOT DISTURB at a set time everyday. This usually means that notifications will not ring on your phone during this time. You can change the settings to allow what you need to come through but by doing this and maybe setting it in the other room on a charger, allows it out of the way so that you aren’t hearing the notifications or seeing any blinking lights. Nothing work related is likely that urgent where your phone needs to be in your sight during that time.
-try to make it a habit to take one or two days of the week and give them a purpose. For instance, I typically try to write a blog or two on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays are my prep days for the weekend shoots. I typically do not edit or work much at the computer on fridays, that’s my day off. Wednesdays are usually shipping days too if I have anything I need to drop off at the post office. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually when I take the kids to a sitters or daycare for a couple hours if I can/need to.
In order to be more productive and create balance, you have to find what works for you and try to make it a routine. It’s hard, there’s sacrifices, but it’s worth it when you’re not constantly pulling your hair out or struggling to get work done. Once you find something that works, stick with it and make changes around that if you need to. Work is not the most important thing, but it does allow us to do the things we want so don’t feel like you’re being selfish by taking that time to work or do something for you. Your happiness/sanity/clarity is just as important to have a healthy life outside of work. Trust that!