Finding the right work-life balance (or work-work-life balance for entrepreneurs like us with a day job and a side hustle!) can sometimes feel like searching for a unicorn. Here are some tips we follow to maintain that elusive balance:
1. Understand what season you're in.
While your life might not seem balanced right at this moment and it may feel like you're working three times as much as you're relaxing, if you look back over the last several months, you may have had other periods of time when the opposite was true. You might just be in a busier season of your life/year/month/week and once you get through it, you'll move into a season of downtime. If this could be the case for you, think about that light at the end of the tunnel, stay focused and get through this season doing the best work that you can.
2. Use a planner and carve out time to work and time to play/relax.
Neither of us could imagine getting through the week without our planners. During busier weeks, we make tons of to-do lists and plan out our days hour by hour, usually at least a day in advance. I literally schedule time to fill out my planner (every Sunday evening!) but, having that detailed plan helps to fit in times of non-work, especially when things get really crazy. For example, I usually try to go to yoga every Thursday evening as a way to unwind. In organizing my week, I remembered an event I have this Thursday evening so I decided to go to yoga Tuesday night instead. If I hadn't planned out my week, I likely wouldn't have remembered my Thursday night event until the day before and would have probably skipped yoga this week all together. Skipping the things you enjoy doing outside of work is what makes most people feel stressed and like they're working too much - taking 15-20 minutes to plan your time out can help prevent that and help you feel more balanced.
3. Consider how you think about day-to-day activities.
Okay, so maybe you feel like you don't have much time in your schedule to dedicate to non-work activities. If this is the season you're in, then you need to start thinking about what you enjoy throughout your day. When your spouse comes home and you greet him or her with a hug and a kiss, when you step outside, the sun hits your skin and warms you up a bit, when you're running through the grocery store and hear some little munchkins making each other laugh, when your co-worker brings cookies in to share and you sit down to enjoy one at your desk... add all of these little moments up and count them towards the "life" side of your work-life balance. Be mindful, take in the good moments and stop telling yourself that you're life is full of stress. Even just recognizing sweet, day-to-day joys will help you relax and feel more balanced.
4. Re-frame your perception of stress and busyness.
When I heard Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal speak on stress a few years ago, it totally changed how I thought about busyness. She discusses that the "harmful effects of stress may be a consequence of our perception that it is bad for our health", not necessarily from the stress itself. Isn't that insane? Since hearing that and reading into the studies she references a little more, we've found success in positioning stress in our lives as enhancing and energizing, rather than draining. When you feel really busy, or really stressed out, think of that feeling as helpful... pushing you to reach the goals you've established. When you feel like stress and busyness aren't such bad things we need to avoid, you might feel like you aren't as unbalanced as you thought you were.
5. Think about the busiest day you've had, would you do it over again?
There are two types of stress - the kind of stress you feel after a long day of doing things you don't want to do, or the kind you feel after a busy day of doing something you enjoy. Usually, those who are worn out from doing something they actually like to do feel generally less stressed than those who have less hectic schedules but are doing something they don't feel fulfilled by. So, if you're frequently feeling busy and stressed and it's causing you to be unhappy and unmotivated, then maybe you aren't doing what you're truly meant to do and need to re-evaluate. This can be a tough realization because most of us put a lot of time into our work and especially into the businesses we're building on our own but if you're busy and not enjoying it even just a little bit... then what's the point?
We love the work-life balance we've established because it fits us perfectly. It's a little more "work" than "life" most of the time but that's just the way we like it - we enjoy serving our clients and designing so much! We hope each of you are able to craft the lifestyle that works for you - your mix of work and life might be totally different from someone else's and that's 100% okay. Do what makes you happy and what helps you feel successful!