Guest blog Katie Navarra - The Almighty Life Balance
The almighty life-work balance is something we all struggle with. It’s a constant struggle, especially for entrepreneurs. Juggling a fulltime job (or full-time freelance business), the pressure to meet deadlines, getting enough time in the saddle while still having time to enjoy family and friends can create anxiety, stress and frustration.
Having a good work ethic is necessary, the need to unwind and de-stress is real. Creating a routine that includes time for a mental break is crucial to delivering quality of work and maintaining healthy relationships at home. If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that I still have a lot of room for improvement, but here are a few strategies that help me keep it all in perspective.
Walk (or exercise) it off. My fulltime employer requires employees to take a full hour lunch break and that time allows me to fit in important interviews. It’s equally powerful to use that time for a power walk or a visit to the staff gym. Whether the time is split half into interviews and half into a walk or full hour workout days are rotated with full hour interview days, taking the time to often gives my mind the break it needs to stay focused and refreshed.
Plan a Purple night. So this isn’t as much about the color as it is about the activity. There’s a group of four friends who work in the marketing/public relations industry full time and we love a local sushi restaurant called Red & Blue. When creative people see Red & Blue it becomes Purple. We meet for dinner once a month to share ideas related to the industry, talk about stress in our personal lives and simply enjoy one another’s company.
Learn to say no. Honor commitments to yourself and your family. This may be difficult at first; however, people will come to respect the fact that you know your own limits and understand that when you are over-committed. Earlier this summer we took a week-long vacation and I promised not to turn it into a workcation. Three editors requested stories from the region we traveled too and even though it pained me, I declined. Each editor understood respected the decision and reconnected with different assignments when I returned to work.
The frequency of time off depends on personal preference and the size of the business. In my opinion, enough vacation time' is when you are able to attend events that you feel you should, and you also have a chance to recharge your batteries to a point that you enjoy and look forward to returning to work. Some people prefer longer breaks, whereas others favor frequent long weekends throughout the year.
Listen to your body. Working is exhausting. Whether you’re working for yourself fulltime or managing a fulltime job with a freelance business, the day-to-day schedule can be grueling. There were days I pushed through the fatigue to finish, or start a new assignment. Lately, I’ve found that if I take an hour to read a good book, sit with the dog or go to bed at 8:30 at night, the transition from the “day job” to my “own job” is far more productive when I do start working later that night or early the next morning.
Living “Off-Balance.” If you’re looking for a different outlook on the pursuit of the work-life balance phenomenon, check out the TedTalk Off-Balance On Purpose: The Future of Engagement and Work-Life Balance by Dan Thurmon. He shows how the pursuit of work-life balance is unrealistic and argues that people should let go of guilt derived from trying to achieve the unattainable, and instead live life “off-balance, on purpose.