A work life balance has been lost in today’s society, but it can be found with few basic maneuvers. Kurt and I both work in our fields of choice; he as a conceptual artist and me as a restaurant designer. Neither job is simple or straight forward… both require intense schedules, time and dedication. We have worked hard to orchestrate a schedule which permits meditation, yoga, family meals and play time with our kids by doing less work and more life, and trading responsibilities. We also make time for each other which makes us happier. We don’t always make it work on the first try, but we always adjust as needed.
Balancing is a challenge no matter which way you look at it because there is always going to be a sacrifice. If you can look at the sacrifices as opportunities instead of losses, you will always remain satisfied.
Here’s our balancing act*:
1. Work less
Sweden just went to a 6 hour work week to increase productivity. Studies have shown the more downtime you have, the more productive you are during work hours. Streamline.
2. Sleep more
Sometimes hard with a toddler and a newborn, we make a point to be on a bedtime schedule and get out of bed after we are fully rested. We say goodbye to our list to do for the day.
3. Eat healthy
A plant-based rounded diet with small frequent portions. Simply eat less meat and fill your plate with veggies.
4. Exercise Daily
Even if for just 20 minutes, take the time to walk in nature or just down the street.
5. Rest Your Mind
Do something fun. meditate or watch TV. Whatever it is mix it up so you get a mental break every day.
*If you work outside the home it might be harder for you to make your own schedule and work list; give it a try.
Well, let’s start with I absolutely suck at balancing WORK and LIFE. My business is up and down, all around. Some weeks I am so busy I can’t breathe working from 3am to 9pm ignoring my daughter completely, and other days I can lounge around and answer an email here and there and play all day. The sad part is, they are almost completely equal in time to each other. So I have a balance, but maybe more of an annual balance, not a daily balance. This has made it hard to be a mother and to be consistently available, and to work towards additional career goals. I never know when I am going to have time. Planning seems impossible.
Those who are consultants will understand this statement, but feast or famine is a real thing, and it goes without saying this equates to both workload and money in our pocket. Depending on the project time period, we have to save as though we are living on a fixed income in the event that the next check is late or the project stalls, etc. It is as thought each project wraps without any intention of the next one leaving a lot open for interpretation. In that case we are often ‘hurrying up’ to stress out about where our next meal is coming from instead of being able to plan and just know that we are in a slow period. Often I just take on any project to stay busy, feeling like the quiet moments are more scary than just not having the work. At the end of the day I know that January – April are slow, as are September and the first part of October. So, why bother getting all worked up?
I am sick of having a minor heart attack every time our bank account gets low or a project doesn’t come through. It nearly always works itself out eventually. So I have made a new vow to myself and my family to take a different path forward. I am calling it my transitional state towards freedom.
To date I have:
Saved and become more thrifty. No more $5 lattes or $100 Monday night dinners.
Stopped fighting for projects I know are going to lose or have uphill battles.
Created a more balanced schedule.
Tried to lessen my project load, focusing on making money vs. exciting projects.
Only taken on projects that I can complete successfully and are going to be profitable. I’m done with risk taking.
The balance is self imposed and I am the one setting the schedule and my own standards. Wow. That is pretty awesome to write on paper. Part of my journey has been watching Kurt go through it and working with him to be a balanced family. He has never been much of a ‘dive deep and make it happen’ kind of guy. He has always been balanced (as far I can tell) and maybe even teeters on giving more time to life than to his work, which maybe hasn’t been the best idea for his career. Over the last 2 years, however, now that he is in the thick of things with his projects and our passion projects, and a family to support, I have seen a fire under his ass and a desire to work ALL THE TIME. But the sad part is my happy, sweet and loving husband/father now looks miserable. So, I have seen what the stress and frustration of a job without balance will bring to a person and I see what a toll it took on myself.
I have conceded to the idea of working for another 3 years, or until we are profitable with our passion projects, so why not enjoy every moment I am still working? I want to go out with a positive note and a fabulous clink of the champagne glasses, not feel angry and frustrated about 20 years in an industry that I grew up in. And the stress does nothing for anyone.
This morning I am up and working; doing stuff that I love for both my ‘real’ job and my ‘future’ job. I am excited and motivated, but especially thrilled that at 6:00am when my funny little girl opens her door and comes teetering out into my office and says, “Mama…” I can scoop her up in my arms and have as much time as I want to play. I make my own life and schedules now, and it will all work out with the financial stuff (or I can hope).
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