On Work Life Balance

Thoughts on work/life balance. Plus the interview you need to hear to stop procrastinating forever! - Leigh Clair

One of the biggest obstacles I was faced with when I began blogging was time management. While working from home presents many positives (working in your pajamas sort of rocks, no?), it can also leave you feeling burnt out. As your own boss, you are your worst critic and at times, your own worst enemy. What’s more, when you blog from home, it’s easy to sit in front of your computer for hours without ever coming up for air. Office hours cease to exist when you're a one-woman show. Sound familiar? 

At my previous job (a more typical nine to five) I always looked forward to my lunch or making myself a cup of tea. A small break here and there was welcome- I never felt guilty. It re-energized me and helped me get through hurdles of the daily grind. On the home front, I also made sure to fit in my household tasks before or after work (you know, exercising, doing the laundry, the dishes.) But when I made the switch to writing full time (and from home) the balance between work and life got a bit hairy, to say the least.

When writing and producing content for my site became my full time gig, I gave it 100%. I wrote nonstop, brainstormed all the time, and did anything and everything blog focused- taking and editing photos, playing with Photoshop, and researching. I had no schedule, no regular hours, and no supervisor to tell me what to do (let alone when to stop.) If my mom had a day off from work and asked to grab lunch, I would tell her I was too busy. As much as I wanted to work out, I told myself I didn’t have time because I had “work” to do. For lunch, I’d eat something portable and quick, like a meal replacement bar, even though my kitchen was steps away. And the laundry? Oh my- it piled up (and out of) the hamper and would (eventually) get done. I was beginning to resemble a miserable and boring person, whose house was a disorderly mess. As someone who thrives on schedule, I certainly dropped the ball. 

Then, one morning I heard this on NPR: How To Stop Procrastinating And Get Back To Work. Perfect timing? You bet. Saying that it changed my life is an understatement. It gave me a fresh, new perspective on work and life and how to better juggle them. Here are a few things I took away from the piece:

  • Stop thinking and start doing. When you you’re dreading a phone call you need to make or the kitchen sink is overflowing with dirty dishes, don’t allow feelings to build up inside about how much you don’t “feel” like tackling something. You waste your time "feeling" and not "doing" (#procrastination.) You’ll feel relieved as soon as you hang up the phone, wash the final plate in the sink, etc. Those feelings of accomplishment will help motivate you to complete your next task. 
  • Routine is everything. Carve out time in your schedule for every single task regardless of how much or little you want to do it. You will get everything you have to get done, done because you scheduled it. Creative time, walking the dog, grocery shopping, a quick lunch meeting, taking photos for the blog, and even date night. Pencil everything in- no excuses. 
  • Don’t leave room for deliberation. Think of your decisions as premeditated. I use this tactic every day and it keeps me accountable in many areas of life. For example, I know that each day at 8 a.m., I write and brainstorm no matter what. I need to exercise, so without question I am on the yoga mat each morning at 10. And what’s also been incredibly helpful (in regards to healthy living) is that when the temptation of dessert (or fries, pizza or whatever) flirts with me, I already know ahead of time that I won’t be eating any. The temptation is done, dead. I killed it before the waiter even brought the menu out. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to conquer willpower. 

Although I'm a work in progress, the tactics in that interview have taught me how to better manage my time. It's such a quick but transformative listen. Please do pass it on! Also to note, this planner has been a wonderful accompaniment to life on a schedule. I’ve written about it before and I still can't function without it. Luckily more planners will be available May 6th, so get yours before they sell out (again!)

How do you manage work/life balance? Is there such a thing? Would love to hear your thoughts! Be sure to check out what everyone else is saying in The B Bar's April Linkup on work/life balance: