There’s no doubt about it, balancing life and work can be hard. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a borderline workaholic. But that’s only because I absolutely love what I do. I’m in the middle of getting two startup companies off the ground and it’s a blast! I could spend all day editing photos, writing posts, and developing websites, to the point that Mike sometimes has to remind me to eat dinner.
But I’ve come to realize, that even though there are nights where I literally have to tear myself away from my computer and my planners, that to keep a steady work flow, you need to take some breaks. Even if you are the world’s hardest worker, and you can’t seem to leave the office behind, sometimes stepping away can be the best things for you. Give your mind a rest and do something ELSE that you love.
To balance work and play, let’s put things in perspective and help you find a balance that works for you.
Even for the most type B people, making lists can make a huge difference. I say this because it gives your work day more structure. Being a teacher I had lots of structure (8-9am bus duty, 9-10am planning, 10-11am 4th grade class, 11-12pm lunch, and so on, you get the idea). Now that I work from home, my structure, or lack thereof, is totally up to me. If I make myself a list of what I need to accomplish that day there is a better sense of meeting my daily goals and feeling satisfied enough to call it quits when Mike gets home. No more feeling like I didn’t do enough, or that there is still work to be done, because let’s be honest, there is ALWAYS work to be done. But you should take it a day at a time, instead of feeling like you absolutely must stay up all night finishing it. When everything is checked off my list for the day, I’m done. It’s that simple.
2. Plan in Advance
This has helped me so much with this blog. I like to plan out my month, what posts I will write, and when they will get published. Like making lists, this gives you structure and allows you to have a better concept of your end goal for the month and what can be accomplished. Less time staying up late thinking up posts means more time spent with friends and family.
3. Don’t Procrastinate
I used to be the world’s worst procrastinator in college until I figured out that I literally couldn’t get all my work done in time if I waited to the last minute. When it comes to design, especially animation, there’s no such thing as throwing something together. Even with this blog I have found that if I write my posts in advance, I’m way less stressed out about publishing something. Plus that gives me more time to write quality posts instead of just filler to get me by. I’m slowly working my way to the point of writing my entire week’s worth of posts on the weekend and having them publish throughout the week. What a time saver that would be! But I’m still a work in progress myself.
4. Make Plans Outside of Work
One of the easiest ways of making sure you leave the office on time is to just make other plans. If you have a dinner date with friends, or a movie you want to go see, that’s the perfect excuse to call it quits for the day. I know that this past weekend I probably would have worked on blog posts if we hadn’t had plans with friends to go the lake house. Heck, I even brought my notebook to do some planning, but ended up having such a great time I didn’t even open it. They always say “don’t let your blog get in the way of actually living” and that is so so important. Don’t spend your whole time documenting and planning that you forget to enjoy what you are doing.
5. Know When to Say Enough is Enough
Pay attention to yourself. Notice when you start to get frustrated, or tired, or overworked. Everyone is different. Maybe you need breaks every 30 minutes, or maybe you just need a long lunch break. Whatever your system, find one that works for you. You should be able to stay motivated and invested in your work without dreading going back the next morning. Even doing something that you love can have times where it feels super daunting and rigorous. Don’t force yourself into working 15 hour days because too many of those will definitely cause you to burn out, no matter how much you enjoy the work. If you have a hard time knowing when you need to stop have someone close to you (in my case, Mike) tell you that it’s time to do something different. They aren’t being mean, they are making sure you stay sane!
Work is not everything. It’s a great thing to enjoy your work so much you don’t want to stop, but there are so many things to enjoy in this life, don’t waste it behind a computer screen.
This past weekend was exactly what I needed to take a long break from work. After the long labor day weekend, I was so ready to come in and tackle the projects I had lined up. Now, it’s almost the weekend again, and I’m rewarding myself with another long weekend spent at the Hopscotch music festival.
Take breaks. Revive yourself and your passion. Then come back and kick some major butt at your job!
That’s my plan at least. See you Monday!