Wow! We are halfway through “The 12 Rules of Freelance Writing” series. It seems only fitting that this post be all about balance!
How many different hats do you wear?
Mum. WAHM/SAHM. Freelance writer. Business owner. Registered Nurse. Wife. Sister. Daughter. Friend. Cleaner. Cook. Chauffer. Maid. Shopper.
These are just a sample of the few “names” I carry on a daily basis.
It is super busy, and I have had to learn how to balance everything. All work and no play will turn mama INSANE!
When you are trying to juggle the insanity of work and home life, how do you balance it all? There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, week, month or year to do absolutely EVERYTHING!
My mantra (which I am sure you have heard a time or two by now): “You can do ANYTHING, just not EVERYTHING” – David Allen– is a rule I live by.
The point is to outsource, delegate and prioritise. Ask for help when you need it. And be organised.
My number one tool to help with balance is a schedule.
I keep a master list of EVERYTHING that needs to be done for the month. As I plan out each week, I allocate these tasks to certain days. I always make sure that I schedule in downtime that is just for “family time”, try to fit in some time just for me, as well as a “chill out” evening with my hubby (usually a date with Netflix and the couch).
I look at those tasks and see which ones I can delegate (such as cleaning and laundry to my husband) or outsource (grocery delivery).
Honestly grocery delivery or click and collect is one of the BEST ways to save time each week. I don’t have to wrestle my two children into the car making sure I have snacks and water, nappies and spare clothes. I don’t have to deal with the constant bickering or trying to put everything into the trolley.
I sit with a hot cup of coffee and do it all on my laptop. Depending on the weather, my mood and how busy I am I will either have the groceries delivered or select click and collect. Simple! And saves upwards of an hour each week. Bonus that it also helps to save money as it stops impulse buying and you can see a subtotal as you shop.
To help schedule everything in I use“batching”.
This is a great technique to get things done. I use it for work and home life. I create “task windows” for everything – cleaning, cooking, errands, washing, meal times etcetera. This may sound like I have every minute of every day planned out, but I really don’t! I schedule the main priorities…the things that absolutely have to be done that day and the rest of the day flows around those task windows.
By using batching, I have found more time in the day to spend focusing solely on my children. All without feeling like I am leaving work undone!
When you work from home, the lines between home and work life often become blurred.
It is so easy for work to distract you from spending time with your family, or to cancel that play-date so you can get that article finished. On the other hand, family life can distract you from getting work done with the never-ending chore list, the washing, the cleaning, caring for your children, birthdays, friends and family, the neighbour popping in for a cuppa. There are a million ways you can be distracted from work.
You need to set clear boundaries to ensure that you balance your time and are productive. You need to design these boundaries to protect your “working time”, set expectations for you, your family and your clients, and to help effectively manage your time and continue building your business.
What boundaries do you need to create?
First, boundaries that eliminate distractions.
This goes both ways. You do not want to be distracted when you are meant to be working, and you don’t want work to take away from your family time.
This is where a lot of people who work from home struggle. Especially with children thrown into the mix!
You may be constantly moving between mum and businesswoman, never fully committing to one or the other. You are pulled in many directions and struggle to focus on one aspect at a time. This is where setting boundaries can help.
If you know that from 10 am until 12 midday you are able to work without interruption, then make sure you WORK UNINTERRUPTED. Do not answer personal emails or phone calls. Do not watch Netflix. Do not be tempted by the house chores or million and one things to do around the house. Protect this time and use it to focus solely on your business.
This means that when you spend time with your family you will be more relaxed as you have finished work and are able to provide them with your undivided attention.
This brings us to the next boundary you need to set. The one of switching off.
You NEED to be able to switch off from working mode when spending time with your family and children. As a WAHM, this is so hard. Your computer and smartphone are generally always in reach…or mine are at least! It is so easy to just say I will quickly check my email, or punch out the outline of this post. Before you know it, an hour has passed and that has cut into precious family time.
So learn how to disengage and switch off.
Shut your computer down and put it away where it is not in easy reach. Don’t check your emails on your phone. Honestly, this is still something I struggle with everyday….especially as I don’t have a dedicated working space like an office or study to retreat to. Instead, every time I go to open my computer or smartphone I remind myself that it is FAMILY time and I need to be present for my children, not distracted by work.
Setting boundaries with your clients
is vital to avoiding burn out and tension too.
You need to clearly communicate your “office hours” to your client, and be upfront with them. Let them know that you are a WAHM and sometimes you cannot respond to messages or emails immediately. Setting these clear boundaries with your clients from the very beginning will hopefully result in a client who respects your time and won’t bombard you with email after email.
Schedule in a holiday!
Yes, Once a year (or more) schedule in a proper break. And I do not just mean a 3-day weekend. I mean a week or more. During this vacation, you are not to do ANY work whatsoever. No checking your emails or pitching potential clients. No writing blog posts or researching. You need to switch off completely. Your mind and body will thank you for this break. You will be refreshed, reenergized and raring to go.
This is your time to spend some quality time on you. Get a massage. Read a book. Catch up on Netflix. Take a long hot (uninterrupted) bubble bath! RELAX and switch off.
MOST IMPORTANTLY – Do not take on too much.
You can say no. Repeat after me…NO!
Sit down and work out at this point in time how many hours you can actually dedicate to your business per week. For example, around everything else as well as my nursing job I know that I only have 20 hours per week to focus solely on my business, not including weekends.
Now, take that number and break it down into:
- Client work.
- Social media.
- Working on your website.
- Working on your portfolio – guest posts, blogging etc.
See how you cannot spend that 20 hours just on client work. You need to market your business in order to find
If you take on too many clients or too many projects at once you will be overwhelmed and miss deadlines. You will not have a good balance at all! Learn how fast you can work, how much you can balance without undue stress and still keep up with the everyday demands of your business and home life.
How do you maintain balance? Do you have any other handy tricks? Drop them in the comments below!