Often, it can feel more like you're in a constant state of chaos. You're running, being chased by an animal ready to eat you but you never seem to get away. Life is always non-stop. While you love what you do, it feels like clients are always just piling more and more on.
But if you're constantly in a state of 'just getting things done' before you rush onto the next thing, you'll never end up with any semblance of balance in your life.
We can't forget that living is the highest priority.
I once heard a quote that said "Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life." That was said by Dolly Parton and I think she was right.
However, when your job is supporting other businesses that want to be successful we can often step into the people-pleasing role and overdo it. This might be you?
You feel like you have to impress them, you have to keep up, you have to earn your wage (but by working so hard to earn it you actually undercut yourself and work a lot more than what you're paid) and you have to be indispensable.
But here's the thing, if the business owners you work with preach about balance and not wanting to work all the time, you should heed their advice! You deserve balance just as much as they do, that's why you work together as a team!
Okay, let's talk about this... because we have all been caught here. While it's great to work hard for your clients and do the best you can do, there are zero expectations to become superwoman. (But I do know the allure of that!).
But you'll actually end up being a ton more effective if you are realistic about what you can get done each day and then when you create your to-do list it's not never-ending. Here's the thing, if you pile on an unreasonable amount of work onto your to-do list one of two things will happen. First, you'll end up working incredibly long hours striving to get things done and you'll never get to live your life. Second, you'll get to the end of the day with a ton of unfinished tasks and feel like garbage... Or, both!
For two weeks to a month, have a running to-do list and keep close track of what you get done each day. Think about how long the tasks are so you can rank them shorter versus longer and what time of day you prefer to do them. From there you can get a good idea of how much you get reasonably get done each day and you can figure out what tasks will be done at certain points during the day.
How easy is this one to get trapped into? You think "I'll just work through this break to get this one thing done and then I can finish faster," but then how often do you actually finish early? Not often, I bet.
Build these breaks in. Getting some movement in, even if it's just 5 minutes or so, can make a huge difference to your productivity. Sometimes when you sit at the computer for too long you can actually end up being less effective.
Don't skip the breaks, take your lunch, add in extra mid-morning and afternoon breaks. You could clean something in your house, do some stretching, go for a quick walk, get outside for some deep breaths, etc.
Allow your mind to stay fresh so that you get more done (more effectively and better quality) and you enjoy your work more. When you enjoy what you're doing and you're not burnt out, a balanced life naturally follows.
This has been the best productivity tip I have ever implemented. I took a Skillshare class on creating a weekly schedule. The coach talked about having a theme for each day of the week and then adding all of your tasks or the week into one of the themes. You create the themes based on the tasks that you normally do.
This stops me from overloading my days as I can see the day of the week a certain task will be done. I work hard to stick to this structure and trust that I can get everything done I need to if I don't lose my nerve and overload earlier days of the week.
When I categorize them I leave room every single day for living my life. If I feel like I've finished too early I do not add more tasks (unless it's like crazy early as I didn't plan accordingly) as I know they'll be taken care of on the rightful day of the week.
Figure out your own practices and structure that allow you to have an effective workday as well as time for living and relaxing so you can come back strong the next day.
Go back and read that heading again... Got it now?
If you work too hard and go overboard then that's not balance either. We will never get away from having to work and make money. That is a given. Everything costs money and in order to live life we do need money. But we were not put on this earth to simply work and pay bills. We do need to live too.
Now, I know that there are people who have to spend their whole life working and things are hard. Believe me, I know life is hard and that it's a privilege to be able to live life. But you started a business and you didn't start it so that you could work crazy hours, overload your days and not make a lot of money. If that were the case, you'd just go and find a job with a boss. You want more and know you can have more.
So, let's stop making this overly complicated. You're the boss, you make the rules and you can decide what practices stay and go. Keep the practices that improve your life and let go of the ones that just don't serve you. Let go of the ones that hold you back from living up to your truest potential and living the life you desired when you started your business.
Enjoy your business and enjoy your life. You get to do both. A balanced life is about including the things you love in your life. People don't start businesses they hate. They leave jobs they hate so they can start businesses they love (or go work for other jobs they love).
Think of everything you love and want to include in your life and then plan your life so that all of those things have a place.