It doesn’t whether you’re a working mom, an entrepreneur or a student, you’ve likely heard about work-life balance, how important it is, and have probably felt pretty crappy that you don’t seem to have it sorted like everyone else does.
The truth is, no one I’ve met in my entire life has the work-life balance totally in check. It’s impossible. I would be suspicious of anyone who says they do. Balance by definition is something that we constantly have to work at and I think work life balance is no different.
I’m self-employed, I have a blog business that generates income. Some weeks I can get away with working 10-20 hours a week. Those are the good weeks where things tend to feel easier – I have more time with my husband, time free to see friends, time to hit up the gym, and time to spend with my dogs.
However, there are plenty of weeks where something breaks or something changes and I’m spending from dawn to dusk staring at my computer. That’s life.
As someone who’s been self-employed for over 7 years – I first started off freelancing and now make a full salary from blogging – here are my top 5 lessons you need to know about work-life balance.
1) It Will Always Be a Battle
The more free time you have, the more things you will want to fill it up with. Our modern lives are busy, we have to juggle friendships, family, work commitments, time with our significant other, travel and everything else that we love to do. There will be days where you feel like you got it down perfectly, and others where you wonder if you will ever have it together. I like to think of it like the tide – sometimes it’s in, sometimes it’s out and that’s just how life is. Instead of striving for an elusive, almost impossible, work-life balance, why not just search for more balance.
2) You’ve Got to Be Flexible
Life is unpredictable which means even the best-laid plans tend to be interrupted. You might have a period where it seems like every second day is a family commitment, meaning that your fitness goals are pushed to the side. Likewise, you might have a massive project with work and find yourself too exhausted to spend time with your kids for a few weeks in a row. Instead of wasting time feeling guilty about all the ways your balance is off, just be flexible and realize there’s a season for everything.
3) Cut Down on Social Media
Some days I blink and it’s already midday and I wonder where the day went. I find myself feeling stressed and scrambling to fit in all my tasks for the day. I’ve noticed on those days I seem to get lost scrolling on Facebook, browsing news sites or even just getting stuck on the endless loop of Instagram stories. If you feel your life is really out of balance and you don’t have time for your priorities, then time spent on social media is usually an area we can all afford to cut down on. Many phones now have apps such as ‘Screen Time’ which are a concise way to show you how much time you’re spending on your phone on social sites. Sometimes accountability can go a long way in motivating you to change your habits.
4) Put Yourself First
Have you ever tried to ride a scooter when there’s no gas in the tank? Or have you tried to ride a bicycle with a flat tyre? Let me tell you, it’s not a fun time – it’s exhausting! That’s how life is if you don’t put yourself first. While the self-care movement is gaining popularity and for good reason, I personally like to think of putting yourself first as more than bubble baths and solo trips to Paris. Self-care can be about not committing to things that make you stressed, or that you don’t want to do. It’s about setting healthy boundaries about how people can treat you. It’s about being realistic about what you can take on each day. It’s also about doing something you love every day, because you deserve to have days filled with joy.
5) Think Carefully About Your Work
I’m never going to suggest that you should go out right now and quit your job – but for most people where you work is where you’ll spend most of your waking time each week. So with that in mind, your work should be somewhere you enjoy being, that allows you to provide well for your family and that isn’t a huge source of stress. It will be much harder to find a work-life balance if you’re exhausted every day from a job that you resent. If you aren’t happy in your work, consider finding a position where you would be happier or perhaps look to work online. There are so many different ways you can work for yourself in a remote way, allowing you more freedom and flexibility than a traditional job can offer.
The biggest thing that helped me feel better about the elusive work-life balance, was realizing that no one I know has it figured it out. I’m not sure anyone in the entire world has it perfectly figured out. I’ll keep striving for a better balance, but I also now know that life is about ebb and flow. Things are always constantly in change and I understand that sometimes my work will need more of me, and some times my family will need more of me, and that’s OK. The most important thing is that I always ensure I get the best of me.
What do you think about work-life balance? Is it something you have achieved or struggle with? Let me know in the comments below!