Breaking Down the Workhorse

Usually I am the one giving advice around here. But today, I thought I turn the tables and ask you all for some advice instead.

Here’s the deal… The last couple of weeks, I have been feeling completely overwhelmed. After having several conversations with Jeff about my work schedule, I have come to the conclusion that I am working too much. This may sound like an exaggeration, but truly, Monday-Friday and most weekends from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep (unless I am not home for some reason- gym, out to dinner, running errands), I am working on something for the blog or site. Or doing work for someone else’s blog, or answering questions for an interview, or starting a side-project to bring in more income, or (well, you get the point)… And I am finally realizing its not the way to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I am immensely grateful for everything I have. And feel super lucky that I have enough success in my business to actually be this busy.

But a girl’s gotta take a break every once in a while, right?

I thought I was doing the right thing. I mean, I want my business to continue to grow, and I’d really like to be able to take down some of those to-do post its I have up on my computer right now. But not at the expense of any chance at a sliver of personal time. So, I am asking you…

What are your tips and tricks for balancing  your business and your personal life?

14 comments | Click here to reply

i know it’s really difficult to do, but when you feel like this you know it’s time that something has to give. I often feel like you do, and as I always say myself, you can only juggle so many balls at once…. You need to be really strict with yourself and have one day off or even half a day to commit to ‘you-time’ and have a time when you switch off your computer every day!! Even try to have time away from the computer and desk and close the door on it. It can become so stressful when you constantly feel you have to be doing something but you need time away from it, in order for it still to be enjoyable. Trust me…. I’ve tried it. Get away for a weekend camping or with friends and you will come back to it feeling all shiny and new!!

sue

Aw! So happy you’re so busy, but so sorry that it’s gotten overwhelming for you.

Here are some tips that have helped me…(that i hope will help you too…)

1.Evaluating the different types of work that you have to do, and then make a weekly schedule to do them. So, because you have blogging, site, blogging on other sites, emails, extra side work, etc…maybe see what things you HAVE to do everyday..and then put that on your priority list. Allocate certain days, say M,W,F to answer emails..or maybe certain hours of the day. If you use up that time frame, then definitely move on to the next task. This way, you know that you have saved up time for these things, yet you’re not consumed by them that it leads you to push other important things aside.

2. Sometimes, there are just too many loose ends of each task that you have to do. So i recommend giving yourself 1 day, say, Friday, to finishing up any unfinished tasks you may have..like answering the rest of your emails, doing errands, etc. This could be every other week, or every week. But some sort of freebie time to do things that don’t fit into you regular schedule.

3. And always, ALWAYS save at least one full day for yourself to relax. I mean, you can definitely use that day to work if you WANT to, but you shouldn’t FORCE yourself to work on that day.

I’ve learn that even if people own their own business and are finally doing what they love to do, things can start to get overwhelming. Then regardless if it’s your passion, it will turn into work..and if you force yourself to do work, then it starts to feel like a chore..and chores usually mean something you HAVE to do and not WANT to do. And when you start to feel like that every day with you passion, you start to lose your head a bit.

I hope those help. =)

linda

Brittni –

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as balance, there are only choices. At any time, you can only be working or spending time with the family, or sleeping, and none of them can really happen at the same time. If you’re working and trying to listen at the same time to your kid’s latest story, you’ll either not be working or not be listening.

I went through this same thing about a year and a half ago, when I was spending huge amounts of time trying to push my jewelry business forward. Between that, an almost full-time day job, and trying to pretend to be a stay-at-home mom every afternoon (running the kids all over the place,) I was running myself ragged, not to mention that I really wasn’t getting a benefit commensurate with the time I was spending.

I subscribe to the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule: approximately 80% of your output comes from 20% of your input. The extra 20% that makes everything just perfect takes up most of your time. There is an emotional benefit to doing it all, at least for a while – you feel incredibly productive, and things are moving along at a breakneck speed – until you crash.

At some point you need to decide that it’s ok to be just good enough. Figure out what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly. What items do you do that 1) keep the money coming in, 2) keep your brand solid, and 3) keep you moving in a forward direction? Then put together a list of things you do on a regular basis, and see where they fit. I think you’ll find that there are a few things you are doing that although they are amazing icing on the cake, don’t really improve the quality of the cake itself, or at least not so much that they’re worth all that extra time spent.

For me, that meant shifting my jewelry business to custom-made-to-order instead of photographing and listing each thing I made, and concentrating on gallery work, letting the online venues take care of themselves a bit more.

Hope this helps, and hope you get it figured out!!!

Amy

Modern Simplicity

It sounds ridiculously simple, but I struggle with this – making sure I know that I’m worth the time I need to rest and recuperate. 🙂

Danielle Daws

thanks so much ladies for the advice! sue- i think that’s the problem for me. i am strict on myself about working as opposed to being strict on myself to stop working. a weekend camping trip does sound nice.

linda- i love your thoughts on this subject. really puts things into perspective thinking about a passion dwindling and becoming more of a chore. i really want to avoid that (obviously).

amy- THANK YOU so much for your insightful comment. You are so right about evaluating the “icing”

and danielle-thank you for your comment. i definitely need to re-evaluate some things, huh?

Brittni: papernstitch

Wow! You are not alone in the least bit, Brittni. Most of us artsy entrepreneurs are here. I know I am. I think you’ve got a great work-ethic, Brittni, and it’s easy to work hard at something you love. I too work non-stop around the clock, from when I get up to very late at night. In the meantime, other things get sacrificed! My poor husband has learned to do without home-cooked meals most nights, and is becoming rather good at cleaning and generally picking up where I leave off. :o)

I think you need a Sabbath day of rest. One day a week, just chill out and try your darndest not to think about work-related stuff (daunting, I know, but necessary.) If a work-thought comes to mind, jot it down in a pretty notebook and get back to it Monday. I try to devote Saturday to house chores/errands, and Sunday to resting. And I keep my studio door shut during those times, like Sue said..it helps! (Hang up a little “Closed” sign if you want, lol!) It all comes down to setting and sticking by your boundaries. I’m still working on this. You learn to realize what things HAVE to get done today, and you also realize that if something doesn’t get done, the world doesn’t end. Take a few hours in the evening to do things you enjoy. Have a creative outlet that’s just for you–that isn’t for selling, or sharing with anyone else. Go for a walk, get out and enjoy nature, pet a kitty, you know, the fun stuff of life!! You’ll always be busy, but you need not be going insane. I’ll probably bookmark this post so I can come back and read all this great advice others are leaving, haha. I think we should reference these tips regularly!

Mai

I’m in the middle of this struggle right now and one of the things that really helped me was to get control of the time I spend at the computer. In fact, I just blogged ( http://etsynativesky.blogspot.com/2010/08/useful-tool.html) about how I’m using iGoogle to organize all my incoming information so I can look at it all at once. That kept me from spending as much time on the computer. Since I can easily check my email from my cell phone, I do that when I’m riding in the car, sitting in a waiting room, or standing in line. Wasted time no more! I agree with the others that you have to plan time for yourself.

Karen T

So glad to hear your point of view Mai. And this weekend idea “If a work-thought comes to mind, jot it down in a pretty notebook and get back to it Monday” is great! Just the kind of thing I need. This would keep me off of the computer, but would help me keep a running tally of to-do’s for when Monday rolls back around.

And yours too Karen. iGoogle is a great tool to use for organization and general condensing. Thanks for the link to your post.

papernstitch

this is something i constantly struggle with as well! i love all the comments from everyone, they are all things i needed to hear right now too.

my biggest thing has been delegation. find things/people/employees/new programs or internet tools that make things more efficient for you and use them. i found lots of things that have saved me EONS of time in the long run (even though it took a little bit of time to learn to use new programs/train volunteers, etc…), it was worth it because you have “spend some to get some”, right? even if what you’re spending is time (which seems like a silly option at this point because the exact problem is that you have none of it to spend. but trust me, spending a couple of hours learning to use something like http://www.outright.com (which is free!) will save you days, maybe even WEEKS of time during tax season.

little things like that, or even making the things that are not necessarily directed at your business more efficient, like ordering your groceries online and having them delivered once every two weeks instead of spending that time driving there yourself and picking them up. it may cost a little bit more than getting them yourself, but think about it instead as buying time. 🙂

angie

I’ve been in the same boat the past few weeks- trying to find the right balance between my full time job, my personal business, moving and wedding planning. Oh yeah, and leisure time, visiting my friends, responding to emails, making sure to pay my bills on time…
I had a breakdown last week and wondered why I always wanted to grow up so fast when I was a kid. Now I just want to be a kid again! The whole thing has made me decide that yes, it’s important to work to have money to do the things I want and need to, but the things that are more important to me are spending time with my family and friends, making pretty things I love and eating great food! Those are the things I”m going to remember later on when I look back and think about how fulfilling my life has been.
That being said… maybe your business is getting to the point where you need to hire out some help for the dirty work, so you can concentrate on the good stuff and have a life afterward!

Lauren

my biggest tip is learn how to say ‘no.’

alexandra keller

Thank you again ladies for the thoughtful comments and advice, Angie, Lauren, and Alexandra.

Angie- I am definitely going to check out that site you mentioned. Last year I spent tons of time on taxes at the end of the year, so this would be a huge help. Luckily, I have someone that takes care of my quarterly payroll taxes, so that’s at least one thing I don’t have to worry about anymore. But the end of the year taxes are dreaded for me, so any tool that can help would be great!

Lauren! Wow, sounds like you have quite a bit to juggle right now. I can only imagine! Yes, you are probably right that I need to look into hiring help, but I am just not sure that’s the direction I want to go in right now. Only time will tell. Thanks for the advice!

papernstitch

Brittni; you are so sweet! I always appreciate how you take the time to remark on everyone’s comment. We really feel loved here at Paper-n-Stitch. I hope you realize how much you and all of your hard work are appreciated! 😀

Mai

🙂 Thank you so, so much Mai. That means a lot to me.

papernstitch
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