Why It's Been So Hard For Me To Find A Work/Life Balance
I came into 2017 with a long list of goals. They weren't really resolutions, they were more of a long list of tasks I wanted to achieve. I shared some of them on this blog, and some of them were kept seperate. A big part of my goal for this year was to achieve a better sense of calm in my life. You may or may not know this about me, but I'm a highly anxious/stressed out person. I love work, and I love what I do so much, but I definitely find myself frequently getting over stressed, and over exhausted.
So when I tell you that two weeks into January, I experienced possibly the most stressful week of my career yet, you'll laugh at me, right? Come on, I'm two weeks in to 2017, and I was already failing! Well, you could look at it that way, but actually, it was a blessing in disguise. You see, I came back from Switzerland, and I hadn't shot any commercial or fashion work in a couple of weeks, and I missed it! So what did I do? Crammed four shoots into one week, plus meetings on the days I wasn't shooting, and before I knew it, I had 7 fully booked days in a row. When it came to that Monday and I looked at the week ahead, I felt my throat begin to close up: How on earth would I manage to do so much in such a short space of time? Where was I going to have my rest? The truth was: I wasn't.
I powered on through that week, and despite enjoying the shoots I did, and the meetings I attended, I came to the end of the week completely and utterly drained. I didn't want to move... in fact, I couldn't move! I actually hurt everywhere! But it was a massive wake up call. I looked at my diary for the weeks coming up, and following the wonderful advice of Hayley Bisofsky (you need to look her up if you haven't already) I blocked out days in my diary called "Me Days." These are days where I don't book in meetings, shoots, or anything work related. They're days that I can spend at home, seeing friends, or doing whatever I feel like; if that's working at my desk - that's fine - but the focus is that I get to choose.
I've been doing this for the past two/three weeks ever since that crazy week, and I've also come up with a very clear idea of how many shoots/meetings I am capable of taking on per week. I've written myself guidelines, and I'm going to follow them. I won't lie, I have been approached by people in these past two weeks asking if I'm free a week later, and yes, perhaps I could have taken out one of my "Me Days" and filled it in with a shoot, but looking at the grand scheme of things, would that be wise? Would I be able to perform at my highest ability? Would I be able to deliver the quality that my client wants? The answer is most definitely not - not if I'm feeling stressed, burnt out, or exhausted.
And that's what all this comes down to; I need space, I need time, and I need those days to be free to focus on me and what I need, because if I don't do that, I'm useless to everyone. There will be people out there who are able to work every day, shooting two shoots a day, two months straight and feel totally fine. If that works for them, that's great! But it doesn't work for me, not at all.
So next time you're feeling overwhelmed, pressured or feel like you have to be working harder with each day, take a step back and think: are you really working to your best ability? Would you not be better giving yourself some time, and space to recharge your batteries, and approach each project with as much energy as the last? I know that I do!
Don't get me wrong, this is something I'm having to work very hard on. I still find myself wanting to add more to my diary, to push harder, to go that one step further, and sometimes I do... but I'm also becoming better at knowing what my limits are, and respecting them.
How do you balance your weeks out? What strategies do you use to find that balance? Is it something that you struggle with? Comment below; I'd love to know (that rhymes..hehe!).
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