Why It's Been So Hard For Me To Find A Work/Life Balance

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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Why It's Been So Hard For Me To Find A Work/Life Balance

 

What Does My Working Day Look Like?

What Does My Working Day Look Like? I get asked quite regularly what my working day looks like. I work from home, so what sort of structure do I have? Do I sleep till 10am every day? Do I hang out in pyjamas? Do I work from the sofa? These things might all seem like the ultimate goal for a work life, but the reality is that my work day couldn't look more different from that!

7am Tom, my partner, works in an office a few minutes away from our house. He starts work at 8am during the week, so naturally he needs to get up early. Lucky for me, I'm an early riser; I always have been! So every morning our alarm goes off at 7am, we get up, Tom heads off to work, I eat my breakfast (pancakes every morning - yes, really!), and then I get dressed. You might think: "Surely you can just hang out in pyjamas all day!" Yes, I could, but the reality is that I don't actually feel half as productive if I do that. The act of putting real clothes on takes me out of "chillax" mode, and into work mode.

8am-2pm Generally, I'm at my desk in our home office by 8am. Sometimes it's 8:30am, but who's checking?! All you need to know is that most days, I'm in my office by 8am, and tend not to move until 2pm. Of course, this changes day to day. If I have a shoot all day, I won't be at my desk at all. If I've got a meeting to go to, I'll leave for that. But if I'm having a work at home day (like I am today!), I sit at my desk, and I don't move. What am I doing for those 6 hours? Emails, editing, financial planning, planning social media, research, writing a blog post. You name it, I'm probably doing it.

2pm-5pm I'm my most productive in the morning. Generally, after 2pm, my brain isn't as active or able to cope with big tasks. That might sound really weird, but it's how I've always been. No, I don't just stop working at 2pm; I carry on until 4:30-5pm when Tom comes home. However, I tend to keep these last few hours of the day for tasks I find easier/more fun. That might be editing, doing a module in the business course that I'm doing, or putting moodboards together for future shoots.

5pm-10:30pm I try my hardest to end my work day by 5pm. I'm usually successful, but some days I'll carry on working later. It totally depends how tired/excited I am about something (or if I've got a deadline). But I try to keep these hours as time for myself, and time with Tom. I'll go to the gym, cook us dinner, have a bath, watch TV, or just relax! I find it incredibly hard to switch off, but generally, once I've shared my evening Instagram post (usually around 6pm), I put my phone down, and try not to pick it up again until the next day. By 10:30pm, it's lights out!

So there you go; a little insight into how my day works! Do you have a similar routine that you like to stick to? Or do you prefer to let each day be different?

What Does My Working Day Look Like?