3 tips for maintaining work/life balance

I saw a photo the other day taken at the Grand Canyon that read,

One minute. Don’t read. Don’t talk. No photos. Just look…and see.

Now, obviously this person either wasn’t obeying the sign or they had already observed their minute’s worth! But this photo made a thought become very clear to me: Sometimes, you’ve just got to stop. And look. And listen. Put the phone down, and unplug. We’ll call it the “Grand Canyon” moment. As a freelancer or small business owner, it’s easy for the lines between work life and personal life to become a bit fuzzy, but it’s important to find that “Grand Canyon” moment each day.

sunset at Grand Canyon (Arizona, USA) seen fro...

sunset at Grand Canyon (Arizona, USA) seen from Yavapai Point (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This month, for the very first time, I had to say no to an assignment. I had several other projects going when the opportunity was presented, and although I really wanted to take it, I knew it would put me over the edge. My stress level was going to be at an uncomfortable level. But by saying no, I set a boundary for myself and made a conscious decision to respect that sacred balance. I’ve compiled a few other tips that have helped me maintain my sanity in a world where work hours sometimes spill into…well, life hours.

  1. Keep a good running list. I’m not the best at making a physical to-do list—I always keep it in my head—but have found that the times when I actually put pen to paper and can visually organize it by importance level, my stress level is lower. Also, it feels really good to cross things off that list. When you’ve decided it’s time for the workday to be over, draw a line on that list and save the rest for tomorrow. See also: Serenity Prayer.
  2. Allow yourself days/weeks to do more. While it’s okay to say no sometimes, it’s also okay to say yes when you’re looking to push yourself. A challenging project is a great confidence booster every now and then, and will allow you to expand your mental bandwidth. I would compare this to a runner staying conditioned for a long-distance race—some days will require some serious speed training (and while it’s rough at the moment, you feel really good when you’re finished!)
  3. Have someone who helps maintain the balance. Outside perspective is so important when it comes to time management. Having a mentor, partner, or friend who can tell you when it looks like you’re not sleeping enough may be just what you need on those weeks where you don’t even realize you’ve worked 40 hours in two days.

As a hardworking, motivated person, the desire to do it all is overwhelming sometimes. After all, you only have your business’ best interests at heart. But don’t be afraid to push the pause button sometimes, or even to say no. The beauty of being your own boss is that you have the authority to make those decisions. Find your “Grand Canyon Moment” and remember—you can’t do it all in a day.

Kaleigh Friend is the Public Relations Manager at Central Illinois Foodbank and a recent Communications graduate from the University of Illinois. 

Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is no stranger to small business. She's the Founder of Lumen -- a business that offers copywriting, social media services, and graphic design. When she's not contributing to the EnMast blog, you'll find her running or at the movies (because the running helps manage the movie snack consumption.) Connect with Kaleigh on Twitter, LinkedIn, or read her blog.

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