Finding Balance at Work and Home
Balance between your work and your personal life is something that is very difficult to achieve and, in my view, the best we can hope for is to get it sort of right, some of the time. Work-life balance has become a bit passé these days. What I find is that there are periods where we are rocking it at work and doing great and our personal life might suffer a little. And then there are times when our personal lives pull us away from our work.
I’m a mother of two girls, aged seven and ten. They are super beautiful, in my view anyway. When they were babies, I found it incredibly difficult to give fully to my job because I was often sleep deprived and until their immune systems mature, they get sick a lot. I felt that pull every working mother feels between wanting to give our best at work and wanting to be a good mother. When my child woke up sick and I had a big meeting that day, I had trouble making the decision as to what to do. My business needed a lot of focus, but my family came first.
Balancing Creating with Promoting
I’m experiencing a different type of balance that troubles me at this stage of my life. I’m a writer and I’m busy with my second book. I often feel torn between promoting my brand and doing the actual work. My work is to write. I need to deliver content and to meet my deadlines. I’m writing my book in an agile way, releasing a chapter a month to my beta reader audience. The majority of my day should be spent on the output that will earn me income. But that’s not always the case.
Often, I’m scrambling around fixing an issue with distribution of my books to stores or doing an interview to promote my book. I spend quite a lot of time on social media, sharing pertinent content with my followers, building my network and putting myself out there. The issue I have is that I often realise, at the end the day, that I haven’t written much.
As entrepreneurs, we are often advised to work on our business and not in our business. But in my scenario, I’m the person who produces the work. I deliver to my readers, so I need to fulfil both roles and I need to find a balance between those things.
I often have the best intentions and I sit down at my desk, determined to pump out a few thousand words. And then there’s an email getting my attention. Much of the admin-related work is necessary to build a robust business that pays tax and bills on time. I am often quite grumpy doing things that are necessary but that detract from my actual writing.
However, I’m starting to realise that the balance between these things is critical for my success. There’s no point writing a book for an audience that doesn’t exist. I need to test the market, engage my audience and promote my books. That lays the foundation for sales, which is the lifeblood of any business.
The way I’m working this year is to write for a few hours in the morning. At lunch time I take care of the admin and things that are less enjoyable but need to be done. They often don’t require much concentration and I know that I’m best first thing in thing in the morning. I have regular networking events that I attend. These are scheduled in my calendar so that I can plan around them. I am using a scheduling tool for my social media so that I can use admin time to prepare a bundle of posts to the various platforms I use. These methods seem to be working well so far.
Balancing Family and Work
I love writing and I would prefer to simply write for eighty percent of my day. Once I start writing, I’m experiencing flow, that state of absorption that makes everything else disappear. Last year I found it difficult to make progress on my writing while caring for my kids in the afternoon and dealing with the admin side of my business. Sometimes, I snuck off on a Saturday morning to do a bit of writing, because, for me, it’s recreation, and I wanted to catch up on what I didn’t deliver in the week.
My daughters didn’t like that much. They started to complain that I was spending too much time on the weekend behind my computer. I heard their objections and this year I don’t write on the weekends. I made a deal with them that I’ll fetch them at 4pm every day so that I can get a lot of writing done, and then once they are home, my focus is on them. The same applies for weekends: it’s family time.
This process has been working very well and I think it’s fuelling healthier relationships. I’m not feeling torn between work and family. Last year, I felt guilty that I had hardly done any work in the day and I wished I could find a few hours to write more. This year, I no longer feel that guilt and I’m making really good progress on the book. Separating my time and blocking out family time from writing time has worked very well.
Balance is not always easy to achieve, and there will be times where I need to bend these rules and to give more to my family, or more to my business. And that’s life. I think things feel easier when we are gentle with ourselves, and we develop a flexible approach to the tasks that occupy us, while remaining focused on our goals. Life is rich when we work hard towards our dreams. My oldest daughter often tells me how proud she is that her mom is an author. That fuels me to chase my dreams, knowing that my family is along for the ride.
Kathy Mann is a writer and speaker, based in Johannesburg South Africa. She’s passionate about building a happy life, on purpose using the tools of positive psychology. Kathy guides people towards living their best life possible through what she has learned in becoming very sick from stress. Women often feel so stretched, trying to be everything to everyone. Kathy’s here to remind you that being true to yourself, connecting with your strengths and talents, is the best way to serve the world.