Working Hard to Find Work-Life Balance
I’m working hard at the moment. I am not comparing blogging and content creation to shift work in the NHS or cleaning an office block, or teaching 30 kids every day, but I am putting the hours in. The need to generate words and pictures for the hungry social media platforms I am working on fills up all the gaps around family life.
I work before breakfast, during breakfast, after I have dropped the children off at school and until I collect them again. I work most evenings and at weekends, and have done something work-related every single day since I started Not About the Kids last October. Be in no doubt that anyone who is a successful blogger, influencer, content creator or social media specialist is working their arse off right now. I interviewed interiors influencer Lisa Dawson and she acknowledges that the need to maintain engagement on her social media accounts makes it difficult to take even a couple of days off.
Too much like hard work?
Hard work tends to be either glorified, you can’t expect to achieve anything unless you kill yourself trying. Or vilified, it’s a mug’s game for people who can’t work smart and are headed for burnout. As with everything, I’m sure that the answer lies in the grey area in between. But to be honest, I probably tend to be more of a be-the-hardest-worker-in-the-room type.
So I have approached my new venture with, at times, manic enthusiasm. I sense that some people don’t really understand what on earth I am doing, and why I’m in such a rush. To try and explain it little, it comes from a strong urge to prove that I can achieve something for myself. It’s in the pleasure of finding a creative outlet that I had been missing for years. There’s also an irrational element of scrambling to catch up on all the work hours that I missed when I was ‘off’ with the kids.
There are a ton of holes in my approach. For example, there’s so much that I would like to achieve that I am setting myself fantastically unrealistic daily targets.
A chat with my coach Stephanie last week lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. We tried to work out exactly how many hours I really have available to work each week. Then, how long it takes to complete a task. Writing a blog post might take 5 hours for example, and taking photos can take an hour at a time. When I looked at it all in black and white I realised that was trying to do way too much.
If you set yourself unreachable goals then the negative voices start to creep in “you committed to updating your blog 3 times a week, and you aren’t meeting that, you are failing Helen”. Read about how coaching has helped me manage negative thinking.
I think the answer is in understanding what is achievable, planning brilliantly, and learning to work productively (ha, new targets). It is so easy to get sucked in Instagram holes for an hour at a time (and now I’m on Twitter….watch out for those Twitter holes, they are sneaky). Blogger Amanda Start, the Online Stylist, often writes wisely about the challenge of creating a healthy right work-life balance. Her post about how a morning routine can help you to work more productively struck a chord with me, have a read.
So what gives
I’m very happy to work hard, I’m enjoying it so much that I would do 12 hour days. But if I’m giving lots of time over to work, I have to make peace with the fact that some things aren’t going to happen the way they used to.
I’ve been dropping a fair few balls. I lost my daughter’s spot in a gymnastics lesson because I missed the payment deadline. This is not my usual modus operandi. But hey, it gives us our Friday evenings back, so it’s possible the universe was sending me a message. I’m doing no exercise whatsoever. Appointments and plans aren’t making it on to the calendar (Viking Day at school was Suprise Viking Day in our house). And I’m struggling to catch up with friends that I used to see all the time.
This post by tech journalist Sara Lacy takes a little getting in to but makes some great points. She talks about how finding the right work-life balance for you is just as personal as figuring out your parenting style. I’m so into this kind of thinking. We are all negotiating a set of circumstances that are unique to ourselves. She also admits it’s impossible to cover all basis. We just need to figure out which ones are most necessary, and which we care about most.
Let’s chat work-life
I would love to know your views on work-life balance, and what you have learnt about it over the years. Are you starting a new project, or hoping to progress in your career? Or do want to prioritise family time and relaxation in the future?