Eye on Business | Are You Too Busy Making a Living or a Life?

WORK.  LIFE.  BALANCE?  Hmm.  I *almost* felt guilty when a friend of mine, a first-time working mom, recently asked me how I manage to have a work/life balance.  I laughed and kindly said, “Never gonna happen, sweetie.”  Who exactly was it who told us mothers (and fathers, really) that we could have it all?  I’d like to kick them in the shins.  Repeatedly, all while throwing my overflowing calendar at their head.  Are you with me?  Oh, you know you are.

This balance issue has really been working on me.  As I do a face palm at the end of each day, I swear I am going to throw everything in the air and how it lands is how it lands.  But, each new morning, I somehow wake up ready to tackle that next thing.  You see, a good friend of mine once told me in the midst of one of my manic rambles, “Suzanne, just do the next thing.”  And as simplistic as that statement was, it stuck with me.

I need for you to find that balance.  Your spouse and your family need for you to find that balance.  I reached out to a few awesome photographers who were willing to chat with me and share some lifesaver tips that may help you to attain a HEALTHY balance.  It will never, ever be perfect but if you can manage to salvage your sanity and a few extra moments of each day, then I’ll feel like I’ve done my job.  Read on…

“I think that it all comes down to being present and nurturing relationships. It so easy to get caught up in a business-centric lifestyle that’s dominated by our computers and smart phones. To the point where it consumes every moment of our day. So, taking time every day to nurture my relationship with God, myself and my husband is super important to me. If I’m not 100% personally, how can I expect to be 100% professionally?  Something we’ve recently implemented in our house is “Shutdown Sundays”. All of our tech devices go into the office for the day and the door gets shut. It’s amazing how stress-free and present I can be when I’m not tethered to my iPhone (and how much battery life my phone still has at the end of the day, haha).”   Heather Dunnigan, Denim + Grace Magazine 

“I make a daily task list and sometimes even include things I’ve already done so I can mark them off immediately. It gives me the motivation to continue on with the daily challenge of completing all that I have to do.”  Jodee Ball, JP Ball Photography

“There is NO WAY I can get through a day…well I should say PRODUCTIVE day, without my TIMER.  I like to call this little guy my “task timer” because…well, he keeps me on task! I start each Monday with a blank page. I make two list… “this week” and a “today”. I have come to realize I need to treat myself like a first grader if I truly want to get anything accomplished. When I start making list of things I need “to do” I seem to add completely random things, it is almost like my “to do” list turns into my “to dream” list. I get completely overwhelmed and then get little of it done. So I have decided to keep it SIMPLE.”  {Read her awesome post all about her little friend HERE}  Spanki Mills, Spanki Mills Photography

“Finding balance is really hard for me. One of the best things I’ve done is try to organize my time and define “office hours”. For example, I typically work 7a.m.-4.p.m. I allocate specific tasks to specific days (I take Monday and Saturday off, place lab orders on Tuesday, shoot on Wednesday and Sunday, etc). Working this way helps me end my work day at a decent time, keeping evenings free for my family, and helps me make sure I leave at least one weekend day free. It doesn’t always work — sometimes you just have to be flexible — but having a structured week keeps me on task.”  Stephanie Newbold, Stephanie Newbold Photography

Ready for some reality?  I struggle to find a healthy balance every.single.day.  I am a homeschooling mama to four children so I rarely have a quiet block of time during the day.  I have volunteer commitments that are very important to me.  I *try* to be a good wife and mother.  All of this stuff muddies the water for my business efficiency.  But, all of these pieces also make up who I am as a person and a photographer so I try to remember that when I’m falling behind.  I am only human.  So, I will continue to sneak in business tasks when I can (i.e., taking notes on my iphone during soccer practice, making business calls during my son’s rare naptime) and realize that there is no such thing as a perfect work/life balance, only “good enough.”  I will continue to avoid the negativity from friends, family, and competition.  That will only weigh me down.  “Just do the next thing.”  And maybe take a quick break for some decompression on Pinterest  😉  Never said I was perfect.

Special thanks to my lady friends who took some time out of their crazy lives to share their pearls!