Work/life balance: the three most dreaded words by many creative entrepreneurs. Is it possible to achieve? Maybe. Does it really exist? I sure hope so. Regardless if you roll your eyes at the term, at its core it represents simultaneously prioritizing your business and your well-being. And just like an actual scale, there will be times when both feel in balance, and other times when one heavily outweighs the other. Often, we get so swept up in client emails, new projects, product orders, and keeping our business running that we forget to take care of the one person keeping it all going—ourselves. When this happens, we need to add some weight to the self-care side of the scale. So, here are some simple ways to get back on track when your work/life balance gets derailed.
1. Take a half day
It can sometimes feel impossible to take an entire day off when you’re in the middle of a busy season—but the good news is that sometimes all you really need is a few hours of downtime. So, find a morning or afternoon that’s relatively “free” on your calendar and block it off. I personally like to take a morning off when I’m feeling stressed because it’s easier for me to start late rather than try to turn everything off mid-day once I’ve already gotten going. Now for the next step (and this is a hard one): during that blocked-off time, don’t do any work! Binge watch TV, read a book, take a nap, garden, go shopping, get your nails done, or do whatever feels good for you.
2. Check in on how much sleep you’re getting
When I’m feeling out of balance, it’s often because I start working later and later into the evening, convincing myself that fewer and fewer hours of sleep are needed to feel ready to jump back into the grind the next day. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work that way. Exhaustion sets in quickly, and with exhaustion comes the inability to handle stress—which almost inevitably leads to a breakdown over something that normally wouldn’t bother me at all.
To put things into perspective, assess the amount of sleep you usually get during a slow season, vacation, or break—odds are it’s more than what you’re giving yourself now. If that’s the amount of sleep your body needed to feel rested when things were slower, then that’s likely also the amount of sleep, if not less, that you need to feel rested when things are busier. Now, you might be thinking, “but that’s impossible!”, but when we give ourselves the downtime and sleep we need, we’re much more productive and capable during the hours we do put into our work.
3. Try a sleep meditation
There’s no worse feeling than trying to go to bed at a reasonable hour, only to find yourself lying wide awake with your to-do list running through your mind. It’s usually at that point that most people would say “I’m not tired, so I might as well just get up and work”, but I challenge you to stay in bed. Instead, find a meditation app on your phone (I use Meditation Studio) and try a sleep meditation. This is a great way to quiet the mind, relax the body, and ultimately fall asleep quicker and more peacefully. If you find you can’t stop thinking about your to-do list, try having a notebook by your bed to write out your entire list before the meditation. That way, as those thoughts come back into your mind you can more easily let them go without worrying that you won’t remember them tomorrow.
4. Get outside
It’s hard to get inspired while you’re cooped up in an office all day. One of the biggest perks of working for yourself is the ability to take breaks whenever you’d like, and it’s important that at least once a day your breaks involve going outside. Get some fresh air, feel the sun on your face, and move your body. Even a quick walk around the block will get your blood flowing and help clear your mind, which can do wonders for your productivity.