You know what the sheer irony of this post is? I’m sitting at my computer on a Sunday evening, and it’s only a couple of minutes until midnight. I started writing this post earlier, but then I noticed my domain was loading at a glacial speed. I ended up calling my host at 11:30 pm, resolving the issue, and continuing to work into the wee hours of the AM.
When I started blogging full-time, I thought I’d have some sort of work/life balance. When I was managing my full-time job, an hour commute, media events and a social life, I was internally screaming at all times. I was sleep deprived, I easily got burned out, and I was stressed out that I only had so many hours in a day to devote to my passion project. Now that I’ve been a full-time blogger for 14 months now…I can safely say that I have not attained work/life balance (but I’m working hard at it!)
Pink Sweatshirt and Camo Shorts ℅ Aerie | Instax Camera | MAC Lipstick in Brick-O-La
I noticed that I was getting to a point that if I wasn’t on a travel blogging assignment, I might not leave my apartment for days. I always had something to do: whether it was fine-tuning my Pinterest page or digging through old emails to send follow-ups, my workload never seemed to end. I had a come to Jesus moment when my friends and family said that they hardly saw me — and missed me. What? Not okay.
Here are a few things I’m doing this year to *truly* improve my work/life balance as an entrepreneur and avoid those workaholic symptoms:
Set Office Hours & Stick to Them
I work with brands that are both on the East and West Coast (and sometimes I partner with brands overseas). While I get the majority of my emails between 10 am-6pm, sometimes brands will contact me outside of that window of time.
It’s tempting to cater your work hours towards your clients/sponsors, but at the same time, you have to do what’s best for you. During the holidays, since my clients were located all over the place, I found myself working from 7am-9pm. Noooooo. I’m a bit of an early riser, and I am logged on by 8:30 am, and try to log off by 6 pm. Sometimes, I’ll log off even earlier if I have a media event to attend that evening, but all things considered: that’s still working too! Find whatever work schedule works for you as an entrepreneur: there’s no shame if you like to get up early or if you’re a night owl, but try to keep set "Office Hours" for yourself so that you can relax when you’re off duty.
Only Answer Emails 3 Times/Day
What? I know. This seems ridiculous. As someone who was a slave to my inbox, and would sometimes sit and refresh said inbox, this was a hard one for me to do. I found that if I sat and stared at my email for hours on end, I ended up being less productive. Emails cut into the time I have to, you know, create content and get the creative juices flowing.
Unless I’m in the middle of a time-sensitive project, I only answer my emails three times a day. This ended up working super, super well for me: when I wasn’t checking my email and got rid of that distraction, I was able to focus on other important things like scheduling out social media, brainstorming new photoshoots, going out of the office to meet new clients and optimize my website. Also, by answering emails only three times a day, I noticed that I was able to answer a ton of emails at a faster pace.
Now I’m not gonna lie…sometimes I’ll cheat and check my email on a Saturday or Sunday (AKA, outside of my office hours). The downside of that? If I reply to an email on Saturday, sometimes, I’ll get a response within hours…and I’m tempted to stay in my apartment and work rather than go live my life. If I feel the need to answer an email over the weekend that isn’t time-sensitive, I’ll use the Boomerang app for Gmail so that I can schedule it to send during my normal office hours on Monday.
Manage Time Better
That little email trick I mentioned above? It proved that I was not the best at time management. I tracked my time one day, and it took me about 20 minutes to answer an email at some points during my day. Not because I was doing research, but it was because I was incredibly distracted: I’d answer an Instagram DM, or check out a link my friend sent me, and boom: there goes 20 precious minutes of your day.
When I work, I have "Do Not Disturb" set on my phone if I’m writing out a post or trying to read contracts so that I can spend that time fully concentrating. Answering emails three times a day helps me break up my day, and I try to only set up conference calls if they’re absolutely necessary. If I have free time during the workday, I like to try to get ahead with work (ex. writing/scheduling blog and social media posts, planning out my Instagram edit calendar, etc.), so that it doesn’t sneak up on me.
Actually Stop Working When You’re With Friends and Family
Weird concept, right. This is where the office hours I mentioned above kick in. Sometimes my friends want to hang out with me at all hours because they know I’m technically my own boss and can work whenever I pleased. While this is true, I know when to say yes and when to say no to these outings. Logging off for a happy hour? Sure, it’s motivation for me to finish by 5 pm. Going on a 4-hour shopping spree in the middle of the day? Most likely I’ll say no unless I’m super caught up on work. When I’m with my friends, I want to enjoy the moment and not obsess over projects or work emails every 2 minutes — this is why I stick to my office hours and only kick it when I know I can relax!