So many of you have asked that we feature a post on how to manage the demands of work and life. We feel the same way! We asked our friend, Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros, to give us some sage advice on how to tip the scales in our favor.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-Life balance is a myth. People who appear to be good at balancing their work and their personal lives are REALLY good at prioritizing. Prioritizing is knowing what’s urgent and/or important at any given moment. It is choosing to do one thing and choosing NOT to do another thing. This means that you sometimes choose work over your life and other times you choose life over your work. These choices are all intentional. And, when someone has good “work-life balance” it’s because they are good at making these choices.
Choosing Work Over Life
Because we are entrepreneurs we LOVE what we do. We love it so much that we often pick work over other things in our life. We put our personal needs aside to make our career goals come true. But, after time we start to feel off kilter, off balance.
I hear a lot of people say that they are up late working every night. I completely understand this if you have a big event in the next few days or a deadline coming up. But, there are some people who do this all the time. (I know because I’ve been there. I was a workaholic too.) It’s easy to think that you have no control over this. You have so many things to do that you have to stay up all hours. But, that’s a fallacy. You do have control over this.
When we do this we are making a choice. We are CHOOSING to work. You have the ability to choose how you spend your time. And if you work 60-80 hour weeks, you are making a choice to do so.
Learning to Say “NO.”
Often we feel out of balance because we have so many things coming at us. We have thousands of request from clients. We have hundreds of invitations from colleagues. If you want to gain better control of your time, you need to say “No.” And, you need to say it a lot. You fear that by saying “no” you’ll be less likeable. I totally disagree. If someone is too busy to meet with me or do a favor I requested, I respect their time. And, furthermore, they seem strong and wise to me. They know their time commitments and they know how to make choices with their time.
People who are good at balancing say “no” a lot.
“No” doesn’t have to mean “no” forever. For example, when Naomi wanted me to write this here blog post, I initially told her “Not right now – but I’d be happy to do so in August when my schedule lightens up.” I love the TWIPs community and wanted to contribute, but it was just not in my bandwidth in July. And, here I am now, in a much better place to say “Yes. I’d love to!”
Make Rules For Yourself
People who are best at prioritizing make rules for themselves. Ali Phillips of Engaging Events by Ali takes every Sunday as her family day. Kelly Simants of Sweet Pea Events takes Mondays off on the weekends where she has worked a wedding. I turn off all electronics at 6:30pm.
We have to make these rules or work can start to creep into every minute of our day. Making these rules puts us in control. It forces us to choose life over work. And, it results in much better balance.
Prioritizing Takes Willpower
It is NOT easy to say yes to one thing and no to another. It requires an incredible amount of restraint and willpower.
I will be totally honest here, turning off all electronics at 6:30pm every night is SO DIFFICULT. I want to be tweeting with people and texting. Sometimes I fail at my rule. And, sometimes, I’m really good at it. It takes strength for me to decide that evenings are for family. Evenings are for relaxation.
But after a while, you start to see results and it solidifies the rules. You start to enjoy life. You start to enjoy it more than work. And, it’s easier to have willpower.
Embracing Life Over Work
Like I said, as entrepreneurs we love what we do so it’s normal for us to choose work over life. But, year after year of doing this will cause burnout. Let’s be real, sometimes our work-life ratio will be 90-10, sometimes 50-50. Balance is a myth. All we can do is make choices with how we spend our time. And, if you want your work-life ratio to be closer to 50-50, you need to be intentional with how you choose to spend your time.
Michelle Loretta is a consultant for wedding and event professionals and writes daily for the Sage Wedding Pros’ business blog.
Check out their business planning workshops and coaching for wedding pros at http://www.sageweddingpros.com/thesimpleplan/