We originally planned on hiking up to Delicate Arch at Arches National Park in Southern Utah for the sunset. Too bad we didn’t know dogs weren’t allowed. So, my husband took the dog around the back way, where there was supposed to be a 100-yard walk to a stunning view of the arch from the ground, while my son and I took the main 3-mile hiking trail.
Some people had told me the hike was easy, but the brochure said it was difficult. So which advice do you put confidence in; other people’s experiences or the information of experts? Well, I decided to take the hike based on people telling me it was easy, but didn’t go very far until realizing the brochure gave a more accurate assessment. I huffed and puffed all the way up. It was hard! Every fat cell in my body was crying big time. Sheer willpower is what got me to the end. I way overdid it. It was worth it, but now I know I really need to be in better shape if I’m going to attempt that again.
As I think about balancing work and life, my family’s hiking adventure comes to mind. Working for yourself—especially as a writer or Authorpreneur—is adventure and intense effort combined. The lessons learned from our trip to Arches National Park reinforced what I’ve learned about work-life balance.
First and foremost is to stay active and take care of your body.
A healthy body supports a healthy mind, and will provide you with the energy you need to take care of your family or other obligations while keeping up with your workload. As well, exercise and physical activity increases the growth of new brain cells in parts of the brain used for creativity. According to a Business Insider article on exercise and creativity;
There are several studies that show that going for a walk helps people come up with new ideas, and these benefits persist even after a person stops moving. There’s also some data that shows that exercise may help with a sort of creative problem solving…the exercise-induced brain changes that may be responsible for improving memory might improve the imagination as well.
When starting on a difficult trail, the terrain doesn’t change, but your ability to traverse it improves with exercise, giving you the necessary strength to hike it. Likewise, taking care of your body with proper nutrition and physical activity will improve your work performance.
Have realistic expectations.
When you talk to other people who run their own business or work from home, some will tell you it’s easy-peasy and others will say it’s extremely difficult. You know yourself better than anyone, so don’t compare yourself to others. It’s important to know what to expect, but whether it’s easy or hard will depend on your own strengths and weaknesses. If you find it hard to stay on task and handle interruptions, you can find the tools and practices that will help you manage your time better. If it’s easy for you to write while the dog is barking, the kids are yelling, and hubby has the sports channel blaring loudly through the walls, then good for you! You’re “in the zone” and the envy of those who have to work in silence to be productive. Either way, you’ll be more confident in your abilities when you’re able to set realistic goals and expectations.
No dogs allowed and other rules.
Just like Arches National Park has restrictions on who and what is allowed on the hiking trails—humans vs. their pets—a writer must place restrictions on who or what has access to their time during business hours. Treat your writing as a business, because it is! It’s stressful trying to balance writer’s work with daily life when you don’t have rules. Set aside specific work hours or a block of time for your writing, and reserve time to spend with your loved ones or attending to other responsibilities. When you are working, you’re not answering non-essential phone calls and emails, you not accepting unannounced visitors, and you’re not dropping everything to do favors for friends “because you don’t have a traditional job” and they do… Get the picture?
Plan for unexpected adventures!
As important as it is to plan your writing time, it’s just as import to plan fun time. It’s so easy to “overdo it” and become a workaholic when you work for yourself! Don’t fall into that trap or you’re bound to feel frustrated and unfulfilled, and maybe even suffer burnout. Make time for yourself and those you love being with. Take a day off—or a whole weekend off—to have an adventure. It can be a shopping adventure, a coffee adventure, or a hiking adventure! Whatever it is, schedule regular down-time.
Sometimes it takes sheer willpower to get your work done and have time to enjoy life; it’s truly a balancing act. The encouraging thing is that the more you practice guarding your writing time and your living time, the more in shape you’ll be to enjoy the scenery.
Need some help with your writing time? We’ve found that having a virtual co-working space is highly beneficial and everyone is always amazed at how much they get done. We have a weekly virtual co-working space every week on Zoom inside of the Book Ninja Academy. It’s part of your membership. Click here to learn more about it.