Turn The Tables II - Question 7 - How do you balance your life and your business?

Turn The Tables II - Question 7 - How do you balance your life and your business?

Hello friends! I cannot believe that we are already on question 7 in our series. I hope you have enjoyed following along, but most importantly I hope you are taking little pieces from each of these amazing people and applying them or trying them out in your own day to day. Today, we talk about the word we all love to hate and hate to love, BALANCE. What does it look like in your life? Personally, I do not believe there is a perfect formula to achieving balance or that one can even achieve it. Balance is simply the choices you are intentionally and not-intentionally making in your home-life and work-life. I know for me, the first five years (and remember, Thimblepress just turned five in January) were about putting work above just about everything. Unfortunately it sometimes crept up so much, I found myself putting my work before God, which I am shamefully admitting. I can admit it now because I have moved past that season of my life, lessons learned, and now try to be more intentional with my decisions and how I spend my days. Is every day perfectly balanced? NO WAY! BUT I did make a conscious decision at the start of the year to start taking more time to my decisions and saying "yes" and "no" to things. Every time I say "yes" to something I am also saying "no" or taking away from something else in my life. I want to make sure the things I say "yes" to help me go after what I really intend for Thimblepress and my life, my north star!! Taking time to evaluate every decision may sound time consuming to you, but it will also help keep you focused on your end goal and actually free up time to help you achieve that goal or just breathe and relax. I read the book Essentialism this past winter and it was a huge eye-opener for me. I highly recommend that book. On a personal side of things, you have to know that when you start a business, you most likely won't have as much as much free time as you did. Honestly, I feel like you probably shouldn't, but that it is a personal choice we all make. That is the great thing about owning your own business - you get to make those decisions. One thing I wish I would have done when I started Thimblepress back in January 2012 was sit my family and friends down and set clear expectations; letting them know that I wouldn't be around as much as I always have been because I am building a business. I think being up front with the people around you on what you have going on is super important, and will make "balancing" life easier as their expectations will be in-check for where you are now in your life and business. Anyways, I won't keep rambling, but I hope you enjoy reading from all these amazing rockstars below and how they seek "balance" in their lives. XO, Kristen
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For many years I worked very long hours working for other companies. I now have a much stronger work/life balance and while at times I work nights and weekends, I love knowing that if I have a day that’s a little less busy, I can meet friends for lunch. Knowing I am the only one accountable for my work keeps helps keeps me focused and on a path for success.

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I feel like balance is a BS word to make you feel badly about yourself. I try to not bring work home, but when I do it definitely feels like too much. Being a business owner has its negative effects on personal life, like when my husband tells me that I’m working every night, but also the positives, like flexibility in hours, and how I’m wearing slippers right now. And now I’ll use the BS word myself, it’s hard but we have to try to create some sort of balance between work and home. Also, for the three of us, 95% of when we talk to each other now it’s about work. It’s hard to find time to talk about what else is happening in our lives!

I’m actually pretty good at separating work and home. ‘Forgetting’ my phone in my coat pocket every day surely helps, and going to bed by 8:30pm makes it nearly impossible to do much more than kiddo bedtime, eat dins, eat desserts. There definitely is guilt in this, as being a business owner and having partners makes me feel like I should always be doing something productive. But I am truly better, more productive, and happier during the day at the office if I’ve had good family time and slept well rather than having stuffed more cards, or been up on the computer too late. I think balance is a great word, and compartmentalizing is key. There’s a time to work, a time to be a mom, a time to just sit and do nothing but eat chocolate chips. Not getting caught up in the small stuff, or trying not to spiral down into your own rabbit hole is so important. We all have so much to do every day, you just have to keep things practical, do what you can, and not get upset by a to do list (or by reading the news).

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I am currently really struggling with balance. When I am working I feel in the zone. When I am home with my kids I love it! But somehow I am just short of time no matter what I do. I am trying to do a better job of being present wherever I am at. In fact, I am about to read the book "Present Over Perfect" on the recommendation of several friends. As for business inspiration, I just started listening to the podcast "How I Built This" and have felt such inspiration by hearing the story of brands like Patagonia or Warby Parker. Hearing other people's success stories inspires me to work harder, find what makes Gingiber special, and chase after it. However, chasing after a dream takes such laser focus, that when you have a personal life, often it can get pushed to the side. I find that even though I LOVE work (like maybe too much) I am constantly having to calibrate how I can still be a good wife and mother and friend when I really just would rather be working. And, I don't want to wake up in 10 years and think of all of the things I missed out on in pursuit of work. So I am still trying to figure this out.

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Since we are business partners and also a real-life couple, our business lives and personal lives are completely intertwined. I know that everyone tells you to keep the two separate, but I don’t think I agree (which may bite me in the butt later). As a small business owner, everything is personal — it’s your business!

A lot of our friends are small business owners, so we’re able to bounce ideas off each other or just complain about things together. It’s also helpful to talk with people who are in both similar fields and completely opposite fields. It just gives you a different way of thinking about things— just because you’ve been doing something one way forever doesn’t make it the best way to do it.

I’ve also been obsessed with the “How I Built This” podcast, which entrepreneurs describe how they made their businesses. Hearing about these huge businesses and how they all started small is really inspiring.

CONNECT WITH JANE & ANDY
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There is NO balance! But having said that, I think balance is relative. I want to say I feel balanced because I try to be intentional in who I want to spend time with how I want to spend my time. It is certainly what you choose to do each day. Lately I’ve been listening to Creative Empire- hosted by Reina Pomeroy, a life and biz coach, and Christina Scalera, an attorney for creatives. The podcast is designed specifically for small business owners and solopreneurs. I love the show because each episode they interview a different industry leader and I love hearing about their stories and what tools they used to build their success. One of my favorite episodes is about hearing the legal side of creative business- definitely informative for anyone in the creative realm!

CONNECT WITH SHERRY
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I don’t believe in balance—at least, not what people say it is.

When I was a ballerina, I was really good at balancing. There is a part of Don Quixote where Kitri, the ballerina, holds a position en pointe and her partner walks away from her to show the audience how long she can balance in the position. From even the front row, it looks like the ballerina is still, but if you look closely, you can see the veins and muscles in her foot all the way up her leg pulsing and moving as small as a twitch.

What looks like a balance is one of the most intense moments of muscular strain and focus. That is what balance really is to me. It is anything but still.

Being a business owner has definitely affected my personal life, and honestly, I think it should. Just like I am a mother and wife. I don’t suddenly stop being a mother when I’m on date night with my husband. I know a lot of people teach to have business and personal life separate, but I just can’t imagine anyone really wanting to do that if they’re doing what they love—if they’re pursuing their life’s most honest work.

They way my daughter giggles inspires me to write more joyful stories. Something a client shares with me reminds me to show more gratitude towards a close friend. Each role I play in my life makes up the fabric of who I am, they all work together.

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The notion of ‘can you have it all?’ really depends on how you’re defining ‘all”. What works for me at this stage of my life will change every five years based on how my family grows. My husband and I have two kids, 4 and 2. My daughter began a full-time Montessori program that goes from PK3-6th grade last year. Knowing that we were entering a schedule and routine that would be with us for the next 10 years was incredibly helpful for me to be able to take the first steps for building a business. I also set a goal to establish a studio outside of my home around the time my son turned one. This past October, I celebrated being in my space for one year!

A typical work week is defined by morning drop off at my daughter’s school and gym classes. My daughter does afterschool care on MWF and I pick her up on TTh. So, on my short days, I usually schedule Pilates Reformer classes and take those days to pick up my kids early and focus on my family, fitness, and any grocery shopping or errands. My full days are MWF, and I get into work by 7:30am and immediately start painting. On those days, I usually pack a lunch to take a quick break and get back to it. If my work load that week is heavy I will occasionally go in at night to catch up.

This seesaw work/life schedule has been so helpful to become grounded, because as my kids grow, they will want to have more time in after school care or enrichment classes which will give me more time in the studio. But to maintain any semblance of balance always hinges on my Sunday planning sessions. I prop up my ipad calendar and a binder with weekly planning sheets. Even though I’m staring at all of the digital info, I write down each activity or a to-do list on the weekly planning sheets. This is where I jot down any enrichment activities for the kids, gym classes, and meal plan.

I recommend just doing a pinterest search for any help organizing a work/life balance. I’ve found some resourceful materials to help me think about menu planning to household chores.

CONNECT WITH GINGER
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I firmly believe that balance is bogus. There is no balance because it insinuates that all things are even. I can tell you that there are times where work is getting the majority of my time and there are times where my personal life gets the focus - it all depends on the time of year and what I have going on at the time. I believe you can find harmony - ways that you can get work, personal and family life to work together (but it’s never even). That’s one of the big talking points in my podcast that we discuss - by taking the time to discover your passion, priorities and purpose, you can maximize your productivity which allows you to focus in on the areas of your life that are truly important to you. Saying no is a concept that many of us have a hard time with because we feel that opportunities missed are opportunities wasted. And that’s just not true. The more we focus and get rid of the extra clutter and noise in our heads, the more likely we are to build something great. I think Steve Jobs was a master at this - look at how he built Apple with a single product for the first 3 years. He built an empire by creating focus. Take the time to find you mission in life and your mission in business and that will guide you clearly. It will become your North Star.
CONNECT WITH TONYA
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You're so right! It's tough to find the balance - and rarely do I feel balanced - but I choose each day to cut myself off from my desk and do something good for myself (usually in the form of exercise, eating well, and reading). I feel guilt every single day when I leave, which I hate. It seems like there's always more work than I can get done in a day but (currently anyway) I try to give "life" as much attention as I give "work".

Printerette affects my personal life a good deal, of course. There are lots of emotional ups and downs in owning your own business, and being a creative type makes me an especially emotional boss lady. I bring home lots of weird moods! But, on the flip side, Printerette has made me some of the best friends. I love the industry I'm in - it's so friendly, so collaborative, and so exciting. Some of my best personal relationships are former clients and/or collaborators and even "competitors"!

CONNECT WITH CATHERINE
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I love that Kristen's Thimblepress email signature that says you don’t answer emails on weekends. It’s super inspiring and I’m going to steal it! That speaks to my work/life balance because I used to let it all blend together and it’s so easy to do. Some of my best friends that I spend the most time with are also in publishing so when we got together we would talk about work and I would answer emails at all hours of the day and work would always come first either because I felt it needed to or because its a go-to easy place to bury yourself. I’ve gotten so much better just getting older and wanting more from my personal life. Now it’s a conscious choice, not a frantic pull. Work/life balance was actually my new year’s goal and it’s been amazing so far! Just making it an actual initiative has been life-changing, and now of course I’m doing a book on it!

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Work-life balance is always just that - a balancing act. We never truly feel balanced, but if you know who you are at your core and what is important to you, you will know when you're getting off balance and need to readjust. Having those breakout blocks that I mentioned before and keeping a strict schedule helps me find balance and reinvigorates me with my work. Things like putting my phone down when I’m at the dinner table, on the couch binge watching a favorite show, or with friends, keeps me from checking email or refreshing Instagram. Having set work hours and a dedicated workspace also helps to “turn it off” when it's time have a personal life.

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As for balance, I have a pretty stubborn internal clock that keeps me from going too hard for too long. But as you can infer from my schedule, I'm living on my own terms in pursuit of that balance.

I’m sure I could get up earlier. Work harder.

Release more products.

Be a better friend.

I am doing these things, yes. But, I’m doing them in my own time, and that’s just fine with me.

CONNECT WITH LIZ
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I definitely don't have a balance between the two. I'm incredibly fortunate to have a life partner who not only supports my dreams but understands that they come at a price we both have to pay. Eric not only allows me to work 60hrs a week, but takes on additional responsibilities so I can focus on building this business with our future as the goal. I love him- he's just the best.

CONNECT WITH CAREY
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I’m not sure i do! ha! I’m TRYING to find more balance by finally (gradually) moving into a studio space to help separate my business from home life. When i am working at home, i also take as many breaks as i can to hang out with my boyfriend and family. Those little breaks re-energize me and help me not feel as secluded or overwhelmed by everything; especially when things get super crazy.

CONNECT WITH ROBYN
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I wouldn’t say I am the best at balancing life and business, but I’m trying to say no more often, so that I can do more of the things I need to do outside of work. My life is my business and it’s alright. Many of my friends started as clients or wedding vendors. It’s now at a point in which my personal life is filed with work friends so even when I travel, I sometimes travel with my wedding buddies. When something happened to my dad recently, I got so many emails from my colleagues. It’s like they knew what was going on as much as my closest friends and family. I think it’s a good thing when the boundaries are crossed in this way.

CONNECT WITH NANCY
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I don’t do this perfectly but I try my best to remember what my “ideal day” looks like. In my head, that day feels productive, peaceful, and full of freedom to choose. When I have moments where I feel like I’m “supposed to be doing something” or jumping from task to task, I force myself away from my desk and just take a lap around the house or a walk with my dog.

I loved the book Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. She explores the concept of boundaries so beautifully in it and illustrated for me what I can be saying more “yes” or “no” to intentionally in a way that feels good for me.

I also love Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map because it reminds me to stay grounded in my Core Desired Feelings and to continue to shape my life in a way that supports how I want to feel day to day. I remember that I am in control of how I fill my days.

In the evening, work is pretty much off limits. I might be thinking about it but I’m not allowed to execute on anything. I try to read, take a bath, or catch up with friends and not watch TV or scroll on social media.

CONNECT WITH REINA
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Honestly, I feel like I have zero work/ life balance. My business is so intertwined with my personal life that, even if I’m out shopping at a flea market on vacation, I’m looking for props; If I’m at the grocery store for my family, I’m picking up cupcakes for a photo shoot or cleaning supplies for the warehouse. I’m fortunate to love my job so it’s fine that I work all the time - and in fact, I don’t think my business would be as successful if I didn’t live this way. I know a lot of other business owners and we’re all pretty obsessed with our jobs. You have to really love what you do and put in a whole lot of hours to make it work.

CONNECT WITH JESSIE
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Date nights and family time are more important than ever, as is time away from the biz even if it’s only an afternoon with friends or a good book. The personal life has shrunk. It’s all about the business. We enjoy the wit and banter of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and I’ve been enjoying Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Again, smart articulate funny people having intelligent conversations about life.

CONNECT WITH STEVE & JILL
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Ah, balance! I think balance is the new perfection - and I’m not sure that it exists! Instead I try to focus on energy and flow: do I feel good about the things I’m doing? When I’m doing them, how much do I enjoy them? When I’m working on my business, are the things I’m doing worth being away from my family for?

One of my favorite books is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I think that a great way to chillax more is to set boundaries and let go of the things that *aren’t* serving you. It’s sooo much easier to talk about than implement though, and this book helped me let go of so many things that were just taking up space on my calendar or in my day!

CONNECT WITH TIFFANY
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After four years, I’m just starting to get a handle on the balance thing. But I will tell you that I don’t believe there is any balance in the beginning. If you aren’t waking up and going to bed with your business and dreams every single day to get it off the ground and up and running, then in my humble opinion, success will be hard found. It goes to one of my favorite quotes, “you can have it all, just not at the same time.” That being said, the biggest piece of advice I’d say about this is: don’t squander your time. If you only get one hour with your husband, family or friends, put down your phones and be present; make that hour count. Also marry well; my husband is my partner in life, and while this entrepreneurial road hasn’t always been easy, it’s always been supported by him. He’s a keeper, but don’t tell him that!

CONNECT WITH MANDY
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You’re right… there really is no balance, but we can try right? I try my very best to make set time for each thing. If I am at home with kids and try to get work done, it is bad for everyone. Kids end up crying, I end up yelling. I realized after having kids, I am just not good at multi-tasking. When I am at home with kids, I really just try to be mom and wife. Easier said than done, but I am making progress. When I’m at work, I get as much as I can get done, done and then I make a list of what I didn’t get done (it’s usually a lot) and try to get to it later. There is always an endless list and I just have to be ok with that. Just being “ok” with the need ending list helps me feel more balanced. I have also started working out 3-5 days a week which has helped a ton! I have always made and excuse and said there was no time for it, but there is and it’s amazing what it will do for your mind and energy. I do want to start meditating in the mornings too…. gotta have goals right?

CONNECT WITH LESLEY
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Structure is super important. My husband and I run our household pretty tightly (have three great danes!) and I also manage two businesses (@snippetandink & @christinamcneill). We usually go to bed at the same time, and wake at the same time. We have a routine with our pups and they know when it’s their time to play (our dog park runs are usually in the evenings!). I devote a certain amount of time each week to each business and it seems to be working really well for me. When I slip up it’s because I’ve piled too much on myself. For example, I pretty much can only handle one “extra curricular” activity a week. That means any meetings outside of my own clients (lunch or coffee dates, industry parties, etc) are spaced out to give myself enough breathing room. The structure I’ve created really helps keep me in check with spending time with my husband, dogs, and business!

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I am passionate about what I do but that doesn’t mean I work on my business all the time. It’s very important to make room for family and friends and things outside of my business. In the beginning, I put a lot of energy into my business and soon realized that I wasn’t making time for those who supported and cared for me. Things have since changed & I make much more of an effort to have a life outside of my passion.

I think being an entrepreneur has its perks, but it also has its downsides like being so busy you don’t have time to eat a healthy meal. I am trying to cook more this year and embrace wholesome habits such as experimenting with new workout plans and activities to keep up my stamina. I travel lot during the year so staying healthy needs to be at the forefront so that I can show up feeling my best for my family, students and team!

My advice on balance is that sometimes you can plan “balance”, and until you’re going through it you really can’t predict what it will be like. Give yourself grace and know that tomorrow is a new day!

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