Balancing Work, Life, & Your Passion Project(s)
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Balance has been on my mind lately. I started a new job this week at a new company. I'm excited to have made this move. I'm also wondering how it will change my life. What will a weekday look like when I'm settled in? What will the nights be like? How will I have to adjust the other aspects of my life?
It's a sign of the times that there don't seem to be enough hours in the day. When you have a career that's going full steam ahead, what does it take to also build something of your own outside of that? I've put together a few thoughts and gathered some advice on this topic.
I'm a work in progress. Although I only sometimes succeed and often only aspire to the approach below, here are my thoughts on finding balance.
But first, coffee
Set your objectives
Objective setting is something that is kind of daunting for me. It's difficult to articulate your goals, both because sometimes you just aren't sure and because it can be intimidating to dream big. But I really think this is an area where doing things with intention is key.
Set goals for your life, career, and passion project(s).
In doing so, I realized that my goal isn't to replace my current career with my own business. Right now, I’d be thrilled to have a small scale, active operation where I'm able to create and share. I want to feel so inspired that there's always something up next that I'm excited to make or try. I want to do this while allowing my primary career to grow and still being able to wake up early enough to walk my dogs every morning before work. I want to have time to exercise, read, and work toward financial goals such as saving for our future family, our next trip, and our next home.
Make your Happy List
Make another list. This one of activities that you enjoy. What are some things that allow you to feel accomplished, present, and engaged? Make that list, then map it to your goals - how do they fit together? An easy example: I love reading articles from The New Yorker, which aligns with my life goal of staying informed and learning new things. A less obvious connection: I love wine, which by itself doesn't do anything for me but could be a way to catch up with my friends, spend quality couch time with my husband, or unwind while cooking up new recipes.
After you've done this mapping, suddenly working toward your goals feels a little more fun, and a little more achievable.
Organize and plan in your own way
Whether it's apps like Evernote, services like Mint, notebooks and planners, or a homemade budgeting spreadsheet like I use, get your organization, tracking, and planning tools together. Scheduling is so so helpful both at work and at home. It forces you to acknowledge your limits and helps you compartmentalize your time.
Start by tracking everything you do for a week, then go back and look for dead time, where perhaps you were commuting or perhaps you could have ended your workday but allowed inertia to keep you in your seat for another 20 minutes. I tackle my daily commute to work in a couple of ways, something I'll get to later this month. Recognizing your dead time and making a conscious decision to either use it to do something or to simply unwind is powerful.
Do your future self a favor
Whenever your see an opportunity, do your future self a favor. Ever mean to get to something like installing shelving, or cleaning out your closet, or going through that stack of mail, but there are other, more pressing things to do such as the dishes or that really out of the way errand to that store that closes at 6pm?
Before you put something on your to-do list, consider whether you can do it right then, in that moment, then put it on your done list instead. Anything added to a to-do list can gather dust over time and become less and less appealing to complete. If you have a spare moment, find something to do that you know would have to be done later anyway. When later comes, you'll thank your past self and maybe even dive right into an activity from your Happy List.
Some resources I use for advice on work/life/everything else balance:
The Everygirl covers this subject a good deal and their easy to digest listicles are great for a quick read
Camilles Styles has an entire Goals section dedicated to all things involving getting your sh*t together
The New York Times Sketch Guy makes difficult things look less scary. I seriously love these sketches