Balance: harmony between your biz and your life

April 15, 2009 at 6:00 am 6 comments

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License

This week, we are discussing the three most common mistakes that small business owners make in the wedding industry.  On Monday, we talked about under-pricing services.  Yesterday, we talked about paying for advertising that doesn’t perform.  Today, we’ll cover the last pitfall: a lack of balance between your personal and professional life.

Face it: you LOVE what you do.  After all, this is why you poured your soul into starting your business.  You might spend close to every waking hour on your business.  But taking a break from your business is important for several reasons:

  • Your relationships with your loved ones require it
    You may love your job.  And, your friends and family are entirely supportive of your dreams and aspirations.  But, sharing is caring.  And, sharing your time with your loved ones is an important part of your relationship.  The time you invest in your friendships and family-ships is as important as the time you commit to your business.  Love is work, so make sure you work at loving people around you with the same fervor as you work at your business.
  • With a good break, chances are you’ll work smarter
    Humans need sleep because their minds and bodies need time to rest and rebuild.  If we take it a step further, we can say that we need a break from our business so that we can gain new perspective and rebuild our creativity.  I know from experience that if I’m working too much or too hard on something, I am just spinning my wheels.  I’m usually better off taking a good break and coming back when I’m refreshed.
  • If you don’t balance your life, you will burn out
    There is no doubt about it, if you are not good at balancing your personal and professional lives, you will burn out.  I’ve seen far too many AWESOME wedding vendors burn out and leave the industry.  (It makes me sad.)

Soooo… here are my 10 tips for building balance in your life:

  1. Take a lunch break
    Take a real lunch break – one where you are actually sitting more than 3 feet from your computer.  Relax your shoulders, enjoy your food, chew your food, stare into space, read, zone out… whatever you want… just take an actual lunch break.
  2. Hire an intern
    Want 5 more hours each week?  What is something you hate to do?  (For me, it’s filing papers.)  Put an add on Craig’s List and have a high school or college student come in to help with administrative tasks.  Spend those 5 hours with your family.
  3. When you feel that you are not productive, take a 30 minute walk
    This is the best stress reliever: go outside, walk for 20-30 mins.  (I also like to do this when I’m not productive – probably from burnout.)  In that time, breathe in, breathe out.  Think of 3 things you’d like to accomplish when you get back to your desk.
  4. Turn off your computer at 8pm (or earlier!)
    We all do it.  We get home, eat dinner and jump onto the computer.  Force yourself to turn off your computer at 8pm nightly.  It’s a good way to decompress before bedtime.  (You’ll sleep better if you have given yourself enough time away from the computer.)  And, it’s time you should be socializing with others.
  5. Do not take your PDA with you to family and/or friend functions
    I’m addicted to things like facebook and twitter and email and google and youtube… the list goes on!  I am dying to get a PDA but won’t because I know it will be the death of me.  I would be checking it at the park on a goregous sunny day, instead of playing with my daughter on the swings.  If you are spending time with family and friends, turn off your PDA.  Or – better yet – don’t take it with you!  I dare you!
  6. Get a hobby
    Paper used to be my hobby until it became my business.  Now, I have very few hobbies.  And, that is a problem.  A hobby is an outlet that helps you unwind and get lost.  It is something very different from your work-life that you can escape to do.  I substitute teach sometimes at Sponge Language School in Seattle.  It is a really great escape to be around little toddlers and teaching them new things.
  7. Drink wine
    I’m not saying to turn your workaholic tendencies into alcoholic ones.  But a glass of wine from time to time is quite useful for refocusing energies into something much more mellow.  (This also goes well with #4 and #6.)
  8. Shorten your work day
    If you tend to finish your work day at 7pm, shut it down at 6pm instead.  If you shut down at 6pm, try for 5pm.  You’ll probably find that you either aren’t very productive in that last hour, or that you are quite more efficient when you know you have one less hour in your day.
  9. Make a list
    Much of what makes people turn their computers back on at 9pm is that they forgot to do something.  Make a list at 5pm when you shut down your work day (see #8) of everything you need to do the next day.  This will help you leave your work on that list and ignore it until the next day.
  10. Schedule your days off
    If you work weekend weddings, schedule a Sunday and/or Monday off every week.  If you are in the middle of  “busy season” and taking a Sunday off sounds like a fantasy, make sure to somehow fit in 2 days off per month.  Do NOT get sucked into make this your new norm.  (Make sure busy season is only a season – not a year-round thing.)  I love Kelly Simants’ Time Management tips on our post a few weeks ago.

And, last but most important: get some sleep! If you are well-rested, you are more productive, more efficient, and much more balanced!


Entry filed under: Life Lessons, Time Management.

What’s your Advertising ROI? Cost Cutting Thursday!

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alexa Johnson  |  April 15, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks Michelle! I’m going to bookmark this and refer to it whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and bummed out. And I just wanted to tell you–I’ve committed myself to not working Sundays this summer (I only have one that I gave in on). We’ll see how it goes, but I’m really excited about actually getting to spend time with my friends and family this year.

    • 2. Michelle  |  April 15, 2009 at 2:39 pm

      That is awesome Alexa! YAY! It takes a lot of discipline to do things for ourselves… isn’t that crazy?! Sounds like you are off to a great start!

  • 3. Shannon Sullivan  |  April 15, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Michelle — this is great advice, even for those of us NOT in the wedding business. Love your common sense approach. Keep it up.

  • 4. Barbie Hull  |  April 16, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Michelle – Great article! I am definitely going to forward this to a few people!!

  • 5. Laura Randall  |  April 16, 2009 at 8:12 am

    What a great blog post!! I definitely overwork myself sitting in front of a computer ALL day long editing and working from morning until late at night. It seems like the only time I get a break is when I leave town! But then when I get back, I’m overwhelmed with what didn’t get accomplished while gone. It’s a crazy cycle. But after reading this, I am committing to taking Sundays off (except for 4 weddings that are already on the calendar) and getting back to taking a walk every day. Sometimes wedding vendors who so passionate about what they do need a reminder like this and ‘permission’ to take care of themselves too. Thank you!!!

  • […] for a 20-30 minute walk Last week, in our discussion about Balance, I addressed this tip. If you are feeling blah, chances are you are burned out or tired and need a […]


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