By Regina Young, Meant2Be Events
The truth is that writing this blurb on work-life balance couldn’t come at a better time for me. You see, I just returned from a lovely week long vacation to Hawaii with my spouse after hiring one of my interns to handle our social media accounts. Another box is checked in my pursuit of a better quality of life…
The concept of work- life balance is like a unicorn. We never really know when we have found itand it can feel like an endless pursuit. Elusive & captivating all at the same time. But what I have found in being an entrepreneur is that with many things that involved balance, the focus will shift. There will be times when the emphasis is more on one side of the scale then the other. As long as there is enough time in the middle, that sweet spot where you can easily see both sides of the extreme, that is where productivity and happiness exist.
So how do we get there? Here are a few key actions to assist you in the chase for the unicorn.
Define What Success Means to You
Deciding what success means to you is the first key in finding balance because it defines what path you need to walk. If success means a six-figure income and a month of vacation time a year, then anything that doesn't fit with that definition can be removed. If success means one client a week and extra spending money to do fun things with your family, then you don't need to put in the kind of work that would bring you a six-figure income. Your definition is unique to you, and removing the pressure to live up to someone else's definition of success saves time and gives you a destination. Success isn't just a question of work, but also of your private life. Write down your definition and use it as a measuring stick when you tackle the rest of these tips.
This process of defining your success should be something you reevaluate often. Your life and priorities will change. That’s ok. It’s called being human.
Finished Is Better Than Perfect
As creatives, we are often so focused on doing things perfectly that we cease to move forward, we waste valuable time and build unneeded hurdles on our way to success. Yes, plan and practice, but don't waste your life planning. Act, so that you can also live. Don't let fear of imperfection keep you in a holding patten where you aren't learning or growing. Get busy finishing things and learn as you go.
So many people ask me where I learned what I know about the wedding planning process. My answer is always “the school of hard knox”. Our industry is always changing and growing, as much as many traditions stay the same. Being innovative is equally important as being consistent.
Build Business Systems
If you've been paying attention to the theme of these tips, you'll have noticed that time management is the focus. Business systems are a key way to streamline the time you spend working. Well-oiled machines work more smoothly and more reliably than machines that are rusty, ill fitted, or receive little maintenance. Business systems allow you to streamline the way you work, repeating the same steps to achieve desired results as efficiently as possible. When you know exactly what needs to get done, and what manner in which to do it, you achieve repeatable results with predictable outcomes. This is not only a time saver, but it allows you to plan because you will know exactly how much time each task will take. Better than this, you can pass tasks to other people when systems are in place with rules that can be followed.
For example, social media has come a long way and continues to be a major influencer in the buying process for our wedding/event clients. There are so many management programs out there that can cut down the time spent on trying to build a presence in multiple sources. We love later.com to manage our instagram and Facebook accounts. We will be adding Pinterest to it soon as well…
One thing most artistic entrepreneurs miss out on is the ability to outsource tasks. As creatives, we tend to think that we are the only ones who can handle certain tasks, and we often stress about the cost of paying someone else to do something we can do ourselves. What we fail to realize is what successful business people know: time really is money. Success in finding the balance between time spent at work and time spent cultivating a happy lifestyle is knowing where to spend your money and where to spend your time. If someone else can do the job at least 80 percent as well as you can, then you should seriously consider outsourcing it, whether that means sending it to a person or using technology to handle the task. Web design, SEO, newsletters, retouching, marketing, social media posts, book keeping, and scheduling are all areas that can be handled by someone else. Build these costs into your cost of doing business and outsource to a service provider, sub-contractor, or employee. Instead of wincing at the price, consider that the more time you have free, the more time you can spend on the things that actively make you money. This is a win-win in the work-life balance endeavor, because the result will either be more time, or more money.
After spending the hours learning later.com it now was time to pass that responsibility to someone else. While I certainly can handle the work, it’s not the best use of my time. Understanding the system allows me to set standards and monitor the efficiency of the individual managing that task now.
Feed Your Soul
So much time is spent trying to make work successful that we often neglect to do the things that make us happy, healthy people. Whether it's more time at the gym, hanging out with friends, meditating in the morning, volunteering for a charity, hiking with family, or reading a good book with a glass of wine, you have to spend time doing the things that feed your soul. People who are happier and more content are more productive. Taking care of yourself is better for you, better for your loved ones, and better for your business. If you aren't a priority in your own life, everything else will begin to crumble.
These tips have the common theme of time management, because time is your most valuable resource. It's limited and precious, and the only thing you cannot get more of. I think my staff would laugh if they read this line…it’s really my mantra around the office: working smarter, not harder- is the key to finding the balance between your work and your life. Sharply defining your definition of success and ruthlessly pairing away anything that doesn't actively contribute to that goal is merely a way to organize where you spend your time. Recognizing that time is the true measure of what is important is the first step in catching the unicorn and finding the balance.