Be honest with me for a second -- at least one of the reasons that you wanted to leave the corporate world and run your own business is for the flexible schedule, right? You had these visions of sleeping in or taking naps (or both?), working three days a week, taking month-long vacations -- all those kinds of things. And, if you're like me, you now work longer hours than you did at your corporate job.
I don't believe in work + life balance because I believe that it comes down to making choices. I don't believe we can really achieve a 100% equal balance. I've felt this way for several years, and I recently heard Reina of Reina and Co. perfectly describe this elusive work + life balance on Periscope as a garden:
In certain seasons, certain plants need more attention -- cucumbers will need more water now, tulips will need more water then, on and on. Hopefully, you'll still water all of the plants consistently, but some will just take more attention than others periodically.
Some things will require more attention -- but it's just for a season.
Your blog needs some extra work, so you skip date night this week. Some friends come into town, so you don't get your social media posts scheduled for this week. A client's project runs long, so you work all weekend to catch up.
In the weeks or seasons of extra busyness, I'm thankful for how I've set-up and systemized my business. It's not perfect (just ask my husband), but it's much better than it would be without these systems in place.
Every little step you can take to automate your business (and personal life!) will free up more time. Yes, most business automation tools will require some investment, but it's worth it in the long run. Here are a few simple ways that I automate in my business:
- Use Edgar for my social media posting
- Set-up an auto-responder for new inquiries (via Typeform + Zapier)
- Use Wave recurring invoices for clients who are on payment plans
- Use automated online bill pay for personal bills
As business owners, we can't do it all. We here it over and over, and yet... here we still are. If you can't afford to hire someone, this is where automation will come into play. A year ago, I decided that I needed to simplify my social media process. I looked into hiring a VA for this kind of help, and realized I couldn't afford it. So, while Edgar may be a pricey tool to some, it's cheaper than a person. (Not that VA's or social media managers aren't valuable or can be more helpful, because they definitely are!)
Here are a few things you could delegate in your life:
- Social media management
- Inbox management
- Email marketing
- Design (even small things like blog graphics!)
- Cleaning your house
- Meals (services like Hello Fresh)
Going back to the garden analogy -- you have to be picky about what you put in your garden, otherwise you wouldn't have a yard, just a huge garden. Reminding ourselves that we can't do it all, we have to take things off of our plates. As creative people, we get lots of ideas, lots of inquiries, lots of opportunities -- but there's no reason to say yes to everything.
If you're thinking, "Okay, but how n the world do I choose?!" -- there's a way to make it easier. Think about your core values, your mission, and your long-term goals. Do these new ideas or new opportunities align with those things? If a collaboration isn't going to help you reach your goals and doesn't align with your values, is it really worth doing?