It’s so important to maintain a healthy relationship with the way you spend your time for a lot of different reasons. We’ve all heard the term “work/life balance”, and although that comes from a good place, I think there’s more to it than just work and life. In this post, I hope to share some of the ways I’ve been finding some balance in my day to day life.
Let’s start with why finding balance important.
+ To help avoid burnout and being overworked.
+ To help you stay motivated to excel in your life (career, lifestyle, creative, etc)
+ To improve time management skills so that you can be more productive.
+ To develop self-care habits that benefit you, separate from your career.
+ To avoid those ruts, whether they are career based or not.
+ To focus on what matters and not get distracted with things that don’t deserve your time.
I could truly go on further about why it’s important to find this balance, but let’s just get into how I go about implementing balance in my life.
+ First off, you have to realize that your time is valuable and important. Once you accept that, you can choose to focus your time on priorities and make sure the highest priority items for you are getting the most attention. Don’t feel like you have to give 100% of your effort towards everything in your life. Vary your effort level towards things and you’ll realize you have a lot more energy to deal with the important tasks.
+ Incorporate breaks and self-care into your daily schedule. Once I started doing this, I could actually make the most out of those breaks because I knew they were purposefully scheduled into my work life. For example, if I’m making a calendar for a project I’m working on, I work backwards from the due date. I’ll schedule in days off throughout the timeline, so I can relax knowing that – on those days, it’s okay if I don’t contribute my time to that project. This sounds obvious, but you can’t take a proper day off if you’re still thinking about work.
+ Stop feeling guilty if you’re not working. This took me so long to learn, but it’s truly the only way I can separate myself from my work in a healthy way. Investing time in yourself is just as important as putting the hours in at your work. I still get very antsy and restless if I’m not working on a project that I know I need to work on, but if you schedule yourself some time away from it, you’ll come back to it feeling refreshed and ready to tackle it.
+ Find something to do that makes you happy when you’re not working. Most people I’ve met in this industry love their work so much that they feel like working through their breaks, or coming in extra hours just to keep working at their craft. That is awesome. However, you have to balance that with something else that also makes you happy outside of the workplace. Don’t put all your happiness into something with secondary incentive (i.e. money). If you have a hobby or something you enjoy doing without any monetary reward behind it, it helps so much with your mood and how you approach happiness in general.
I think the best way to explain how I find balance is to go through my day to day routine during the busiest season of the year – summer. Here’s an outline of what my days look like, as a Scenic Charge Artist who’s also probably designing a show on the side.
Monday – Friday (typ. work week)
+ 6:30am wake up, breakfast smoothie + granola
+ 7:30am morning check-in with the shop personnel, plan for the day, stretches before work!
+ 8:00am start of workday with paint team, goal check in
+ 10:00am break for 15 minutes
+ 12:00pm break for lunch, step away from paint shop!, eat meal prep outside
+ 1:00pm continue working, goal check in
+ 3:00pm break for 15 minutes
+ 5:00pm dismiss crew
+ 5:30pm leave the shop! don’t look back!
+ 6:00pm go to the gym if i’m feeling anxious or have extra energy, shower, protein shake or something to tide me over
+ 7:00pm eat meal prep dinner or cook something
+ 8:00pm go out with friends twice a week or so, alternatively, work on other designs and side work, (could be time for an evening work call or tech, depending on the schedule)
+ 10:00pm start bedtime routine, update bullet journal, and sleep!
Weekends/Days Off (typ.)
+ 8:00am-9:00am wake up, try not to sleep in and ruin the day, go to the gym early to get it over with
+ 10:00am breakfast with friends or homemade breakfast/brunch
+ 11:00am-4:00pm large chunk of time dedicated to a goal (work related or outing with friends, grocery shopping, laundry or a task at home, or just doing my nails because I feel like it)
+ 5:00pm-11:00pm large chunk of time dedicated to another goal (self-care, work on something around the house, cook a nice dinner, outing with friends, meal prep for the week)
+ 11:00pm-1:00am sleep!
I realize this schedule is a luxury and there are plenty of people who have it much busier than I do. If I can control it, I choose to work in places where I’m treated fairly and don’t typically work above 60 hours in a work week. It’s not worth it for me. I realize it’s not the “hustle” or “grind” – but we, as an industry, need to stop romanticizing working nonstop.
The main point I want to get across here is that you can break up chunks of your time and dedicate it towards a goal. And I’m not saying goals have to be work related – you can schedule time off! If I’m feeling particularly sore or overworked, I will dedicate time to just sitting and watching Netflix because it’s so important to listen to your body and take some time away from work. I don’t think this is a sign of laziness, it’s showing strength to know when you need a break.
Another thing I like to remember – if I can schedule goals between chunks of time at work, I should also be able to do the same at home. For example, I’ll dedicate large chunks of time towards a goal like decluttering the kitchen, cleaning the bathrooms, meal prepping for the week, drafting a groundplan for a show, going to the movies with friends, or sitting at home drinking tea with a book. Those are all goals to me – even though some of them are recreational. By doing this, I can relax and use my time wisely – simultaneously.
By scheduling myself time for freelance or side work later in the day, I can properly focus on my charge job in the daytime. A lot of people think multi-tasking is the way to be the most productive, but honestly – there’s a time and place for it. If you multi-task too much between projects, you can’t really give your best to the projects that might need it and then you’re left with subpar work. So what happens when you get home and realize you’re way too tired to deal with your freelance work? It happens. When that occurs, I try and get through something that doesn’t require 100% of my effort but still progresses the project forward. For me – that’s dimensioning and plating draftings, creating title blocks, doing a prop list, something along those lines. Not busy work for the sake of working, but something that will actually benefit the project. Then, later on when I’m feeling more energized, I can focus on the design itself. The important part is to not let yourself fall behind on your work – don’t get into the habit of skipping your allotted time to work.
I sincerely hope that you all find some sort of balance between the various things you’re doing. If you’d like to see a post about what I do in a day, what I eat in a day, or anything similar to that – let me know down below or on Instagram (@craftswomancentral). I’d love to hear your thoughts!