Finding a Balance
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
I recently returned home after a long stint backpacking through South America, I had little to no responsibilities over there and the carefree lifestyle that backpacking mirrors really was special and I would not go back and change a thing. However, me being me, the back end of my trip was mostly spent quickly scribbling into a journal my goals, aspirations and career plans for the following year. I have a great sense of competitiveness with myself and am luckily one of the people that has gone into a career that I'm deeply passionate about. So, naturally, pair this motivation with the sparse landscape of 'Ruta Del Fin Del Mundo' aka 'The End of World' route where I was currently driving on and you've got one fiery little lady who's ready to go.
I settled back into my home, recounted my favourite stories with my nearest and dearest and kicked my bum into gear. What followed was quite possibly the busiest month I’ve ever had in this self employed world, and it was so satisfying and of course a solid dose of perspective.
The main point I’m going to make is that being busy is great, and seeing your hardworking and meticulous planning actually translate into work is absolutely great, but don't be a 'yes' man if you can't actually follow through. If you’re over stretched to the point where you’re not actually producing work to the standard you normally would – you shouldn’t be doing it. At the end of the day, if every single client, project or contract isn’t receiving the same level of treatment, dedication and care you are not doing a good enough job. Harsh, but true and I am absolutely guilty of this.
For the past five and bit weeks I have been channelling Jim Carrey’s ‘Yes Man’ motif with just about the same amount of caffeine and craziness that he did. I’ve been lucky enough to spear head a multitude of long-term projects ranging from web design, annual reports, client management and a full time contractor role for another agency. But in the midst of the 60 to 70 hour workweeks, I forgot to reply to emails, I made silly mistakes, I overstretched myself and well and truly imbalanced my work to life ratio.
When I reflect on this past month, I see two major themes for restructure – time management and self-discipline.
Firstly, time management, I’m referring to the part of time management that involves equilibrium between each task at hand, both professionally as well as personally. Please don’t take your laptop to bed with you, don’t respond to emails in the wee hours of the morning and don’t stop taking care of yourself. Ultimately, if you’re not in the state of mind to transform your clients trust and faith in you into proper work – just stop, pause and respond when the quality of work is better and you haven’t sacrificed your sleep. Not only will they appreciate the obvious care that’s gone into the work, they’ll more importantly appreciate the lack of minor errors and diligence. You feel good, they feel good, every one is happy.
But how do you avoid getting yourself into that situation in the first place?
Planning. Sit down and set yourself a designated amount of time for each task and stick to it like glue, daily as well as weekly. You’ll learn what you’re capable of within those restrictions and it will in turn challenge you, you’ll have a greater understanding of how to quote jobs on a time basis and you’ll feel on top of things rather than under them. Beauty.
Secondly, discipline. Beverly Sills nailed it in her quote ‘there are no short cuts to any place worth going’. Be better than the easy road and be open to learning time saving tools that may not pay off straight away, but in the long run effectively help you to work smarter.
The wealth of online resources at our Internet driven fingertips is incalculable, so why not put them to use. We’re lucky enough to live in an age where learning is so accessible that there aren’t many excuses not to get involved and delve deeper. In regards to design, resources such as EBooks are everywhere. From Smack Bang Designs sharing their wealth of knowledge on business management to SuperHi teaching us how to code a website at our own pace and everything in between. These resources are popular for a reason – they have information worth gaining.
Set some time in your newly designated time management plan to hone in on your skills as well as learn new ones. You may not get it straight away but making a consciences effort towards them will provide you with the self motivation to power through the hectic times and gradually see them turn into your regular work flow.