How I Create White Space + Balance In My Life
I believe in balance when it comes to running a small creative business. I also believe in creating a routine and schedule that allows you to have white space. I've made it a priority since starting a business that only continues to gain steam each month to take time to do things that matter to me. As many can relate, life as a creative entrepreneur is a constant hustle. It honestly never ends but there are things you can do to avoid overwhelm and burnout. I believe that you can live a busy life but also carve out time to slow it down and recharge.
2017 WAS MY BUSIEST SEASON YET IN BUSINESS AND I'VE LEARNED A LOT ABOUT FINDING BALANCE AS A MOTHER, WIFE, AND FRIEND.
As I reflect on 2017 and ultimately coming out of my busiest season ever, I was forced to do some serious soul searching in figuring out where I can improve in terms of finding more balance and white space in my life because I was trying to pour from an empty cup and it simply was not working. There were moments last year that instead of slowing down to soak up those extra cuddles with my daughter, I was distracted by slews of emails from clients, or trying to answer every single question that came to my inbox. Do I love all those things? YES! I do. Every time I get a notification from someone wanting to pick my brain or get help in any way, I get so excited. However, as those emails became more and more frequent I found myself answering the same questions over and over again and wondering how I could find some sort of balance. I so badly wanted to remain a resource and open book, but I also have a little *almost* two year old pulling at my arm when I'd sit on my computer some days.
So a few months ago I made a commitment to myself to keep answering questions as they come in, but start compiling a list of the most common questions I'm asked daily. I've slowly but surely been putting those blog posts together so my "library" is filled with more helpful resources for my audience. Have you seen the updated Resource Library? You can right here, it’s awesome! When questions come in and I've happened to write the post on the topic, I can now send a quick email directing them right here to my blog. My daughter deserves more of her mama living in the moment and not being pulled to the computer throughout the day. My blog is my space to share my ideas, dreams, pain points, and business tips to help others grow. It is my goal as another year is upon us is to continue to pour my heart and soul into my blog.
I also learned early on that multitasking is not my friend. While I used to pride myself on being an excellent multitasker, it was actually slowing me down. For instance writing this blog post now, I've closed every single tab on my web browser so that I can sit here in the moment with music playing in the background to focus on my thoughts. When Facebook keeps popping up notifications, or Instagram I instantly get distracted. When I work on the blog I like to put my phone away completely and any other distractions. I also find my best writing comes when I leave the house and sit at the coffee shop or if it’s at the crack of dawn, hours before Riley even stirs.
I've realized as a small business owner the importance of valuing yourself. My prices have all changed since I first started. With that comes an inner battle going back and forth trying to rationalize or justify yourself to yourself. It's not fun, but at the end of the day I knew a few things were for certain:
I WANT TO WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER.
I WANT TO BE ABLE TO GIVE MY DAUGHTER MORE OF MY TIME DURING THE DAY WHILE SHE'S STILL HOME WITH ME.
IF I HAVE MORE CHILDREN, I NEED TO HAVE A BUSINESS THAT I'M RUNNING, NOT ONE THAT'S RUNNING ME.
MY CLIENTS DESERVE TO WORK WITH SOMEONE WHO ISN'T STRETCHED SO THIN THAT THEY DON'T GET THE PROPER TIME AND ATTENTION.
THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS IS STEEP AND MY PRICES NEED TO INCLUDE THOSE HIDDEN COSTS PEOPLE DON'T "SEE".
2018 has already been a total shift for me personally and professionally. Starting with my health, I am proud to tell you that I’ve lost 50 lbs since December!
I’ve made a decision that I will only be working on 1-2 design clients at a time and will be very selective on the photo sessions I say yes to. While I feel incredibly blessed and proud of every single project I have taken on to this point in my career, I’ve gone into this year with an entirely new focus, drive, and heart. I love my clients and the only way I can best serve them is to also take care of me, too.
A FEW TIPS ON HOW TO FIND MORE BALANCE:
1. Slow down. I keep reminding myself that I'm a small business owner. While I have big dreams, I make sure to bring myself back to reality that I don't need to focus on all the "big" stuff. I am learning to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. This year is all about continuing to focus on my health and wellness, taking on less projects and saying no to the things that don’t speak to my heart.
2. Find yourself in a place where you have eyes to see opportunities to connect with what matters. If my daughter is pulling at my arm or acting "clingy", she needs me. At that moment I need to be there for her. She deserves all of me and the other "stuff" can wait until she's down for bed or when I'm able to use my babysitter. The vacuuming can wait. The dishes aren't going anywhere, the floor can be swept later. I'm learning to let go of things that I used to obsess over because life is messy. My house isn't as perfect as I display on Instagram. The minute one room is cleaned the next one has some sort of mess waiting for me and I'm learning to just be okay with that.
3. Don't lose sight of why you started in the first place. I started my business with the intention of creating a life that I love and one that my children grow up seeing their mother do something she loves and that she cares about. I do what I do so that they know what it means to work hard and to not give up, ever. "Dream Chasing" has quickly become my business motto. Every day I'm chasing my dreams. Are there days I question myself? Sure. Are there days I wonder if I even know what I'm doing? Definitely. Then I get an email or message from someone telling me how my story has changed their life and the way they run their business. They tell me that my words bring tears to their eyes and that they feel inspired every day looking through my work. Whoaaa, do you know how overwhelming this is as a small business owner? It's amazing. Do I know everything? Heck no. Am I learning new things every single day? Yes. Is there always room for growth and improvement? Definitely. I started this journey to make a difference and I never want to lose sight of that.
4. Recharge. Step away from the "to do" list and do something for yourself. I find my reset button when I take Riley out to play and bring my camera along. When I take pictures of her, I find my happy place and remember why I love what I do. She has been my source of inspiration from the very beginning, and like number 3 I never want to lose sight of that. I take a lot of pictures of her but I'm learning when it's appropriate to bring the camera and when I just want those memories to be instilled in my head and heart.
5. Spend time alone. I find peace when I'm by myself. Whether it's a walk on the beach, curling up on my bed with my kindle or going for a drive, I find clarity when I take time to just be alone. Life is so distracting, busy, and stressful. Spending time alone is crucial for lowering stress, increasing happiness and encouraging creativity. Some things to try; meditate, write, sketch, do some yoga or simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and do absolutely nothing.
6. Live well. Before I began my healthy journey, I was not taking the best care of myself with the hours sitting on my computer, drinking too much coffee and not enough water. I was on the threshold of obesity and quite frankly, miserable. My health and wellness is priority number one and I don’t let anything or any excuses get in the way of that anymore. My child (and Husband) deserve a mom and wife who is active, happy, and who will be around for the long haul to experience all the big moments in this life.
7. Relationships matter. Unfortunately in the past, I have not been a very good friend. I found myself hustling to the point in which I had ZERO room for anyone else in my life. I lost touch with some really important people in my life. I tried to get to as many events as I could, but every week I felt stretched thin and as if there weren't enough days in the week to share my time and devote what I needed to my business. Riley takes up all my free time and I wouldn't change that for the world, but then my business took up all the other minutes, hours, and days. Make time for your people. You need them just as much as they need you.
Just recently I heard from an old friend. He apologized on his end for losing touch as well but I still can't help but feel like it's my fault. He expressed to me how much he misses being a part of my life and hearing what I'm up to through other parties breaks his heart because he wants to hear from me. I couldn't agree more. We are making plans to meet up next time I'm in the city and I cannot wait to sit down with him and catch up on life.
Make a date with your spouse, meet that friend for a quick coffee to catch up, turn off the tv and start connecting with the people present in your life. Just a few nights ago, my friend came over to just HANG. We laughed a lot, had our own little happy hour, I finished painting the kitchen while she responded to some pressing emails and then we cozied up on the couch to eat popcorn and watch A Walk To Remember (one of my all time FAVES!) This simple, yet incredible evening was what we were both craving. We met the next day at the track for a quick workout and both agreed that while yes, we missed “a night of work”, we both felt incredibly recharged and more productive the following day. Funny how that works! Laughter is the BEST medicine.
I WISH YOU ALL A YEAR FULL OF PEACE, LOVE, AND A LITTLE MORE BALANCE.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: EMMA ROSE
Emma Rose is a Squarespace website designer and photographer based out of the Pacific Northwest. She helps photographers not only stand out online, but dig deep to find the why in what they do. She strives to work with like-minded entrepreneurs who want to grow an audience, start and thrive their online business and change the freakin' world. She aims to help people create not only meaningful businesses but lives. For more about Emma, click here!
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