How to Respond when Work and Life Collide

Real Talk

For the longest time I’ve believed that “Work Life balance” was just some myth dreamed up by a well-meaning, empty nester because in my waking hours, these worlds collided regularly, almost every day. And up until recently, I tackled this vicious cycle head on, diffusing each collision as it happened – while quietly praying I’d get some reprieve before the next.

Just like you, I wear quite a few hats… So believe me when I say, “I feel you and your struggle to keep it together”.

Just like you, I wear quite a few hats…

Mother of 5, Wife of one, Designer to many.

You can add to that, chef, nurse, taxi driver, #1 cheerleader, counselor, judge, jury, cleaner, accountant, marketer. You name it, I’ve probably got experience.

So believe me when I say, “I feel you and your struggle to keep it together”. Here’s a little taste //

  • Calls to pick one of the kids up from the sick bay whilst on Skype with a client {happened today, I kid you not! And if you’re wondering, no. I didn’t pick up the phone while with my client but I did receive a text message when I didn’t pick up.}
  • Thinking about what to cook for dinner in the middle of visioning the best idea ever! – ok, it probably isn’t the “best” idea if I’m still able to think about food…
  • The washing machine sounding to alert me that domestic duties beckon just as I’m streaming design ideas. Which then triggers a random mental dialogue about all the other domestic duties that need to be done.
  • Feeling distracted as I write this post that maybe I’ve forgotten something… something really important? – Like the time my 5 year old daughter had a “fill in Mummy” because I completely forgot about her Mothers Day morning tea at school. Yip, mother of the year strikes again…

Always a constant reminder that even though I have the luxury of working from home, I’ll never truly be able to draw a definite line between these worlds.

A few months back I realised…

I was in the exact same place I’d been a million times before. Fighting for balance. Barely keeping my head above water. Chasing my tail. Doing everything, all at once. Bouncing between work and life in a fraction of a nano-second.

I was mopping the kitchen floor {add that to my list of qualifications too} musing over work life balance when the light bulb went off…

I’ve been telling myself a whole bunch of bullshit…

I was responding to my responsibilities as a Mum, Wife & #Ladyboss completely wrong…

I’ve been lazy…

Messy…

Carelessly Chilled…

Chaotic…

Scared…

Weak…

Full-up with excuses.

I wasn’t running a business. Oooch! Shit just got real.

Nor was I acting like a #ladyboss who would instead be taking focused action regardless of any challenge. Even though I was pedantic about blocking out time in my schedule for work and life, I could easily be talked into //

  • Going for a ‘quick’ coffee with my man.
  • Chatting to my bestie for hours on the phone.
  • Allowing others to put their needs ahead of mine by squeezing themselves into my already tight schedule.
  • Using domestic duties and my kids as an excuse to procrastinate the stuff that real lady bosses do.

It made me question a ‘real’ lady bosses response to the challenges of work life balance.

The most important thing I found was that the biz pro’s in this digital space have 3 characteristics that set them apart from everyone else.

Drive. Determination. Discipline.

When all these things are humming, they can respond differently to the same challenges. And even though it’s nice to have the freedom to choose, they certainly don’t let washing, dinner or a house call get in the way of their schedule. Nor do they allow anyone else to hijack their time. And they certainly don’t make excuses. THEY MAKE RULES.

Fortunately, these traits are not necessarily innate either meaning, we can certainly learn to be more driven, more determined and more disciplined – Amen to that!

We’ll talk about that in a future post since it’s a whole other topic.

Back to the light bulb moment…

In that moment, I remembered a pep talk my man once gave me:

My Man : Do you have any control over this problem?

Me : What do you mean?

My Man : Can you make it better or worse by doing something about it?

Me : No. Don’t think so?

My Man : Chuck it in the “fuck it” bucket then and worry about the things you DO have control over.

He went on to remind me:

Pretty smart guy, yeah?

I also had a chat with my biz bff who noticed that I actually wasn’t responding to my problems at all. I was reacting to them instead.

THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RESPONDING & REACTING…

Reacting is emotionally driven and things can get pretty intense, pretty fast. And before you know it, the world is crashing down around you.

Where as, a response is driven by logic. So, if you can get past the first 10 seconds of a situation without, flipping the bird at the messenger or melting down in the produce isle of the supermarket, you’ll be well on the way to a better outcome. Use those first few seconds to //

  • Take a few deep breaths.
  • Ask yourself if this situation is in your control or not. If it is, then you can take the necessary action. If not, it goes in the “fuck it” bucket and you’re free to move on.

Of course it takes time to master the skill of response but by being more mindful of how you’re currently dealing with the challenges of work-life balance and the information given here, it’s definitely possible to feel calmer, more peaceful and more ‘together’ in these times and in life in general.

Over the last few months of practicing this I realised there were just 2 key things I had total control over but wasn’t actually taking control of. They might strike a chord with you too?

  • Learning to accept that I am human and I will drop the ball from time to time {read 4th bullet above – Feeling distracted}. So when I do, it’s just a matter of acknowledging, “Yes. You fucked up.” Then asking myself if I can do anything to prevent or minimize this from happening again. From there I can take the action and move on.
  • Boundaries – REAL ONES, that are absolutely not-negotiable.
    I realised that even though my clients were aware of my office hours, my family & friends weren’t. So we had that dreaded discussion. Best part is, they were very supportive and it wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. Also, to increase my chances even further, I turned off my cell-phone and took the home phone off the hook too and anything to do with the kids get’s directed to my mans phone.Speaking of my man, as you can imagine in a busy household like ours, time on our own is important to both of us so scraping coffee dates completely, wasn’t an option and we both enjoy the spontaneity of it so scheduling a date just didn’t seem right for either of us. Instead we agreed on ONE random coffee date per week to keep the love alive 🙂

These 2 things alone have made me feel more in control. More at ease. More inspired. More focused and above all else, Happier.

The moral of the story?

When there’s a bump in the road you have two choices. Respond or React. Of course there’s the third – do nothing – but let’s not go there aye.

If you can take the time to strengthen your ‘Responsive” muscles to deal with situations and file them away as quickly as possible, you can indeed enjoy the promises of work life balance.

Have you achieved work life balance? Got a tip or story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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