Ah, the elusive goal of balance. How do we achieve it? Instead of epic goals and aggressive life change, let’s look at what you can do now…today.
1. Turn Off Your Phone
It’s meant to make our lives more convenient, but when we’re chained to our phones, we aren’t free to enjoy the moment. When you’re with your family, put the darn thing away. When clients call after hours, there’s no reason to respond immediately. It takes away from the attention your family deserves … or the solitude you deserve.
In his book The 4-Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferriss says to put an auto response on e-mail that says something to the effect of “I check my e-mail twice a day, at noon and at 4 p.m.” Improve the balance in your life by using the same type of discipline with texting and talking on the phone. After hours, let the text and voice messages accumulate. When you do check your phone one time later in the evening, you can answer the messages all at once, leaving your mind free to enjoy the rest of the evening unplugged from work.
2. Live With a Blocked-Time Schedule
In some ways, you already do this: You schedule clients in the block of time from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for example. Extend that practice by looking over your entire week (or month!) and blocking time for what you need to do for work other than sit behind the desk with clients. For example, block off the 2 p.m.-3 p.m. hour every day. On Tuesday, schedule a bank run; Wednesday, inventory; Thursday, education; Friday, staff training. Schedule it. Say no when something tries to infringe on that time. You’re already booked!
The same goes for your time at home. Instead of thinking of Monday as a free day, which could mean you waste the majority of it being unproductive, block chunks of time to schedule what you know needs to be done to set yourself up for an organized workweek. Then do it in the hours you blocked.
3. Work Out
This starts now. Today. Nail techs have a sedentary job that, in the best scenario, has them in an ergonomically compromised position for half the day. Your body is designed to meet your demands; it is not designed to meet your demands without the proper fuel and maintenance. Fuel is your food. Maintenance is your self-care. That means you need to move around, expend energy, and get your muscles to move through a wide range of motions (since you’ve been hunched over all day). Do some strength training so you can raise your overall fitness level. If you haven’t found an exercise you like, try something new. CrossFit, HIIT, boxing, bootcamp — pick an exercise that’s going to release some adrenaline and make you feel alive. It will not only improve the way you feel — and look — it will help you release the demands of your day, clearing your head and putting your mind back into balance.
4. Eat Better
The reason eating healthy improves the balance between work and home is similar to the reasons working out improves the balance. You can’t function well — with patience, a clear head, interest, clarity, etc. — when you are fueling your body with junk. Your vice may be sugar or starch, which raises your energy level, but then sends you crashing. It might be salt, which raises your blood pressure and can make you feel bloated. Whatever it is, stop reaching for it! Your mind and body will perform better when you choose natural, whole foods rather than those unhealthy, addictive foods. Eating better and working out has one more advantage: the discipline of it spills into other areas of your life. You’ll find you’re less stressed emotionally, without the mood swings that come from feeling hyped up or groggy.
5. Say Yes
For some reason, people have a hard time saying no. If you’re one of the those people, change your perspective by realizing you aren’t necessarily saying “no,” so much as you’re saying, “yes” to what you really want. Think of it this way, “I’ve said yes to a night alone, so I’m too busy to go to that jewelry party,” or “I said yes to time with my family, so I’m too busy to stay late for the client who has already rescheduled twice.”
This works in larger situations, too. You know, the ones you try so hard to avoid confronting … like that employee who frustrates you so much you end up spending the majority of your family time annoyed and complaining about her. Instead of looking at that situation in the negative: I know I need to have a conversation with her, but I just don’t want to do it. Think of the positive: I’m going to create a situation where I am stress-free when I’m home. (Of course, in order to get to your YES of stress-free time, you’ll have to address the situation at work.) The point is, make your self-talk positive by thinking in terms of what you’re saying yes to, rather than having anxiety because you think a “no” will disappoint someone.
6. Reduce Your Time Behind the Desk
“Salon owners need to step away from doing clients,” says salon consultant Lisa Marie Arnold, owner of Lisa Marie Arnold, Inc. Does that sound crazy? Arnold’s point is you can’t do everything. Work smarter, not harder, right? She suggests if you work behind the desk five days a week, reduce it to four, tightening your schedule and putting yourself more in demand. This gives you eight more hours in your week to get work responsibilities done during work hours and frees you up to enjoy your time outside of work without that nagging feeling that you have work to do.
Remember that “blocked time” method we just mentioned where you wrote “education” in one of the blocks of time? Here’s what we mean: Schedule time to stay on top of your business. Education could be formal classes; it could be networking with other techs; it may be reading a business or marketing book. Take the time for “input” so you set goals and stay focused.
Yes, yes, we know. Nobody does it as well as you do. But, let’s be honest, you’re not doing it as well as you could be doing it because you’re stretched so thin. So, someone may not do it as well as you could do it, but they can certainly do it as well as you are doing it. Arnold suggests a few simple places to delegate: social media updates, scheduling, and inventory. You could also delegate cleaning, some errands, and responding to e-mail. If you’re a one-person business, think of how you can exchange services as a way to delegate: Can you swap nails for cleaning or for marketing or for admin work? You may lose the income from the nail service, but you gain by delegating responsibility.
Do you think you’ll be able to achieve balance in your life when you’re exhausted? We need sleep; we want sleep … but because we’re highly stimulated all day, we often can’t relax our brain enough to get to sleep. It’s weird, but we need to prepare for sleep. Let’s say your goal is to sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Don’t shut the computer and TV off at 10! Your brain needs to be away from the screen stimulation so it can quiet down. Shut off the screens. Have a cup of tea. Think. Write. Be still. Make a list of what you need to do tomorrow so you’re not thinking about it when you lay your head down. And, finally, break the habit of looking at your phone once you’re in bed!
10. Have Fun
Balance doesn’t come simply by structuring a system that gets everything done. Balance comes when work and home is organized — so you can enjoy your life and relationships. What do you love to do for fun? Paint? Hike? Play and laugh with your kids? Schedule time every week to do something that makes you feel alive, and don’t fill that time with what you “ought to” be doing. You ought to be enjoying life! It feels great to organize our lives, perform at a high level, and accomplish our goals, but without the balance of play, we become one-dimensional and boring. Live life in full color; it gives you the energy you need to keep the responsible parts of your world in balance.
Have a Vision
Lisa Marie Arnold suggests one way to find better balance at work is to determine your mission and vision and have a written policy. This keeps you focused on where you need to spend your energy. There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel. Go to lisamariearnold.com to find resources to help you get on track.