**Note From Nick** I had this post half written for several months now as I searched for a solution for being burned out. It’s only appropriate that I publish this post after a full month of no posting at all. Hopefully posts will be a bit more frequent but work life balance has also become a top priority for me lately. You’ll see how i’ve prioritized my work-life balance and increased my productivity by actually working less. On to the post!
Work Life Balance
It’s not too often that I blog about something that doesn’t focus exclusively on SEO, income generation or entrepreneurship. However, in the past year I have noticed the lack of a work life balance in my life. I work a “9-5″ SEO job and I come home and do SEO consulting or work on various projects that earn me some extra cash on the side. If it were as simple as this I may have not identified an issue.
In addition to both my “day” and “night” jobs I also am married to my phone. E-mails going in and out – checking various account balances and even dealing with phone calls and texts — ALL DAY LONG. When i’m not doing that i’m likely surfing the net for info on the latest algorithm updates or reading various blog post to gain some inspiration for projects.
Even more important then work I have my beautiful wife and three kids. They are the reason I wake up in the morning. That’s a lot to cram into one lifestyle. I admit I’ve dealt with it poorly in the past and am always looking to improve. The goal of this post is to outline some of my thoughts and ideas in addition to hopefully giving you guys the opportunity to review and share your work life balance routines. Let’s all help each other out. Work life balance is extremely important. What are you doing to make sure you have a balance?
Identifying Responsibilities, Hobbies and Work
My number one responsibility is to provide financially and emotionally for my family. I support my family financially by offering SEO services through my 9-5 job. In addition, my hobby and passion is building and monetizing websites through the internet marketing skills that i’ve built up over the years. As you can see my ability to provide for my family is both my hobby and my day job. That’s a lot of SEO/Internet Marketing. It’s no surprise why I struggle to separate my work and life. I’m not special, a lot of people in this industry share my passion and don’t always look at it as “work”.
Even the most fascinating and rewarding careers that double as a hobby can easily burn someone out. This is exactly what happened with me. With three kids and an amazing life they will always be my focal point. However, those dreaded bills keep coming in and and its amazing that everyone expects to get paid. Bummer – better work a lot more right? Well that’s what I thought too. In fact, I would come home from work, eat dinner and play with my kids until they went to bed. Some nights I jump on the computer immediately and others I try to spend some time with my wife. I realized after several months of this ‘routine’ I was beyond burnt out. I spent hours and hours every night on the computer looking for ways to get inspired. I would do some work on sites i’ve built in the past just to see if anything started getting traction. I found out in the end that I was spreading myself to thin which minimized getting results. I finally had enough.
Recouping and coming up with a schedule
I was unhappy with my 9-5 work situation. I wasn’t giving my family the attention they deserved and the time I was taking away from them to do extra work wasn’t producing the result I had convinced myself it would by just “working hard”. So I sat down and talked to my wife and together we built out a strategy schedule that I have been adhering to as closely as possible. Life is never perfect but i’ll admit that i’m much happier and this new schedule has started to get me excited about my opportunities at work and on side projects again. I’ve included below a calendar for what my ideal week looks like.
This schedule is never set in stone but it at least gives me direction going into any week. My wife let’s me work un-interupted both Tuesdays and Wednesdays with the idea that we have dedicated time to ourselves (really rare and valuable time when you have 3 kids!) at minimum Monday and Thursdays. I do everything in my power to ‘unplug’ during the hours of 4-8 each day too. I still have a problem not reading emails that come to my phone but have made it a priority to not respond until later in the night unless its an emergency. By doing this it allows me to truly enjoy my family time, eat a good meal and make sure my kids get put to bed properly.
While the above calender looks jammed packed its actually not too bad. You’ll notice that a lot of time going into Friday night and into the weekend is flexible. If I have client work that needs to be completed or am making a lot of progress on a niche website I’ll take time to work on these. If I want to have a lazy day or have plans with h the family then that’s fine too. Direction and dedicated time has made everything a lot easier and im actually much more productive as well.
I work roughly 4 nights out of the week on various projects. Some weeks more and some weeks less. For me, sticking to this schedule has given my family a better idea of when I need to not be bothered (increasing my productivity) and when I need to pull myself away from work and enjoy my family, friends and day-to-day events. I’m the first one to admit that i’m MUCH happier with this schedule too which helps rebound and prevent future burnout episodes. This has worked out much better then randomly working 4-5 hours every night because i think I “have to” to in order to provide for my family. I have finally come to a happy medium where I can get the work done that I need to do and still be the best husband, father, son, brother, friend AND entrepreneur that I can be.