We live in a world in which we are constantly striving for work/life balance. Seems to me, we’ve got plenty of the work, but could someone please find me the balance?
Sticking to any kind of a schedule is pretty difficult at the best of self-employed times, but when you’re juggling a demanding family life with single-handedly running your own business its nigh on impossible. Nine to five goes out the window, and that initial joy of doing your own thing, in your own time, at your own pace can quickly turn sour as the hands of the clock move past stop-o’clock and you find yourself battling a rapidly approaching deadline.
If only switching off and staying switched off could be as simple as unplugging the television! When you’re the solopreneur owner of a small start-up business, you’re more on than off. That in itself can be exhausting not to mention demoralising, invariably leading to a very lopsided work/life im-balance.
How does one cope?
As boring as it sounds, I ‘walk away’. I walk away both mentally and physically. First and foremost I swerve social media for large chunks of whatever downtime I have, hopping on only in short bursts, and leaving wide open spaces or traffic-free zones for the things I enjoy like radio dramas, books, and my latest downtime staple – gardening.
“The good life is a term for the life that one would like to live, or for happiness, associated (as eudaimonia) with the work of Aristotle and his teaching on ethics. Eudaimonia is a term that means happiness and is a central aim of stoic philosophy.” – Quora
During ‘free-time’ – I’ll come back to that one another time – I try to keep ‘t’internet’ to a minimum. I dabble with net-free Sundays, and ‘socially silent retreats’ when I force myself not to read any work-related emails outside of opening hours!
Social media doesn’t frazzle me the way it used to when I was ‘brain-deep’ in Facebook. What I’ve learned though, is that like with many 21st century trends, I’m happier away from it. Life is, well, normal.
I used to run a ‘music blog’ – I still sort-of do, but it’s no longer a ‘religion’.
What started out as a bit of a laugh and a way to release my inner John Peel, turned into an obsession, became all-consuming. Having battled to get some industry recognition for my little blog, especially from music PR types, I suddenly went from writing ad hoc reviews of music I loved to trying to pump out endless posts about everything and anything in a vain attempt to ‘keep people happy’, to maintain churn, and to win followers.
And for what? It wasn’t as if I was making any money from it. I rarely if ever got sent any freebies and most of the guesters I was offered were for UK gigs!
Then one day I woke up to the realisation that I was no longer enjoying DervSwerving. So I did the right thing for me. I downed tools and walked away. And you know what? I didn’t miss it. Not a jot. Ever. Not once. In fact, if anything, I felt as if I’d shifted a huge weight from my shoulders.
As for the professional ‘write-stuff’? I’ve bought the organisers, daily planners, diaries and post-its. I’ve no idea what I was hoping to achieve there as nothing works for me except a pen and jotter. Simple as. I organise my working life in one simple hand-written list. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done. It’s worked for me for years, only failing when human error or poor memory kicks in. And let’s face it. I’d be as likely to forget to input a task into an app as I would be to omit it from ‘the list’.
Meditation, mindfulness and other M’s aside, to combat work-related stress I default to nature and music. Being outdoors, especially in the garden or by the sea, changes everything for me. Likewise, being with animals just takes me into a different realm, while music can serve as both an ‘upper’ or ‘downer’. I used to be an avid walker, but recently I’ve been indifferent. The gym is a great buzz, but the getting to it a mare.
For the most part, I try to listen to me. As with the food I eat, I follow my nose when it comes to doing or not-doing whatever I need to uncoil from the stresses of the grind.
Going freelance has brought its worries, but it has also given me liberties I never enjoyed when chained to an office 9-5. I’ve learned to take the rough with the smooth, the ups with the downs. My life often needs a little recalibration – the key is understanding what works best for me. Then and only then, can I enjoy a little Good Life.
*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!