Now that we’re halfway through the year, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on how the first half of 2019 has gone for Wayfarer and on paper, it’s gone really well. I’ve been booked out since January, I’ve made some big jumps in my income, I’ve been able to create some passive income – all the things that you want, right? BUT there have also been a few overbooked months, working on the weekends, and feeling exhausted often. My work/life balance just hasn’t been what I want it to be and I need to change something. So let me walk you through what I’ve been struggling with + what I’m doing about it.
Burnout + Overbooking
As great as being booked out for 6 straight months has been, it basically guarantees burnout. 1 week of real vacation out of 6 months of intense work just isn’t very balanced. And the problem with this type of work is that no matter how hard you try, you’re going to have some projects go way longer than what you expect. Basically, I’m just tired. My brain has been working overtime + I’ve had to constantly worry about whether I can juggling everything at once or not. So the first big action that I’m making is limiting the number of projects that I take on at once and just being more mindful of how booked I am.
This is extremely important for me right now because we’re expecting to move abroad again in late August / early September. We don’t know exactly when we’ll be moving yet (or where), so it’s always hard for me to figure out my schedule around that. In the past, I’ve always tried to work through our moves and only take off the bare minimum number of days that I need to deal with the travel. I already have 2 projects booked during that time and normally, I would want to take on at least 1 more, but I’ve decided to cut myself off because international moves are CRAZY and I just have to be mindful about it. What really sucks is that it’s caused me to say no to a lot of potential clients. BUT I know that it’s still the right move and will be worth it in the end.
Making Time for My Own Business + “Creative Health Days”
The next action that I’m taking is prioritizing working on my own business DURING my workweek. It seems like a no-brainer that as a business owner, working on your own biz is important and deserves its own time in your schedule. BUT the truth is that client work always ends up coming first and lately I’ve been pushing all of my own stuff to the weekends or evenings. I would tell myself this was fine because working on Wayfarer is fun for me + it doesn’t always feel like work, but it is work and I’ve noticed how it affects my energy. If I spend the weekend working on stuff for Wayfarer, I’ll come into Monday tired and creatively drained, which obviously isn’t good for my clients. I need real rest and the only way to force myself to do that is to make room for that stuff in my regular workweek.
So to do this, I’m actually going to implement something that I did 2 summers ago when we lived in Australia. I dubbed Wednesdays as strictly non-client workdays and instead, used them to either work on my own biz, personal projects, or just rest if I needed to! (My husband and I also used it as an excuse to go on fun lunch dates every Wednesday.) I’ve even come up with a term for this – creative health day! Because look – it’s hard to crank out creative work every single day. It really helped me to break up my work week and give me an entire day to not only work on my own biz stuff that often gets ignored, but also give my creative juices a little breather.
Now in order to make some of these changes, I needed to get a little organized and restructure how I’ve been working. And let me clarify – I am NOT an organized person. I hate schedules, I hate planning ahead. But when you’re trying to set boundaries like this, you need a little bit of structure in place. So I created these planner templates to help me prioritize what I wanted out of my schedule + visualize how I’m going to implement all of these changes. Here’s a look at how I’ve set up my weekly schedule:
So you can see how I have Wednesday completely blocked off as my “Creative Health Day”. Then for every other day, I’ve just split them up into morning + afternoon sections and made a rough outline of the main things that I’ll work on during those times. A lot of planners want you to break things down by the hour, but I feel like that’s so hard to stick to. I prefer for my schedule to be a little more open because things can always change.
I’ve also listed out certain things that I’ll do on particular days, which means that I’ve had to really think about what days I’ll feel most inspired to do those things. For example – Mondays are usually when I get feedback from clients so I have some extra time to write blog posts or social media content for the week. Then Tuesdays and Fridays are the days that I’ve picked to be my “send something to the client” days. And obviously, Friday afternoons are when I’m starting to get burnt out on client work, so structured that day to finish all client work by 12pm and then leave the rest of the day to work on something fun.
If you want to fill out your own weekly planner like this, I’ve turned it into a template that you can download! I’ve also put together a mini worksheet to help you figure out your own boundaries, PLUS an extra template that I used to restructure my project timelines.