TIDKT: Balance

Hello,
Today I thought I would address a subject that I have been thinking about a lot lately:

OBTAINING BALANCE

I don’t know if it is the back to school feeling or time to reflect over the summer holidays but I have been thinking a lot about freelance working and achieving balance.

I had never really worked as self employed before and before I did I had no idea how all consuming it can be. In order to make a success of self employment it is really important to be passionate about your business. I love what I do in a way I didn’t think possible. Add to that, as a sole trader you are the boss and the bottle washer – the buck stops with you so EVERY task associated with a business must either be done by you or you must find a suitable way of outsourcing it. Add to that, if you work from home the lines between home and work become incredibly blurred.

I have thrown an awful lot of myself into work in the last two years. If you look at last year’s published output the knitting hours alone on these is considerable.

And the actual making is such a small part of what I do.
In our household my husband is the main breadwinner and I am mostly in charge of house and home and the childcare. The income I make is incredibly helpful to the family budget but it is probably second to “sense of self” in reasons I am running the business at the moment. Realising this helps gives me a little perspective on how the business should fit into my life – for the next couple of years at least.
In the early years of any business you will do more work that doesn’t make money than work that does so the hourly rate I make overall at the moment is very low compared to a paid job. I hope this will change over time. I haven’t begrudged working hard on the business at all but lately I am beginning to feel that things have been off kilter and too focussed on the business. To illustrate this I have made a mindmap of the things I need to do for a balanced life as I see it:

Balance to me doesn’t mean equal time or equal attention but it does mean equal weight – each seen as important and addressed and dealt with frequently enough for me and those I love to feel happy.
I went through the mind map and coloured each of the areas. 
  • Green means it is being addressed
  • Amber means its being kept ticking over
  • Red means it is NOT being addressed

THIS IS NOT WHAT BALANCE LOOKS LIKE
I accept that at any particular time there will be amber areas and probably one or two red areas but there is a problem here. 
So what am I doing to work on it?
Self:
  • Getting arrangements with my husband and friends booked into the diary.
  • Wrote my 40by40 list to inject a bit more fun.
  • Have a Sunday night bath and pamper.
  • Started attending a yoga class.
  • Making time to nest a little – deep cleaning and decorating.
Responsibilities:
  • Implemented a new housework scheme (its working a treat so far – shared here – I am learning to love housework, never thought that would be possible!)
  • Make time each week to bake (bread and treats)
Business:
  • Decide hours (on a weekly basis) and stick to them.
  • Turn down work that doesn’t fit my goals.
  • Being more focussed with my social media.
So does this mean I can now have it all? No absolutely not. I do not actually believe that is possible. But I can strive to make my life more meaningful, more enjoyable, less stressful.

Balance is highly individual – people have different needs and lifestyles and what feels balanced to one would be horribly off to someone else. It will also shift over time.

In life, like yoga, balance is not constant it is a process of small adjustments and an awareness of where you are.
What does/would balance look like in your life?



Comments

  1. says

    Sounds very sensible, I’d love to hear your cleaning regime, I’m up for anything that makes housework easier! :) (and congratulations on the double front cover!!) Xx

  2. says

    You wrote:

    “In the early years of any business you will do more work that doesn’t make money than work that does so the hourly rate I make overall at the moment is very low compared to a paid job. I hope this will change over time.”

    I feel like Mrs. BuzzKill, but the time spent on earning low wages for knit design work won’t decrease. I continue to design hand knits and write books because I need the flexibility to care for my husband, and due to my own health, but the hours I put in haven’t decreased much in over 12 years.

    Included in your business plan should be advocating for fair fees for designers (they haven’t increased much, if at all, in 30 years) for fair compensation for teaching engagements, and for designers to own their intellectual property rights on their designs (few magazines will honor this last one, Interweave Press is one that does!)

    Earning a living in this business IS possible, but you can imagine that the burnout rate is high.

    It takes a LOT of constant effort to educate folks who are just doing it “for fun” to realize that it IS a business for many of us – our mortgage – and that accepting a low fee just to get noticed or to get something published is one large aspect of why fees for designers continue to hover between $200 – $800 for 1-3 weeks of work. I know you’re up to the challenge!

    • says

      To true! I do appreciate that there will still be a lot of hours that are unpaid and that the rates in this industry are very low but, you are right, I am trying (with these blog posts) to educate as well as entertain and advocate for raised fees. I will not work for too little and regularly turn work down that I don’t feel is adequately compensated and give that as a reason.
      In the past couple of years a lot of my processes have become more streamlined which helps increase the hourly rate and my business plan is based around what I can actually make a living doing with a spread portfolio of work.
      Like you I will likely continue trying to carve a career/living out because it gives me the flexibility, in my case to care for the children.

  3. says

    I love these posts, thank you for writing them. I design mostly ‘on the side’ as I have a full-time job and since I began my new job this year, my designing output has been nearly zero. I’m attempting to change that but balancing is so, so difficult.

    I also would like to put in a huge AGREE about yoga, it has helped me immensely to just take 15-20 minutes every other day to do a DVD, or an hour a week in a class, to feel like I’m doing something positive for myself and my body.