Real-Life Ways You Can Achieve Work-Life Balance

work-life balance photographer moms

It’s the subject that’s on everyone’s mind. The holy grail of modern existence. The ever-moving target. Yes, it’s work-life balance — something that just about every creative (and certainly every creative entrepreneur who is trying to balance a small business, a family, and their side job/passion) dreams of achieving.

A mom, a lawyer, an author, and a photographer, Rachel Brenke is about as busy as they come. In her CreativeLive course, Balancing Work, Family, and Photography, she explains how applying smart business basics can help maintain a healthy balance between work, family, and creative endeavors. But because she’s so busy, we thought we’d ask her about a few of the tools she uses in her own life to keep everything running smoothly:

Start small:  “Start with one or two things at a time,” says Rachel. “You don’t have to do it all at once — little adjustments here and there may lead to balance.” A good first step? Decide how much time things really take, then create a schedule that’s realistic, not aspirational.

Use your time wisely: “I only have a certain amount of time in the day,” says Rachel, “so if something is taking time out of the allocated time for family, that means I’m missing soccer practice or ballet.” If you find yourself constantly having to reroute plans or change priorities, the systems in your life may just be inefficient. Check in regularly to make your systems really work. “Making sure that all of my workflows are constantly re-evaluated can identify any inefficiencies,” says Rachel. And if one thing is constantly taking too long, it’s going to cut into your schedule.

Make time for the things you love, too: “Working out is one of my passions, so I really dedicate to make sure I get that done every day, and if I miss a day, I allocate time for it the next day.” Being busy doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the things you love — it just needs you need to make a schedule and stick with it, or else you’ll feel like you’re missing out on important events.

Divide and conquer (your space and time): Keeping your laptop on the kitchen table may be convenient, but Rachel says “if it’s out, you’re going to want to do work” even when it’s family time. “The separation is to try to keep your work stuff to a separate space in the home; it’s really easy for it to creep into the rest of the home. I also really try to instigate that when I turn off the computer, that’s it. Put it all away.”

Learning to say no to new things: Saying no can be really difficult, but knowing when you’re over capacity is crucial if you want to keep from over-committing.

Forgive yourself for the occasional bad day: “You may fall off and get off-balanced,” says Rachel, “but it’s only an issue when you’re off-balance all of the time. Then you really need to re-evaluate.”

To find out more about how to achieve work-life balance — even when you’re running your own photography business and trying to manage a family — check out Rachel’s course CreativeLive.

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.