Perhaps it’s misleading to title this “work-life balance tips” … because here’s the tea.
I don’t believe in work-life balance. At least, not in that phrase-ology. To me, it makes it sound as if work is separate from life—and I believe that if you view your work as a calling, it’s a labor of love. It’s PART of the fabric of your life, just needs to be put within constraints, like any other good thing. Amen?⠀👏🏼
Prepping to go on sabbatical every year, I re-learn how to set up a business that runs when I can’t. And it’s always worth it.
Because you shouldn’t feel like you have to ask the boss for vacay when you ARE the boss.
I’m a few weeks out from my annual sabbatical over here, something I’ve done every year as a business owner. Today, I’ll tell you 4 work-life balance tips you can do to take more time off work.
Here’s the deal. I HAVE to learn how to rest and work. My story’s out there on the internet, but I struggle to this day with anxiety: I have a history with it involving partial hospitalization for some mental health issues and an eating disorder in 2015.
Me at my worst is NOT dealing well with stress … that has really impacted the way I set up my business.
I feel like I’ve mastered setting up a small business that’s both profitable, but allows me to walk away from it a pretty good bit—even before I had a team in place, I took a sabbatical my very first year in business.
Yes, I’m still walking into my own advice as they say, but I’m passionate about setting up a business that can run when I can’t.
As you’re building a creative business, you’ve probably run into a task or two … or 12 … that isn’t on your favorite things list. #tbt to when work was fun, right? Click below to get my FREE “Top 5 Things to Outsource in Your Biz (to Bring You Big Profits) Checklist,” so you can get ready to hand off some things and get help with your load. 💃🏼
Why I Believe in Sabbaticals
When I worked in corporate marketing, I’d hear the more senior-level owners talk about taking a sabbatical after reaching 10 years within the company, and I remember how dreamy that sounded. So, when I started my business, I decided for about a month out of the year, I’d take time off.
It’s one of my best “work/life balance” tips.
It’s been a process over the years—I would wonder “should I batch all my content and schedule it?” Should I be ‘posting’ when I’m off?” “Should I budget to pay someone to man things while I’m gone or is everyone off, etc.?”
I realized I was over complicating it—the whole point of starting a business was to do things my way.
If I showed up for my people, did what I said I’d do for my clients, and hit our revenue numbers, it was okay that I was playing hooky from my business to step away and think, dream, and plan so I could come back and make an even bigger impact.
Basically, there are 4 categories to think in as you’re prepping to take time off: mindset, content, clients, and automation.
Work-Life Balance Tips | Step No. 1
Adjust Your Mindset
The first thing to do is realize that time off will SERVE your business. You’ve heard it: working more hours actually makes you less productive. 12-hour workdays aren’t as valuable as 6-hour workdays. Think about it if you were an athlete. I’d heard this, but when you actually trust-fall into it, that’s a different thing.
The best tip I’ve learned here? Use a mantra or vision.
My students in The Art of Efficiency™ know I like them to do this by setting up a Time Stewardship Vision. It’s a document that I keep at the front of my planner that busts time myths: it reminds me I have more time than I think I do. I have plenty of time to do the things that God wants me to do.
Keeping a mantra or vision in mind as you work to take more time off can be helpful.
And what’s one of the best ways to make sure you DO take time off?
My best tip here—plan for what you’ll do when you’re off.
So, pretty simple. I’ll break down what this has looked like for me:
- I do my weekend planning during the week (I’m posting that routine in an upcoming video on my YouTube channel!)
- Before a sabbatical, doing a bit more work and writing down what I’ll read things I’ll journal through, and more.
If I work SO hard to get time off to recharge, I don’t want to squander it by watching a full season of Stranger Things or Downtown Abbey.
Work-Life Balance Tips | Step No. 2
Plan Your Content
Here, the secrets are in batching and repurposing.
What it looks like for me is creating one piece of hero content—for me, it’s this weekly episode—and then planning in CoSchedule how to tease it out week after week.
So, I take the main piece of content and tease it out over the next 30 days. I take the full video, the blog, GIFs of the video, and more and stretch it out, repacking the copy, the images, and the content. I want to spend 30% of my time creating and 70% of the time repurposing. I rework it for Facebook, Instagram, and a little bit for Linkedin.
I also plan out things like posts—for example, sharing quotes or past client work—to happen on the same day every week, so when I’m creating the content to go up while I’m out, I’m just sticking to my weekly routines.
To note, I don’t schedule everything … every time I’ve taken a vacation in my business or gone on sabbatical, I leave windows where I can share whatever I’m actually doing or traveling to or reading.
If I can give you one tip here, keep in mind Hofstadter’s Rule. “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter’s Rule into account.” This part of the process can take a LONG time!
But, it’s WORTH IT. It makes it so easy to pump out content when I’m off when I have a batching and repurposing system in place.
Work-Life Balance Tips | Step No. 3
I’m a big believer as you know in wise financial stewardship, paying yourself and figuring out your business’s finances.
Aaaaaand I also like to get a paycheck when I’m off. 🙂
So, here’s how clients and time-off worked before I had a team: I’d communicate this upfront on my website and in marketing, and I’d send emails to my clients far in advance letting them know I would be on vacation or sabbatical.
Now, I have a client services manager that interfaces with our clients so I can just do the actual work and visioning for the business—I don’t need to send that “I’m going on sabbatical” email anymore. They’re still being served when I’m off.
I DO still make sure that I don’t book a client for me for one of the projects that I spearhead—a day rate or launch client, for example—when I’m out.
I plan out our client spots that my team and I can take on to accommodate before the beginning of every year because while I don’t spearhead every client project, we double-touch everything that goes out, and I need to be available.
BUT, the way payment plans and client work is structured, paychecks don’t miss a beat. That’s one of my favorite work life balance tips! Make sure you know before your year starts exactly how many clients you can take on, so you can figure out when you’ll be off.
(Psst—I’ve also done pro-bono client work during my sabbatical month, so if you’re looking to do any work for a friend or family member, this is a great time to do that!)
Work-Life Balance Tips | Step No. 4
Automate as Much as Possible
We’ve talked about content creation and automation, but there are other things that need to be automated so you can get time off. Automate absolutely as MUCH of your business as possible, like:
- tightening up the initial inquiry process with a client relationship management tool like HoneyBook
- scheduling automation like Acuity, you get a digital secretary who handles schedules, appointment bookings, and reminders
- teeing up your email autoresponder (have templates ready—click here to read “How I Wrote 36 Email Templates in One Day“)
- Content scheduling—your email marketing platform like ConvertKit and an ed cal/social media scheduler like CoSchedule)
Automating as much as possible with tech tools is one of the easiest work life balance tips to make sure things flow with when you’re off, but still check-in—things may go awry, not post correctly, be able to pull the plug on things if you need to.
If you don’t feel like you are being productive enough with your time, check out this blog post where I tell you 7 habits I’ve been implementing to be more creative.
Now you know how to prep for your time off but what if you’ve run into a task or two … or 12 … that isn’t on the list of your favorite things? I’ve got a checklist of the “Top 5 Things to Outsource in Your Biz (to Bring You Big Profits) Checklist,”—check below to get it and get help with your load.