One of the things I’ve really battled with over the past few years is a work-life balance.
I know that it’s something a lot of people struggle with.
I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers (or even some of the answers), but if I share my experience and the conclusions I’ve come to, then hopefully I might have done some good.
Like many authors, I still hold down a day job and since my husband is a freelancer, my wages are the most reliable source of income at the moment.
That’s absolutely no problem at all. My husband did the hellish daily commute to another city to a job he hated for years while I worked on getting a business up and running.
Our marriage is a partnership the decisions we make as a couple and as individuals must work for the both of us. We need to see and been onboard with the common goal.
As authors, (and all small business owners can identify with this), we also wear multiple hats: writers, editors, marketers, social media experts, etc, etc.
That takes time away from family. I know authors who bring a laptop on holiday and write.
A social life goes by the wayside as deadlines loom. A mobile phone is glued to your hand to check social media with a desperate of missing out.
My previous job, which turned toxic very quickly over three months had, as its sole virtue, the fact that it was at least only four days a week.
I needed to move on and have since found a wonderful job which is five days a week.
I also made a new years resolution to spend more time with family and friends where I could, to exercise more – to fulfil deadlines on three full length novels and three novellas for 2019 (and I’m not including the four editions of Love’s Great Adventure magazine).
Oddly enough, despite the change of circumstances, I feel much more prepared, more calm and less stressed than I did for the last half of 2018.
Here is how I plan to cope with a chockablock 2019 (which also includes two 18th birthdays, one 21st, two 45th birthdays, one 50th birthday, one 55th birthday one 60th birthday and a 25th wedding anniversary)
Panicking results in poor decisions. Panicking results in you running around like a headless chook. It’s stressful, not fun and not productive.
Set A Realistic Word Count Goal (and a little bit more)
I worked out how many words I needed to do a day to fulfill all my writing obligations. I do that word count each day and a little bit more. I know that if I sprint without the inevitable social media distractions, I can do the word count in about two hours. If time permits on the weekend, I try to do another 500-1000 words a day in two 2 hour sprints. And that’s it, no more.
Set Boundaries On Social Media Use
I limit my time on social media and, when I’m on social media, I’m there with a purpose – setting up posts, connecting with friends, family and readers and then no more. I try to limit it to one hour a day in short ten minute bursts. I need to control it, rather than it controlling me.
Forget the Yo-Yo Review and Author Rank Checking
I limit checking author ranks to once a day and I hope to reduce that further to just once a week. One of the challenges I’ve had is watching sales go up and down like a yo-yo. That’s a bad thing to do. Mostly this is an area outside of my control. If I can just check my sales and my advertising campaigns to once or twice a week to ensure it’s effective, I think I’ll suffer less from the rollercoaster ride that gives you a high at one moment and gut-plunging lows the next.
Putting everything aside and being present. It’s still something I need to work on, but if I maintain integrity with the two hour writing sprints with a 1000 word a day target and put that damn laptop aside for a while, I can spend time with my darling supportive husband and simply be together. It means we can go out with family and friends without me thinking of plots, rewrites, author rankings and more. Enjoy the moment, don’t think that I have to Facebook or Instagram every skerrick of existence to remind people who I am and please, please buy my books.
Gratitude Is Everything
Have a spirit of gratitude. Be thankful for everything and be generous with time, praise and thoughtfulness. And I am so terribly grateful that I’m true humbled by it and I do my best to be a better person, wife, employee and author each day.
Practice The Serenity Prayer
Put those things which are in my control, well and truly in my control and master them the best I can. That means be purposeful and productive. Things are not within my control, there’s nothing I can do about it, so it’s not worth worrying about.
I hope doing these things will give me the space to be creative, productive and present in everything I do and I hope anything I’ve shared helps you. And, if you have any other recommendations, let me know in comments.