work-life balance

The Secret to Achieving a Healthy Work-Life Balance—Part 1

QC tutor Heather Vickery is the Owner and Event Director of Greatest Expectations Special Events and Weddings, one of Chicago’s most celebrated event planning and design firms.

Can you really achieve a work-life balance? This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I believe you can!

First, let me start by saying that balance is different for everyone. What makes one person feel peaceful and balanced may be the exact opposite for another person. Regardless of the motivating factor behind starting your own business, I am sure you hoped to have flexibility by being the boss. Flexibility is one of the major perks of having your own company. Many people think you have to work 18-hour days to be successful and flexibility is a pipe dream. I am here to tell you, that simply is not the truth.

Even when you love your job, if you are not careful it will take over your life. Without the proper balance in place, something you love can turn into something that tortures you and causes extreme amounts of undue stress. Be smart and put systems in place right now to avoid that!

Roadblocks to Balance

Work life balance boundaries

If you are anything like me, you have access to your email and social media at all times. This means you really are available at any given moment. However, simply having access at all times does not mean you are required to work day and night. It does not mean your personal time should not be respected. What makes constant access really dangerous is that it’s hard to separate work and life. You feel guilty when you don’t return an email right away and you feel guilty when you are with your family but checking email. Both of these things exist at the same time and can cause a tremendous amount of stress and serious unbalance.

So, the key to striking the right balance is knowing what you need and how to put systems in place to achieve it.

Below are the first two steps to get you on your way.

Define “Balance”

work life balance define balance

The first step is identifying what balance actually means to you. What do you really need to be healthy, peaceful and still successful? In order to figure this out, take time to sit down and think through your daily and weekly schedule. How much time are you spending on work? At what point do you feel stressed and unable to “give” anymore? How much time is dedicated to your family and yourself? Then think about what you want those hours to look like. Is it in line with what’s actually happening? If not, write up your ideal schedule, one that fits all of your needs. Don’t worry about how you are going to make that schedule work—just create it!

Create Boundaries

Next you need to define and create boundaries. Boundaries are limits that define acceptable behavior. Boundaries give you permission to say “yes” and “no” at the appropriate times.

What do I mean by “create boundaries”? I mean put systems in place that confirm your position of power in any situation, instill confidence, and allow you to control your schedule and interactions with other. Boundaries enable you to manage expectations. This makes for smoother relationships, even with yourself.

work-life balance clients

What are a few ways you can set boundaries?

  • Setting concrete work hours (and sticking to them)
  • Sending new clients a “welcome” letter explaining your hours, communication policies and preferred mode of communications
  • Ending each work day by creating a list for the next day
  • Following the list you created the day before and not allowing distractions to get in the way
  • Limiting social media time

My favorite thing about boundaries is that it allows you to release guilt! If you have a boundary around your work hours and you clearly communicate that with your clients and vendors, then when that 8:30pm email comes in, you do not have to feel bad about responding the next morning! You are empowered to stick to the boundaries you have set. People will understand and respect your boundaries, I promise.

Do you have any boundaries already in place? List them out. I challenge you to create a list of other way you can set boundaries. Once you have identified the boundaries you must create systems for achieving them.

How do you set boundaries in your event planning career? Share your strategies in the comments—and be sure to check out more of Heather’s work-life balance tips in part 2 of this series!

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