Welcome back and Happy Tuesday to you all. I hope your weekend was rewarding. I know mine was, even though we had two of our quail die in the heat. Such is the life of an urban farmer.
Today I am proud to introduce you to Melanie Chisnall, my dear online friend from South Africa. Mel has graciously agreed to share some of her thoughts about finding balance in writing. You can find Mel by following this link.
And now, as Ed McMahon was fond of saying….HERRRRRRRRRRRE’S MELANIE!
Working from home and being a full time writer has to be one of the best jobs in the world. But of course, with anything that good – there have to be a few downsides… Just to shake things up a little.
One of those things is learning the art of balance.
I struggled with this a lot when I first started writing two years ago. It felt like whatever I did was never enough. I guess I felt guilty for having the luxury of working from home.
I convinced myself that I had to work like a mad person to prove to myself and others, that what I was doing was proper work – and not just some sideline hobby.
I’d start working some days at 6.30am and forgot what lunch breaks were. Somewhere along the road writing stopped being fun and became an unwelcome schlep instead.
My work-life balance was completely out of sync.
Anyone who works from home will tell you that trying to switch off from work and get into ‘home mode’ isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of will power – especially if you’re a perfectionist or over ambitious like I am.
Everyone has their own ways of finding balance with writing, and although I’m still finding some of that balance, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better at it.
The most difficult thing for me to get into the habit of doing was – and still is – to continue trying to do less. And telling myself that’s okay.
And to learn how to deal with those bad or depressing days we all have – you know, the days when it feels like we’re invisible, or like nothing’s happening and we’re wasting time.
But there are other things that I’ve started doing that have helped me a LOT with my writing-home life balance. Things like…
- Exercise. To stay motivated, focused and stress-free I try and do two quick online workouts every day. One before the work day starts, and one to end off the work day. I do yoga, kickboxing, cardio, toning, walking – whatever I’m in the mood for. It’s great and lots of fun.
- Lunch. I force myself to take 30 minutes to an hour lunch every day. Even when I’m swamped. I’ve stopped watching TV and have asked family not to call over lunch so that I don’t get distracted and can keep that momentum going for the rest of the day.
- Time blocks. I read a great article earlier this year that suggested blocking your day into four 90-minute blocks. This has helped me so much. When I need to, I also use online timers so that I stay more productive with each writing project I’m busy with. Whatever I don’t finish gets carried over.
- Tea breaks. I take two 10 or 15-minute breaks mid-morning and mid-afternoon. This is a great way to get the blood flowing and move around – away from the computer.
- Family time. I make sure I finish my work day just as I would if I was in an office – by 5pm. Some people might not agree with this – especially if you’re freelancing or running a business, but I find that this is what I need to do. For me, family is way more important than anything else, and that quality time together is more important than marketing my blog on social media or trying to squeeze in a few more words.
- Weekends. I hardly ever work on the weekend. It’s almost like an unwritten rule in our house. Some Sundays I might spend an hour finishing up some things I didn’t get to on Friday, but that’s about it. I need my weekend down time – especially as I don’t have a car during the day. It’s my time to escape “cabin fever” and get out into nature, catch up on series, bake something, or visit with friends and family.
I think the most important thing I’ve realized this year is to stop being so hard on myself and to stop comparing myself to others. I think that’s why I used to get so tense, frustrated or down in the dumps about my writing. Writing is a job. So I feel like it’s important to treat it as such and set realistic boundaries that are going to work for you. But writing is so much more than that – it’s a passion too. It’s got to get me excited about doing it. Staying balanced with my writing helps me keep everything in perspective.
How do you find balance as a writer?
And thank you, Mel, for sharing some great thoughts. I’m sure we can all relate to this article.
The offer is open. If you want to share on my blog just get in touch with me and we’ll work it out.
I’ll see you again on Thursday. Until then, knock ‘em dead with your writing.
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”