Wondering how to balance the school run with that looming deadline? Or currently on the cusp of burnout from juggling too many balls? (Ahem) Then here’s how to balance your everyday life and build your brand without crashing and burning in the process…
I am frequently asked how I “do it” by a lot of people. You see, my job is to make everything look seamless, easy, smooth and polished. As an online blogger/vlogger/content creator (insert any word here that isn’t ‘influencer’ because I loathe that one) it’s my job to make life look picture perfect with the pictures I take. I’d be kinda naff at my job if I didn’t really, right? And I guess because I’m half decent at my job (that’s not arrogance by the way, I’m on a journey of praising myself and my achievements right now, so as to get more of a positive outlook, so bear with me) people think the whole thing – process and end result – is every bit as easy and perfect as it looks. But boy how wrong they are! So when the question of “how on earth do you do it all?” comes up, I’ve learned to be honest with my answer: I don’t.
I only had a conversation with someone new this morning and as I reeled off all the things that I have on my plate right now, they looked at me and said “I have no idea how you do it” and that my friends is the truth. Neither do I! Some days I have a full-on toddler level melt down, my work frustration peaks and I become irrational, I cry, panic and freak out all-in-one while my poor husband/friend tries to console me while I act like the worst version of myself. Fortunately I have some great people around me who support me and recognise that I do indeed juggle a heck of a lot between my business and my duties as a wife and mother – and that’s without all the other things on top. Thank god for them because there’s no judgement when I literally hit the ceiling with my stress levels and feel like I could implode everywhere. Get yourself a support system asap – that’s my first biggest tip when you build your brand.
Is any of this sounding familiar?
If it is then I hope you find some solace in knowing that you’re not alone in feeling like jelly when you’re trying to balance everyday life with building a brand. That brand could be your retail business, your consultancy management firm or even your side-hustle as a blogger: it doesn’t matter what kind of brand or business it is that you’re trying to juggle, it still counts. So, how can you ease the pressure when your kids need taking to a sports club at exactly the same time that a new client needs a piece of work turned around? Or when you need to be a 2 hour car ride away but you’ve exhausted every possible childcare option and nothing can make the itinerary work with the school run? It’s tough, and sometimes it is truly just impossible to balance everything. But there are some small things that can help to ease the day-to-day stress when you build your brand.
Accept That You Can’t Actually Do It All
When you do this, everything will change. Everything. It’s such a subtle, simple thing but it will change your subconscious outlook irrevocably. Accept the truth that you’re not superwoman, that you can’t actually have a Pinterest-perfect house, clean, tidy, polite and perfectly behaved kids, a thriving marriage, a blossoming social life, spa days, shopping trips, meals that resemble a Michelin star restaurant every night and a business that only ever continues to excel. Because you can’t and no-one can. You can focus on multiple things at once and juggle more than your capacity quite a lot, but you can’t do it all to the perfect level we find ourselves striving for. And that acceptance my friends, is magic. Once you accept that you can’t make the kids a gourmet dinner every night after a stressful day of deadlines means that fish fingers and peas is perfectly fine. Or that sometimes the washing basket is going to overflow and the kids will more than once a week be wearing un-ironed clothes to school. (And quite possibly once in a while trousers that are just a cm too short for a few days longer than you would like. There’s zero judgement here.) Accepting you can only do what is physically possible should give you some mental and practical breathing space that allows you to focus on the priorities each day while you invest the work to build your brand.
Define Clear Work Time
One of my biggest struggles is balancing things that need doing around the house. As someone who works from home, when there’s washing that needs doing or the floor needs a hoover, it becomes a major cause of guilt for me to pick my work-work over doing it instead. But I have learned that I can’t physically do it all and defining my time has helped me create an almost visible line in the sand around my work days. If it’s a work day for me then no matter what state the house is in, then I work. I try and remind myself that after a manic school run where my 9 year old announces the need for a magically clean P.E kit, my toddler fills his nappy just as we’re about to leave the house and the breakfast bowls are still next to the sink – I remind myself that if I worked in an office I wouldn’t have the option of cleaning everything up (minus the nappy, obviously I change that) before sitting down to work. My work time is not flexible and I have to remind some friends and family regularly that just because I work from home doesn’t mean I can just up sticks and go for a long lunch whenever I feel like it. Building a brand takes dedication and that means defining clear work time that’s unwavering.
Knowing When To Stop
Under the same banner it’s just as important when you build your brand to also set yourself some boundaries around not working. And this is still very much something I have yet to master myself. When you work from home trying to build your brand it’s incredibly difficult, and near impossible to switch off. When you’re constantly surrounded by work, within reach of the PC and faced with products/stock/reports piled up around you, then it means you’re not actually able to press that ‘off’ button. But it’s not just being physically faced with work ‘stuff’ but the mental ability to disconnect from your work life is just as hard, right? Building a brand means you’re in charge of everything, so you’re the one facing every struggle, frustration and problem. And sometimes it’s too tempting to work long into the evening just to get this thing done, or finish that piece of work. Seeing as I do this frequently I can’t exactly tell you that you have to do it while pretending I’ve got it nailed, I haven’t – it’s a work in progress for me. But I do wholeheartedly recognise the positive outlook, the more calm head space and the refreshed sense of relief I feel on a Monday morning if I take the full Sunday off with my family. We all need to recharge our batteries and as a brand builder that will look different for everyone, but the important thing is to try and make sure you know when to stop more often than you chose to carry on past the ‘normal’ requirements.
Create Your Own Work Crew
Seeing as you’re single handedly building a brand you aren’t likely to have work peers, which is quite frankly, lonely as hell at times! But when you don’t have as much free time to spend on social activities (make sure you still do them as often as you can though) it’s vital to your head space that you pick your own work crew. Connect with other budding brand builders, entrepreneurs, bloggers and business owners. Get involved in communities and forums created for those with a similar goal or outlook and you’ll find a whole pool of people who instantly understand the struggles you face and can help to guide, encourage and support you on your journey. These friends will support you and accept a digital friendship is sometimes all you can offer for a while when your workload is crazy high. They’ll just get it.
Invest In A Good Diary or Planner System
I love stationery so this one is something that brings me great joy, but if you’re not a stationery addict like me then it’s still just as vital to your brand that you keep organised. Keeping track of deadlines, invoices due, meetings, social adventures and kids activities means you’ll have a clear idea of times and plans which is actually much more soothing than you think. If you know what’s coming then your brain wont feel like a computer with a gazillion tabs open trying to remember everything by itself. Make lists, notes and keep track of as much information as humanly possible to ensure you’re equipped each week to manage and juggle your workload.
Learn To Say No
An art I’ve grown in confidence in this past year is learning to say no. I used to feel like I couldn’t say no to any potential new work – every penny helps right? Wrong. It meant I was accepting jobs that took more time than my fees covered. Or I’d feel like I was letting my Mum down if I didn’t accept her offer of coffee and cake on my rare child-free work mornings. Actually saying no wasn’t something I struggled with, but I battled with what it meant to say no. For example I’d lose the money from that job even though I knew deep down it wasn’t worth my time. What is the point in taking a job less than your rate card price, that means once your fees are all paid you made virtually nothing? You’ve effectively worked for free, and who does that? Not this gal any more! I say no in a constructive way now, without fear and with full confidence. If something isn’t going to work for me or my brand then I’m happy to let it go. I do hear from a lot of my business-y friends though that they struggle with this. And I know a lot of bloggers take paid work for a fraction of the price they should just to avoid missing out on that £30 fee – but in reality when you’ve paid for 2 hours childcare, paid your web hosting, spent 3 hours editing, writing, adding SEO and promoting that blog post, you’ve actually not made a single penny, and possibly even actually spent it yourself so you’re in the minus. So really, is it worth it? Learning to say no is vital to your success.
While I’m no expert on how you should build your brand – that’s your forte, I do now have nearly three years of experience in balancing everyday life with building mine. And hopefully the things I’ve learned can give you some direction or at least provide comfort that the struggle is real, faced by many and that superhumans don’t *actually* exist.
If you’ve chosen to invest in building something that you love and are passionate about, then the chances are that it’s like a baby to you, another love in your life. Lady Writes certainly is for me. But like any loving relationship sometimes it needs some tough love and sometimes some TLC – and it’s up to you to navigate what that looks like each day to balance your life without buckling. Even with these tips you’ll still face days where you feel like the juggler who’s dropped all the balls, but in making the effort to apply these tips to your life then you’re at least not far from the main road for very long. Build your brand on the best footing and you’ll thrive and so will it.
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