Walking the Tight Rope of Work and Life

Filed in Uncategorized by on July 5, 2013 8 Comments
Image via Flickr by torbakhopper

Some of us have natural skills at balancing, others (like myself) have to work at it. But although I am not naturally graceful or well balanced, I am quick and often can catch myself or the thing that dropped before either of us hits the ground. My skill is being very adaptive.

A few weeks ago a couple of my online buddies started discussing the possibility of multiple people simultaneously (more or less) posting about the same subject.  In this case, defining, creating and maintaining a work/life balance and what that looked like for each of us. I was in!! Because this is one of those topics that has many right answers, the key is to find the answer that is right for you.

If this is your first time visiting our blog, welcome. If you are a regular, welcome back. Either way, let me begin with a summary of me and my business:

  • Gwen Bortner, owner of Knitability, LLC for nearly 12 years.
  • Historically my primary focus has been in the knitting industry with most of my income being derived from teaching at conventions, guilds and shops all around the country.
  • Although I have written a book, have a small line of patterns and occasionally design for publication, it is not my focus.
  • I am married to the Best Husband Ever (BHE), we have no children, but we do have one large dog.
  • In a typical year I rack up about 75,000 airline miles without ever leaving the 48 states.

All of this to say that my world is not composed of neatly organized days, weeks and months. I have been known to be on the road for over a week home for a day or two and then back on the road again. Add in the changing time zones and I do even have a regular habit for sleeping! In fact, I have almost no discernible habits at all because my work life just doesn’t accommodate for that.

So instead I use a number of tools to make sure that things don’t get completely out of control.  Most important one for maintaining a work/life balance is a time sheet that I set-up in Excel. With it I track how many hours I work each day, run totals for the month and track averages over time. A long travel day can result in 18 or more hours of “work” recorded in my sheet. Because even though I may not be working in the traditional sense, I wouldn’t be sitting in the plane if I didn’t have this particular job. By keeping track of these numbers I find it is easier to give myself a break when the prior month might have averaged 60 hours a week.

The other tool I use faithfully is my task list. I can add things as they occur to me, prioritize them and reschedule then as necessary. As means to functioning efficiently with with a task list, I also set aside time at least once a quarter to plan for the bigger goals.  But I also use it to keep track of non-work (regular life) stuff as well. One place for everything.

So I do I balance work and life? I adapt based on changing conditions. I save my work knitting as much as possible to times that BHE and I watch our favorite TV shows together, we are driving some place together or I am traveling for work. I plan ahead to make sure that we have away time together on a regular basis (some short weekends, others longer adventures). I include BHE in the business as much as makes sense, is reasonable and he has interest. And we have learned if I have been traveling a lot, the first few days back might be a little rough (we call them re-entry days). In short, we work at it, continually analyze what is working and what is not and change and adapt when the situation requires it (just like we all have to do for our businesses).

So regardless of your personal situation which is likely very different than mine, work life balance is about being aware and not losing sight of both pieces of the equation. Understanding that sometimes one will get (or need) more of your time. But in the end, if you apply all the skills you use in your business toward your personal life as well a happy medium can be found.  So hop over and see what the other gals are saying!

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