Burnout is more than just a buzzword. With our shiny impressive phones we are constantly linked, not just to calls and texts, but our e-mail, our calendar, our endless notepad. Are we more productive because of these tools? Or just quicker to respond? How often does something need your IMMEDIATE attention? What boundaries are you establishing every time you respond quickly? It will just take a minute…. Yes, and then sixty little minutes throughout your “off” day is an hour away from your kids, your partner, your pets, YOU. So…. how do you manage a work-life balance as a creative? A lot of awareness, a few great strategies, and following a schedule and sticking to it!
Let’s get down to business, to defeat the burnout
Here’s the trap I fell into, I LOVE to create. It’s my job, my passion, my reason for getting up in the morning. I love to create so much that I created a business around creating EPIC elopement photos. The problem came when the creative side also had to meet the business side. Then it became WORK. Booooo. I wanted to have fun and create! So, in order to defeat burnout and be able to give my all creatively and in the business, I had to reevaluate my workflow and dig deep. This was done by:
- Recognizing how I felt when my work-life balance was out of sync.
- Creating strategies when I’m STARTING to feel overwhelmed before I get to burnout.
- Creating a daily, weekly, monthly schedule I keep to stick to my balance between work and life.
- Creating strategies for how to stick to said schedule.
I discuss allll of these with Kerry Anne Walsh, photo genius, sales strategist, reiki master, and most importantly – my friend. Check out my YouTube video on How to Achieve Work-Life Balance // a conversation for artists.
Rewind to 2020 – 2022
Here’s some industry insight, 2022 was a BIG year for weddings. This was full of so many of our wonderful couples that had to postpone, and postpone, and postpone to get the wedding THEY wanted. We heard this echoed across all our vendor friends, not only photographers. SO many shared about how they could feel the WEIGHT of the build up and wanting to deliver ten fold for our couples that have been on this journey for much longer than they anticipated.
With a packed schedule that we are excited to celebrate(!) also comes the anxious feelings about work-life balance out of whack. From the time the pandemic hit to now we really haven’t had a break. As much as the world shut down and many couples postponed, many also did the opposite. They jumped, head first, into our elopement world! Couples were still getting married with micro weddings and elopements.As long as we’ve been allowed to be part of their big day, we’ve been out here running the marathon with them!
The first step in how to have a work-life balance as a creative is paying attention to the signs that indicate that your work-life balance is out of sync.
1. You lose your schedule
For me, in the busy season I find that the first thing to go is my run. I dOnT hAvE tImE. Sounds silly when I say it right?? I don’t have ANY time to lace up some shoes and run at least one mile?? Mhmm. I know. Even when it’s just half an hour, by skipping that I am doing a disservice to everything I am working for. I’m like a crazy person without that endorphin kick! Anyone else need that runners high to get the creative juices flowing and alleviate some of the business stress?
2. Your sleep suffers
This can happen when you are staying up too late, thinking in circles. Are you accomplishing anything? No, not usually. But you’re up late, or you’re up early, and worse- BOTH. Now you’re irritable. This is one of the hardest elements to combat, because how do you get your sleep back on track? How do you stop your brain from working in overdrive? This is our shameless plug for Kerry Anne Walsh’s reiki. Kerry uses reiki to support her clients outside of the business coaching. It’s an additional energy body work. Her reiki sessions help clients move through any energy blocks or stuck emotions. She’s been reiki certified for 10 years and it’s the secret weapon she uses to consistently remove blocks and continue to grow her business, personal life, and finances. Stick around for our Climb with Kelsey discount code at the end.
3. You’re being a hermit
Vitamin D has BDE. When you’re feeling tethered to your desk and getting stuck indoors, it’s a sign your work-life balance is suffering. Our sweet little friends, this is when you feel like your work is no longer fun. It’s OK for work to feel like work sometimes, but also give yourself permission to get back to routine. Take as many breaks as you need to. Get up from your desk and go somewhere else. I don’t care if it’s a local coffee shop, your front porch, hell even the kitchen. Get out of your little hermit shell and shake up your environment! Stepping into those very basic things of sleeping enough, eating enough, and getting up and away everyday will help you fall back into your routing set up for work-life balance as a creative.
4. Recognize the patterns
When you start to recognize the patterns that you’re becoming stressed or falling out of your regular rhythm, it’s time to do a self check. Ask yourself, “Am I okay?”, “Why am I feeling like this?”, “What do I WANT to feel like?” When this happens to me, I check myself. I recognize that I am doing those things that I know don’t serve me, and I create little, accomplishable goals, to focus on for the next week. This can look like getting outside every day, eating uninterrupted meals, sleeping 7 to 9 hours.
The second step in how to have a work-life balance is creating strategies for when you are starting to feel overwhelmed.
Taking care of myself has been the MOST important strategy to prevent burnout. There are a lot of preventative ways you can do this every day such as exercise, eating well, getting your sleep. Do you see the theme here? It’s taking care of your body which has a direct impact on you taking care of your mind.
For times when the burnout is hitting hard in the moment, try focusing on breath work. Pssst this would be a great time to go to my YouTube video on How to Achieve Work-Life Balance to see my guest, Kerry’s, myofascial release technique. Myofascial Release Therapy is a type of gentle, constant massage that releases tightness and pain throughout your myofascial tissues.
Kerry shares that she also uses this technique before every sales call. Before she says hello, she does three breaths. It can combat the feeling of burnout and being overwhelmed by inducing peace and happiness.
A big one when you start to feel overwhelmed – say NO. WOAH! Can you do that? You bet your ass you can. 5 work-life Balance Tips for Marketers & Creatives has some great tips on how you can set healthy boundaries by learning to say “no.” We are going to get into setting boundaries, especially with your tech, but you also have to set boundaries with your work. Let couples know your time frame, but also be okay admitting when something is taking a bit longer, your days go sideways, life… life happens.
The third step in how to have a work-life balance is creating your daily, weekly, monthly schedule.
I’ll be the first to say that my schedule flexes and flows, I haven’t mastered this yet. BUT what I have done is nurtured the relationship with myself and understanding my feelings. What does this have to do with creating a schedule? Actually everything!! By listening to myself intimately in terms of understanding what my feelings are as they’re coming up and then being able to accept and move through them. I make sure that I’m resting at least two days every week at least. Even in the height of the busy season!
Morning, PRE WORKING hours – EAT! Eat well, eat often. No hangriness. It’s bad for business. Get up, get dressed, have a morning tea or coffee, HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to drink water between beverages. Journaling is also a great way to kick off your morning. Exercise ranks high on the list.
We talk a lot about work-life balance as a creative, and for an artist, there is a bit more to it. How do you balance work and art? Make sure you make time for both!. When you start your workflow, use the first two to three hours to focus on being creative. Design, envision, collect ideas, draw inspiration. This is the time when the magic happens.
Next, you can focus on all the admin (the work!) This includes emails, planning, scheduling, researching, following up, more following up, have I mentioned you probably need to follow up? Put on some good music and get hustling.
Prime time is between 2-4, that’s when I feel energized and enjoy taking consultation calls, any form of interpersonal communication, really. I will meet with couples in person or on zoom. I’ll reach out and network. This is the time for connecting to other humans.
An afternoon break is important to really step away from the doing and indulge the thinking/feeling. This can look like a walk with a dog, sitting out on the porch, something in the quiet and outdoors is the best combo. Get out of the hamster wheel, give appreciation, and get perspective. Timing on this can vary depending on the day, but creating this time daily is a nonnegotiable
At the end of the day, wrap up the things that you need to, flag the priorities for the next day, and then shut it all down. Enjoy dinner with a partner, a friend, a pet fish. Really wind down and enjoy the evening. You’ve been working all day, nothing groundbreaking is going to happen in those hours when you should prioritize decompressing. Don’t check your phone during dinner. Don’t scroll. Just enjoy. We call this a “connecting practice.”
For me, this looks like taking two full days off. FULLY OFF. Not kind of off. Not- off except if that one thing happens…. Nope. BOUNDARIES. I let my computer die in the corner of the room and I don’t even look its way. BYYYYEEE computer, see you later.
BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR COUPLES!? My couples are well taken care of, I promise. I also believe that communication is the key in setting expectations. I have an auto response on letting my couples know the days I answer emails and when they can expect to hear from me. Another pro tip – I keep my hours in my signature line. No one says, DEAR GOD KELSEY WHERE ARE YOU?! They say, ahhh I knew she was out on Tuesdays, I will wait to hear back on Wednesday. No biggie for them. HUGE biggie for us that you have this time for you carved out!! Setting that expectation as many places as you can is important. This way people know when they can expect to hear from you.
Attend a Buti Yoga class. All Buti formats incorporate spiral structure technique® used to activate deep core muscles paired with intentional shaking & vibration to release trauma stored at the cellular level. Layman speak – it feels like primal dance and movement, it feels like a pounding and releasing to get all that big energy out of your body. Tilt your head back, pound your chest like Tarzan, and ahhhhhhhhh WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE! But really, try it.
Plan a trip, and not a work trip. Plan a “for fun” trip. Grab your girls, grab your margs, go to the beach, the mountains, the midwest. Work will always be there.. You spend 35-55 hours a week at work. You can take 48 hours in a month just for you.
Attend a conference, lecture, create a styled shoot. Do something that invests in you and your brand at large, not another to-do to check off your list. Immerse yourself in a day of creative or educational work that expands your knowledge and sets your heart ablaze!
Celebrating a win is a fun step in how to have a work-life balance as a creative. Don’t wait until December to celebrate an X figure goal in revenue or clients. Make a monthly win. Something that you are excited about no matter how big or small it may seem. The practice of being PROUD of yourself and what you accomplish regularly boosts your confidence and creates joy. So pop the bubbly and give yourself two pats on the back – one from us!
Read a damn book. Our Honeybee Weddings book pick ABOUT burnout is Work Less, Do More – Designing the 4-Day Week by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. Pick it up at your local bookstore and let us know what you’re implementing into your work-life balance schedule!
Finally, creating strategies for sticking to a schedule on how to have work-life balance as a creative.
Pull a Kevin Gates. Get two phones, one for your… well, you know.
Separating your personal and work phone is a game changer. Prior to this, an in between strategy is setting your phone’s Do Not Disturb feature to turn on automatically. Personally, I have this set at 5:00 PM and I don’t get any notifications unless it’s from my family and friends list. It’s not just the texts and calls, it’s all notifications- Instagram, Facebook, e-mails. Nada until 8:00 AM the next morning. Please note – the irony is not lost on me that the goal is to escape a 9 to 5 and then I impose my own. But it works!!
As I shared in my schedule, I swear by not checking my email every day. I enjoy doing creative things, I’m focused on living outside of the inbox. The strategy is knowing the WHY you are doing something. Not “it’s bad for me to check my email 24/7”, but “it steals my time and creative flow when I check my email continuously”. Perspective, my friends. Client communication is really important but you also need space to be able to be creative, that’s why they choose you! When you are able to be more creative for your couples and grow your abilities, it’s beneficial for everyone to set your boundaries.
ASK FOR HELP!
If you reach the place where going through your emails a few hours a week is the determinant of the business (actually a lot harder to reach than you’d think!), then ask for help.
Hiring someone to handle the inbox can make sure you are responding to the things that no one else can respond to, while also getting responses out to the items that don’t need YOU, specially, to answer. ALSO – automate to feel great. I hope you know by now that you don’t need someone to send every email in your flow. We have a whole blog dedicated to help automate your elopement business.
A quick note, burnout can often feel like you’re in an elopement photo business rut. Our five tips to combatting the rut are very similar – rest, invest, exercise, schedule, and be flexible. Basically the keys to life. Work-life balance as a creative is possible to achieve, I promise!
Long story long, this is a snapshot of allllll of my feelings on how to have a work-life balance as a creative. Check out my YouTube video on How to Achieve Work-Life Balance // a conversation for artists with Kerry, a business coach and photographer. Burnout is real and we share our several tips and tricks to get your life back on track!