The word balance connotes images of a scale where the two sides are equal in weight in order to have equilibrium.
As a working mother of 2 children who runs a Branding and Marketing Agency, is very committed to daily exercise, and juggles a handful of other professional and personal commitments, I've learned to accept that balance doesn't really exist. (And I know I am NOT alone!) The elusive work-life balance is BS.
Years back, people worked what we call 9-5 or forty-hour weeks. Today, we live in a world that is half online and half offline, and society tends to demand for us to be responsive on all platforms at all times. Technology has advanced the pace at which we work, which explains why we are seeing more anxiety across the board, so much that in 2018 Barnes and Noble announced a 25% surge in the sales of books on anxiety, up from 2017.
Rather than a balance, work-life has become more of integration for me, in which I just embrace the chaos. With this shifted perspective, I am less anxious, more fulfilled and am not beating myself up about trying to separate work and life. Below are 6 tips that have helped me refine the work-life balance to more of a work-life integration:
Resist the Time Wasters and Distractions.
We are targeted by over 4,000 ads per day, and that's a conservative number. For those of us who wake up to our smartphones (yes, me included), think of how many messages you see in the first 5 minutes of your day that truly don't add value to your work-life objectives for that day. Be it the eNewsletters from YETI's latest collection to the 25% off discount from Crate & Barrel, or the Instagram scrolling that turns you away from your own personal agenda and goals for the day, these couple of minutes of time-wasters add up. Social media, in particular, clutters your brain when it's at its freshest. Now think of how many times during the day you pull yourself into social media or get caught in the trap of click-bait articles. Try logging these minutes and soon you'll realize that these "time-wasters" can be limited. Instead, set times when you're not hovering over email, turn off or disable most of your phone notifications, and be focused on the task at hand.
Sort out your Priorities and Learn to Say No
Be it making it to your son's baseball game or finishing a project on deadline, determine what is most important and will deliver most value to you. The most productive people don't have less on their plates; rather, they simply come to the table with an organized plan. Limit-multi-tasking and give people and projects the focused attention they deserve. This applies to personal time dedicated to your wellness and happiness just as much as it does for work time. Don't be afraid to say "No" to opportunities or events that come your way if they are truly not worthwhile. The FOMO, judging and guilt of saying now has been built up by today's "crazy busy" and caffeine drive lifestyles; however, once you accustom yourself to say no, you realize what's most important to you.
Trusting and empowering others to help you achieve your goals is difficult to do. Luckily, I use to compete at an elite level in the sport of rowing, where I learned that teamwork truly does make the "dream work" for as cliché as it sounds. (If you're less into sports and more into music and entertainment, the recent Bohemian Rhapsody film reinforced that for as big as Freddie Mercury was, he was unable to succeed as a star without his team. The rock band Queen was a team.) Figure out what you are able to do best and what others are able to help you with. Maximize the skill sets around you and hire people that do the jobs you need done better than you. My colleagues at work are more talented than I am in their specific skill sets and that's what makes our team so harmonious and effective. So, embrace a "We" as opposed to a "Me" mentality when it comes to getting things done. The same goes for family life. Sort our tasks and responsibilities with your partner or kids, so that more can be accomplished efficiently day to day.
Be Realistic and Accept Limitations
When I say that I embrace the chaos, I also mean that I am realistic to accept limitations. Find inner peace and shift your mindset to a more positive one that embraces constraints. Ask yourself, "How can I be as effective as possible within these constraints?" So for example, "If I have only 4 hours per day to work, how can I finish that project or make as much money as possible?" Or, "If I can only exercise 4 hours per week, what are the most effective workouts I can do to lose weight?" Then use positive affirmations ("I can do this!") as opposed to negative ones ("It's not enough time") to accomplish your plans. Positive affirmations might not work for everyone, but they do for most. Try it and you may learn that constraints might even boost performance!
Ride the Wave and Cherish The Slow
We feel this need to be busy, busy, busy, go, go, go, because if we are not, there must be something wrong with us, right? Wrong. Try this: Stop chasing busy. I know that after a big work event, pitch or even a workout (think of savannas after yoga), there tends to be a slower period. For me, it was in December of last year when work slowed down, and for others, it could be a seasonal cycle of when sales are strongest for their products; think of sunblock or beach accessories in the summer. When you have these moments: Take. Advantage. Don't feel the need to fill your schedule for the sake of it, rather do something to embrace the slower time. Be it a pedicure, going for a run-walk (find more info here), or a cooking class you've wanted to try, a special activity with your family or lunch with your friends, make those things happen. And if you're one who feels the need to continue to work on your business, use the slower time to asses your business from a 360 degree perspective, for instance, update your portfolio, refresh your web site, do some research and meet new people. Ideally, you will have more clarity to remember your "Why" and benefit your business and well-being to a new degree.
Make time for yourself.
Scheduling time for yourself is a keystone to wellness, and it doesn't need to be earned. Even for those of us who love our work, it's important to let go of "the good stress" and plan time for you. This is Non-Negotiable. Bottom line, most of us tend to live off of everyone's else's schedules these days (our kids, our clients, etc.) and we no longer follow our own internal compass. The more you do things that you want to do, the more fulfillment and happiness you will get out of work and life.
Luckily, workplace flexibility is allowing for more of this work-life integration, as the 9-5 workday is about as existent as payphone at a train station. Stop chasing the 50/50 balance, because it doesn't exist. Rather, embrace the chaos, and be as true as you can to who you want to be and what makes you feel most fulfilled.
It all started when I began documenting my daughter's 436-day hospital stay on Instagram.
She was a perfectly healthy 3-year-old and out of nowhere had a ruptured appendix made worse by a failed immune system. Sepsis began to consume her body and talking about it on social media was my way to cope with the fear of the unknown.
The doctors saved her life that night in January of 2018, but it was touch and go for a while until the doctors decided she was ready for a bone marrow transplant.
By then my daughter Theresa and our family had gained attention locally and nationally because of the rarity of her disorder. It doesn't even have a name. People would comment day and night on my Instagram posts wanting updates about how she was doing and wanting to see her on video.
View this post on Instagram436+ days in the hospital with Theresa taught me how to prepare to be productive during shelter in place . When you really couldn't go anywhere often while in the hospital . Not like there was anywhere TO GO... just waiting day in and day out for answers that took a long while . Didn't want to venture out much because didn't want to get Theresa sick . It feels VERY similar to now. Little within your control no matter how much you'd panic and worry . You realize you can see this as an opportunity for growth or an opportunity to let fear and worry consume you . . Let me give you my best advice on how to tackle shelter in place, from someone who gets it all too well . . 1️⃣ Develop your new routine: some may say to keep your normal routine but chances are we've gotta adapt things, like training schedules and coaching calls to fit with the fact the kiddos are home 😅 . 2️⃣ Fill your cup first: get an iced latte, take a walk, take a nap, whatever you gotta go to feel your best before you pour into working on your new project or content . 3️⃣ communicate: talk to your spouse and kiddos and ask for their support in your balancing life, family and work. Ask what they need from you right now and share how they can best support you . 4️⃣ Create as much as you consume: it's easy to get sucked into scrolling and the next thing you know the sun has set ☀️ set a timer ⏱ to step away from your tiktok for you page (just me? 😂😂) to write an email or post to your IG feed . 5️⃣ dont try to do it all alone: it's a crazy time and your feelings are valid. You don't have to navigate this by yourself. Ask for help, reach out... you know I always have your back❤️. . . Comment below: what are you up to this weekend?
A post shared by Kayla - LAUNCHING EXPERT (@kaylaybanez) on Mar 21, 2020 at 4:04pm PDT
It was in the Fall of 2018 when people started to ask me how I was doing certain things on Instagram. I didn't realize how good I had become at utilizing hashtags, posting easily digestible content and building up a loyal community around my daughter's journey to health.
I realized that the months I spent learning everything I could about using Instagram the way I had been, gave me skills that small businesses and online personal brands would pay for. For the longest time this was a way to make myself feel normal (because living in the hospital for over a year isn't normal) and now, people were ready to pay me. It was a surreal experience.
I started by offering one time consultations and the more demand increased, the more I realized that I had a very specific niche in mind. I wanted to help online business owners use Instagram to make genuine business connections without spamming or "cold messaging" them.
I made it my personal brand to "stop the 'hey girl' messaging movement," which is essentially the unfortunate standard of small business owners randomly messaging anyone they cross paths with online and asking them if they want to purchase their products.
Especially while we were in the hospital I would receive dozens of spam messages a day from people trying to sell me their products without even taking a moment to look at my page to see what my family has been going through let alone learn my name. That's where the "hey girl" comes from, because they couldn't even be bothered to look at the name on my page.
I called out these sleazy business tactics because I believe social media is meant for true relationship building and connection.
My message took off! My personal brand has become instantly recognizable because I am speaking out about things business owners feel but have been afraid to talk about because nobody else was talking about it — as a result, my business boomed!
I went from focusing on working with people 1:1 into working with more group coaching. This allowed me to scale my business to the point of making over $300,000 in revenue since I started in the fall of 2018, all from a system and strategy I created while in my daughter's hospital room.