Did you know that at Blue51HQ Monday = HollyDay? It’s an offical thing, decreed in blue texta on an A4 sheet of paper. A new one, in fact, not even a recycled one that I usually reserve for scribbles. That’s how important it is to me.
Blue51 Communications was launched in January 2014 after a two-ish year break for me (although of course I was writing in that time #cantstopwontstop). I launched with one client and threw myself headfirst into small business life. I had been self-employed before, so it wasn’t new to me, but gone were the days where I could be up til 4am writing, fuelled only by blue cheese and crackers and a bowl of peanut M&Ms. This time, I had to blend family life with work life.
I know work/life balance is sneered or frowned upon, and some people advocate work/life alignment, whatever TF that means- clearly I don’t care enough to find out. I’m someone who likes well-defined compartments- it suits my control freak personality. I believe that a couple of decent checklists and some boundaries and not only is a balance between life and work attractive, it’s highly attainable.
Maybe it’s because I’m italian, and la dolce vita and siestas are part of my DNA, but I’ve never subscribed to the concept of living to work. Nope, I work to live. Life and family takes precedence over work for me, any day of the week. That’s not to say I don’t love my work- I wholeheartedly do. I live and breath writing, words, literature and communications. I’m in business for the flexibility- there, I said it. The problem arises when the boundaries between life and work blur and cancel each other out. When you have your own business there is a real danger in being constantly on. You see, I’m not only CEO of my business, but I’m CEO of my family life, and when my days tilt towards one over the other, balance is out, mistakes happen and I’m a frazzled mess. Me no likey being a frazzled mess.
About eighteen months into my business journey, the balance was out. I felt like a crappy mother and a crappy communications specialist. I limped to the end of the year, and spent the summer break putting in some boundaries around my business to get the balance back. I limited my work hours against a simple rule: no working whilst offspring are around. That meant no more taking phone calls before 8.45am or after 3.15pm. No writing emails between 4pm and 8pm. No juggling attention between work and cherubs because that’s when stuff ups happen. I put in no client facing work or meetings on Mondays or Fridays unless absolutely necessary because that’s when school commitments are usually scheduled. Still, even with these in place, I felt like whilst I had clear definitions between work time and family time, with weekends now consumed with cherub sport, there was very little life admin time (you know, those shitty things we have to do like have food in the house) and bugger all Holly time other than my early morning gym sessions. It grated on me, but I couldn’t see a way out until one day I had a bit of a bloody obvious realisation- have a day a week off!
Easy peasy, except it wasn’t.
For two years, I had been trying to work towards having Fridays work-free, but as anyone with a business (or a pulse, really) knows, Fridays are very easily hijacked. Mid last year, on one crappy Monday morning, I dropped my cherubs off to school only to discover that the youngest had an excursion scheduled and was in the wrong uniform. She cried, and after I calmed her down and left her in the care of her teacher, I drove home to a house with no fresh fruit and veggies and I cried too. As a naturally organised person, I don’t like feeling out of control, like I’m lurching from one thing to the next without a buffer. That’s when I took out a fresh piece of blank paper and wrote Monday=Holly Day.
I don’t schedule anything work-related for Mondays. It’s my day to reset and refocus. I do all my life admin: fruit and veggie and grocery shopping and appointments and the like. I walk my dog for longer than a quick bolt around the block. I cook, which is something I love to do when unharried, I write, and write about absolutely nothing to do with business or communications. I have coffees with friends or solo with absolutely none of the mum-guilt and biz-guilt that can stupidly come with a herbal tea in the sunshine at a gorgeous cafe. I can also very easily imagine a float tank, a facial, a hike and a mani-pedi in the near future. I return to my desk refreshed, recharged, energised and balanced, with a house full of food.
‘The goal isn’t money. The goal is living life on your terms.’
On my noticeboard, amongst all the photos of things I love, I have this quote by Chris Brogan scribbled on a piece of paper. Living life on my terms is one of my core values, and the financial aspects of that are secondary. However, I can’t help but run my business in an environment that celebrates never-ending hustle. The hustle never sleeps, and nor should you! To that, to being a slave to your business, I say, well, f#ck that! Sorry I can’t be more eloquent, but that’s basically what it comes down to. Do I have work/life balance now that I have given myself a day a week off? Of course not, but man, my life is so much better aligned to my values. That, my friend, is living life on my terms.
Tell me, do you aim for work/life balance? Does the hustle concept bore you to tears too?
This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.