Striking The Balance

Let’s face it, the summer months require us to let go of any expectation for maintaining our routine.  I love my routine, but I have to admit I also love taking a break from it! As we enter August, perhaps you are returning from vacation or gearing up to travel some more before Labor Day. If you are like me, you are back and forth all summer long, splitting your time between work and travel, which can be wonderful and/or stressful, depending on your experience. However you see it, here are some tips to help you strike the balance this summer between making the most of your vacation time and being productive while at work.  


1) Set Up Your Fall Schedule NOW. 

It’s time to start planning your Fall. I know you may not be in the mood, but trust me, you will thank me later. It’s all too easy for Labor Day to come and go and then all of a sudden feel like you are playing a never-ending game of catch up.  Instead, try some proactive planning.  Go ahead and reach out to a few industry friends to have coffee in early September, get your writing schedule in the calendar with deadlines, book those headshots you have been saving money for, or sign up for that class you know you want to take (if it happens to be our Path Course, there is still some space left in our final class of this year beginning in September).  You will feel a huge sense of relief when you go ahead and block time that you know you will need for certain fall projects coming up. The more certainty you can create for your Fall schedule, the more empowered you will feel to make the most of this upcoming season. 

2) Fully Commit to Your Time ON and Your Time OFF.  

Joaquin Phoenix's character in the movie "Her" didn't quite get the concept of unplugging.  

Joaquin Phoenix's character in the movie "Her" didn't quite get the concept of unplugging.  

Okay, full disclosure - our second tip is inspired by this parenting article from the New York Times that I recently dug up and re-read. Catherine Newman talks about the value of "giving your kids your undivided attention, or no attention at all." I have found this concept speaks not just to me as a parent, but to me as a business owner and human being. She writes “Shut your phone down, leave your laptop in its bag and remember that your life is only each individual moment, of the highest possible quality, all of them strung together. Our undivided attention may be the very most valuable asset we offer our children." I decided to experiment with the idea of being fully unplugged when I’m off the work clock (which, by the way, as a small business owner with my hands in every aspect of my business, is not as easy as it sounds). I’ve actually designed my work schedule this summer to reflect this idea. The result so far: less guilt, and more quality time on both sides of the equation, at work and with family.  Consider how you can commit to being more present with the people you are with, whether it’s at work or on vacation.  Practice putting your phone away if you don't need to be checking it. I don’t do this perfectly by any means, but if you ask my almost-5-year-old daughter, I think she would tell you “I’m noticing definite improvements, Mommy.”  😃

3) Re-calibrate Your Goals.  

Summer has a different energy to it, so it makes sense if you find you’re not putting in the time you usually do toward your goals.  Maybe you are spending more time outside, hanging with friends, or maybe you are choosing to unplug a bit more (yes, please!!). You deserve to do all of those things, just make sure you don't lose sight of your goals in the process.  Take 30 minutes to check in with your goals and make any changes to them that feel right to you. If you need support with this process, click here to schedule a private coaching session (and to take advantage of our Summer Coaching Sale thru 8/31). The point is, you want your goals to feel current and match what you are up to now, this month. So, stop worrying so much about the goals themselves, and instead, get into action with at least one goal, and then see what happens.  My guess is that you will feel less guilt or shame about what you are not doing and gain a true sense of momentum toward your bigger vision. Worth a shot, right?

4) Make Room for Inspiration.  

How do you capture those great ideas when you get a hit of inspiration? 

How do you capture those great ideas when you get a hit of inspiration? 

One of my writer clients came up with this idea to carry with her an “Interesting Things” notebook for while she is on vacation in Europe. She decided its important to have this notebook handy for those moments when she gets a spontaneous hit of inspiration, but doesn't necessarily want to spend a ton of time developing the idea right away.  This way, she can capture the thought while it’s fresh in her mind, and then relax in the knowledge that the idea is ready and waiting for her when she gets back from her vacation.  I loved how this client literally lit up as she was describing what would go in her “Interesting Things” notebook - just talking about it was already making room for the inspiration that is to come!  We can’t always plan for inspiration, but we can be prepared for when the moment strikes. 

5) Immerse Yourself in an Adventure.  

Speaking of inspiration, imagine breaking your regular routine and doing something completely different for a day!  It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s not what you usually do.  This may already be in place if you have travel plans in store for the month.  But for those of you who may be finding yourself in your usual daily routine of life, remember that you don’t need to travel to experience a “mental vacation” and get a little break from your regular routine.  Check out this oldie but goodie blog post I wrote 3 summers ago for ideas on how to create a little adventure in this last month of summer, regardless of your circumstances.  

Whatever August has in store for you, I wish you a lovely end of your summer, filled with good times, the right balance of work and great adventures!