Regain some balance when implementing your next life adventure.

Regain some balance when implementing your next life adventure - photo of neon pink letters which say 'and breathe' against a backdrop of foliage.

This post is for a specific client – we worked together last year.

She is currently buried deep under work as she implements her next life adventure and is struggling to balance all the things demanding her time and attention.

“For the last 6 months I’ve been working on a side business with my husband and I’m now at the point where balance is becoming a challenge – balancing my primary business and building my creative business, plus what little time is left for a personal life.

It’s becoming overwhelming trying to do all three. What I want help with is organising my workflow so I can get through the day or week without wanting to go to bed at lunchtime 😊.”

Here’s how I would work through this with her over a few coaching sessions: 

1. Come back to your vision

Dig out the vision we created during our time working together. Remind yourself of where you want to be heading. We can often get sidetracked by ideas, tasks and opportunities that are not aligned with where we really want to go.

If the vision needs updating, put the timer on and free write about the results you are seeing from your next life adventure. Write in the present tense as though it is happening now. Include information about what you are doing, how it’s feeling, where you are, who you’re with, the working schedule you have etc. You are reconnecting with where you want to be through this exercise. 

2. Track what you are doing during the week

An excellent method to analyse where you are actually spending your time, not where you perceive you are spending your time.

If you are a lover of spreadsheets, now’s the time to put those skills to good use or alternatively just get out some paper and pens – either way, make it easy to access throughout the day as you are going to be recording EVERYTHING you are doing in a working week. It might be helpful to include non-working days too just to see if work creeps in and how you are spending your downtime.

Add every task you undertake to the list, whether for business or pleasure, even the domestic stuff! Include breaks and any time you spend procrastinating. Each time you perform the task or take a break, note which business it’s for, how long you spent on it and record it. 

3. Where are you spending your time?

At the end of the week, when you look at your completed task tracking spreadsheet/paper, what do you notice? Where is your time being spent? Are you spending your energy on the right tasks for each business? Are you getting enough break time? What’s happening in your downtime? Can you see any patterns?

To implement your next life adventure successfully, you need to be looking after yourself, you need to be spending your energy on the right tasks at this stage of the creative business and you need to be identifying what’s getting in the way, so you can make helpful changes.

Once you have reviewed the task data you have compiled, try answering these questions – don’t worry about feasibility at this stage, we just want your honest answers:

  • What’s draining your energy? 
  • What do you need to stop doing?
  • What do you need to keep doing?
  • What do you need to start doing?
  • Where do you need to speed up or slow down? (Maybe the time allocation or your expectations for tasks is not accurate or maybe you need to change how you spend your time, reducing the hours overall, but increasing the number of hours on the creative business).
  • What is the balance between the two businesses like?
  • How are the breaks you take giving you time to rest, restore or re-energise?
  • What changes do you need regarding breaks? (Look at your non-working days here too).
  • How do you feel about your current work schedule?
  • What do you want your daily work schedule to look like?
  • Having answered these questions, what’s coming up for you?

4. Let’s bring some balance back!

You need stamina and determination mixed with a big measure of attending to your needs as you implement your next life adventure. You’re in it for the long haul so any changes you would like to make need to take all this into account – no burning out on my watch!

Ok, so you have tuned back into your vision and performed what might be for some the tedious task of tracking what you actually do with your time and you have dug underneath the data to appraise what it’s telling you.

Next is to distil all this information into your current reality and build a bridge to your vision.

Your current reality is a list of bullet points which includes everything you have just identified from the task tracking exercise plus anything else that may be helpful, such as business and pleasure expenses (you’ll see why when we come to the bridge building).  It’s important this list is a realistic picture of your current situation. Here’s an example of a few things that might show up:

  • I spend 12 hours a week on admin tasks.
  • On average I take 3 x 10 mins breaks a day which I spend in the kitchen making coffee.
  • I start my day at 9am and end it at 6pm.
  • I spend 2 hours a day on my non-working days checking emails and responding.
  • 30% of my week is spent on the creative business.
  • I spend £x on a booking system per month (repeat for all expenses for each business).
  • I spend £50 on gym membership per month (repeat for all activities).
  • I have 12 hours of calls for my primary business a week.
  • I watch TV for 2 hours each night.
  • I procrastinate every time I have to (insert whatever task) by reading the news.

Once you have completed this list, you are ready to move on to building the bridge from your current reality to your vision.

To build the bridge identify all the opportunities where you can make changes to your working week that will support the implementation of your vision AND balance.

Make sure you include everything from what appears to be the easiest/quickest/cheapest to the hardest/longest/most expensive. For example, in order to realise the vision of the creative business, you might decide the time spent on it might need to increase to 50%. How can you implement this? Now’s the time to brainstorm (without any limitations!) – here’s a list of a few things that may appear during this activity:

Increase time spent on creative business to 50%.

  • Hire a virtual assistant to take care of admin tasks for both businesses.
  • Reduce hours available for primary business client calls by 2 hours per week.
  • Go for a 30 mins walk each day for creative thinking time – also gives me exercise and re-energises me.
  • Allocate the new hours for working on the creative business throughout the week.
  • Invest in training.

Once you have captured all the possible changes you could make, try identifying which ones are simple to implement and make the changes straight away.

Depending on your budget, identify the one task (or set of tasks), which in the example above would be the admin tasks, and see if it’s possible and financially viable to outsource them (maybe there’s an expense that has been identified that is no longer necessary so funds can be diverted elsewhere) – remember in this situation my client seems to be short on time, this is her most valuable resource so it’s worth assessing how she can free this up and what this time has the potential to generate in her creative business. Think about the vision and build your working week to support it (with balance!).

You may want to group items into buckets to help you assess which can be implemented immediately, which need more time or investment, which yield the greatest return, which are non-negotiables, which can be reviewed later down the line to see if they are still relevant, which you enjoy doing, which you hate doing etc. This can help you to see the items from different perspectives so you can make an informed decision when making changes.

As you build the bridge, don’t forget to include everything you need for your well-being. 

Without you, there is no next life adventure. 

5. And breathe…

You have just created an action plan you can begin experimenting with.

Now, walk away, you deserve a stiff drink!

This action plan will need to be reviewed, probably a week after implementation so you can make tweaks as needed. 

Make sure you review it in light of your vision and the problem you are trying to solve: bringing back balance whilst focussing time on the right tasks to move the creative business forward, keeping the primary business going and having a personal life. 

Are the changes you’re making supporting this? Always come back to this question.

Remember, this won’t be it. 

You’ll find yourself needing to do this again and the next time you need help, this exercise is here waiting for you.