When I started The Healthy Maven, I could have never dreamed I would one day call it my job. It was 100% a passion project that I started in order to connect with like-minded people and share my love for health and wellness to a community that I *hoped* might be interested. I also not-so-secretly hated my job and needed an outlet where I could express my creativity and feel productive at the end of the day.
A simple decision to start sharing my journey on the internet completely changed the course of my life. Did it come without struggle? Definitely not. But after 4.5 years of THM and 3 years of running it full-time, I’ve managed to sort out a thing or two. One of the hardest parts about running my own business and also having an extreme personality is my inability to STOP working. When I’m passionate about something, I want to throw myself into it completely, sometimes at the cost of my own well-being and social life.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored conversation written on behalf of The Quaker Oats Company. I was compensated for my time; however all opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make THM possible.
In the past, I used to eat up the messages and the people promoting the work-hard, hustle-harder culture. I used their words to validate my own overworked schedule, even though I knew there was a better way to manage my life. In the end I ended up with some pretty bad burnout and some not-so-happy people in my life, myself included. I had built a business I was proud of, but I couldn’t say the same about the person behind it.
I knew that when I was too busy helping other people lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle to have time to sit down and eat a real meal, and instead found myself eating popcorn for lunch and scrolling Instagram at 10:00 PM that it was time to make a change. The last year of my life has been precisely this.
What I’ve discovered is that “hustle” doesn’t mean working all.the.time. You can be passionate about something and still live your life. It just requires some commitment and a lot of practice. Even if you don’t work for yourself, many of these tips apply to you too.
I committed myself to finding a better work-life balance when I wrote this post last year. Here’s what I learned along the way:
I couldn’t start this list without first talking about boundaries. Whether you work for yourself or for other people, it is imperative that you determine your personal boundaries. I love my job, but I don’t want to be working on it 100% of the time. That meant creating a work-schedule that was structured and manageable. I think a lot of people are surprised to discover that I don’t work evenings or weekends. Of course, I’ll pop in to say hi on Instagram or upload a video every now and then, but for the most part, once 5:00 PM hits or the weekend rolls around, I’m OFF.
Determine what your personal boundaries look like. At my old job, I refused to give out my personal phone number or add email to my personal phone. This allowed me to focus on my life when I wasn’t at work and not let my personal life distract me at work. It may seem extreme, but if you’re a workaholic like me, sometimes you need to take extreme measures.
2. Stop Pressuring Yourself
Don’t overcomplicate your life! You can’t do everything, you just simply can’t. While I’d love to wake up, have a gourmet meal, be active on Instagram, write 5 posts and record a podcast and video at the same time, it’s just not possible. Stop having unrealistic expectations of who you want to be. You will always fall short. And I can attest to the fact that this is a pretty crappy way to live.
Things like implementing the 80/20 rule (more on that below) or simplifying your meals can save a ton of time and make your day a lot more enjoyable. Quaker asked me to chat more about this topic as they’ve released their new Overnight Oats. All you have to do is add milk or your non-dairy option of choice to the single-serve container the night before, stir, place the top back on and let it cold-steep overnight in the fridge. They’re all about making your mornings easier and hassle-free!
Each single-serve container features a blend of oats, fruits, quinoa, flaxseed and nuts – giving you the nutrition you want to help start your day. I’m getting my whole-grains, fiber and a nutritious breakfast without any added colors or preservatives. Time hacks that don’t sacrifice flavor or nutrition are totally my jam!
3. Remember the 80/20 Rule
Otherwise known as the Pareto Principle, this rule states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. That means that rather than trying to do EVERYTHING, focus on the 20% that will yield the highest result.
In the past I’d do things like comment on other blogs, drop links in share groups and post 6 days a week. Even though I felt like I was doing something, the reality is that I was taking my precious time and investing it into something that brought little return. It’s not just about simplifying, but about determining which of the many activities we have to do will actually deliver results.
4. Invest in Yourself First
I can’t even tell you how many times I’d look at my to-do list and realize the last thing on the list was my own self-care. Last year I flipped that idea on its head and I made self-care a priority. And not just “ooooh I think I’ll end the day with a bath” kind of self-care, but “what exactly do I need to do to feel sane today?” kind of self-care.
You are the only resource that matters when it comes to your work. If you’re burnt out, you won’t get any work done so it’s important to take care of your finest resource, you. Some days that means I wake up earlier to meditate, or stop what I’m doing to do a yoga session. Sometimes it means sleeping in because I’m exhausted or putting my phone away while I eat. It may look different everyday, but stop putting yourself last!
5. Get in the Flow
Similar to above, it’s not only important that you invest in yourself, but also in your work environment. I absolutely must have a clean space before I get anything done. I’ve also learned that I need to get dressed and put myself together before I can even consider focusing. And then it’s about making your space more enjoyable. I love diffusing an inspiring essential oil blend, making a cup of tea and listening to music while I work. Making it more fun actually helps me focus better and not avoid the things that I find myself procrastinating…ahem…emails.
6. Move Around
Work is not just about sitting in one place and twiddling your thumbs. Move around! I probably move 4 times throughout the day. I like to start my morning on the couch, move to the office, get creative in the kitchen before settling on our bench at the end of the day. Changing your environment can refresh your brain and inspire new ideas. Sometimes I like to work from coffee shops or even in a park. Don’t think that you need to be sitting at a desk and staring at a screen to be working.
7. Know Your Value
I’m so passionate about this topic that I wrote a whole blog post on it. If you find yourself swamped with work, ask yourself if the stuff you are working on either a) pays your bills or b) helps get you closer towards your goals. While there are tons of projects I’d love to do everyday, I’m strapped for resources and until my landlord takes payment in exposure, I simply cannot commit my time to projects that don’t pay my bills or fill my soul.
Once you clear your schedule of the things that don’t matter, you will find yourself with way more time to focus on the things that do.
8. Live a Little!
The best decision I ever made for my business was to work less and live more! Living my life inspires my creativity, let’s my body reset and actually reap the benefits of my hard work. It also means that when I am working, I’m actually able to be present and focus. I used to work wayyyy more and get wayyyy less done and it’s simply because I felt like I had to be working 24/7 to be successful. Do I work hard? Yes. When I’m focused, I’m incredibly focused but when I’m off, I’m off.
I now know that the only way I can be consistently successful at what I do is to respect my own limitations and embrace those moments when I’m not working.
It’s not always about working harder, but working smarter.