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.
Ashley | Fit Mitten KitchenAugust 7, 2017 at 11:53 am
I feel like I *think* I have a decent balance but in reality I need to find some better systems. Turning my phone on airplane mode while I am working on a specific task helps. I work weekends when I need to, but that usually happens because I haven’t been in the zone enough during the week. Soooo I need to get better at staying focused during the week so I DON’T have to work weekends. Some weeks are better than others and I am still figuring it out 🙂
Nicole @ Laughing My Abs OffAugust 2, 2017 at 2:20 pm
Such a great reminder, Davida! I’m like you, always gotta have a packed planner with a mile-long to-do list to feel productive. And then I get all down on myself when I finish like 1/3 of the list because it was physically impossible to do any more. I find that when I dial back on my to-do list and remind myself nothing will happen if some of these things will be done tomorrow, I’m much more relaxed and present and yes, productive.
So so important to remember to give ourselves grace to prevent burnout.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenAugust 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm
exactly! I’ve really tried to reduce the amount of stuff on my list to make myself feel productive rather than focus on everything I didn’t get to. It’s been life-changing!
LisaJuly 30, 2017 at 9:43 am
I love your list, Davida. I can relate to all of this a lot (maybe because I’ma virgo as well, haha). I’m still struggling to find my balance – especially now as I’m starting a new business. And I KNOW that I need to chill and rest more, but it’s an ongoing balancing act 😉 But also, I think that’s ok.
I just read something today in the book “Eat That Frog!” that nails it perfectly: “Sometimes people come up to me and ask, ‘How do I achieve balance between my work and my home life?’ I ask them in return, ‘How oftendoes a tightrope walker balance when on the high wire?’ After a few seconds of thinking, they almost always say, ‘All the time.’ I say, ‘That is the same situation with balance between work and home life. You have to do it all the time. You never reach a point where you have attained it perfectly. You have to work at it.'”
Davida @ The Healthy MavenAugust 2, 2017 at 11:45 am
yes yes yes! Thank you so much for sharing that! You never reach a destination with “balance”, it’s an everyday task. It’s totally okay to keep working on it!
KaylaJuly 27, 2017 at 12:19 pm
I agree on so much of this — it’s hard to say no sometimes but I love how you mention that it either has to A. Pay the bills or B. Fill you with joy. I think so often I get caught up in the joy / excitement of being asked to do something — and not necessarily the joy of completing that project.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenAugust 2, 2017 at 11:47 am
I’m so happy that resonated with you, Kayla! It can be hard saying no to things but I always remember that every time I say “no”, I am opening myself up to an opportunity that I really want to do! It’s a work in progress though 😉
TheodoreJuly 23, 2017 at 6:48 pm
Hey Davida! It’s nice to be here on your blog and hey, this is my first time here. 🙂 And you can almost trust that I am enjoying myself here, your style of writing just continues to draw me in. 🙂
So speaking of a better work and life balance, I think all your 8 points are straightforward and enough to help someone serious and ready to work, change their life completely.
You know I use to work 16hrs stretch before now and I can tell you that I experience burn outs first hand and despite my work rates, I didn’t have nothing tangible to show and so like you, I had to reduce the way I work and that has made all the difference. Even though, I feel I could still cut down the time I spend in working my projects and those of my clients.
Thanks for sharing this tips, Davida, they all resonated well with me. You are the best!
Davida @ The Healthy MavenAugust 2, 2017 at 11:49 am
of course! Thanks so much for sharing your story Theodore! We are all a work in progress, and I think that’s a beautiful thing 🙂
Victoria MyersJuly 22, 2017 at 8:04 am
Oh man I LOVEDDDD this post! It made my heart so happy to read it, as its been a major focus of mine lately. I JUST left my job to pursue this whole online business thing full time- but I decided from the beginning I would create boundaries and not work all the time. This post just confirmed that I’m on the right path! Oh and also- music, sipping tea, essential oil diffuser going in the background…is totally my JAM while working!!
Davida @ The Healthy MavenAugust 2, 2017 at 11:48 am
yup, girl! You know I feel ya! aka yesterday when I was in my PJs all day…work in progress 😉
Kaitlyn @ Powered by SassJuly 19, 2017 at 1:36 pm
Yes, yes, and more yes, especially to “until my landlord takes payment in exposure.” Work for free? No way.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenJuly 19, 2017 at 4:14 pm
So glad it could resonate 😉
Christina RiceJuly 19, 2017 at 2:38 am
I seriously loved this post and it resonated with me so much. This is something I have been struggling with a lot recently and I completely burnt myself out from working 24/7 and never stopping. I realized that this was not going to work and just this week quit quite a few things on my plate that scared me to quit, but I feel so much better. I am ready to give myself a LIFE that is not just work, and I am so excited for a new chapter!!
Thanks for sharing your tips. Needed to read this! XO
Davida @ The Healthy MavenJuly 19, 2017 at 4:15 pm
I’m so happy it resonated and I hope you find more time to care for yourself and not let work take over. I know the feeling all too well and it’s so easy for us perfectionist types to get caught up. Be kind to yourself or you’ll burn out so hard. Sending you lots of love, babes!
KatieJuly 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm
I have ALWAYS struggled with work-life balance and one of the things I like most about my current job is that it’s the first time I have been able to have that. Part is because I don’t think the salary is enough for me to feel like I need to do more than my 9-5 (well, 8-4) schedule – ha! But truth! Learning to add more balance when it came to my “side hustles” has been hard and I’ve actually had to learn to add some “relax” time to my planner as I would any other task on my to-do list.
Davida @ The Healthy MavenJuly 19, 2017 at 4:18 pm
I totally get that feeling and honestly, if I were better at taking directions from other people I would totally be down with the predictability of a 9-to-5. It’s hard to motivate yourself to stop when you were for yourself so I definitely have envy! Glad you’ve found a balance with your side-hustles and can schedule in some you time. It’s so so important!
FeliciaJuly 18, 2017 at 1:55 pm
I love this post! Since I’ve taken my blog full-time again two months ago, I’ve been trying to find a routine that works best for me. I definitely have no boundaries when it comes to blogging and social media. I’m definitely going to start using some of your tips!
Davida @ The Healthy MavenAugust 2, 2017 at 12:39 am
I’m so happy to hear they’ve been helpful! Boundaries when it comes to work and play has been huge and totally transformed the way I do business!
Lara @ Tiny HomesJuly 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm
I love that you talked about the 80/20 rule. I try to apply it in my life and it really helps. Thanks for sharing this valuable tips. Is there a book you would suggest for anyone interested in an even better work-life balance?
Davida @ The Healthy MavenAugust 2, 2017 at 12:25 am
Hi Lara! Yes, check out Essentialism. It’s a great read and talked a lot about the Pareto Principle.
DNNJuly 18, 2017 at 9:25 am
Good morning Davida,
Just wondering if you do cardio in the morning upon awakening to increase your energy levels. If not, it’s good to do 5 minutes of cardio prior to working out, to increase oxygen intake and get your heartrate up. I did it for a while to try and balance work and life and it worked well for me until I slacked. I’m getting back on track again.
It’s also good to do walking or mild jogging cardio before your workout because you also motivate yourself that way to burn additional stored bodyfat, as well as reduce the hunger to consume “unauthorized foods” during the week.
Believe it or not, cardio performed before and after workout, helps with increase in libido resulting in an increase of happiness and recalibrated sleep patterns. You rest sounder at night and sleep deeper, producing feelings or complete rest upon awakening in the morning. Be inspired to keep going the extra mile in your journey to eat and live healthier.
TheodoreJuly 23, 2017 at 6:41 pm
Sorry, how about walk me through what you really meant about Cardio.
You know this is my first time of hearing that.
Now, I know could google this but I’d love to hear it from you.