Hey there booknerds, it’s time I finally answer a question I tend to get a lot: how do I balance all my writing, reading, and my social upkeep alongside, well, life. And the answer is tricky, because I am usually teetering, never balancing. I do try! But I think it’s important to understand why it’s hard to find that balance first, because otherwise I tend to get responses like “Oh, that sounds so nice, working from home! I’d stay in my PJ’s all day”, and sure, that does sound nice, but it’s also not the reality of truly working from home on a permanent basis.
My home has become my office. Everything about it. It’s where I read, where I research new story ideas, it’s also where I craft my bookstagram posts 90% of the time. Because of that, I start to feel this guilt about relaxing, about shutting off and not working when I’m home. Because why would I stop, right? Why am I not filling all those spare moments with things I consider productive for my craft or my business? Because of burn out and depression, friends.
Working from home means I’ve developed this destructive habit of needing others validation for occupying the space I do. I need something tangible to show the world to justify me being home. It feeds into my imposter syndrome (you can learn more about that here or from my old blog post) which in turn feeds into my depression and overall feelings of inadequacy. Which then turns into a vicious cycle of feeling like I need to do more, more, more, because I theoretically can. See what I mean about the teetering vs. the balancing?
But I am starting to learn that the breaks are good. The breaks mean recharging, which means when I do get back to work, I have a plethora of energy and creative ideas that my stories and characters, and certainly you, all get to benefit from. It also means I can get in touch with what’s going on in my life that might need more attention, whether that’s my family and friends, or just my own body. So, then the question becomes what do I do in order to recharge? To silence my imposter syndrome, and start feeling like me and my work are, indeed, “good enough”? I get out of the house.
I know that sounds overly simplistic, and it’s meant to. It is that simple, but also that hard. I’ve gone back to treating the weekends like weekends again, not work days, so that means actually going out and doing something new, or walking through botanical gardens, or even just going out to dinner, but it does mean leaving the house. It also means that I rely heavily on my husband to help me fill the hours with non-work activities, and sure, sometimes that’s just chores, but other times it’s playing video games or watching movies. Point is: I’m not in front of my computer. Plus, whenever I can, I travel. It doesn’t need to be very far—just a few hours’ drive out of town for a weekend getaway works. But being physically too far away from home to where I can’t just go home does wonders for reducing my work and productivity related stress. And, of course, whenever I can I go outside for pleasure during the normal work day, too. Add a little music to my time outside and suddenly, that plot hole I was struggling with is no longer a hole!
I am by no means an expert at balancing work and life, I am pretty terrible at it most of the time. I forget how to relax. My days are terribly structured from the moment I get dressed until the moment I sit down for dinner. I like order and ticking off those check boxes on my to-do list. But, chaos feeds creativity sometimes and you don’t get that by staying glued to whatever it is your job requires. That’s why me getting physically away from all the things I could do in order to “work” is, right now, the only way I can really balance things. But like I said, I am trying! If you have tips on how to achieve work and life balance, I’d love to hear them!