The importance of balancing work and life is one of those lessons that can’t be learned soon enough. This past semester of college, freelance work really took off and I was fortunate to gain some great clients. I sincerely appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given and am proud of the ones I’ve made. However, there are only so many hours in a day. It is essential to understand your own work/life ratio and be faithful to those requirements.

With the continuing momentum of Shifting Creations workflow and doing my best during this summer’s internship, I recently found myself working on the computer 7 days a week. The result was depressing; it seemed like the more work I took on, the less happy I became. BURNOUT! And not the good kind that comes from two squeeling tires. I’m not a 9-5 guy who shuts off after 8 hours of work so if I wasn’t pointing and clicking, I was thinking about design in my sleep (or lack thereof).

On the weekends that I did take a break, I found great bursts of energy and creativity the following Monday. It was obvious: I needed to find the right balance. For awhile, I thought a good solution might be working full days and limiting evening computer use to personal projects or perusing the internet. Not entirely satisfied with the results, I decided to also not go on the computer at all on weekends. During the week I work my butt off to erase any guilt for some well deserved rest. At the moment, this seems to be working well, but everyone has different tolerances and hobbies. For me a rejuvenating weekend means hiking, playing with The Bleep (part Blazer, part Jeep), or visiting family and friends.

Further solutions:

  1. Make a list of life goals. Use the big fat Sharpie for this one, something permanent and bold that won’t allow you to forget what you’re striving for. This seems obvious at first but I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually written down all the things I would like to accomplish before. Having an objective and seeing purpose in what you do is one of the greatest motivators.
  2. Create or use a calendar system (iCal on the MacBook works nicely) and allot an appropriate amount of time for each task that week (important things like writing a proposal, not “buy milk, open cereal, stuff face…”). This will help manage projects and ensure each job is getting the time it deserves. With no set timeframe, it’s easy to dilly-dally on one project and detract valuable time from another. Efficiency determines productivity.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” – Andy Dufresne

7/25/06 edit: Rereading this post, I hope it does not hang a dark shadow over “work” as that was not the intent. No one is making me do freelance work, nor try hard at my internship; these are personal choices. Despite being tough at times, there are few things I enjoy more than a well completed job. It’s satisfying getting work done and I love being busy. As I’m finding this summer, many problems are fueled by how we handle the situation and not the actual source, whether it be relationship woes, work deadlines, or any other stressors.