Finding the Elusive Work-Life Balance

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Balance is a myth. You will always be teetering, always on the Edge because that is how this home and work go together. The key Is to identify who you are. What do you want? What is important to you? The clearer we are as to why we choose to work, have a family, multiply our sense of self, the better we are at handling, taking up and prioritizing so that nothing suffers.

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Sometimes home life is boring with its routine and sometimes work life is tedious with its demands. The key is to let the two intersect to find the inspiration. For me as a designer, it meant really merging the two so that one was not too boxed from the other. I t meant finding my work/design solutions in my interactions with the kids and my movements out and about. I would be observing- a game here, a word or colour there…training myself To use this to build a sort of a visual archive that I could dip into when I needed to get back to work, without having felt that I was wasting my time.

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Picking up from the last point of looking for inspiration out and about, I trained myself to be in an observing mode- a game here, a word or colour there…teaching myself to use this to build a sort of a visual archive that I could dip into when I needed to get back to work, without having felt that I was wasting my time doing what is essentially also something I have chosen to do- have a life.

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One of the hardest things to do was to learnt to switch off, without feeling unprofessional. Without feeling like you are compromising your sense of work or home life. I had to learn to be strict both with clients and myself. Set your own boundaries, and stick to them. Tell them you are at a school pick or you are at the park with your kids. Let them also understand that you have opted to balance the two as opposed to cutting one out of your life for the other. It makes you more well rounded. It makes you more interesting and it makes you someone who can be professional about their dealings.

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If you are going to undertake this tightrope act, well then you had better be doing it because your life would be empty and meaningless without it. Money will come and go but the passion can sustain you through the challenging times. When you choose to juggle, it will get hard. It will get frustrating and Annoying and overwhelming and all those things that make us want to hide, but what they say about love, yes, that old cliche, that is what will pull you through. Because you love what you do.

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Food, domestic help, family, friends, house are all things that aren’t going away. Whether you choose to work full time or part time or not at all, any conventional Setting will mean that at least part of this will fall upon you. They will interrupt all your plans, all your meetings, all your phone calls. Be prepared. Keep your cool. Remember that with organization, you can do it all. Find systems that work for you. Hide from the kids to make the calls that need to sound professional. Learn to reply to emails with one hand and try to keep your sense of humor handy. It is usually much needed.

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With so many proverbial balls in the air, chances are each day will bring Its own set of who am I’s each day. One day you will be a better wife than a designer, one day a better designer than a mom and another, day simply better off alone. The thing is whatever you choose to be, choose to be good at it. Wise man that Mr. Abraham Lincoln. So whatever you are being that day, put the rest on hold and focus on doing that to the best of your attempts. If you try too hard to be all of the above, chances are you will be mediocre at them all. May as well invest in one facet and make it worth it.

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When I chose this box of working from home, I knew I Would have my work cut out simply because I know me. I know how much I like the rest of life alongside my work and once you choose that, it’s all forward moving. So to not miss out on anything- from deadlines to birthday parties, I started making lists. Some lists were almost opposite in nature with both sabzi and client calls existing side by side. The I love you Text to the husband the how are you feeling now to the ill friend- it all came in the form of clearly bulleted points that I would take great satisfaction in crossing off.

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And sometimes it will get too much. It will all be too much. Then walk away. Say no. Walk away fast before you burn out. Run to your safe place, whether that is work, home or friends or family. Go where you feel recharged. There is no shame in saying no, it shows strength of commitment To be able to honestly assess what you are capable of. Be courteous, be professional and be honest about what you can and will do.

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And the most important truth I learned is that you simply cannot do it alone. Find your person, your village, your group of like minded, similarly functioning people who will catch that ball that you missed. Invest in them. Spoil them. Hang onto them. They will get you through the hard parts, be the extra hands you wish for, the sounding board for your ideas, the willing ear for the vents. So I will say it again, find your people, gather your village because if there is one way You can truly do it all (whatever that means) it is with the support of those who believe in you and understand what you want out of life.

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