thoughts on the work-life balance

I’ve been browsing through my stack of old magazines before I donate them to the local library, and I found an article in the May 2011 issue of The Writer about how to establish a work-life balance in the profession of freelance writing. The article featured interviews with four freelance writers, and many of their thoughts struck me as so wise and true — and applicable to all of us, not just writers! Below I’ve compiled some of my favorite quotes from the article; you can read the entire thing at The Writer archives here.

the writer may 2011

  • “Start small. People think of balance as an all-or-nothing proposition. Remember: You are not going to start an exercise routine in a day. Instead, start with a 15-minute walk. Anyone can take 15 minutes away from their desks. If you are into drawing, spend 15 minutes of your day sketching. Or play with your dog or cat. Experiment with small things.” – Alison Stein Wellner
  • I’ve focused myself on having a life outside of work. I put in a solid five hours of writing a day, unless I have a huge deadline. If I want to take a vacation, I rearrange my schedule and get my assignments done before I go. I find that the more I get out [of my house], the more work I have. I think it is because I am more focused.” – Sue Marquette Poremba
  • “The term ‘balance’ is precarious; I like to say simplify. I am better at simplifying now. I know what I can take on and try to schedule work accordingly. … I try to leave a good portion of my evenings free. I’ll try not to work until late at night. I’ve done this by writing down what I need to do the day before, and that really helps.” – Stephanie Dickison
  • “I think it helps to know how you define success for yourself. Sometimes I do what is called the ‘nursing home test’ with myself. As in: When I am old and gray and living in a nursing home, will I wish that I had taken on an extra copywriting project or made time for a long-weekend camping trip with my friends?” – Michelle Taute

I personally had never heard of the “nursing home test” but I think it is a great way of approaching work-life decisions, especially when I am feeling myself falling back into my work-a-holic tendencies.¬†

Do you struggle with work-life balance? What are some tips or strategies that work for you?