Are we working to have a work and life balance as photographers? It seems ironic that we’d work just to have more time later to do the things we want to do today.
Hi, I’m Nate and I’m a recovering workaholic. I’d love to make this a joke and maybe it is a little bit of a running joke. Or I’m the joke. But either way, I’m someone who struggles with working all of the time. Not the type of struggle of working too little but rather too much.
I don’t, or at least, I didn’t, have a work and life balance as a photographer. For years, I was growing my dream of becoming a wedding turned destination elopement photographer. I dreamt about it, thought about it, and only ever talked about photography. Passion turned into somewhat of an obsession and I can tell you that it’s taken its toll.
Being an entrepreneur shouldn’t mean work 24/7.
I don’t mind a day off. But I’m a Type 3 enneagram and honestly, I’d rather just work to get the stuff done that’s sitting in my inbox or my editing queue. I hate sitting on work and I hate postponing work for tedious things. It really drives me nuts.
But I didn’t become a photographer so I’d always have to be working. I became a professional creative to have time to do the things that brought me joy.
Photography does bring me joy. But it’s not the only thing I love.
I also love these things.
- Spending time with my wife
- Visiting my friends
- Traveling to cool places
- Drinking wine
- Watching TV
- Going to the gym
And there are many other things that I value and hold dear to my heart. But I have always felt that if I didn’t do the work, how would it get done? If I waiting to edit something, wouldn’t it just pile up on me?
I was working to try to get my life back and was just watching my life pass me by out the window.
Work and life balance is important.
To be our best selves, we first have to be the best for our self. We have to take care of ourselves. Go to the damn dentist. Get your eyes checked. Eat a healthy lunch. Go on a walk.
If we only allow ourselves one aspect of life, work, we are essentially creating a prison around ourselves and limiting our creativity and our ability to grow.
So what can we do as photographers to get our work life balance back in check? Here are a few solutions I have for you.
- Have a set time to stop working.
My wife is a wedding planner and has started a new business about an hour and a half away. On the days she’s not at home, I know that I must be done or stop working by the time she gets home. I give myself bonus points if I stop early enough to cook her dinner before she gets home and to tidy and clean the house.
Set a time each day to stop working and then choose to go do something else. There are so many studies that say if you give yourself a specific amount of time for any given task, you can get that task completed assuming you have set a time limit on it. Here’s a link to some references for that.
- Outsource some shiz, yo!
This is one I struggle with a lot. What takes up the majority of your time as a creative? For me, it’s probably editing. I also know that it can appear costly to outsource editing but it’s something you can easily add into your bottom line so that the cost is covered no matter what. If you want to learn more about outsourcing your blogging, check out this blog, “How to Blog for Photographers.”
- Prioritize your life!
If you set priorities on what you value the most, you’ll begin to see that work probably doesn’t even get figured into your top 5. And that’s okay! In fact, it’s probably for the best. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your clients and can’t serve them. It just proves that you’re not just exclusively a photographer. You’re a multi-faceted individual with lots of interests and many things outrank our jobs.
I challenge you to listen to my podcast Prioritize Your Life, to get some perspective about putting value where it means the most.
Listen on Spotify
Remember to balance your work and your life.
I bet you that your computer won’t run away overnight if you leave editing for tomorrow. Your website updates can take one extra day to complete. I say these things with confidence because I want to encourage and reassure you that life won’t crumble to the floor just because you stopped to spend time with your partner or your children or with your new puppy, Pika.
If you’re someone who is going to continue grinding relentlessly there will be consequences. I’ll share a few of mine that I’ve had over the years of overworking.
My wife has yelled at me multiple times about working too much. It upsets her when I priotiize my work over her needs. I always validated my overwork with the promise that if I could just reach a certain spot in my life, I’d be able to relax a little.
If I were in bad sitcom about my life, there’d be the cheesiest laugh track played over that lie I just shared. But it wasn’t really a lie because I always thought that if I could just become this one specific thing or do that one really important task I’d be able to to slow down.
I didn’t and it has had its fair share of negative effects on my marriage.
Thankfully, my wife is full of forgiveness and I truly want to be better. So I try to put my phone away in the evenings. I don’t talk about my work as much as a I used to. I also stop working by the time she gets home if not sooner to be able to help around the house. I’m not perfect but I’m working on being better.
As far as physical and mental health effects are concerned, there are consequences there too.
Don’t forget your about your life.
Before I went full time with photography in 2019, I just had set a personal record for weight lifting and had deadlift about 425 pounds. I was planning to train to go to Iceland pick up a super heavy 400 pound stone that is known around the world. Guess what. I stopped my weight training almost immediately after I went full time.
I was scared that if I didn’t work hard at the beginning I’d get behind. I was afraid of failure and I didn’t think I could do it if I didn’t put in the hours.
Insert audience laugh track again and also a pity “aww” moment. None of that was true. I would have made the same amount of money had I stopped working for an hour and a half a few times a week to go lift heavy things. I wouldn’t have failed or gone under or had to return to my previous job.
Fear kept me overworking and now that fear is gone.
It was replaced with an unhealthy obsession with work. And while working is good it isn’t everything and more importantly, it is not an escape from reality.
Remember to work and play hard
We are entrepreneurs, creatives, and personal visual historians. We are capturing moments for an entire legacy to look back on. It doesn’t mean we can’t take a few breaks here and there.
If you ever want to talk about overwork, how to outsource, or if you just wanna vent. Send me a DM on Instagram.
Take care and remember to balance that work and life!
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