Balancing Act

When I started practicing painting, I was forced to strike a balance because I was still working as an English teacher in Korea. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I was also doing a majority of the cleaning and cooking...?! It's ok, I get it. I clean toilets the best anyway. Each activity: painting, cleaning, cooking, and teaching required my undivided attention for a superb outcome.

Here I am, a couple of years later, and now I get the wonderful privilege of only doing art. Although it's still my responsibility to scrub toilets, I'm working my dream job: getting paid to paint and doing it right from my own home studio!


If you work from home, then you understand that although it's wonderful, it is equally distracting.

There are toilets to be scrubbed, not to mention floors, sinks, and counters. I'm also the Laundry Queen. Food prep usually falls to me. I also have very little excuse to go out and eat, when I have a pantry and fridge stocked with yummy things - so I'm making pretty much every meal. And then cleaning up after said meal.

There are also random distractions like taking a phone call, repainting a coffee table, squashing unwelcome insect guests, and TV - - oh, is there ever TV to be watched.

So, in the year since I've been in business for myself (read HAD TO MAJORLY SELF-MOTIVATE) here are some tips for focusing on work when you work from home.

1. Turn that phone on silent. One of the biggest time killers is when my phone is nearby. If the alerts are on, then I can receive calls from mom, texts from friends, and know that I got an email from my car mechanic, asking me to rate them on Google. Good things? Sure. Do they need my attention over getting my work done? Debatable.

Leaving my phone on silent, or even vibrate, gives me the control. I choose when I want to look at it. Sure, sometimes you miss a friend's call to go to lunch...but hopefully you can call her back in time. The point here is to be in control of your time.

2. Have a routine. This is something I'm still trying to nail down. Because I love painting SO MUCH, it's easy for me to wake up and immediately get to work. Without tidying up, getting dressed, or even eating. Who forgets to eat?! Oh yeah, people who are terribly passionate about their job ;-)

If I had a perfect schedule, that I followed perfectly every morning, it would go something like this:

-Eat breakfast


-Tidy house (if it's Friday, my big cleaning day, this means setting aside a couple of hours for vacuuming, scrubbing, and laundry)

-Get dressed and look's frighteningly easy to look like a trash bag when you don't have to go to work at an office with coworkers to impress

-Answer emails

-Get to work!

Mornings are my most productive times. I need to get the things I'd rather procrastinate on done as quickly as possible. Painting is almost always enjoyable, so that can fill in the free spaces I have, surrounding my chores.

3. Create different schedules for each/some days of the week. I'm NOT a creature of habit. Habits drive me nuts when they get mundane. Thus, I try to vary my days with a different major task. Mondays are for working and grocery shopping, Tuesdays are usually lunch with a friend and running errands, Wednesdays and Thursdays are freebies (could become work or other obligations), and Fridays, as I stated above, are cleaning days.

I suppose I am a creature of habit...just in a broader sense as opposed to day-to-day. Of course, this weekly schedule can change, as I am flexible and enjoy being spontaneous.

4. Exercise. Yes, I am such a hypocrite, I know! I have the sneakers and I wear yoga pants most days, but actually setting aside times to get my blood pumping is a CHORE. How good is exercise though?

-Running at least 5 minutes a few times every week can extend your life by 3 years

-Endorphins create the same feelings you get from exercise as you get when you eat chocolate or are being amorous

-The more energy you expend, the more energy you have - it's weird, but when you start exercising regularly, you find it's true!

Exercise is this weird catch-all for problems. Feeling blue, body aches and pains, irregular sleep patterns, low energy...a lot of these things can be improved by simply getting your body moving.

5. Reward yourself after a job well done! This one can turn tricky if you're not careful. Rewarding yourself with ice cream every time you accomplish a daily goal is actually not great for your health, or have a shopping excursion for every job-well-done can turn into an addiction. All that to say, knowing when to let loose and treat yourself does wonders for your personal freedom. Go ahead, take a walk outside and enjoy those blooming flowers and chirping birds! Have a glass of red wine after a long day's work while binge-watching the Voice. Call a friend over Skype, lose track of time, and talk for 3 hours.

All of these things I've been known to do because they bring me joy. Instead of allowing the gnawing false guilt to creep in ('you should have exercised' 'you shouldn't eat so much chocolate' 'you didn't accomplish everything you wanted to today, what a waste...') how about indulging a little big? All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl...! Remember, this post is talking about balancing, not restricting, punishing, or spoiling yourself

I started working for myself and working from home because I wanted to truly enjoy every aspect of my life. I am asked fairly often, "Don't you get lonely?" As an outgoing introvert, I need to keep a balance for my social life too. I traded up seeing coworkers every day to instead meeting up with friends a few times a week, but the amount of stress I DON'T feel now because I get to be my own boss, is unbelievable. Lifestyle shifts can happen and be successful, a little at a time, when you're seeking balance and striving for your best life.

Marni Manning - Artist

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