Finding Work Life Balance Between Writing and Family
I’m a full-time blog writer for my day job and manage another blog website with a friend of mine where we’re publishing content on a daily basis. I’m also a husband and a father to two teenage daughters. So when it comes to my work life balance between my blog writing and family, I know the struggle. I live it every day. But there is hope and I’m going to share some tips on how to get your writing time and family time back in balance.
On any given day I’m writing blog posts about how to become a better writer & content creator, writing social media captions to promote those posts, writing for my own blog site, and so on.
Despite their undying support for me and my career, my wife and two daughters have a hard time sometimes wondering why I’m working so much. My wife has a career of her own that she works every day and both daughters are doing the remote school thing.
Working from home as a writer can be a trial at times, and doing so while my daughters are doing remote school can be a nightmare at times. With my wife working, I’m the first line of support when they have questions or need some type of help with their remote schooling.
Some people can write whenever the mood strikes them. I’ve read blog posts from other writers who say they write on their phones in line at the supermarket or whenever an idea comes to mind. I will sometimes jot down an idea, but to actually do full-on writing from my phone is not in my wheelhouse.
I need a quiet space, free from distraction, where I can really dive into the writing without my attention being pulled in all directions. How do I do it? How do I write all day long for my day job and then continue to write for my personal website?
It starts with knowing where to draw the line.
How to Draw the Lines
One of my favorite parts of working from home is that I’m always around if my wife or daughters need something, especially in the case of emergencies. But sometimes working from home full time can cause some tension and frustration.
When one of my daughters has a thought that crosses their minds or they need help with remote schooling, they will often bring it to me in the middle of my day. Over the years I’ve figured out what lines I need to draw and what I can relax on.
Before you can begin to draw those lines, you need to know what it is you need from your workday. Do you need total silence? Do you need full control over your environment? Or do you just need a little bit of time in a corner of the living room?
Start with what you cannot compromise on and draw those lines. From there you can branch out and determine which lines you can relax on if you get interrupted. For me, the line I draw and don’t compromise on is my mornings. That’s when I’m fully focused, engaged, and in the zone. So from roughly 8am to noon I need that time without distractions. I reserve my afternoons for work that doesn’t require that extreme focus, so I can make myself more available to the needs of the family.
If You Need Privacy or Silence, Close The Door
My full-time day job requires daily Zoom meetings. At times, I need to be completely focused during those meetings and when I’m writing. I can’t have my daughters constantly walking in and out of my office to ask me questions. And I can’t have them walking past and saying “Hi” every five minutes. Let’s not get started with the dogs. I think we all know that struggle from this past year.
If you’re like me (and many other work from home writers), then you need to get a room with a door on it. You need to be able to control your environment as much as possible if you want to maximize your productivity.
Plus, having the door closed tells the rest of the house that you’re busy working. It’s the universal do not disturb sign.
Set Up Your Own Space
For me, I have the luxury of a dedicated room for my home office. It’s my space.
Nobody other than me gets to decorate it, pick colors, or hang stuff on the walls. I get to do all that!
This is my space where I go to work every day. I commute from the coffee maker in the kitchen to my home office every morning and even on the weekends before everyone wakes up. It’s such a small thing to make all the design choices for a room, but that little bit gives you ownership of that room. Your room needs to be comfortable and foster productivity.
My wife can decorate however she wants throughout the rest of the house, but my office is all mine.
Invest In Some Noise Canceling Headphones
All it takes is one meltdown between my two teenage daughters or the dogs barking at the Amazon Prime delivery driver.
Doors alone cannot block out that chaos.
Because I can’t afford to be distracted during my mornings, I keep several pairs of headphones within arm’s reach so that I can always block out the world if I need to. I’m partial to the Beats brand. I have both the earbuds and the over-the-head noise-canceling headphones. Some decently comfortable headphones combined with a productivity playlist on Spotify allow me to lock in a couple of hours of work without being distracted.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on a pair of Bose or Beats, just find something that will block out the noise.
Obviously, if there is an emergency in the house, my family knows they can come barreling through the door and rip my headphones off.
I hate being interrupted when I’m in the zone writing.
But if one of my daughters comes into my office in tears or wants to give me something, you can bet I’m taking my headphones off and giving them my full attention.
You have to draw your own lines, but my goodness don’t forget why you’re working so hard in the first place. Find ways to be flexible, and your family then won’t mind when you need to tighten them up later.
Make sure that they are a part of your life as much as your job. When it’s time to work, go ahead and work. But when it’s time to be with your family, set your work aside. Just as I close the door to my office when I’m on there working, at the end of the day I close my laptop, walk out of my office, and close the door. That signals to my brain that I’m done working for the time being and that it’s time to focus on my family.
Get Out of the House
If you’re like me and you work from home full-time, then you know how easy it is to go a few days or even an entire week without leaving the house!
Scheduling a “road” day once a week can give you another opportunity to balance your writing life and your personal life. It’s like going to the office. I like to frequent my local coffee shop once a week to spark inspiration and creativity.
If I don’t want to leave the house, then at least go sit outside and write for a few hours. I like to sit outside on my deck during the summer as much as possible.
Sometimes, the fresh air and change in environment are all you need to get your head back on straight.
Most Importantly, Talk to Your Family
The key is communication. Be honest with yourself and your family.
As long as I talk with my family ahead of time about my work schedule, expectations, and frustrations, I find they are much less frustrated with me. They know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
I also can get feedback from them, and I can adapt my approach, thus keeping everyone happier.
Communication is everything when you have to work with your family around. Sit them down and talk it over so that you can be sure you have the writing environment you need to succeed.