My Search For A Better Work Life Balance

As I talked about in How I Made $979,321, my top goal for this year is to have a better work life balance. I am by no means complaining about anything at the moment, but I know that I could do better. As a full-time blogger, taking a break from blogging can be quite difficult….

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 24, 2023

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As I talked about in How I Made $979,321, my top goal for this year is to have a better work life balance. I am by no means complaining about anything at the moment, but I know that I could do better.

As a full-time blogger, taking a break from blogging can be quite difficult. It’s easy to work 24/7, and as your own boss, you know that every minute is an opportunity to improve your business.

Plus, it’s can be very difficult to disconnect because as a blogger, you can work from your phone, laptop, on vacation, and more.

If you’re like me, it is even more difficult to unplug when you love what you’re doing.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Finding a good work life balance means taking breaks from work to enjoy life, and it’s important that you aren’t glued to a screen 24/7.

You need to enjoy what’s going on around you, be present in the moment, and have a life outside of work.

Even if you are enjoying your work, a break is good. A bad work life balance can make you irritable, stressed, impact your relationships, and affect your health.

I know that I’m not alone in needing a better work life balance because, according to Monster.com:

  • Around 50% of workers feel overwhelmed by work.
  • 88% of workers have a difficult time managing a work life balance.
  • One-third of Americans work 10 hours a day or longer.
  • One in five spend another 10 hours per week working from home.

Running a business and being able to travel probably sounds great to the average person, and trust me, it is.

But, like I mentioned earlier, managing a good work life balance is important as it can be easy to let your business or job take over your life.

Related: How I Run A Business While Traveling 365 Days a Year

Here is how I plan on managing a better work life balance.

 

Work ahead.

As some of my long-time readers may know, one of my main focuses has always been working ahead. For Making Sense of Cents, I am usually around 2-3 months ahead in content, which makes full-time traveling much more enjoyable.

Planning and working ahead are what keeps me sane and helps me manage a good work life balance.

So, if I come across an area with no internet, if I really love where I’m visiting, or if I am unable to work for some other reason, then I can still have fun and not feel as stressed out.

Working ahead on blog content means that I am not frantically trying to get writing work done. It allows me to enjoy our time exploring new areas because I am not working on a strict deadline.

This also makes writing much more enjoyable because I only write an article when I am really in love with the topic. I used to feel rushed with my writing when I had something scheduled for the following day.

It can take a little effort to start working ahead, but it’s important if you are looking for a better work life balance.

Related: How To Quit Your Job And Become A Full-Time Blogger

 

Take time off.

Even though I’ve been running this blogging business full-time for almost four years (I started this blog six years ago, but I began while working another job full-time), I don’t think I’ve ever taken a full day off from my blog.

I’m always answering emails, thinking of new ideas, handling social media, writing, and more. While I love everything about blogging, a day off is always a good idea!

So, to work towards a better work life balance, I’m going to start by taking a full day off at least a few times a month. It may not sound like much, but I have to start somewhere, haha!

I’ve tried taking a day off in the past, but it was very difficult because the emails were piling up. On average, I receive well over a few hundred emails per day from people who want answers to something. You can throw in a few hundred spam emails too.

 

Be okay with emails building up.

Like I just said, taking time off means the emails will pile up. Don’t get me wrong, I love answering emails from my readers, and it’s something that I’ll do for at least the foreseeable future.

But, I also love seeing my inbox in the single digits.

I’m good about answering emails quite quickly, as some of you know. However, that can be bad when trying to manage a good work life balance.

It also means that my eyes are almost always glued to my inbox. And, that constant multitasking means I may be losing focus on a more important task.

To fix this problem, I am going to start by only checking emails three times a day, instead of what feels like 1,000 times per day. Eventually, I would like to check my inbox just once a day. Whatever the email is, I’m sure it could wait 24 hours in order to be answered.

 

Be more efficient with my time.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not the most efficient with my time. Although I hardly ever watch TV, I am constantly switching back and forth between work and social media. As a blogger, being on social media is critical, but I’m mainly just wasting time.

By switching back and forth, I am losing focus, which means it takes me longer to complete a task because I keep stopping and starting over and over again.

Social media can be a huge time waste for more than just bloggers, and the average person spends many, many hours on social media each week.

Between Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many others, it can be quite easy to waste your entire day.

If you find that you are spending too much time on social media and that it is negatively impacting you, you may want to shut down the social media accounts that you are spending too much time on. You can even create a time block so you cannot access your accounts during certain periods of the day, and so on.

By spending less time on social media, you won’t have as many time wasting distractions that make it difficult to stay focused.

Just think about what you could do with a few extra hours a day if you stopped spending as much time on social media!

To work towards a better work life balance, I am going to completely close out of social media while I am completing a task. I also won’t be glued to my phone before bed or right after I wake up.

Related: How To Find Time To Make More Money

 

Have a clear schedule and to-do list.

This is one area that I actually do quite well in. However, it’s always great to bring it up because I really believe that it will help others manage a good work life balance.

I don’t know where I would be without my schedule and to-do list. I have a fairly bad memory and forget things almost immediately. Without my to-do list, I would be completely lost and would spend way too much time trying to remember what I’m supposed to do.

My to-do list and schedule keep me on track and motivated. I really love crossing items off my to-do list because I am a huge nerd.

If I know I won’t remember an upcoming task or event, I will create a reminder and add it to my to-do list. This makes managing my life easier because I don’t have to worry about forgetting things, missing payments, etc.

I create reminders for all sorts of things, such as:

  • Business tasks and to-do lists.
  • Appointments.
  • When it’s time to pay estimated quarterly tax payments.
  • Renewing license plate tags for our cars.
  • Paying semiannual bills, like car insurance.

This ensures that I am always on top of exactly what I need to do, and nothing is ever forgotten. I don’t even spend time wondering if I forgot something, which gives me more time to stay focused on what truly matters.

 

Stop multitasking everything.

As you’ve noticed, there’s a common theme in today’s article – stop multitasking.

Some people are good at multitasking, whereas most are not. There is proof out there that multitasking can actually result in wasted time. This is because it takes time to re situate yourself every time you stop and start a task.

I recently read something that said whenever you start and stop a task, you are wasting at least 25 minutes.

That wasted time can really add up.

Instead of multitasking, choose a task and stick to it for a certain amount of time. Don’t try to work while talking on the phone, watching TV, doing dishes, and also Facebook stalking someone in the background.

Some people can multitask successfully, but with the large amount of time it takes to refocus on a new task, many people cannot.

Think about your strengths and weaknesses to understand whether or not multitasking actually helps you save time. For the most part, focusing on a single task will allow you to simplify your life and focus better.

Focusing on one thing at a time is exactly what I will be working towards. If I have multiple tasks that can be done at the same time, I just need to take my time and do them one at a time.

 

Unplug more.

The hardest thing for me about traveling full-time is unplugging from my work.

Being location independent means that you are able to bring your work wherever you go. It also means that it can be hard to separate your work from the rest of your life. This does not make for a good work life balance.

Technology makes it easy to work 24/7, and it makes it very easy to work while traveling. But having time away from your phone, laptop, etc. will allow you time to yourself and to enjoy life a little more.

Whether you work at an office or work for yourself at home, having a set schedule is very important. If you work from home, it can be especially hard to leave work. I often find myself working all morning and all night long.

Setting a schedule that allows you to step away from work is important. And, it might mean that you have to turn off your phone and leave it at home or in a completely different room.

It’s important to find a way to unplug that works for you. Lately, I’ve been going on very long hikes so that I can unplug without any chance of having an internet connection.

An eight hour hike does the mind and body well!

 

Outsource more.

I outsource some tasks, but I could definitely be outsourcing more.

When I tell people that I run Making Sense of Cents 95% on my own, they are shocked. After all, I regularly earn over $100,000 a month and made $979,000 in 2016 alone.

You’d think that there would be a team of people running this business.

But, nope, it’s just me, my editor, and my tech person – and those last two people are part-time.

In order to have a better work life balance, I need to work on outsourcing tasks. I need to find a way to value each task to see if my time is better spent elsewhere.

If you find yourself low on time, then you might want to consider hiring someone to help you out. There are virtual assistants, personal assistants, and everything else out there. You can designate certain tasks that don’t exactly need YOU in order to function.

Plus, you may find that outsourcing certain tasks will give you more time and energy to reach your other goals.

This might mean doing something like hiring someone to mow your lawn, clean your house, or do car repairs. This will give you more time to start your business on the side or whatever your goal might be.

In order to outsource effectively and to make sure that it’s worthwhile, you will want to think about a few things, such as:

  • Could you earn more in that time by outsourcing, or would you be better off doing the work yourself?
  • Do you feel comfortable doing the task, or would you be better off leaving it to an expert?
  • Would outsourcing the task help you focus on your goal?

 

Start saying “no.”

I have a problem with saying “yes” to everyone. I have gotten better, but it still doesn’t come easy.

If you always say “yes” to everything and find yourself with little time for your own tasks, then you might want to learn how to say “no.” Having fewer items on your to-do list will obviously free up some time.

You’re probably thinking “But I HAVE to do that.”

Actually, you probably don’t. You should start by determining the value of the task in terms of how it will affect your work life balance. Could you possibly find someone else to do the task instead? Is the task worth your time?

If you say “yes” to everything but are ready to pull your hair out, then you may want to start saying “no.”

Limiting your accountability can help you stay focused on one thing at a time. It will also simplify your life by allowing you to focus on what’s really important to you.

What do you do in order to manage a better work life balance? Do you have any apps that help you manage it?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. This is spot on! I have a corporate job (work remotely from a home office) and I can feel the pressure rise as my inbox piles up or when I have a hard time focusing in because I am trying to do too many things. Taking time off and really disconnecting is a necessity for me now! I also have found multitasking to be a tool that can help in some situations, but needs to be used wisely so I can also set it aside and focus on single tasks or projects as well.

    1. Yes, disconnecting is so important!

  2. I understand the struggle, Michelle. With my wife, son, full-time job, and trying to get a blog off the ground, I often feel off-balance. My health and sleep certainly take a hit. But, in wanting to be a good husband, father, employee, and side hustler, I try to focus on what I am in that moment.

    Definitely not easy and I fail at it quite often. If I get up early on a day off to work on the blog … and my son happens to wake up earlier than usual … it’s hard to not get frustrated because I have so little time to do things. But, I need to do a better job of rolling with it. I think a to-do list and getting ahead in content are great ways to do that!

    1. I definitely understand! I had all of that going on at one time and didn’t have a kid, and a husband not a wife, and it was stressful ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. After how hard you’ve worked these past 6 years to transform your blog into something truly inspiring, you definitely deserve a break!

    I love all the ideas you list – working ahead is such a great habit to get into and something I’m slowly working towards – no where near 3 months in advance like you though! I hope you manage to find a work-life balance that works for you.

  4. This is such a great post, Michelle! I have been having a hard time balancing my work life after I started my blog four months ago. My relationship with Mr. FAF has suffered the most since I spend less time talking with him than I did before.

    I also have posts scheduled 3 months ahead, but I always feel the pressure to stay on top of it. I haven’t found the right balance yet, but I’m trying.

    1. 3 months of content is great! How many articles is that?

  5. Yes, there are a lot of tasks related to blogging but it is well worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Sarah

    I find work/life balance is a greater challenge when you’re home full-time. When you work and have a side hustle you’re forced to be more disciplined about how your time is spent. But when the day stands before you there are numerous opportunities to get sidetracked.

    Like you, I’ve had to make myself take a break. My energy has been wholly invested in the launch and I was spending too much time indoors! I’m investing in a bike as a motivation for good health and fresh air.

    I think that’s the other thing, you need a life outside of your work. I have instituted a firm quitting time and wind down with a good book. Rest and play are equally important and we’re prone to neglect them both when we’re hard at work.

    1. Yes, you definitely need a life outside of work.

  7. Don’t be too hard on yourself for working every day!! If you enjoy it, I don’t see the problem with that. I mean, the reality is if you do take a few full days off, your inbox and to-do list will be HUGE, which is so stressful!! I’d much rather do an hour here and there while enjoying life than have to come back to a bunch of stress :/

  8. I’m still hiding from the emails that’s building up as we speak. If life wanted me to be productive today, they shouldn’t have come after a 4 day holiday. I’m sleep deprived because I didn’t work ahead and I didn’t unplug (at all actually!) Aww nuts, I need to work on 70% of this post.

    1. I hope you start doing better ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a work-in-progress.

  9. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Cool idea with outsourcing! I know a lot of people are pro-insourcing, but there are totally times where you need to bring in some outside help. I’ve been shocked at the amount of maids FIRE bloggers hire, but hey, to each their own.

    I also cannot swear enough by the power of keeping a schedule and to-do list! Structuring your day is so, so important for actually getting shiz done.

    1. Yes, definitely! Hiring help is something I need to become more comfortable with.

  10. Yes, it’s definitely easy to get consumed by blogging if you love it – I know I do!

  11. Kvnqprezo

    Managing work balance is one thing I’m struggling, I find out social media Is usually my distraction and also sticking to schedule. I always get distracted or my attention being diverted, sometimes the whole blogging stuff seems overwhelming.
    .
    This article has helped me learnt one or two things I will use to improve LoveNancials…
    .
    Thanks Michelle!

    1. Yes, I’ve been deleting social media apps from my phone whenever I find that I’m losing focus.

      1. Kvnqprezo

        Thanks, i think I will start doing just that !

  12. I like the idea of “ask me” sections where readers submit questions, which can be answered by the blogger or by other readers. Might be more effective than answering mounds of reader e-mails.

    For me, working ahead has been pure gold – I don’t see a way to run a blog without it. Life happens, and sometimes you can’t write for a while. Having worked ahead is a wonderful solution.

    1. Yes, working ahead for a blog is a MUST in my opinion.

  13. Natalie

    Have you tried Bullet Journaling or The Five Minute Journal? I think both could help you prioritize your to-do lists, set goals, and find more time in your schedule for not working (aka doing more of what you love). I’m just getting into them (and have a review coming soon)!

    1. I have not – I’d love to read your review!

  14. I can identify with pretty much every issue you’ve outlined. I have definitely taken full days off, though. On top of a website and all the associated tasks (forums, social media, etc…), I’ve got the full time doctor job, a couple kids and a dog.

    I do outsource working with advertisers (selling and placement of ads) with a business manager, but do the rest myself at the moment. It will all get a bit easier this fall when I become a part-time anesthesiologist.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

  15. Such a great article. Can totally relate to having trouble “turning it off”. Love watching your travels on Instagram!

  16. Cath @ Get Money Wise

    I completely relate to all of this. Even reading this article I was multi-tasking and updating my email sequence!

    Between a full time job, the blog, two kids and trying to get my freelance marketing agency off the ground my balance is all out of whack.

    I am trying to be better at single tasking and saying no more.

  17. pia

    Ah yes, I remember the time when I was blogging professionally. It was quite the struggle to maintain a healthy work life balance! Even when I was invited out for events, it was still always work. Especially because of the niche I was professionally blogging about, image was super important so even the way I had to present myself was hard work. Thankfully I’ve quit that now!

    I think you are very wise, and the most important lesson I had to learn was how to say no. It’s so, so hard, and when you start wondering if saying no to this ‘opportunity’ will hurt your blog, you end up saying yes to everything. But saying no is healthy and in fact, the blog will prosper more for it. So hooray you!

    1. Yes, definitely! Saying no is important.

  18. Heather

    Michelle,
    About how many hours do you work every week?

    1. It really depends. Sometimes it’s just a few hours a week and then others, such as when I’m brainstorming a lot of things), it may be 100. The amount of time me actually working is quite low – I do a lot of learning on blogging and new methods, as well as brainstorming ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Yes! Sometimes, I feel bad for not working, so then I’ll just find something to do.

  20. Eliza

    That’s funny, I keep thinking that once I get my blog established and figure out all the little things the work / life balance will come easily. Obviously not! One of my biggest issues is knowing when to call it quits for the day. I keep 10 tabs open and the document I’m currently working on just in case I get a little bit more time in the evening. That usually just leads to a mad rush to shut down everything and figure out what I still need before going to bed.

  21. I definitely need to unplug more, on the weekends. It’s a habit to keep my laptop open, but that means I’m tempted to work or waste time on social media. I used to think that I had to work all the time, or be available at all times for clients, but in reality I don’t- sometimes it takes a direct note to clients that you’re not available, because otherwise they will be accustomed to emailing you at all hours!

  22. Nick Vail

    I too need to start checking email less frequently. That’s so impressive that you have 2-3 months of content already brewing. I strive to have that kind of content strategy!

  23. There are so many points that I can relate to. Being a blogger, I feel I have been online all the time. I definitely need to unplug more, especially during weekends and holidays. I am also trying to reduce multi-tasking so that I can be more focused and stay productive. Your post confirmed that I am on the right track. Thanks for sharing those ideas.

  24. Hello!

    I found this blog about three months ago and it has been so inspiring and important to me–it’s especially inspiring to read you write on this topic. Your blog really does make things make sense for me. As a 22 year old recent grad with a lot of student debt and vague ideas about what I want to be doing, I really appreciate this place on the internet. It’s even inspired me to ~finally!~ launch my own blog.

    I’m so excited for your 2017 goals and look forward to seeing you grow with them! Thank you for everything you do!

  25. Work-life balance is not a system of having your work and life take exactly the same amount of hours or focus.

  26. Great post and I’m a little behind on getting around to reading it! Thank you for this and if you are able to do a follow up in 6 months or a year that would be great too. Maybe in 6 months you can also do a post about outsourcing and let us know what things you have outsourced, if it worked, why or why not, etc. Both business things and personal. Oh and I thought your hubs was invovled with the biz too? Maybe he is your third employee? Thanks again!

  27. Thanks, Michelle, great tips, I need to improve my work-life balance, I tend to work 24/7 and find it hard to stop working, as I really enjoy living my dreams, but I will definitely start integrating relaxation time more into my routine. Have a great day!

  28. Sarvan

    The most important life lesson today I learn is that we have to manage our time properly in order to live a happy and balanced life. Yes, I manage my time well but do not outsource anything. I generally try to do it by myself. I will definitely be going to change my plan a little bit after reading this awesome article.