Mr. + Mrs. Work and Play

May 6, 2015

Working from home is lounging in cozy pjs, mugs of warm coffee steaming in the sunlight, gobs of inspiration and oodles of time! Yes! No.
Okay so it is like that some of the time, and we are so super blessed to get to do it, but it's crazy challenging to stay motivated and find balance. In the process of working through our struggles we've learned a ton about how to create a healthy work/life balance. So whether you own your own business or not, work from home or in an office, we want to share with y'all our 7 rules for finding balance and some important questions to ask yourself to start on the path of enjoying your life during downtime, while still being super productive when working!


In the first few years of our photography business when Craig and I noticed we were staying stressed most of the time, we realized one of the major reasons was because we were ALWAYS a cell phone "ding" away from working. We concluded that we were letting our business run us rather than the other way around. I am all about getting back to our clients A.S.A.P. but constantly checking our email, and always being on call was driving us bananas! So we started making rules.


1) Set business hours for yourself.
You need a set time to be "Closed" so you can enjoy the rest of your life. Do you want to work with clients that call you at 9pm? Or a boss or co-worker that thinks that's okay? You control when you're available --no one else! Always being available is draining, and you run the risk of burn out.

2) Take it out of your brain and put it on paper.
At the end of each work day, before you're "Closed" make a short "To Do" list for the next day so you know what needs to get done. This list needs to be priority based and short. Do you're self a favor and remember you're time and energy are limited so pinpoint what will make the biggest impact on your day and do those first. No more running through things while trying to go to sleep!! And if you do suddenly find yourself doing this grab your phone or a piece of paper and write down everything you're thinking about so you can free your mind and SLEEP! It's important.

3) Don't check your email more than TWICE a day!
Seriously, is this really an emergency or a fabricated one by the person who emailed/contacted you? Get some stuff done on YOUR "To Do" list fist before you invite in distractions or other "To Dos"! 

4) Don't check your email first.
Do the critical things on your priority list first then see what other people want you to do with your time.

5) Get it in writing.
Chatting with clients or coworkers on the phone and in meetings is a great way to get to know them and bond, but it's not the best way to actually make a plan. If a client/coworker/boss calls you and gives you a bunch of details you need to remember you're most likely going forget them (or you're not near a pen, and if you do write it down you run the risk of spilling coffee on, or losing said note). Instead I ask people to shoot me an email with the details. This way things are clear concise and you can look back on them if need be. Also it is more respectful of both parties time, because you can check it when it's convenient for you.

6) Set your smart phone so it will not alert you constantly.
It's hard to not look when you hear that notification, but do you really need to know the exact second someone emails you? Always?! In your personal life maybe but not in business with few exceptions. You can set your phone to receive messages twice a day, and it's good to let clients and co-workers know that it's best to contact you via email.

7) Don't answer the phone if you don't know who is calling.
Now this might sound crazy especially if you're in a service based industry like photography or a realtor, but this is something I herd Tim Ferriss say and it is so true!! Being taken off guard puts you in a poor negotiating position. If the person calling really wants/needs to speak with you there is no harm in letting it go to voicemail. This way you save both parties time by calling them back with all the answers to their questions. Most of the time if said caller doesn't leave a voicemail then it's most likely not important. Honestly this was one rule I was most hesitant about for fear that I would miss a client that might like to book a shoot, and what if they didn't want to leave a VM or thought I didn't care about them!! But I quickly realized that people will gladly leave a VMs or email me. I haven't lost anything but only gained peace of mind and the ability to save us both time by being prepared for the conversation.


It's important to know what works best for you when it comes to your schedule and being productive, so here's some major questions to ask yourself.

When am I most productive, energetic and clear minded?
If you're clearer in the morning say between 8am-10am, then get up in time to start your work day by 8am. Alternately if your a night owl and think best at 9pm then don't plan to be up early. If you can work your schedule out to get the most out of your productive time.

When am I least productive, tired, foggy and lazy?
Do yourself a favor and don't plan anything that requires you to get things done during this time. Pay close attention to your ebbs and flows throughout the day. It's important to not force yourself if you can to work during a time when you'll just be waisting it checking Instagram because you're tired and can't focus! For example I know I'm not productive between 3pm-5pm, I'm okay if I'm at a shoot physically working but definitely no good during this time when it comes to desk work. I tend to be slightly grumpy due to fatigue and feel useless. So rather than fight against myself I usually try and do something more physical than mental during that time like be at a photoshoot, or do a couple chores I've been putting off, or go on a short walk (the former is the best).

What meal is most important to me?
ALL OF THEM, duh! For example if you love breakfast, as we do, then whatever time you carve out for it needs to give you plenty of time to prepare and enjoy eating it. In this case it wouldn't be smart start your day so late that you can't enjoy breakfast and have to just stuff something in your mouth while doing other things. Boo! Let yourself enjoy the simple things in life OKAY!?
Craig and I usually don't want to take a lot of time preparing lunch so typically it's something simple and easy like leftovers or a sandwich. Supper is always different depending on the day we've had, sometimes it's cook, and savor over candle light and sometimes it's whatever is easiest while watching TV. Just customize your day to fit how and when you like to eat. Don't lie to yourself and say it's not important!

What environment is most conducive to my work?
Beach side anyone?!
(Nope do yourself a favor and separate work and play! Actually get shizz done so you can truly enjoy playtime!)
Think about how you work, what you do, and what you need readily available and organized so you can make the most of your work time. If you need people and stimulation go to a park or coffee shop, if you need peace and quiet carve out a good spot at home for that, or work at the library.  Make a place and space that works for you so you can be productive. Craig and I do our best to have specific areas in our home just for work that we can physically walk away from when the work time is over.

The common thread in all of this is to take the time.... the time to ask yourself questions to get to know yourself better, the time to pay attention to what you REALLY want, the time to find what motivates you, and what brings you down. Do you want to live to work, or work to live? If your answer is the former then it's important to find what works for you, and remind yourself that you don't have to do things the way everyone else does them. You're only trapped if you let yourself be! You have the power to make your life what you want and need it to be!
Please leave a comment below and let us know if these tips help y'all, and what advice y'all have for finding work/life balance!


Here are some great books, podcasts and websites we love that get us super inspired!

FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK  - Life changing book!

TIM FERRISS PODCAST  - So much good info on how to be more productive and live a better life!

THE ART OF MANLINESS PODCAST  - Seriously, not just for guys! We both love listening to these podcasts!!

THE WAR OF ART  - Not just for artists!

THE CREATIVE HABIT - One of the books that inspired me to keep looking for something more in life!

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