Achieving Work/Life Balance: 10 Things Not to Do

Filed Under: Inspiration , Article , advice

This story was originally published by AIGA Colorado.

There’s work/life bal­ance, and then there’s design.

Most design­ers I know fit into one of two cat­e­gories: worka­holics and, well, actu­ally that may be the only kind I know. Our pro­fes­sion demands it. Working with clients, managing teams and deadlines, chas­ing down infor­ma­tion, and mak­ing each design thoughtful and unique. We top it off with the ever-important eye for detail. These things take time and brain­power; it’s hard to stay cre­ative every day and we risk seri­ous burnout.

The answer sounds sim­ple: Find work-life balance.

I found it ironic when one of our AIGA board mem­bers recently wanted to do a ses­sion on the topic, but every­one she reached out to said no. They were all so over­worked that she couldn’t find any­one who actu­ally had achieved that myth­i­cal state of nir­vana that most of us can only dream about. Thankfully, she even­tu­ally found a great speaker for the event. I was too busy to go.

I con­sider myself some­thing of an expert on the topic, mainly because I’ve done it wrong for most of my 25 years work­ing as a designer. But I can tell you, based on what I’ve done, what not to do. So here are my tips. Do the opposite.

  1. Start each day early (like bleary-eyed dark time-frame) with a strong cup of cof­fee and your email inbox. This will ensure that you’ll need read­ers by the time you hit your 40’s.

  2. Put “Go to the gym” as an auto repeat in your cal­en­dar, then never go. You’ll have good inten­tions, but by the time your eyes are in focus your clients will be send­ing emails ask­ing “how’s that lay­out com­ing along?”, which is code for “I really think I need this in an hour.”

    Pour second cup of coffee.

  3. Say yes. To everything.

  4. When con­sid­er­ing adding to your cal­en­dar, don’t worry about how many days you fill up. If there’s an empty slot, it’s fair game. Definitely don’t allow extra travel time or the lee­way to fit in errands while you’re out.

  5. Remember that you are the only per­son who can pos­si­bly do the job right. Don’t enlist help or spread the work around.

  6. If you don’t know how to do it, fake it and say yes any­way. Figure it out tonight when things are quiet. That’s what after-dinner hours are for... along with the char­ity project you took on pro bono (my cur­rent one is for an art center).

  7. This one is impor­tant: take every­thing seri­ously. Like your life depends on it.

  8. Do not learn how to man­age up, always let stuff roll down­hill and wait at the bot­tom with a catcher’s mitt.

  9. Answer the phone.

  10. Eat at your desk and work weekends.

Fffffffffffffffff Sorry. I dozed off a minute because I’m writ­ing this at bed­time when I should actu­ally be asleep.

If you fol­low these ten tips, you’ll enjoy reward­ing rela­tion­ships, stay fit, and be happy in life while you advance your career. Ok, no seriously, (LOL) I hope you do a bet­ter job of this than I have. Those 25 years went by like THAT. One day you might wake up and real­ize things you missed. Forgive me, but I won’t be in the stu­dio this week­end. I just decided to go skiing.

About the Author:

Intelligent Design.

Leslie founded Connexion Creative, Inc., a branding and design firm that specializes in marketing for global technology and clean tech companies. Connexion has provided design and marketing services for companies like IBM, Mincom, Hyatt Escala properties, APEX Analytix, Informix and others. Our range of services include websites, infographics, animated presentations, brochures/printed collateral and trade show materials.