There I was, standing in the middle of a dirty living room. My dog barking uncontrollably, my husband asking me questions about money, and my mind thinking about emails that needed to be returned. I had finally reached my breaking point. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. As I stood there, my brain slowly began to shut down. All I really wanted was to curl up on the couch, and be left alone for eternity. Since I could remember, I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and work in film. When the universe delivered both, I realized I didn’t really understand what I had asked for. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I love what I do, but at times I found myself going into overwhelm, and soon after hitting a brick wall. Between being the Director of Social Media and Marketing & a partner at the Bushwick Film Festival, being married, owning a dog, having grown up duties like paying bills & cleaning the house, I found myself falling behind not only in work but also in life.
When you choose to become an entrepreneur, you never think about the difficulties that tend to come with such a feat. You don’t imagine yourself running around from meeting to meeting, answering emails by phone while on the train, staying up to the wee hours of the morning, forgetting to eat, pay bills, or do laundry. We focus on the “endless” free time, the power suit, the business cards that read Founder and CEO. We become blinded by the elite status of being a young, up and coming mover and shaker. Working for yourself sounds enticing, but when you get down to it the work, at times, can be very unsexy. But the truth is, building something from the ground up can be transformational, your life will never be the same. Once I realized that I could no longer give 100% of myself to my home life or work life, something inside of my shifted. I liberated myself from all expectation, and decided to go with what felt good to my well-being. Here are three examples of changes I made in my life, in order to simplify and create a healthy coexistence between work and home.
Take the time to be alone.
Between working with my two partners, interns, meetings, and making time for family and friends, I realized there was little time left for me. I was so focused on dividing my time between others; I forgot to leave some for myself. This can drive you crazy. A little bit of alone time is healthy and beneficial to your mental state. I love waking up early in the morning and taking a half hour to write or meditate. It helps clear my mind and sets the tone for a less stressful day. Think of a couple things that put you at ease, and create a morning routine around them. I promise it will feel a lot better than waking up and checking emails.
Create a designated personal day.
If you want to lead a more balanced life, this step is very important. Things fall through the cracks, especially if you’re spreading yourself too thin. I have dedicated a portion of my Monday’s and Fridays to my personal life. On these days I do laundry, clean the house, pay bills, and run errands. By doing this, I have made my life a priority, and it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed in the long run. Also set aside your weekend for family, friends and extracurricular activities. I understand that the weekend is the perfect time to catch up on emails, work on that very important project, or stay at home and do nothing. But connecting with people is so important. It’s a great stress reliever, and when you’re not stressed, that’s when you tend to have your best ideas.
As an entrepreneur your work tends to follow you everywhere. I had created the bad habit of checking my emails, what seemed like, every other second. I was constantly plugged in. It wasn’t until I made the distinction of leaving my work at work, and my personal life at home, that I created some much needed boundaries. It is very rare that the two ever meet. I have found that blurring the lines only create frustration and overwhelm. If I do bring work home, I take an hour or two to finish the day, and once I’m finished, I’m finished. For me, this is very cut and dry. It may not be for you, but it is important to define where work ends and your personal life begins. Your home should be a stress free, relaxation zone. It is important that you allow yourself to rest and recharge.
I understand that you want to be awesome at your job, be an amazing significant other, and look good while doing it, but the truth is we are human beings not robots, and if you don’t take care of your well-being, your company and your life will suffer. The life of an entrepreneur is truly extraordinary, take the time to enjoy and embrace every moment, because if you don’t, you just might miss the good stuff.
Casey Johnson-Aksoy is the Director of Social Media and Marketing at the Bushwick Film Festival. She works along the side of her two amazing business partners Kweighbaye Kotee (CEO and Director of Programming) and Meenakshi Thirkude (Director of New Media). The Bushwick Film Festival celebrates the art of filmmaking, provides a platform for artists to showcase their work, and brings diversity to the film industry.
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