5 Ways To Balance Your Married Life and Work

5 Ways To Balance Your Married Life and Work

What does it mean to have a successful business? What does it mean to have a successful family? What does it mean to have a successful life?

Obviously, there is not one definition for success, although there may be some social norms that we base our definitions on. Maybe it's making a certain amount of money. Maybe it's staying married for a certain amount of years. Maybe it has nothing to do with either of those!

As a business owner, husband, and father, I have personal definitions of what success means to me, and those definitions are changing all the time. The hard part is making both business and personal success escalate at the same time and, ideally, at the same rate. It seems almost impossible these days to put enough attention into both aspects of our lives, and sadly many of us (including myself at times) choose the wrong priority to spend our time and energy on.

I have found that the times that I am putting my business first, my family suffers and my business in turn suffers. I have also found that when I put my family first, my family thrives and my business actually thrives as well. This of course can be the same for those who aren't married or in a committed relationship too. When you have a proper balance of attention on your personal life and your business life, with your personal life being held to the higher priority, you feel more confident and energized, which in turn makes you better at your job. So next time you're feeling burnt out, take a few minutes to read through this list of tips that may help you get your priorities straight again and bring your energy back.

5 Ways To Balance Your Life and Work

1 - Spend time with your spouse before work

I often wake up thinking of all the things on "the list" and am eager to get started on my work day. As a result of going straight to work and not tidying up my wet towels off the floor and helping the kids have breakfast, my wife starts off her day more frazzled and it can sometime lead to a day of her feeling overwhelmed with all the things on her list. If I take 30-45 minutes first thing in the morning to tidy up, run a load of dishes, and help the kids get ready, it starts my wife's day off better and often results in a more productive day for both of us.

2 - Schedule your work hours

With not having a typical 9-5 job, we have the freedom of working when we want. This should be a freedom, but it can often be a trap if we love what we do. If you get an email in your 9-5 job that comes in at 8pm at night, typically you won't see it until the next day. When you are self-employed, you have the "freedom" of checking your emails all the time, and when we see that new client inquiry come in at 8pm, how dare we wait until the next day to respond. It is important to schedule work hours.

In the photography business we can end up working a lot of evenings, this shouldn't mean that we work 9-5 and then again at 6-10pm. If you know you are going to work at night, schedule time in your day to have time with your family, your hobby, or whatever else you need to do. Sometimes when we don't work all the time, it can mean that we actually more efficient during the time we do work. Facebook and email are a huge part of my business. Most of our business comes from Facebook, so I could justify my time by myself being on Facebook for a large part of the day, but as you probably have experienced, it can be a huge time-waster. Be purposeful on Facebook and email. Schedule 2-3 times a day for half and hour or so to be on Facebook and email.

If you're a mom, you may find it extra difficult to find quality time to work. You may find that you can keep kids entertained for periods of time so you can get your work done throughout the day. Speaking on behalf of my wife, it is not easy to try to work, while trying to parent kids at the same time in the day. Carissa has found it to be more worthwhile to get a babysitter or swap babysitting with her friends a few times a week so she can be productive with her work during those hours, while the kids are having fun with other kids and she can focus on being a present mom while her kids are at home. If this isn't an option for you, having quiet time for an hour or two can be a great way to get in a little bit of work. During this time, our kids play quietly in their room with their toys or nap. There is definitely a balance, and photographer moms need a standing ovation.

3 - Go on dates and don't talk business

It is so easy to date before getting married, but what happens 5 years later? Life gets in the way. Date nights become watching shows together at 10pm trying not to fall asleep. Keep your marriage or your relationships with your loved ones strong. Set aside time. SCHEDULE and PLAN IT!! Mark dates on your calendar and even go a step further and actually plan where you are going and possibly make reservations and babysitting plans. You are more likely to go out if you have it already planned. Yes, babysitting is expensive, but your marriage is a worthwhile investment. Even though life as a photographer can be exciting, try to keep business out of conversation.

4 - Keep boundaries with your work out of respect for your spouse/partner

In an industry that can be heavily reliant on sexual appeal, we can sometimes find ourselves in compromising situations that aren't healthy for our marriages. You know yourself better than anyone else does, including your spouse, so make sure you hold yourself accountable for the situations you put yourself in with your business. If you find that a particular thing will often bring about conflict in your marriage, but you still believe it to be innocent, put your relationship first and avoid that situation. It's just not worth it.

5 - Maintain a budget and keep your living and working costs low so you don't have to work as much

Our world is nagging us all the time to keep up with the Jones'. Our world is telling us, "we work hard, we deserve this new car".  It is hard to not get sucked into buying what our world is telling us that we deserve. It is easy to look at the neighbour's new boat or RV and think that we "deserve" those too. If we make the decision to keep our costs low, we don't feel the pressure to work as much. I'm pretty sure I won't be on my death bed saying, "If only I had worked a little more, I could have bought that new camera", but I could definitely see myself saying, "I wish I spent more time with my family."

 

I can't stress enough how much of an ever-changing balancing act it is to succeed in business and personal life. Leave a comment with what has helped you achieve balance in your life, it just may be the exact thing somebody else needs to hear right now!

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15 Comments

Nice article Matt. Now that we have a baby this is even more important then ever so I'm really careful to try and stick to scheduled work hours as much as possible.

Matt Kennedy's picture

Thanks Chris! Great to hear you're putting in the effort!

Rob Trendiak's picture

Being A husband and wife photography/Hair/Makeup team and holding our marriage higher than our jobs we feel this tension every single day! Great article!!! www.trendicreative.com

Matt Kennedy's picture

That's awesome, keep up the good work Rob!

Michael Kormos's picture

Matt, as a fellow dad, business owner, and a husband, you bet - I can relate. Being in the retail portrait business, most of our weekends are booked with back-to-back photo sessions, which leaves the week to do everything else (fulfill customer orders, design albums, edit photos, answer e-mails, consult new customers, answer the phone, and about a dozen other things I can't remember). Last year, during our busy season (Sep-Dec), we've decided to make an active effort and set aside two "family days" for us and the kids. It's one thing to discuss a way to improve the family life, and quite another to put those words to use. So our work calendar now includes two weekdays each week as OFF time. E-mails get checked and answered before 9am, and then it's hasta-la-vista to everything "work". A lot of times we'll just put the kids in the car and set off to... wherever.

But man, does it take active effort to keep the business talk at bay! During date nights, my wife and I often start out chatting about ourselves, the kids, the future.. (yah), but one way or another, it always seems to end with business talk! I suppose if you're passionate about what you do, and have grown your business over the years into what it is today, the lines between personal and business get blurred (especially when you work with your wife full-time!).

At the end of the day, I may not think much about success, but the happiness part is definitely there. And to me, I think that matter more than anything :-)

Great post, and thanks for sharing! http://www.michaelkormos.com

PS: The comment system on this site seems awfully unreliable. One out of 3 comments I leave don't seem to show-up. I would have someone look into it, especially when articles like these invite active discussion.

Zach Sutton's picture

Sometimes our comments take a minute or two to show up. But it's all ran by Disqus, which is used on over 3 million websites worldwide. Occasionally they will mark your comments as spam by accident...but usually, its pretty efficient.

Matt Kennedy's picture

Thanks for your comments Michael! It's inspiring to hear of more people out there who are putting in time and effort to build their families! It's hard in this business as weekends are often work times, so good on you to make your own "weekend"!

I love this article! Great perspective and insight into making decisions for all the right reasons. I do however, feel these are insights made for businesses already established or doing well. When you're just starting out, perhaps the priorities are not aligned the same as they will be down the road. Could you provide thoughts on how you knew you were at the point where you could put your business second... Because it isn't always this clear of a line when you're trying to make photography a full-time career?!

Thank you!

Matt Kennedy's picture

Hey Ashley! I'd love to hear more about your particular situation and then I could give a bit more feedback for you. I would say that one of my main points of this article, and where I stand on the situation is that you actually do need to ALWAYS have your family first and business second...not just once you've gotten to a success point in your business. I do hear you that it's hard to make it a full time business though. My opinion is that if you have a strong marriage and family life, your family will support you in what you need to do for your business MUCH more than if you put all your time into your business without their full blessing. Not sure if that's enough detail for specifics to actually help right now, but I'm happy to help still! It's a work in progress for us too :)

Spencer Lefevre's picture

Very good article!! So true even when starting out. I work 40 Hours in Information Technology and then easily 30-40 Hours in growing my business. My girlfriend is a huge help and often reminds me to put family first. Thanks for sharing Matt!

Matt Kennedy's picture

Keep that girl around Spencer! She's a keeper!

This is a great article, thanks for the great tips ;)

Best article I've read for a while. Speaks the natural and logical truth which we often sadly choose to neglect.

This article was certainly on time for me. My husband and I work and raise a daughter together out of our home. Our business is fairly new so I feel the harder we work the more reward for the future. The biggest challenge for us is to know when to turn the work button off. Its so easy to get up from the dinner table to run into the office for calls or emails. Or schedule a late evening shoot for a client because our studio space is in our home as well. I feel soo hungry to be successful its hard to even schedule date nights, I find my mind wondering back toward working and thinking about time frames for shooting and editing turn overs. I think you have made some healthy suggestions to stay balanced. Now only to put them to action. Thanks Matt, make it a productive week!!!.Bontisharosephotography.com

I really liked this article Matt... You described some situations just like what it happens to me and my wife.. We will try to apply your suggestions asap. Thanks.