A Writer’s Balance

Photo Credit: @ajevs via instagram

Life balance. Gentle enough words, by themselves. But put them together and they pack a punch. Or a wallop, if your life’s currently stuck on spin cycle.

For years I daydreamed about living a balanced writer’s life. As the West Coast Editor of Balance magazine for six years, it’s fair to say I was obsessed with the topic. BALANCE (all caps) was on our masthead. Atop my stationery. Front and center on my website. And, of course, it was the underlying subject of all my interviews.

“You can only be balanced in your finances if you’re balanced in your life!”

warned Suze Orman over the phone well into our interview. I had about $23 in my checking account at the time and three piles of dirty laundry ten paces from the phone. Ouch. Mental note. HURRY UP and get balanced before next month’s rent check is due.

“I was a people pleaser to such a degree that I lost myself in another identity,”

said the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, explaining how being out of balance amidst England’s royal family caused her to “live a lie.” I don’t know if you remember, but with the back-to-back thrashing of Di (as in, Princess Di) & Fergie both living their lies, the two beauties nearly took down the House of Windsor! (Honestly, you can look it up.) Phew. Since I was raised in an environment where the #1 goal was to make sure everyone was happy, it’s a good thing the English Lord I had a crush on in college never asked me to marry him. Who knows what would have become of the aristocracy!

“Oh, balance… that’s not an easy thing! If you told me that somebody had a handle on it, I’d wonder,”

said Jaclyn Smith. Thank God. Someone was giving me permission to be out of balance. Still, while I pulled all-nighters so that I could be Mom during the day and meet those book and magazine deadlines, that bloody word haunted my dreams and stalked my marriage. Jaclyn or no Jaclyn, there had to be a way!

As any businesswoman who’s trying to have any kind of romantic life will tell you—juggling biz + deadlines is no easy task. If your work requires peace and quiet, and your home life is anything like mine was (with a hunky hyper husband who worked predominately from home and tempted me with frequent chat sessions), well, you learn to access your best brainpower at 3 am. But as he went off to the gym on his own in the mornings, or watched movies without me, or went to bed five hours before I stumbled in, I knew something had to give and I ached to figure it out.

Figuring it out took time. And a lot of ache. Some of the lessons were excruciating—especially the one where my marriage ended, involving a woman with a lot more time on her hands. Some were celebratory (I knew hitting the New York Times bestseller list would forever make the rest of my career easier and be worth all those long hours… that, thankfully, panned out to be very true).

I now have oh so much more time, and all the good things with which to fill it.

Yes, some of the mystery of how to coax, cajole, capture, control, and continue to create an increasingly balanced life has revealed itself to me over the years. I suppose that’s a bit of the reward for all that seeking.

Mostly, what I learned was simple, logical stuff. Better habits. Like no longer watching daytime TV, EVER, when I want to get all my work done and go to bed with my man (yep, second chances, baby). TV may be great for research (as in, “How do you know so much about so many things?” “Oh, Oprah!”), but there are other ways.

And time tracking. Sounds nasty, but like swigs of fish oil, it could hold the key to your salvation. My boyfriend runs a large organization with 3,000 employees. Somehow he can go through 400 emails in an hour and retrieve any of them months later. Okay, he’s a freak of nature. But I pay attention to his freaky tricks. For instance, at my request, he made me a handy Excel spreadsheet so that I could log my hours. I’ve never found a better way to get a handle on what I’m really doing and how long things really take. “Honey, I’m going to spend 20 hours on my website this week” was more like 100 hours in real time. Shocker. Without his tracker, I’d never have known I was eating up so much daylight. And, now that I know, I can better plan for next time.

Those are just a few of the gems I’ve been lucky enough to trip over in in the past few years. I’d love to know what you’ve learned about balancing work + love in your own life.

On that note, I’m doing a juicy interview with a wonderful woman, Kavita Jhaveri-Patel, on this subject for an “Outrageous Love + Money” event. If you’d like to hear our conversation, and 9 other business experts + 9 relationship experts on their “secrets to having ultimate success in love and money,” join us here.

The best part is: there’s NO cost to attend any of our conversations. I’d love for you to join me. This is going to be spicey for sure, and I’m so honored to have been included with these incredible women.

To reserve your spot, go HERE.

And may your weekend be especially celebratory (and balanced)!




Jan 21, 2012   /   8 Comments

8 responses to “A Writer’s Balance”

  1. Racheal Cook says:

    Perfect timing on this tip! I’ve come to realize that the idea of perfect balance, you know the kind with percentages of time divided between work, kids, love, and yeah, taking care of yourself, is often an illusion. Time tracking has been huge for me to ensure that time isn’t wasted, but if I spend an extra 10 hours one week working, as long as I give myself a break the following week I’m fine. Looking forward to the teleseries! xo

  2. linda says:

    Great point, Rachael! Thanks for the input! Xxx

  3. Sabrina Ali says:

    Working on a freebie product for my website – an imagery. In writing about it and how to use it, I wrote: “Balance isn’t something you do, it’s a state of mind.” So whatever you do to create that state of mind is what counts.

    I appreciate the insights and excerpts from your past interviews (+ your reflections). Thanks,

  4. LOL! Love this post. Balance…what a lovely concept. Thanks for the good word!

  5. Juanita Ramsey says:

    Hi Linda,
    Thanks for the reminders. The Healers of the Peruvian Andes call the concept AYNI and it is the basis of most of the work they do: bringing oneself, one’s work, family, community, and the planet into ayni IS the work that is always called for. I realized from my horse riding that BALANCE is as Sabrina wrote a state of mind AND it is a moment to moment practice. Living from all three centers: head, heart and hara. Oh, one last thing, balance is hardest to maintain while standing in one place.

  6. Linda, the time tracking thing is SOOOO true (and I’m NOT a natural time-tracker). I started using Toggl (toggl.com) and it has been a huuuge eye opener. (No, I am not affiliated with it in any way. just love it). When we are aware of where our time goes, it informs SO much. Also, just knowing I’m tracking time makes me use it more intentionally.

    Another thing I’ve done is looked closely at the environment I work in (I’m an entrepreneur so I have the luxury of a quite flexible work environment), noting what environment feeds what type of activities. Writing for clients needs one type of environment. Blog writing for my biz, another type of environment. Planning time needs other things. Music (on/off/genre/volume), lighting, seating (sofa, office chair, armchair), private (home) vs public (coffee shop/diner).

    Why spend so much time figuring out that stuff re: environment and time tracking? I’ve found it allows me to be efficient with my energy. Which helps keep me in “flow” much more. Which naturally lends itself more to balance.

    Phew! :)

  7. Val Rosile says:

    I’m with Starla – recognizing where and when I am most productive has changed my use of my time. No more time-sucking activities when I want to be productive makes space in my life for the stuff that really matters!

    Also, I cut myself a freakin’ break. If I want to go to yoga and spend those 2 hours on building my soul instead of my business, I know that it will payoff ten-fold. It’s all about perspective. xx

  8. […] clicking open an email from Linda’s mailing list and coming across something like this piece, A Writer’s Balance. Gorgeous, refreshing, reassuring. Great […]

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