Managing multiple priorities is one of the biggest challenges for freelancers, especially ones who are just starting their careers. In this month's blog post, Sandra D. (Embark editor emeritus) explains how she juggles the demands of her home life and new career.
I AM A WORD NERD, a girl who loves the quiet space that books, editing, reading, and writing provide. I also happen to live in a very small, loud house with four young kids whom I am attempting to mother. The irony is not lost on me. As a parent, I sometimes find it difficult to juggle my kids’ needs alongside the demands of my editing and writing career. In all honesty, I find it far too easy to lose my equilibrium, to loosen my grip on professional aspirations, and to stuff away my desire to balance both of these (very) good things. Yet, I am also resolutely stubborn—I get this endearing trait from my dear dad—and when the chaos subsides each night, I take fresh stock and refuse to submit to anyone’s limitations, much less my own.
I’m sure I’m not alone in finding the work-life balance hard to achieve. But, in defense of a robust, well-rounded life and livelihood, I want to reassure my fellow editors that personal and professional balance is possible and offer some tips that I use for staying sane under siege. Use these strategies to find your way to a happier balance between your first love (editing, of course!) and all your other loves, whatever they may be.
Tip #1: Trust in Your Training & Stay Positive
Believe in your ability to continue to grow professionally throughout your career. Challenge yourself by editing varying types of copy. Go to conferences. Get newly published books or pick up classic texts on the art and practice of the editing craft. Read the newspaper, do crossword puzzles for fun, and find intriguing reads at the local bookshop downtown.
Those of you at Embark have the benefit of excellent resources to aid you as you build your experience. You have the opportunity to receive honest, collaborative feedback from both your fellow editors and the Embark staff and clients. Make the most of the support.
Embrace the process of absorbing the lingo and methods of your craft into your psyche. Allow it time to take root and become second nature. Enjoy what you do!
Tip #2: Take Time for Self-Care
Find the daily or weekly balance you need to feel healthy and thrive. For me, that’s finding time for exercise and being with adult friends. I regularly take a break from the intensity of my editing-and-parenting juggle and step away for awhile. I come back feeling invigorated and renewed. Find that thing that renews you and make it a part of your regular routine. Cultivate your hobbies and find time to take a vacation.
Tip #3: Take Criticism Well
You will make mistakes. You will make stupid mistakes. You will turn in less-than-polished product because of some life emergency (or not!). Even if you have a legitimate excuse for the lapse, you must own your errors. Be humble and professional enough to admit where you went wrong. And then, next time, be professional enough to work hard to avoid those errors again. Turn in work you are proud of.
Tip #4: Set Healthy Boundaries
Give time to your children, your partner, your other loves, but remember to ask for what you need in return. Be direct. Be kind. Be fair. Identify and evaluate the expectations others place on you alongside your own goals and needs. Be a team player but protect the boundaries you mutually agree upon.
Tip #5: Take Your Life Seriously
And finally, I want to remind you that you have only one life: Make it count and do what you love. For me, my personal life (raising all these kids!) is valuable and precious, but it’s just one dimension of who I am and what I’m interested in. The kids do grow older and seasons of life do change! I take my career seriously because I love my own life and value all aspects of who I am. In other words, take into account both your head and your heart as you chart your career course.
These are some strategies I use to keep my sanity as I parent and write and edit and read and live my life well. I hope you may find that balance, too, in ways that work for you. Happy editing!
Do you have some coping strategies to share? If so, write them in the comment box below, or share them on the Embark Network Facebook page!