Let’s talk about boundaries and this wonderful phrase, “nothing is urgent.”
We are so grateful that we have been ushering in an era of work-life balance – focusing and doing some badass, hard work during work hours, but then closing the laptop and not checking emails on your phone once the life side of the balance has started. Just as we’re all learning to implement healthy boundaries in our personal lives and relationships, it’s so so so dang important to implement them in your work life as well.
One way Red Riding Hood Productions has done this is to establish regular working hours, and sticking to them (with few exceptions!). As a business owner, freelancer, or entrepreneur, it can be so difficult to know when to turn it off. We get it! You’re your own boss – you are hustling to build relationships, gain clients, and get paid – you’re building something! But, that doesn’t mean you have to be ON all the time.
I’ll bring it back to our personal lives and relationships for a moment. You know the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?” Gosh, we love that! It has transformed how we approach our personal relationships – prioritizing our holistic health through therapy, working out/moving our bodies, being outside, journaling, etc. etc. – so that we can step to our relationships fully, and hold them with care and respect.
Work and work relationships should be treated the exact same way. Your clients are trusting you to execute a project, a vision, and investing in your skills to make it phenomenal. So, how can you expect to fully be able to do that when you’re trying to be “on” for them 100% of the waking hours? Well, you just can’t. Burnout is real, decision fatigue is real, diminishing returns is real. Trust us, we have learned the hard way a couple of times!
Another way we have integrated balance into our work lives is stacking projects appropriately. Oftentimes, it works out beautifully, where we’re able to stagger our entire production process seamlessly – AKA not take on too much at once. When we aren’t able to, we sometimes have to pass on a project if the timeline isn’t flexible. Gosh, that is so difficult to do, but it’s coming from a place of integrity and utmost respect for our clients and our work. Understanding that we need space – mentally, creatively, emotionally, physically! – to create our best work is so valuable.
Now let’s talk about urgency! Our good friend, Chelsea Hughes said to us once, “It’s PR, not ER,” and we truly vibed with that. As former freelancers who were caught up in #hustleculture and vying for the next paycheck, we kind of became trained to constantly be available to clients. BUT, just as the balance is necessary for creative potential, so is understanding that not everything is urgent.
For example, Red Riding Hood Productions typically chunks out our work into multi-hour blocks (read more on how our work weeks look here). So, when we have creative concepts due, we’ll dedicate an entire day to working on just that. We may take a little break and check our email, and on occasion there is an “urgent” request from a client. Instead of dropping everything and shifting our minds out of a creative flow and into a logistic one to tackle the request, we acknowledge it, finish our creative work, and will tackle it at the end of the day if we have time. If not, it will be the first thing we address the next day. As Oliver Burkeman of the The Imperfectionist says in her essay “Urgency doesn’t exist,” “It’s not that other people’s priorities don’t count at all. It’s just that they needn’t obliterate all other considerations. They can be weighed in the balance.” Exactly!
In that moment, it’s important to remember that one client’s urgent request doesn’t necessarily overpower the other client’s ever so important creative concepts. Of course there are instances where the task at hand is urgent, but a majority of the time, it just isn’t.
Another example: If that client that an email just sent at 2 p.m. on a Saturday while you’re spending quality time with your best people and dogs is super urgent, then what does that say about the finite time you have with said best people and dogs? What we mean is that, to some extent, everything is time-sensitive. We think that the special people time is especially important.
Burkeman again, “As I may possibly have mentioned somewhere before, you’ll get about four thousand weeks on the planet if you’re lucky. And so, in fact, a hike with an old friend, or an hour with a good novel in front of a fire, is as urgent a potential use of today as anything could be. Soon enough, the opportunity to do such things will be gone forever.”
When reading interviews with people on their deathbed, they never say they wish they worked more. What they say is how they wished they spent more time with their family and friends, more time traveling and seeing the world, more time doing the stuff that fuels the soul, outside of the stuff that just makes money.
We hope this resonates with you! And that you too are working on unlearning the facets of #hustleculture and are instead embarking on a journey of balance.
Wishing you well!