Finding Balance with Blair Phillips

Finding Balance with Blair Phillips

Finding Balance with Blair Phillips

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

If you look back during the working years of your grandparents, you may not find quite as much chaos and hurry in their daily routine. It is safe to say that most of us lead a rather chaotic life. A generous amount of the stress we endure is self-induced by our wants. We require more and participate in more than our grandparents did. We are always on the go and seem to be juggling several things at once. Rushing every day and being in a hurry seems to be a way of life. Mixing self-employment along with all of this just adds a truckload of stress to the mix.

Creating balance between your business and personal life seems to be an unattainable goal that your business wins every time. You need to slam on the brakes and take control. You must devote equal parts to your family and business. We all have to make a living, but we do not have to do it at the expense of our family.

Family is what got you to where you are in the first place. It is time that you stop assuming your family is fine with not being number one. There are a number of things I have put into practice to give me that balance. The average work week for most of us consists of five days. Why? It does not have to be that way. I decided years ago that I would love to have three days a week off to be with my family more. I knew I would have to work harder through the week to make this possible, and I did just that. That alone brought so much energy and happiness to my life.

Business owners find it hard to take vacations. We hate to miss an opportunity while we are away. Think of the opportunities you are missing with your family. One of the biggest benefits of being self-employed is the freedom. Over the course of a calendar year, we vacation a total of two months. You may say that is ridiculous or impossible, but with the right work ethic and focus, it can happen. When it comes to school functions, why are you just marking them on your calendar and not attending? There are eight hours in an average work day. You can sacrifice a couple of those hours every once in a while to be at those functions. It is a choice you have to make.

Let’s dive into the topic of scheduling photography appointments. I used to work until as late as 9:00 most nights. I had to accommodate everyone else’s work schedule. I just assumed that when people told me they could only come after work, that meant I was going to be forced to work late evenings forever. If someone is committed and wants something bad enough, they find a way.

I changed our hours to begin at eight in the morning and leave at five in the evening. We did not miss a beat doing that. It improved morale. It amazed me how people were suddenly able to find a way to get off work early. Dentists aren’t open at 7 in the evening, so why should your business be any different? I have branded myself through social media and the way I live my life in the eyes of the community. My brand shows that I am committed to my wife and family, and that I work hard four days a week. People know my family always comes first. While my business is very important, my family must come first in order to maintain happiness. When your home life is happy and content, you will see the energy of your business grow organically. With that being said, my clients know my family time is very dear to me.

One of the biggest markers for stress and lack of balance within your business is the overwhelming amount of debt most people carry. Nothing kills the mood of a workplace more than the feeling of being under that debt. Before you buy anything, tell yourself to “act your wage.” When budgeting for your personal and work lives, ask yourself if a purchase adds value or if you just want it.

I have implemented the two-week rule. I’ve eradicated impulse spending. I think hard about any large purchases for two weeks before buying. It is amazing how much more rational my spending has become by doing that. Remember, you have to save money for those vacations.

Another stressor is having to complete things you’re not good at and that you really do not enjoy. If you have those, figure out a way to delegate them to someone else. There are tons of companies you can outsource things to. Of course they add an expense, but that may free you to spend more time on the things you are the best at. In turn, the bulk of your energy will be spent making more money.

Do you ever have the feeling of never getting everything accomplished, or that you are juggling way too much? Of course you do. We used to feel like we were letting way too many things fall through the cracks. We were able to fix most of that with one very inexpensive office supply. That was a large whiteboard that hangs in our production office. We put the must-do daily tasks on that board for all to see. Each day around lunch, I can see what is still there, and we discuss a plan to see that those remaining tasks are finished by the end of the day.

I never wanted to be a manager. I always envisioned myself being able to just let people handle what they needed. I quickly learned that it is necessary to be a manager to protect what we have worked for over the past 12 years. Acting as a manager has allowed us to be way more productive and eliminate an entire work day per week, all while accomplishing the same amount of work.

You need a comfortable workplace. Treat your staff with respect and compassion. It’s important for your staff to see that you are working just as hard as they are. Try your best to make it easy for employees to attend their child’s functions as well. Do not be difficult if they need to be off for a doctor’s appointment, or if they need a day off from time to time. Treat your employees to something nice occasionally to show your appreciation. Have their car detailed, or simply shut down and treat everyone to lunch.

If you are going to spend time doing a job, you would like to be rewarded as much as possible for doing so. Sift through your records and find what brings you the most profit. When you find what that is, that should be your main motivation. I used to photograph a ton of weddings every year. Once I began looking at all the hours I had invested, my profit margin was not exactly what I thought it should be. I knew that to remain sane, weddings were going to have to fall by the wayside.

I began researching jobs I had done, and realized that shooting a sports league for four hours on a Saturday yielded me three times the profit of a wedding. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Shooting volume jobs became my sole focus. I knew that I could work really hard during certain months of the year and have more time off. It is all about believing in yourself and your ability to make something happen. If you believe in yourself and hold your family on the highest pedestal, you will find immeasurable success.

You spend a staggering amount of time looking at your smartphone screen. Nearly everywhere you turn, you see someone with their face buried in their phone. I noticed myself always reaching for my phone if I had a spare moment throughout the day. I was generally just thumbing through a social media site to see what others were doing.

I didn’t like that about myself. Why was I not spending all my time and energy growing my business, or making more time for my family? I made a vow to only use social media for my own posting. No longer would I sit and scroll through pages and pages of others’ posts. When we get home in the evening, everyone’s phones go completely out of sight. This has allowed us to all stay connected and maintain a harmonious balance of love, laughter and closeness.

It is important to remain connected with the outside world, but do you need to know what everyone had for dinner? I encourage you to lead your life with no regrets. Take a moment before acting on a situation. Take a moment to think about the impact your reaction will have on your conscience when you lay your head on your pillow that night.

If there is something stressing you at work, leave it there. It is not fair to you or your family to bring that stress home with you. You control your balance and happiness. The choice is yours.

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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