By far the most common conversation we have with the folks we interview is about work-life balance. Starting a business or pursuing a creative career makes finding work life balance really tough because there is no clear start and end to one’s work day. We’ve shared some of our conversations on the topic below.

C. S. Johnson | Writer, Author, Self-Styled Eccentric

In the era of COVID, a lot of things have changed, and my life is no exception. I have always been able to write from home or the coffeeshop, but now it’s usually in the company of my children or family members. I am not getting my work done as quickly as I’d like, but that wouldn’t happen even if COVID wasn’t around. I am a very happy “trophy wife,” so I am used to juggling hats around the house. Wife, mom, therapist, confidante, friend, cleaning lady, and cook are all part of the human experience for me. I am very happy with most of them, too — except for cleaning! In finding balance, I think a big trick is just to know when it’s going to cost you too much, and when it’s a matter of investment. There’s an aura of risk when it comes to being a writer, and I think it’s important to minimize the risks involved with that as much as possible. Some risk is still necessary, though, and really, that’s true for anything. I got my Master’s degree thinking I would be a teacher for years, and I still have nightmares about my student loan debt. Read more>>

Kate Gates | Owner/Operator of Mulberry Gap Adventure Basecamp

My husband and I live where we work so this one can be a real challenge for us. Luckily, we’re very conscious of it and work towards finding better balance every day. It’s at the heart of many business decisions and we hold each other accountable to our goals, dreams, and making time for hobbies and friends. Read more>>

Esther Mech | Potter, Intructor

Work life balance is always a challenge, and I feel that for artists who were trained in academia, there is this particular pressure to work yourself to the point that the work is no longer enjoyable. It is a blend of pressure from professors and mentors (however well-meaning) to make the most of your time to perfect your craft, and the societal assumption that if you are an artist, you have a non-essential position doing something fun. The result is the idea that if you are not constantly working to exhaustion, your work is not legitimate. A couple of year ago, I was fortunate to be able to take a class taught by Lauren Fensterstock. Of everything she said (and there was a wealth of valuable information and critique in that class), what I consider most frequently is that she treats her art making practice as a 9 to 5 job. Seeing how prolific she is proved to me that it is possible to set limits that ensure work life balance – making time to take care of myself physically and mentally actually helps me to make more work, more consistently. Read more>>

Mr. & Mrs. Ferrell | Entrepreneurs /Spouses/Parents

Work life balance is something you always work on, we believe. Definitely sticking to a schedule or making sure your are updating that schedule helps. But as the business grows you have to adjust so you have to rebalance. Our advice would just be mindfully and ready to do so. Read more>>

Melissa Willmert | Owner of Shipp to Shore Boutique

I was a stay at home Mom with both of my children for many years. Even homeschooling them for the middle school years. When they got old enough to not need me as much, I started chasing my dreams. I believe that work life balance is the aspect of running my business that has challenged me the most. The Mom guilt that we sometimes all feel is real. Before I was able to hire staff and was a one man show I missed things I hadn’t ever had to miss. I think my number one tip on work life balance would be that family is first. Before I built a team, I closed my store from 3:30- 4:00 every day to pick up my youngest from school. It was important to her. So it was important to me. Making a plan for someone to be at every game, concert, meeting, etc was also crucial. My husband and parents always made sure someone was there. Involving my family in my business has also made a difference. They all have a piece of ownership in the company now. As I have grown into 2 stores and a dozen staff members work life balance has changed. I now have more freedom to come and go as my family needs me. Read more>>

Jarrett Stieber | Chef/Owner – Little Bear in Summerhill, ATL

Work life balance is without a doubt the hardest aspect to navigate as a professional cook, especially a chef/owner of a restaurant. The impulse to constantly be in your restaurant is almost impossible to suppress. You want to be involved in prepping every single item, conceptualizing every dish, washing every plate or glass, organizing then reorganizing followed by organizing again, deep cleaning equipment/furniture/floor boards/every nook in cranny in the restaurant, answering every email and social media message and media inquiry and phone call, checking the numbers, balancing the books… it’s endless. In the case of people like myself, who are married, nobody suffers more than your spouse, which is totally unfair since they are supposed to be your partners in life yet constantly end up drawing the short straw with regards to your time. Ultimately, finding a way to balance work and life will be the most crucial aspect needed for the long term stability and success of your business. Read more>>

Kara Stewart | Extension & Blonding Specialist

Ultimately for the last few years my work life balance has definitely been more work than life. Would I change that? No, because that’s opened the door for me to now sit back and say, you know what, you’ve worked this hard to stay consistently busy, now is the time to really zero in on what makes me happy and reprioritize my time where I find it matters. I’ve pushed myself to make financially driven decisions based on my experience, the service I offer, and my years in the business. If it weren’t for that, I definitely wouldn’t be able to take that step back now to make the life part of my balance a lot richer. Read more>>

Nate Dorn | Visual Artist, Photographer, Creative Director.

That’s a tough one, luckily I enjoy what I do, so often the line between work and play is blurred. As I’ve gotten older I have realized that I have a certain amount of real creativity in me for each day, and I do my best work in the mornings (behind a computer or camera). In the afternoons, I need to shift gears and do something else because the real productive focus is gone. To decompress I like working with my hands or mountain biking, it’s still creative, but requires a much different part of the brain. Read more>>

Krispin Watson | Realtor® & Podcast Host

Since becoming self-employed, my work life balance has improved tremendously. When I was working in the corporate world, I always had to ask for days and time off just to participate in my kid’s school activities. Fortunately, I had employers that worked with me regarding allowing me to be off to do what I had to do with my kids, but the thought of constantly have to get permission to be an active parent didn’t sit well with me. Although they would let me off, it would come out of my paid time off days as well as my sick days. In the event that my kids got sick for an extended period of time, I would some times go over the allotted sick days and have to take a dock in pay to be home to tend to them while they were ill. Now that I am self-employed, I can take care of my family as I need to as well as still make the desired pay. I love being able to be a full-time mom as well as a full-time entrepreneur. Read more>>

Noemi Martinez | Entrepreneur, Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Healer, Mother

This has been a tough lesson for me over the years and I also think it’s something that most entrepreneurs struggle with. Partly because we see success as working hard not smart. It’s what we have learned from our parents generation, movies, and others’ definitions of success. We think we need to work long hours and be available to everyone because if not we could lose business or a potential client. This old way of thinking has led me to burnout, time lost with loved ones, and affected my own health, to where my self care took a back seat. The problem is I tried to please everyone and I lost sight of why I enjoy what I do, my purpose and why people love coming to see me. So I’ve adopted new standards for my business to have a better work life balance. I work out 4-5 days a week and I schedule people around my workout schedule. This helps me with both my mental and physical health. I have a limit of how many people I see a day, and I only work 3, 10 hour days in the clinic. The other two days I leave open for creating content for my business on social media, creating workshops, evaluating key metrics for my business, and working on other projects that align with my soul and can help my community. Read more>>

Sage Coffey | Cartoonist

I used to be a lot more “wake up and work until I can’t anymore.” As I started to get more and more freelance jobs that had overlapping deadlines, I felt that lifestyle just wasn’t good for my physical or mental health. Balance, for me, looked like an 8 to 10 hour work day with frequent breaks for water, food, a walk, etc. It’s not an option everyone has the choice of taking, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to change my work habits to better suit my mental health needs. Read more>>

Jeffrey Moustache | Commercial Photographer, Aerial Lighting Pioneer and 5X World Beard and Moustache Champion

Over the past decade my work/ life balance has changed dramatically, When I was fresh out of college and moved to Los Angeles, I was fortunate enough to have jumped on to a television series working as their photographer and shortly after was promoted to director of photography and one of the lead camera operators. I was young and eager to work on any and every project thrown my way not really understanding the business aspect of what I was doing and not properly pricing my value, thus leading to being taken advantage of in the long run. Over the years looking back it is easy to spot. and point out but back then I was so excited to just be working on anything that that was my entire life, shooting. I would work all day on a job, then in my days off I would bring my. camera out with me and shoot with my friends and continue to work, which is great for honing your style, perfecting your craft and improving and expanding your clients but I was not looking at the big picture of the future. Read more>>

Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, Esq. | Supreme Performance and Personal & Professional Development Coach

I used to juggle between building my business, spending time with my family, serving in my community, being faithful to my church, and taking care of my health. With all of these competing interests, something had to give, and it was my health, I developed stage four endometriosis which led to a series of complicated surgeries that included a total hysterectomy and two bowel resections. It was at that point that I realized that something had to give, and it was going to be my efforts to balance. I chose to redefine what balance means to me. And my new definition is happiness. Happiness for me is taking care of myself, spending quality time with my family, doing service that makes my heart sing, and enjoying the work that provides the provision for my vision. When I recalibrated my life to focus on happiness, there was a definite shift in my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual wellbeing. My total, or aggregate, intelligence was complete. When I shared my newfound focus with several friends, they were understandably stunned. Read more>>

Kia Dolby | Design Studio Owner I Business Coach

When I first started my graphic design business, I had an overwhelming amount of things on my plate. I am a mom of three, and at that time I was still working full time. I was figuring out how to run a business, handle my personal obligations and be present for my family – it was an exciting but very stressful time. I went through a stage of burnout during this time. I had periods where I realized now I was doing too many things at once. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I sometimes I let my client projects dictate my schedule instead of me putting healthy parameters around my work. At the same time, I was committed to success. Over the years, balancing it all became a bit easier as I learned how to prioritize the things that served me and my health over business tasks. I came to understand my happiness and well-being, and that of my family, is the big ‘why’ behind my business. I created The Happy Solopreneur as a way of sharing my story and hopefully helping others on this journey. The Happy Solopreneur provides perspective on creating a business and life that works for you. Read more>>

Henry Mason Jr. | Serial Entrepreneur

Sacrifice… To start and or run a business takes an incredible amount of sacrifice. I gave up everything I had at the time to focus on being an entrepreneur. At 32, I still believe that holds true to this day. I think its important to understand the amount of dedication it takes to truly stand out from the pack. Especially in healthcare when your competitors are literally billion dillar firms. Read more>>

Ben Steele | Artist

There was a time when I pushed myself very hard to create every day, at times it was a grind. Now I allow my creativity a little more flexibility. If I am not feeling inspired, I allow myself downtime. On the flip side I believe I have embedded creative thinking into every aspect of my life: my teaching, my reading, my consumption of media. In a very real way I am always still thinking about art, now it just feels more like life. Read more>>

Kelsey Butcher | Portrait + Wedding Photographer

Early on in my career, I didn’t really have much of a work/life balance. I didn’t set up as many boundaries as I should have in the beginning, and it was definitely difficult to separate the two. As a compulsive compartmentalizer, I work to keep the different aspects of my life separate, allowed to mingle sometimes, but for the most part, everything has its own space within my brain and my life. My balance has definitely changed over time, mainly due to the fact that I’m a parent now. In the beginning of my motherhood journey, it was easier and more difficult in different ways. During the infant and toddler years, it was significantly more difficult since my daughter was more dependent upon me for her needs. 2 and 3 were the most difficult to be able to work unless she was in preschool, and time felt like it would just slip through my fingers each day. Now that I’m a little more seasoned (a little being the operative words) and she’s in grade school, it’s a bit easier to find time to myself to be productive. Read more>>

Bebe Simone | Natural Hair Care Specialist & Communication Specialist

My work life balance has definitely changed since I have started working for myself. When I first began to work for myself I would work 7 days a week with minimal rest time. I wanted to practice more on my craft and services, by accepting pretty much every appointment. At some point, I realized that I was overworking myself and did not have the time I had before to be huge part of my daughter’s life. That became a problem and then I knew I had to prioritize my life and work because of my daughter. When I think about balance, I think about my health, my daughter, and my personal time. Those things are the most important to me that allow me to continue to work efficiently. I had to balance my work life with my personal goals as well. If I am not in good health, I can’t service my clients to the best of my ability. Read more>>

Erika Hill, MA, NCC, LPC | Psychotherapist

The importance of work life balance has become increasingly important to me over the years. In the past, I thought of work life balance as taking time off every few months to recharge and get away. Now I see work life balance as setting boundaries with your time. It’s making time not just for work but for the people and things you enjoy. Work life balance is learning to say no to things. Work life balance requires you to be aware of yourself, how you feel, and your limitations and to cut off when you need to. Read more>>

Slim Reshae | Content Creator

Growing up throughout high school and college, I was always active in extracurricular activities and athletics. So from a young age, I began a habit of trying to do everything, all the time. As I’ve gotten older, I have had to adjust my work-life balance significantly in order to remain afloat. I’ve learned that you cannot continually burn the wick at both ends and do everything all the time. Self care especially sleeping and your overall health is something that needs to be factored in when planning out your day. I feel like sometimes we grind so hard that we forget to tend to ourselves and that has made all the difference. Once I worked on making sure I allocate intentional time for self-care and became disciplined with my time to create, my work-life balance has been level. Read more>>

Eric Capehart | Expert Mentor and Professional Counselor

When I think about work life balance in its simplest meaning my thought is t’s either balanced or its not. The meaning of work life balance and my thoughts around it have evolved overtime as my life has changed. When I was in my late teens and early twenties attending Tennessee State University I thought of my self to be pretty balanced. I went to class, helped manage the campus radio station with my fellow peers and did all the things I wanted to do. I even got to announce the halftime performance show with the Aristocrat of Bands. The entire time I was at TSU I felt balanced. After graduation in Spring 2004 I went into business for myself reviving a lawn care service my uncle passed to me while he was in prison. The meaning of work life balance at that time in my life was all about balancing my ability to live the lifestyle I wanted to live and being an ambitious young entrepreneur. I soon realized that my passion for mentoring would help provide the work life balance I wanted during my mid to late twenties. At 26 I founded All The King’s Men Mentoring Organization for black boys and operated for a decade. Read more>>

Konstantin Dolgan | PhD Engineer With an Entrepreneurial Soul

I don’t see a reason to separate work and life. Work is life and life is work. In my opinion, these terms are inclusive, not separate. Work is a part of my life, it’s a reflection of my personality, my skills, my way of having fun, and how I like to relax. In fact, I do more at work than simply completing the tasks in front of me. I express myself, I make relationships, I grow as a person, I learn things, I experience emotions. I don’t see my life without work. I don’t want a life without work. If we call family time “life” in this context then it’s obviously important too. I want to make sure I have quality time with my loved and close ones. It doesn’t mean I have to stop working or that I can’t meet or call them during work time. I think it’s important to be free to do what you want and when you want. It’s much more difficult to achieve if you are an employee working full time, thus I think it’s important to either have a job where you control your schedule and don’t have to ask someone’s permission to leave or come at any time you want. Read more>>

Amber Epperson | Business Owner & Candle Maker

Before I became an entrepreneur, my idea of work/life balance was making sure that I left work on time, limiting the amount of time I worked “off the clock”, and using all my vacation days. In the three years since I’ve started this company, learning how to balance my life with something that never turns off is almost laughable. When I first left my 9-5, I had two children and a fuzzy idea for how to start a business making candles. Now, I have 3 children -2 that are homeschooled thanks to COVID, a growing business, and no clock to punch in and out of. These days, I start each day asking God to set my path clearly so I only do the things that would allow me to be as productive and impactful as possible. I try to limit the amount of things I write on my to-do list. I also take joy in saying “No” to new projects and tasks that would throw off the little balance that I do have. I’m not where I need to be yet, but I think I’m heading in the right direction. Read more>>

Allison Ford | Abstract and Mixed Media Artist

I don’t think there is a such thing as work life balance. The concept of balance suggests that two parts are equal and deserve equal time. I think of life as more of a pie. Everything gets a piece. Sometimes you focus more on a particular task at hand but that doing so does not diminish the importance of the fuller view of life. Read more>>

Dr. Pia L. Scott | Counselor, Speaker, Consultant, Community Servant, and Educator

The days of working a 40 hour work week are over for me. I decided that I no longer wanted to answer to anyone. I got tired of asking for days off or asking permission to go get lunch. I am an adult and have the right to do what I need to do for myself. Overtime, I learned the importance of work life balance. Working in mental health made me realize how many people were impacted by their work environments and stressors like their toxic supervisors, coworkers, and the work itself. Thinking about my own experience, I saw how I was overworked, underpaid, and treated. I found myself barely having time to care for my personal needs and one time I had gotten so sick, that I had to go to the ER due to severe dehydration. I was working over 40 plus hours and still was experiencing work-related stress. I decided that I no longer had to take this type of stress. I found my own work-life balance by making sure I can create my OWN schedule and maintain my self-care. Work life balance allows me to define and take charge of my own life. It is healthy and it is necessary. Read more>>