Work/Life Balance Lessons from Photographer Holly Gardner

Today’s guest post is from photographer Holly Gardner.

Holly and I both are alums of the amazing Making Things Happen Intensive and we met via Facebook.

Today Holly serves up some serious lessons on work/life balance.

Take note. They are goooooood.


Holly Gardner - on TiviJones.comI will not pretend that I have it all figured out. However, looking back at my journey thus far I can clearly see where I have stumbled and point out some of the thoughts I’ve allowed myself to believe – some true, many not. Maybe some of these sound familiar…

“You can do it all.”

Sure you can- if you’re a superhero. But let’s get real here – none of us are. The last time I checked there are only twenty-four hours in a day. If you work eighty hours a week and expect to have some semblance of a personal life, then something’s got to give. It might mean you need to find a babysitter, work through your lunches, or simply turn your phone to airplane mode every once in a while. If you struggle with exhaustion then the answer is not to work later every night, but to instead prioritize sleep. You’ll be amazed how much more efficient you’ll be the next day!

“Nobody can do ­­­_____ as well as I can! Plus, I can’t afford to get help.”

Again, this is pure bollocks. There is always going to be someone out there with a different skill-set that can do a particular task you struggle with more efficiently and with far more skill. For years I have resisted outsourcing any of my work because I wanted everything done MY way on MY timeline.  But then I decided to give it a try. I hired an accountant and when I get backed up on editing then I outsource my color-correction. Reaching out to experts has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made, and has freed up a considerable amount of my time.

“I’m too busy to go out with my friends/family/on a date.”

Running a business (particularly working at home) can be lonely sometimes. It’s easy to get so wrapped up with your work that you never make time to LIVE. I assure you, by prioritizing your schedule and making time for others, you will feel far saner. I’ve had times where I’ve been so concerned about meeting a deadline or starting a new project that my husband has had to literally push me out the door.  And I always have a great time. I don’t get out too often, but when I do I cherish the time I spend; it helps me feel more grounded and reminds me that I am a person, aside from my work.

“Nobody understands what I’m going through.”

Right. You’re the only person in the world that runs a business, has a family, or (insert scenario here). If you don’t have any friends that are in similar situations, then make it a point to go out and meet some. Email a few ladies in your area that you know only professionally and put together a Girl’s Night. You’ll be surprised at how therapeutic it can be to laugh with new friends over your common struggles. Over the past year I’ve started taking part in a regular Girl’s Night that other local female business owners put together, and I can’t explain how much fun it is. I’ve developed friendships with ladies that I admire and find myself sharing things that I feel even those closest to me would not understand.

“I can’t charge my worth, particularly for friends.”

Ok, this is a bit of a stretch, but I swear it’s related.  At the end of the day, your time equals money. If you keep giving things away and/or charging less than your worth, then all the time that you put towards that is time away from your family/friends/pet. Please do not misconstrue this to mean that I think everyone should start out charging high prices (because everyone has to work their way up!).

Your billable rate should be related to

a) the amount of time you spend

b) your overhead and

c) the quality of your work.

Keep records of a) & b) and talk to someone (or several people) in your field for an honest assessment of c).

As a photographer, I have set prices. Over the years I’ve struggled with giving friends significant discounts, or even doing work for free. The problem is that once you do that, it becomes expected of you. It also lowers your value. What I’ve found is that I prefer to not work with close friends because I’m a sucker and will give my services (i.e. – time!) away. Those who truly value your work will pay you your worth because they realize that the time you spend (time from your life!) is worth it. Once you realize that your time is truly worth it, then it changes your mindset. For example, if you’re a photographer/designer/piano teacher and your friend goes to someone else at a lower price point, then you will be okay with it.

Because you know that you give the highest level of quality and service and your time is worth it.

Every day is still a struggle to balance my work and home life. To be that Super-Mom with a camera and a heart for philanthropy that I dreamed of… But the changes I’ve made from when I started my business four years ago to now have been numerous. And I finally realize that in order to capture others lives I must also fully live my own, even if it means letting go, forcing myself to rest, and stepping away. Because my time – my life – and the life of my family is worth it.


Ooh, Holly is speaking directly to me with a few of these items!

Thank you so much for stopping by to put the smack down, Holly.

Peeps, check out Holly Gardner Photography on Facebook and tell us:

How do you find balance in your life? How do you manage work/running a business and your personal life?

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