Episode 202: Practicing Work/Life Integrations During Busy Seasons

November 17, 2021

You may be in one of your busiest seasons, or maybe you’re planning for an upcoming busy season—what measures are you taking to practice work/life integrations? I like to refer to this idea of work/life balance as work/life integration, because it’s hard to really balance it all, but rather integrate them into each other based on the season you’re in.

In today’s episode of the Brand Strategy Podcast, I’m sharing four concepts I use to practice work/life integrations, especially during busy season!

How to Practice Work/Life Integrations

1. Defining What a Meaningful or Successful Season Looks Like to You

How will you define success in a busy season? Do you just want to get through it? Do you want to have certain experiences or hit certain goals? Do you want to make memories with your friends and family?

There is no one way to define a meaningful or successful season. It’s a personal decision that is based on your values and what you need in life. In practicing work/life integrations, you’ll want to ensure everything you’re doing to true to the value you hold and the goals you’s setting for yourself.

This definition will serve as your internal compass while you make decisions during this busy season.

2. Practice Undercommitting So You Don’t Overcommit

In your busiest seasons, it’s important that you aren’t overcommitting. You can do this by creating space on your calendar to block your availability so you’re ensuring you have time off.

I’m sharing this concept from personal experience. There was a time when I was overcommitting, not taking care of me, and just allowing my business to run my life. Honestly, it was a miserable time. This impeded my ability to show up as my best and whole self.

In times that I find myself beginning to overcommit, I take a few actions:

  1. I ask myself if my priorities still serve me in this season or do I need to reframe my priorities.
  2. I delegate work and ask for help.
  3. Reschedule when needed.

3. Prioritize Your Physical Well-Being

From my own personal experience, I know I do my best work when I am my best self—mentally and physically. This could mean getting the water, rest, and nutrition I need. I could also mean ensuring I’m doing things for me to stay healthy in every way.

Consider when you’re your best self and what environmental components effect you!

4. The Word No Can Be Your New Best Friend

While we as women struggle with sayin no out of fear of being mean, this word isn’t a bad word when it comes to maintaining your well-being. Rather than being liked or popular, no allows you to be respected.

Give yourself the permission to say no when you need to.

Catch the Show Notes

Defining What a Meaningful or Successful Season Looks Like to You ()

Practice Undercommitting so You Don’t Overcommit (7:12)

Prioritize Your Physical Well-Being (16:35)

The Word No Can Be Your New Best Friend (20:47)

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Review the Transcript:

Hi, friends and welcome to the brand strategy podcast. A show created to equip you with the inspiration, encouragement, and clarity. You need to build the brand of your dreams. I’m your host, Bonnie Bakhtiari brand designer, strategist, and founder of the Illume Retreat. From sustainable strategy to heartfelt encouragement. Each episode is designed to equip you with the tools you need to chase after your dreams, because you deserve a brand that empowers you to do what you love, connects with your dream clients and offers a deep sense of fulfillment along the way. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on this journey. Won’t Liam.

Hey friends. Welcome back to the brand strategy podcast, where today we are talking all about work life integration, especially during busy seasons. So this episode is for my fellow entrepreneurs who are coming up on a bit of a busy season, or maybe you’re finding yourself already in the thick of it with the holidays, fast approaching with this being Q4. I know that so many of us are experiencing a heavier workloads, not to mention family or a friend obligations, celebrations, holidays, all kinds of things. So now more than ever, I believe it is so important that we practice work life integration in a way that honors the kind of life we want to be living in while still maintaining the responsibilities that we have on our plates. So as we dive into today’s conversation, one note that I want to make, I use the term work life integration instead of work life balance.

And this is a relatively recent change that I’ve made. It simply came out of many conversations with my own therapist about my own relationship with work-life balance. And she kind of helped me to rethink my thoughts and my beliefs around this concept of balance. Because as you know, and this is actually something that, uh, we’ve talked about here on the BSP before is that balance is so elusive and so challenging to actually achieve. And so instead of looking at it like this destination that we can reach, if we just hustle more or work harder or work smarter, if we look at it as a way to practice integration, integrating both your professional life and your personal life in a way that serves you and your family. Well, that for me has been much more freeing. So in today’s episode, I’m going to be referring to work-life integration instead of work-life balance.

Of course you can, you can take whatever term resonates with you. This is just what resonates with me in this season because ultimately life is full of seasons. And as entrepreneurs, our businesses have to exist within those seasons as well. So right now at the time of recording, it’s Q4, we’re getting ready for a busy holiday season around here with Thanksgiving and the winter holidays coming up, not to mention, wanting to finish the year strong, wanting to still make progress towards any goals that haven’t yet been achieved. And with my incredible custom branding clients wanting to serve them well and get their projects to a great place where we can either launch before the holidays or reach a natural stopping point for winter break. So with that being said, I am coming to you from a place of I get it. I really been there.

I’m right in the thick of it with you right now. And so today I’m sharing just a few tips that have helped me over the years that I’ve been in business, especially during busy seasons. Now I’m sharing this from a standpoint of, you know, thinking about how the holidays are fast approaching and things like that, but it doesn’t have to be a holiday season for it to be busy, right? It could just be, you are in a uniquely busy season because of your professional responsibilities or your personal responsibilities or commitments that you’ve made. It doesn’t have to, you know, be around any, any specific holiday. These are tips that you can implement at any point in your journey that will serve you well. So with that being said, I believe the first and most helpful place for us to start is by first defining what a meaningful or a successful season looks like to you.

So in this busy season that you’re in, how will you define success for you? It might be, you just want to get through it. You might just want to cross the majority of stuff that’s offered to do list and like not be a hollow shell of yourself at the end of it, you might want to have certain experiences or hit certain goals. Or if you’re looking at a busy season that includes personal and professional obligations or responsibilities, you might want to complete certain tasks or projects with work and then experience certain things or do certain things, or make certain memories with your family or your friends or with yourself. And all of that is valid. What I’m saying here is there’s no one way to define a meaningful or a successful season that is going to be so personal. And it’s going to come down to your values, to what’s on your plate, to what means the most to, to, to what you want to live and what you want to experience.

But the reason why I encourage you to define that and to figure that out is because this is going to serve as kind of your true north, it’s going to serve as an internal compass. That’s going to help you make decisions during this busy season. So for example, if we don’t do this, if we skip past this step, and instead we decide that we’re just going to dive on it and we’re going to tackle everything, that’s on the to-do list. We’re going to split the Ru the next quarter and whatever happens, happens. Well, then it’s going to be really easy for us to lose sight of what we’re pursuing, because we never actually took the steps to define that in the first place. It’s also going to be really easy for us to overcommit, to lots of different things, or to feel pulled in a lot of directions.

And as a result you can burn out from that. So I know it sounds really simple, but by first defining what this season is going to look like and how you’re going to look back on this and how you’re going to feel or what you’re going to be celebrating or what you’re going to have achieved. All of that is going to help you moving forward. And it’s going to help you because in this season, what we want to do is we actually want to practice under committing so that you don’t over commit. What I mean by that is right now in a busy season, we want to wherever possible, create more margin in your calendar so that you can have actual white space for life. I’m, you know, pulling from personal experience here. But when I look back on some of my busiest seasons in business, often I was saying yes to so many things.

If a client had a request, I would say yes, and I’d figure out how to make it happen later. If someone came to me with an opportunity, I would say yes, and didn’t really think about how I was going to fit it in. And I was so intent on saying yes to everything, right? Because saying yes to more opportunities is saying yes to more income. But what I didn’t realize is that by saying yes to everything, I was leaving no space whatsoever for my actual life to be happening. I was filling up my work calendar and that was great, but my quality of life was suffering and I wasn’t prioritizing my own wellbeing. I wasn’t prioritizing or practicing good boundaries with my, my, my work and my work hours. And it was, it was just miserable. Um, I am hopeful that none of that ever came through from, uh, you know, on the client side, I’m hoping that my clients never felt that it didn’t impact the results that I was giving my clients, but I felt it and my husband felt it.

And it, it impeded my ability to show up as my healthiest and my most, whole self and that season. So what I always encourage people to do is in a busy season, it’s really easy for us to overestimate our ability and to, to think, yeah, I can do that. You know, this client wants me to add this onto our project. I can absolutely fill that in or this client was late getting content to me. So now our, our website design timeline is pushed back, but they just got it to me. I can still figure out a way to fit it in and meet our original timeline. Right. I mean, we have great intentions, but what we don’t really think about is that in a busy season, our wellbeing as individuals is crucial to our ability to perform as professionals. So we want to actually be really intentional and even a bit ruthless and under committing or creating more margin in our calendars so that we can fulfill the existing responsibilities that we’ve agreed to.

Or we can add on a little bit here and there, but only when it is like a full body. Heck yes. Like obvious, good thing for you. And some easy ways to do this, if you’re like listening and you’re thinking, okay, Bonnie, I hear you. That sounds great. But like, how do we actually do that? Cause I’m really busy right now. And I can’t, I can’t say no one thing that I really like to do when I find myself in a situation like this is I look at my priorities and I ask myself, do these priorities still serve me in this season? Or do I need to reframe my priorities? So if I’m looking at the big projects that I have, uh, on my plate for a specific amount of time, and I just, I look at that and I think, you know, what I’m really prioritizing working on, on this one thing, but that actually isn’t time sensitive, that doesn’t really apply to what I want to accomplish in this quarter, for example.

So knowing that this is a busy season, this doesn’t need to be my top priority. I can actually bump this down lower on the list. So if there’s the option, if there’s the ability to reframe some priorities, to kind of reassign the importance that can help you make a calculated and strategic decision about what actually requires your time right now, versus what can happen and what should happen later when you’re not in this busy season, this is another great opportunity to delegate. So if you’re seeing that, there’s a lot of things that you need to be tackling in this busy season, and it’s stuff that you don’t have to be the one to do. This is a great, great opportunity for a part-time VA to step in for someone, if you have a team to step in for a, a friend or a family member to step in with more personal, uh, responsibilities, this is a, this is a beautiful opportunity to ask for help because during these busy seasons, it’s easy for us to think that all of this is on our shoulders and we have to be the ones carrying it, but we are able to show up in our businesses and in our lives as our most powerful and our most effective selves.

When we accept the support from people around us, whether that is a VA, a freelancer, a contractor, a friend, or a family member. And then the final piece of advice that I want to share when it comes to creating more margin in your calendar is simply Teresa schedule. There’s nothing wrong. There’s no shame and acknowledging having the self-awareness to acknowledge when you have reached your capacity. And if you’re at a place where you are just completely, completely over capacity, then that is a perfectly reasonable time to reschedule some of those commitments. If you’re worried about letting people down, ask yourself if I show up to this commitment and or if I show up to this meeting or this interview or whatever this is right now in my current state, am I bringing my best self to this experience? Or am I actually doing this person or their audience, or this opportunity, a disservice by showing up in this way.

And I mean, if you are, if you’re burnt out, if you are dehydrated, if you’re stressed, if you’re, you know, completely experiencing sleep deprivation, if you are sick, any of those things that impacts the ability for you to feel the safety and the freedom to show up as your healthiest and your best self. And so, especially, I’m thinking about this in the context of like a podcast interview or a meeting with a client or something like that, uh, something where you want your brain to be firing on all cylinders. And you want to be showing up as your best self it’s. One thing to honor that existing commitment, but is it really honoring that commitment to show up as a unhealthy or unwell version of yourself? And I say that with nothing but grace, because it’s so easy for us to be really hard on ourselves.

And to think that, well, I said yes to this come hell or high water, I’ve got to make it happen. I’ve got to meet that, uh, that commitment, but I find that there’s so much power and protecting ourselves and protecting our energy and in excepting rest and accepting the powerful role that rest plays in our ability to actually show up, not just for ourselves, but for the people that we serve. So sometimes that might mean rescheduling actually kind of thinking about it. Mister reminds me of this was months ago earlier this year, I’m signed up for a, a group coaching program and we were scheduled to have our first call on a specific day. And, you know, I was really looking forward to it, like super excited, you know, and anytime you like sign up for something new like that, it’s really exciting. And so I was, I had it on the calendar.

I was prepared. I was looking forward to it. And then the day before I got an email from the coach saying that she actually needed to reschedule because of some personal family matters that came up, she wasn’t able to bring her best self to this call. And I respected that so much. I thought that was such a boss decision. And yeah, maybe I was a little bit bummed that we had to reschedule, but I was not. I mean, if I was, it was like, I was disappointed for a millisecond because you know what? I realized that by drawing that boundary by prioritizing her own rest and by communicating the intention behind doing that, that rescheduled call would be straight fire. Like I knew that I was going to show up to that call and it was going to be incredible. And I was going to learn so much because this coach was already showing me before we even had our first call, how much she valued me, how much she valued our cohort and how much she respected herself.

So I share that example as a little pep talk to those of you who might be thinking that that’s impossible or it’s too scary and you don’t want to let people down. But if you think about reframing it and thinking about how sometimes the rescheduling allows you to serve people at an even higher level and to show up as your smartest, most capable and most well rested self, that is pretty powerful. So with that being said, and this actually kind of segues into another piece of advice that I want to share, that kind of fits into this idea of building more margin into your calendar, uh, prioritize your physical wellbeing. So sleep regular meals, staying hydrated, getting some fresh air, moving your body in whatever way supports you. Those are such crucial pieces, especially, especially during busy seasons. And they’re crucial not only because they’re massively important to the way that you’re pouring into your physical body, but they’re important because this is oftentimes one of the biggest things that I see people Knicks completely when things get tough.

And I’m over here raising my hand because that has 100% been me in the past. But the more that I learned about how to show up fully in my life and my business, the more that I realized that sleep and good, good nutrition and hydration and exercise are actual non-negotiables because they allow my body to be cared for and to be supported so that my brain can be doing exactly what I need for it to do so that I can show up and I can serve my clients. I can serve my students inside the brand strategy school, and I can really just make an impact in the world. And I can’t do that if I am running on no sleep or if I’m hangry or if I’m like, like wilting on the inside, because I am totally dehydrated. And I know that this is something that so many of us as entrepreneurs, especially those of us who were thinking about how we can be living more holistically.

This is something that we’re aware of. We know this, I’m not telling you anything groundbreaking, but I am reminding you that don’t sleep on this tip during busy seasons, taking care of your physical body is a must. And then from there self-care taking care of your mental health, not just your physical health is non-negotiable. So the way that you are showing up for your wellbeing, your own mental wellbeing, especially during the busy seasons, this is important because we need support. We need emotional mental support during these hectic times where you might have a lot of people who are blown up your inbox to need a lot of things. They’re asking a lot of things of you, you might need to during busy seasons practice, reinforcing your boundaries. And it can be tough, especially if it’s, this is a new practice for you. And so all of these things start to chip away at our mental wellbeing, if we’re not careful.

So during busy seasons, I, this, I actually like increase the frequency with which I’m meeting with my therapist, because I know that I need, I need that outlet. I need that support. I increased the communication that I have with my husband to let him know, Hey, this is a busy season for me. These are the ways that you can support me with our personal life or how we run our household. These are incredible things that allow me to prioritize my own self-care so that I can make sure that I’m journaling, I’m meditating. I am, uh, you know, seeking out that support with my therapist, that I need, that I am, uh, you know, tuning out of distractions or spending less time on social media are things that I find that degrade the quality of my mental wellbeing. So self-care non-negotiable and I know that self-care, we can often kind of view that as this umbrella, that includes our physical health, as well as our mental health.

But I wanted to end this conversation in this context. I wanted to break those out into two totally separate things, because they’re both equally important. Now, as we kind of wrap up what we’ve been talking about today, the final piece of encouragement that I want to share with you, as you focus on practicing that integration with work and life, especially during these hectic seasons, is that the word? No. Can be your new best friend. And this is something that I like to share with people, because especially as women, we believe that say no is mean, or we think that if we say no, that we’re being rude or selfish or something that we’ve been taught at one point in our lives is quote unquote bad. But what I’ve realized over the years is that no allows you to be so intentional and so purposeful with your yeses.

And yes, say no to some opportunities are to some people, maybe it means that you’re not the most popular person, but you know what it does, it means that you’re respected. And I would so much rather be respected than be popular because when we say no to things, when we say, thank you so much for thinking of me, but I don’t have the capacity for this right now, or I really appreciate this offer, but I don’t actually believe that this is the best fit. Let me refer you to somebody else. We’re not outright, you know, showing up in those conversations and say no loud and clear. We’re thoughtfully politely. And with consideration telling people that this just isn’t the best way for us to show up and serve them or serve this opportunity. And we’re doing it in a way that protects our wellbeing, our abilities and our energy.

And that’s something that people respect because when they see you saying yes with intention, but they see you saying, no thank you to opportunities that aren’t the best fit and that aren’t actually propelling you forward. Then they take note of when you say yes, and they respect that they value that and they see you as a person of your word. So when we look at some of the suggestions that I’ve shared with you today, like creating more margin in your calendar or reframing priorities or rescheduling or communicating your capacity and this given season, you might be using the word no, or a variation of it, time and time again. And that’s not a bad thing that doesn’t make you a selfish person that doesn’t make you a rude person that makes you a honest person, a person who can say no to opportunities or relationships or requests that don’t fit into your life at this point in time, that don’t honor your definition of success in this season.

And that allows you to say yes to actually what matters, which is propelling you towards how you’re defining success in this season. So, Fran, I hope that that leaves you feeling encouraged today. I know we’ve talked about a lot of different types of, from some of the more practical to some that are focused more on your sense of self care. But when we think about work and life and how we can integrate the two so that they can live in an Abilene and flowing sense of harmony, that’s what it takes. It takes, you know, that, that beautiful combination of the practical, how tos with the, you know, showing up and caring for yourself and your own mental health and wellbeing. But with that being said, friends, whatever kind of season you are facing, whether this is a busy season for you, or maybe this is reaching you.

And it’s not really a busy season right now, but maybe this is going to come back. It’s going to show back up in your memory and the future when you do need it. I hope that this encourages you. I hope that this shows you some simple, practical steps that you can take in order to experience the kind of success that you want to be living through in this season. Now, if anything that I talked through today and today’s episode resonated with you, or if you have any questions or you just want to say, hi, always feel free to reach out. You can find me over on Instagram. That’s where I hang out the most at Bonnie joy. Marie, I always love connecting with you. Also feel free to shoot me a message. Uh, and I’m so incredibly grateful for you tuning into today’s episode as well, your support and your listenership means the world to be. And I’m hoping that this busy season goes so incredibly well for you. So as always friends I’m cheering you on from Waco.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Friends, before you go, I would be so grateful to receive your feedback on the brand strategy podcast. If you enjoyed this episode or the podcast in general has helped you grow your brand and really appreciate it. If you left us a review in iTunes, your positive reviews enable the brand strategy to continue to grow and to like-minded creatives, just like you. Plus, I’ll be randomly selecting a handful of lucky reviewers each month should receive a little, thank you. Surprise for me in the mail. Thank you for all your support and encouragement as together. We pursue building brands with purpose and intention until next time and cheering you on from Waco.

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My name is Bonnie – I’m a brand designer, strategist, and writer which all adds up to one eclectic conglomeration of qualities that enables me to serve you well! Past clients have dubbed me "the Joanna Gaines of brand design," and I've had more than a few call me a dream maker, a game changer, and a design wizard (my Harry Potter-loving heart didn't hate that one, let me tell you!). At the end of the day, I'm a big-hearted creative who will get teary-eyed as you share the heart behind your business; who will lose sleep over the perfect font pairings and color selections to bring your brand to life visually; and who will work tirelessly to empower, encourage, and equip you to share your work with the world intentionally. 

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