Boss Balance Q&A with Susannah Brinkley of Garnishing Co.
I couldn't be more excited to launch this brand new series: Boss Balance. Twice a month you'll be hearing from amazing ladies and gents who understand the hustle as well as the need to create balance for work and life. Their stories and insights are here to lend a hand to all of us working to find nuggets of rest amongst otherwise hectic days.
I have become good friends with Susannah and am so excited for her to be our first Boss Balance interviewee. She is an amazing freelance designer, food / travel / design blogger at Feast + West, and recently launched Garnishing Co., a hub of all things DIY design for your brand and blog. Needless to say, she is one busy lady! Her work-life balance responses are truly epic. Enjoy! - Bev
Susannah, tell us a little yourself and what you do at Feast + West and Garnishing Co.:
First and foremost, I am a graphic designer. It's what I went to school for, do for my job, but it's also what I do for fun. Whether I'm designing a book for a freelance client or playing around in Photoshop just for me, graphic design fills my soul and simply makes me happy.
Feast + West is the blog I started when I was feeling unhappy with my freelance work. It gave me an opportunity to use my other talents, writing and photography, for my passions, food and travel. Since starting it almost two years ago, I have learned so much.
Garnishing Co. is more recent (I just launched it a less than a month ago!) but is a place where I can use my knowledge of graphic design to help other bloggers and biz owners. It's a blog resource at the moment, but I am soon planning to add a shop and coaching services.
What does it mean to you to have work / life balance?
Work/life balance is something I always struggle with. I am the kind of person who, if I don't feel like I had a productive day, goes to bed feeling stressed and unhappy with myself. I'm a night owl, so often I keep myself awake to work on just. one. more. thing. In general, if I don't feel like I am accomplishing work or meeting goals, then I get frustrated.
I think a lot of people see work/life balance as the highest level in a video game, but I don't. You can't get to that level and stay there! It will always be a struggle. Something will always come up. The key for me is to keep trying. I am always trying new apps and techniques to stay productive during the day, so I can go to bed earlier at night. I try not to work on the weekends if I can help it, but that's hard when you run more than one business.
Do you have any rituals that help foster a more balanced lifestyle?
I am a big fan of to-do lists and the Pomodoro technique. Breaking my work day into actionable tasks and checking them off as I go along keeps me on track. Several evenings a week, I try to attend yoga classes or have dinner with friends. Because I work from home, getting out of the house and changing the scenery is of the utmost importance.
Do you think rest is important in work and life? Why?
Absolutely. You have to put on the brakes and pull over sometimes. You can't run a business — or two — if you're worn out and worn down. Plus, there's more to life, like family and friends. If you don't stop to relax and enjoy time off, what's the point of working so hard?
What have been your biggest struggles at Feast + West / Garnishing Co. and how have you overcome them?
Time management is really a struggle for me. Because I work from home, it's easy to say, "I'm going to clean out my closet!" to procrastinate a big project. No bueno.
In that sam vein, I get seriously lost in email sometimes. I have multiple accounts, and it's easy to get addicted to checking email all the time. If I don't close out of my email during the day, I will get distracted by new messages and won't get much work done. I try to set a few times in my schedule to read and return emails, which keeps me viewing email as a 'task' rather than something I need to watch always.
What advice would you give to someone searching to find their work / life balance?
Make a schedule. I love to be flexible with my schedule, but it's important that I set loose parameters for myself. I have 'office hours' where I hang out in my office each day. I also try to set recurring tasks for certain days of the week (like scheduling social media) and month (like invoicing clients). Even if I skip something, setting an intention for each day and week really helps. I also make sure to schedule uninterrupted time to myself to focus on work (no meetings, calls, etc.) as well as time off to spend with friends, family and Netflix.
Where do you find confidence and inspiration?
Traveling gives me lots of inspiration. Even a 1-hour road trip to a nearby town can be filled with ideas. If I can't travel, Pinterest and Instagram usually do the trick. I love to read, but I could definitely be better about making time for it.
Describe your perfect day:
I wake up around 8 or 9 a.m. and shower, grab a cup of coffee and a fix a bowl of yogurt or a smoothie. I head into my office not long after that, check emails and make my task list for the day. I put on a good playlist and get work done for clients, breaking for lunch later in the afternoon. If I have a recipe to photograph for my blog, I do that when the light is nice, either in the morning or in the evening. I call it quits in time for a yoga class or dinner with a friend. Later, I watch TV and work on my blog until bedtime.
If you could go anywhere in the world to find and feel bliss, where would that be and why?
Anywhere I can disconnect. As much as I love the Internet and staying connected, there is nothing like time spent away from it all. Earlier this year, I visited my overseas family in a country where Internet is sparse. It was so lovely and refreshing to spend evenings unplugged, chatting with family or reading alone.