Hi! I thought I’d start off the week with some books I’ve been reading on work-life balance. Recently, I was on a panel where someone asked, “How do you make time to be creative while running a business?” Having time to make things that I love is one of the reasons I started Caravan Pacific. But between balancing the books, managing employees, keeping up on orders and the myriad of other things you do to keep things running, I sometimes feel lucky if I can pull my pants on in the morning much less think up a good idea for a new product. Luckily, I’ve found a few things that work for me in balancing my time and being creative:
• Focus and move towards one goal throughout the year
The book, The One Thing, outlines how to minimize distractions and focus on accomplishing creative and financial goals in a realistic way. Last year, my main focus was on how to build a good inventory system for my business as it grew. We’re still growing and adapting new technologies and strategies for this, but I feel we now have a good system in place that feels right for our business.
• Build a good team to help you manage your time
Hiring a studio manager who works full time at our company was a total game changer. I was no longer struggling to ship out orders while on the phone with a vendor or juggling POs while going through our inventory. Having someone to help out with a number of regular functions in the business has helped free up a significant amount of time so I could develop new products and start a family. The book, E-Myth Revisited, is a great read if you’re new to scaling a business and breaking it down into positions to help manage growth.
•Work less or work more, just work at the tempo that feels right for you
I’ve realized that the pressure of a deadline sometimes helps me knock things out creatively and can be more satisfying for me than a steady stream of days each month that I’ve blocked out to focus on product design. Realize that your schedule may have to be a little flexible to allow for creative growth. Off-Balance is a great book on re-imagining work-life balance and what it takes to be satisfied as a creative individual.
• Practice patience
Something I wish I would have said in answer to that initial question of where to find creative time is: have patience with yourself and your craft. Not everything you work towards is going to be a win. If you don’t have a little struggle or some misses, I believe you’re creating a great deal of fragility, if not boredom, in your business and work. I love stretching my boundaries, but have to remind myself that I’m not always going to see the success that I think is imminent. Many of the crafts I focus on now (wood turning, slip-casting, electrical design) take years, sometimes a lifetime, to fully understand and master. In Praise of Slowness is a great book on the wisdom of slowing down, personally and as a culture, to reap the rich benefits of a life more fully realized. Carl Honore, the author, is one of my favorites and has a number of great books on the subject.
Hope you get to read at least one of these books! I found them all to have moments of wisdom and inspiration for building my business. Please share if you know of others or have feedback on the ones above. Always looking for a good read…