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    Category Archives: Finding Balance

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    How to chuck a sickie when you’re self employed


    By Jes Egan

    Taking a sickie when you are running your own small business can be a very hard thing to do, with too much to do and no-one other than yourself or a few employees to pick up the slack. Sometimes it’s harder to accept illness and take a day to recover than it is to just keep on going and to put your health on the back burner.

    When you are running a small creative business you are often doing a bit of everything, if not everything and having a day off sick can mean that things don’t get done on time or get done at all and this can lead to a loss of income, unhappy clients, delays etc. But sometimes an illness or bug will just stop you in your tracks.

    Don’t feel guilty about taking a day to look after yourself, to be able to continue your business running you need to be fighting fit. And to do this sometimes it means you have to spend a day or two in bed, doing nothing, other than resting and recovering.

    Here are a few of my tips on how to manage such days when they come around:

    Write a list

    Write down all the things you were planning on getting done that day, the little things plus the big things. Put it all down on paper or online so that it is out of your head.


    Look at that list and prioritise it: is there anything that absolutely has to be done this day? If so, is it something that can be done from your bed or couch? Move all other non-vital tasks to the next day or later that week.


    If you have the option to delegate anything from that list then do so. Getting help where you can is really important to reduce your workload on these sick days. If you need to deliver, pick up, place an order etc then ask a friend or relative if they could help you out with that task.

    Do it early

    If you have to do something that can’t wait and that no-one can help you with, then do it early in the day so you can rest and not worry for the rest of the day. Get it over and done with so it isn’t weighing on your mind.

    Manage expectations

    If there is a knock-on delay for delivery from you taking a day or so, send a few emails and let people know that this is coming. Manage their expectations so when you are back you have less work to tidy up. It will also stop people chasing you up and hopefully stop any anxiety you may have about the delay. If you are a heavy email user, put your out of office message on, if it is an option. Once you have done what you need, turn your emails or phone off and try to rest fully without distraction.

    Don’t feel guilty

    Taking time out to look after yourself can be easier said than done – try not to feel guilty or worry about it. Stress doesn’t encourage recovery!

    Taking time out and not continuing on is sometimes not an option, but either is looking after yourself. So where you can reduce the workload when you’re sick and take a day to focus on you, because without you there is no creative business.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist and an university lecturer. Follow Jes on Instagram.  

    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on How to chuck a sickie when you’re self employed
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    Creative blues: five common fears and how to beat them


    By Emma Clark Gratton

    Working for yourself or passionately following a creative project requires a level of mental toughness and self-confidence that is hard to maintain. Dealing with rejection, financial challenges, working long hours with just yourself as taskmaster… all these things can build up until you are having an existential crisis before your morning coffee.

    To make it even more difficult, these days of stunning Insta feeds and #humblebragging tweets can feel that everyone else is kicking goals while you are still slogging away. The reality? Even Frida Kahlo and Gertrude Stein and Madonna have done crappy work, and spent days pottering around in their pyjamas eating toast and not producing much. The people who are at the top of their game aren’t talking about it on Facebook, they are simply doing the work.

    Here are some of the most common fears, self-doubting phrases and negative feelings that crop up, and how to deal with them.

    I don’t deserve this!

    You do. Whether you are taking the giant leap of quitting your day job, or simply ditching a family Game of Thrones marathon to dig out your old painting gear, all creative pursuits are worthwhile and valid. At the risk of sounding like an inspirational Instagram post, we only get one life, so why the hell wouldn’t you give it your best shot?

    It is not a matter of ‘deserving’ or ‘earning the right’ to be creative. You don’t need to justify it to anyone!

    But (insert name here) is already doing this waaaaay better than I can!

    You know the feeling: you’re feeling pretty good about yourself, chugging along on your creative projects,when a friend/colleague/stranger makes a big announcement. Perhaps they have an amazing book deal, or a huge solo exhibition, or they landed their dream creative job in Japan. You hug them and celebrate, but deep, deep down you feel a little stab of “Why not me? What is wrong with me? Do I suck?”

    Morrisey even wrote a song about it: “We hate it when our friends become successful”, which goes “You see, it should’ve been me / It could’ve been me / Everybody knows / Everybody says so.”

    This is a hard feeling. This feeling doesn’t make you a bad person (you can be genuinely happy for someone and still be slightly jealous at the same time), but it can be useful to examine that feeling further. Remind yourself of all the cool stuff you HAVE done, and the awesome things you are planning to do.  There is room for all of us, and there is plenty of work to go around.

     I don’t know what I’m doing!

    Want to know a secret? Nobody actually knows what he or she is doing. It is a total ruse! Making mistakes, failing spectacularly, and starting again is all part of life. There is nothing you can’t find help on, either online or by asking people who have done it before.

    When you are feeling overwhelmed and lost, try to cultivate a “what if?” attitude. Just try something that feels like a fairly good idea, then go from there. And remember, no one was born knowing how to code, or design, or knit. Learning new things is part of the fun!

    But this is too scary/hard/overwhelming!

    All the best things are scary. Sometimes, jumping in headfirst is the only way to give yourself the kick you need. But if you are feeling overwhelmed, then break the task down to the smallest component that you feel comfortable with. Want to start your own Etsy business but feeling totally overwhelmed? Just start by making a list of the kinds of thing you could sell. Take tiny, incremental steps towards your goal, then use the momentum to keep going.

    I’m too poor/lazy/busy!

    Well then, do what you can. Anything is better than nothing, right? Even the busiest working mother with multiple kids and a busy job can find time to crochet a few rows before bed, or scribble out her plans for starting a ceramics business. Work with what you’ve got. Heaps of resources and creative inspirations are free: go to the library and borrow art and business books, practice your floristry using blooms from your garden, or write your novel on your lunch break from your desk job.


    Generally, a good way to deal with these kinds of doubts is to allow yourself to fully experience the negative feeling, acknowledge it, and then get on with your day. Let the fear and negativity in, say hello to it, but don’t let it stop you from getting on with being awesome. A favourite quote of mine is “A garden grows where you water it”, which means the things you nurture and pay attention to are what will grow the fastest. This goes for thoughts and actions as well as gardens: prioritise your creative pursuits and see what happens.

    If you are genuinely struggling with anxiety, depression or feelings of overwhelm, I cannot stress the importance of talking to someone. Talk to your partner, your mum or a friend who gets it. Otherwise, seeing a counselor is an excellent way to sort out any issues in an objective way, and can help you get back on track. You don’t need to be in the depths of depression to seek professional help. In fact, seeking help when you are feeling good can help you handle the more serious emotions when times are tough.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on Creative blues: five common fears and how to beat them
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    Interview: Kate James, creative coach and mindfulness teacher


     In our modern world of beeping notifications, competitive parenting and constant connectedness, mindfulness is becoming a sought-after approach for creative people looking to rest their busy minds. Kate James of Total Balance coaches her clients on balance, meditation and living purposefully.

    What drew you to becoming a coach and mindfulness teacher?

    I’ve always been interested in people and what makes them tick. I spent over a decade working as a business manager for creative businesses and while I loved the work I was doing, I wanted to help people in a more purposeful way. I considered psychology or a natural therapy but I wanted to incorporate my interest in creative business into my work so when I heard about coaching in the early 2000’s it seemed like the perfect option.

    The mindfulness part came about six months after I started the business. Whenever a client was stressed, I would recommend that they learn meditation. It had changed my life and I wanted to share that with other people so despite a real fear in those early days of speaking in front of groups, I began teaching and a few years after that, it seemed like a natural progression to start running meditation and yoga retreats.

    Who is your typical client?

    My clients are generally quite similar to me! Most are introverts and deep thinkers. They want to do what they love and what they’re naturally good at. Most are creative in some way and many have their own creative businesses.  They live to experience life. They care about making their lives beautiful in simple ways – good food, travel not just to tick a box to say ‘I’ve been there’ but more to learn about new cultures; they want to contribute to society in a meaningful way and they’re interested in the idea of discovering and living a purposeful life.


    How would you describe your work?

    I work with people who want clarity about their direction. Once they have a greater sense of where they want to go (either work wise or personally), I help them feel confident to pursue the things they care about. This often results in a client starting a creative business even if that business sits alongside a more mainstream role that helps pay the bills.

    My interest in mindfulness influences how I work with clients and I’ve developed a framework about how to live and work mindfully which I share with clients who are interested in mindfulness.

    The most common feedback I get about my work is that I help people to become conscious of how they hold themselves back. I help them to quiet the inner critic so they can tap into their own innate sense of creativity and wisdom.

    What does a typical day involve for you?

    These days I’m actually fairly structured in the way I manage my time. It’s taken me years to learn how to do this but it has made a huge difference to my stress levels and my productivity.

    I wake pretty early and start every morning with meditation and yoga. I get emails out of the way first and if I don’t have early clients, I’ll work on one of my writing projects for a few hours. Occasionally, I take a notebook and a cup of tea into the garden and sit under the birch tree to write.

    I always stop for lunch and I’m generally with clients in the afternoons. Some afternoons, I sneak off for a walk along the beach but this doesn’t happen often enough.

    I do the financial stuff on Friday mornings and reward myself by taking the afternoon off to have lunch with a girlfriend.


    What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

    It’s hard to choose one because I’ve had a few opportunities over recent years that have blown me away. In 2009, Tourism NT took me on a weeklong trip to Darwin and Kakadu so I could help them with a PR campaign about the importance of taking holidays. It was the most amazing experience.

    Getting my first publishing deal at the end of 2014 was pretty incredible and it’s been fantastic to see the book selling well and to have a second one published this year.

    What do you do for fun?

    I love to cook so we have friends or our girls and their partners for dinner here. Chris and I also head out of town every couple of months and we do lots of walking and taking photos (a shared passion). Our lives are pretty quiet these days but that’s my idea of pure joy.

    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

    Be kind, be courageous and be authentic. Share your gifts with the world and dare to play a bigger game than you had imagined for yourself.

    You can find out more about Kate at Total Balance.

    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Finding Balance, Interviews with Creative Women | Comments Off on Interview: Kate James, creative coach and mindfulness teacher
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    How a vacation can help your business

    sky-people-whitespace-freedom copy


    By Diana Scully


    Most of us find ourselves dreaming about our next vacation or travel holiday but don’t book anything. Many of us follow travel accounts on Instagram, commenting on how much we’d love to visit this destination, but then don’t take any steps to get there. We want more time in life to take holidays, spend time with the family and just relax but find ourselves at the end of the year with accrued paid leave owing to us. So what’s going on?

    For many of us, taking time away from our work, whether we are in paid employment or run our own business, can feel overwhelming.  But its one view to be busy and another to confuse it with having a negative impact on your success. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt a personal change upon returning from a vacation, for the better. And for the positive impacts it has on my work, taking a vacation is no longer perceived as a luxury, but rather an essential part in the outcome of my busy work/life schedule. Here are five reasons why I make taking the time to travel each year, a necessity in my life:

    A change in perspective. Travel gives you the opportunity to get away from your usual routine, the people you meet, what you eat, how you sleep and where you work… You begin to view things differently, think outside the box and allow yourself to take on something new.

    When you travel, especially to underdeveloped nations or unknown destinations, you open yourself up to new ideas. You begin to appreciate how different life can be and you return to your own lifestyle with a fresh perspective and point of view. Consequently, the flow-on effect leads to new ideas or solutions to problems you may have been facing prior to your vacation, by allowing yourself to think in new ways.

    Take a break and recharge your batteries. Travel gives you a chance to renew your energy, find your balance and re-align yourself. Most people reach a point throughout the year when logic becomes cloudy. Productivity declines and enthusiasm wanes. Taking a break, relaxing and switching off are ways to refuel yourself and find your positive energy. This opportunity allows you to indulge in your own needs for a period of time. And when you return, improve your productivity at work with your new, positive outlook on life.

    To push your limits. Travel allows you to break a routine that at the best of times, is designed to make you work efficiently and effectively each week. But in doing so, you also build yourself a comfort zone and forget your ability to push boundaries to grow your business and work opportunities. If you’re thinking about applying for a new role, starting a new business or growing an existing one – you need to think beyond the norm. You need to push your boundaries. If you expose yourself to this way of thinking, you will teach yourself how to build the courage to do this in other areas of life, i.e. work, fitness and health.

    Find inspiration. Travel gives you the opportunity to think for yourself for uninterrupted periods of time. Taking a vacation allows you to consider and contemplate issues/topics/opportunities that have been sitting on your to-do list for some time. When you give yourself the chance to think about something else than your daily routine and work commitments, you open your mind to new possibilities.

    Network and meet new people. Travel allows you to network organically, especially if you travel independently or on your own.  Travel forces you to talk to people, ask for help, seek advice and start conversations with strangers. It also shows you your strengths and weaknesses in your ability to communicate, adapt to new situations and accommodate different cultures and customs.

    Start changing your perception about taking time off from work to travel. Reverse the logic and the tendency to perceive a vacation as an indulgence in life, but rather, focus on the benefits travel can offer you at work and your general overall happiness.

    Images by Pexels.

    Interior designer Diana Scully owns and operates her own interior design firm Spaces by Diana that’s all about designing beautiful, personalised homes to reflect the people who live in it. Diana also has her own lifestyle blog, Spaces + Places, where she regularly writes about inspiring spaces to see and visit from around the world and shares her recent travel adventures. This year she has plans to spend time abroad in the US. Follow Diana on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.


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    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance | Comments Off on How a vacation can help your business