Achieving Work-Life Balance in Voice Over Industry
Freelance jobs like voice over often promise the advantage of having a flexible work environments that makes you achieve a balance between your profession and private life. This is why many full-time freelance voice actors claim that being able to work from their home studios works the best for them. This is true to a great extent — as you no longer need to slip out of your yoga pants or pajamas to start recording that 3000-word audiobook voice over.
However, it’s not always easy to balance life and career even if you are the boss of your own career. In fact, having a job that gives you a complete freedom can sometimes be detrimental to your time. Sure, it gives you a sense of power and control for being able to do your job wherever and whenever you want to. You tend to be consumed by a delusion that you are on top of your tasks both work-related and personal. By being able to multitask, you tend to maximize the flexibility of your schedule and create a thinking that you have a work-life balance because of the power to do personal things even during work hours.
Little did you know, mixing up your non-work stuff with your workspace actually lead to more work hours being consumed. Then sooner or later, you’ll just perhaps feel like your life is already revolving around your job. So what actually is work-life balance and how do we do it in voice over?
What Is Work-Life Balance?
The work-life balance definition sets out to achieve an ideal balance between a person’s working life and private life. It is a concept in which the maximum happiness of an employee acts as the fuel for productive and fulfilling work, for which both employer and employee are responsible.
How to strike the correct work-life balance in voice over?
Today, work-life balance ranks as one of the most important workplace attributes — second to compensation.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance requires managing our professional and personal life in sustainable ways that keep our energy flowing, our minds and bodies healthy and our whole selves happy and content.
It means giving due attention to all of the things that enrich and fulfill us including work and career, health and fitness, family and relationships, spirituality, community service, hobbies and passions, intellectual stimulation, rest and recreation.
Here are the steps that can help you keep the balance between your life and your career.
Track Your Time
Analyzing your present situation is the beginning step in achieving a balanced life. Keep a time log of everything you do for one week, including work-related and personal activities. This data will serve as an eye-opener, helping you understand how you are using — and where you are losing — your time.
Determine Your Priorities
Spend some time seriously reflecting on what is most important to you, and make a list of your top priorities at work and at home. Then analyze your time audit by asking yourself these key questions: What do I need to Start doing? Stop doing? Continue doing? Do more of? Do less of? Do differently?
Take One Step At A Time
Having your own recording studio at home makes you prone to multi-tasking. As it could be fulfilling at first, you lately realize that things can get overwhelming. Learn to focus on a single thing. For example, if you are handling two projects at a time and need to work on a revision, know which needs urgency and try to finish everything about the project first before starting to work on the other one.
Do Not Procrastinate
As what this article The Pros and Woes of Voice Over Actors in Pajamas suggests, the lack of structure in the flexibility of a freelance work tend to compromise your self-discipline, decreasing your productivity. Because there is no physical boss that is monitoring you, you are likely to procrastinate. And this working pattern can be roots of poor time management which leads to burnouts. Make sure to follow your schedule of things to do to avoid carrying them to the next day.
Set Specific Goals
Take your list of priorities and turn them into concrete and measurable goals. Block time into your schedule for activities just like you would for an important meeting or a doctor’s appointment.
Follow Your Schedule
Successful people plan their work and then work their plan. You have one life, so have one date planner. Whether paper or electronic, this is the vehicle by which you turn your priorities and goals into reality. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes at the beginning of each day (or the night before) to plan your tasks and activities for the day and evening ahead.
Set fair and realistic limits on what you will and will not do both at work and at home.
Clearly communicate these boundaries to your supervisor, coworkers, partner and family. For instance, you might commit to not working late on certain days unless there is a crisis. Additionally, set aside a time at home during which you will not check or respond to work-related emails or voice mails.
Take Care of Your Health
Your health should always be your No. 1 priority. If you are not in good shape physically, mentally, and emotionally, both your work life and your personal life will suffer. Take care of yourself by eating healthy meals (especially breakfast), exercise at least three times per week and sleep a minimum of seven hours per night. While you may not think you have time to add exercise and extra sleep to your jam-packed schedule, these practices relieve stress, raise your energy level, increase your stamina, improve your mental clarity, boost your immune system, and make you a happier, more engaged, and more productive person.
Nurture Your Family/Relationships
Relationships with family, friends, and loved ones are, by far, the greatest source of inner satisfaction. If your job or career is damaging your personal relationships, both areas will ultimately suffer. Sure there will be days when you will need to work overtime. The issue becomes problematic when these days become the rule, not the exception. By making your personal relationships a priority, your productivity and effectiveness on the job will actually increase.
Make Time for You
As much as work, health, and relationships take priority in your life, it is also important to schedule time for your own renewal. Indulge in some small pleasure daily. Take at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted “you time.” It will do wonders for your well-being, and your relationships and your career will benefit too. Connect with your spiritual source. Belief in God, or a higher power, can be a deep well from which to draw inspiration, guidance, and strength. Setting aside a weekly day of rest can be helpful, as well.
Leave Work at Work, Do Not Multi-task
Develop a mental on-off switch between work and home. It helps to establish a transitional activity between the two realms. This might consist of listening to music or recorded books during your evening commute, exercising at the fitness center, running errands, or keeping personal appointments. Scheduling such activities immediately following your normal work hours also prevents you from spending that extra twenty minutes at the office which then turns into several hours.
Exercise Your Options
Many forward-thinking companies today are creating policies and programs that facilitate work-life balance. Find out what options your business offers in terms of flex hours, telecommuting, a compressed work week, job-sharing, or part-time employment. You may find an arrangement that allows you to work more productively, while at the same time cutting stress and freeing-up valuable personal/family time. If your company does not yet have a flexible scheduling program, consider proposing one.
Work Smart, Not Hard
Using time more efficiently is an important skill that everyone from the receptionist to the CEO can learn. Adopting the right combination of time-management practices can cut stress and save you up to an hour a day. This can include the use of technology to become more organized, grouping emails and voice messages, avoiding procrastination and learning to say “no.”
Know When to Ask for Help
If you are overwhelmed at work, and it is causing undue stress don’t suffer in silence. Shed the Superwoman/Superman image and explain your situation to your client. Untenable work situations can usually be alleviated, but it will take some assertiveness on your part.
Try as we all may, work-life balance isn’t an exact science. Each person must find his or her own way of combining career, relationships, and personal care into an integrated whole. What is right for you now will likely change as new circumstances arise, so periodically review your situation and adjust accordingly.
Don’t get overwhelmed by assuming that you need to make big changes all at once. Even if you implement only a few of the above strategies, they will have a positive and measurable impact in your life. Start with one clear goal — then add another, and another.
The process of achieving a healthy work-life balance is like becoming a professional athlete or training for a triathlon. It takes a concerted effort to get in shape and a continued effort to stay that way. But those who commit themselves to this quest reap enormous health and quality-of-life benefits. It is possible to have a successful professional career and a fulfilling personal life. Take control of your work. Be proactive with your time. Get a (balanced) life.