Finding Balance with Laura James

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about how I schedule my work week and how I get it all done as a stay at home mom of a toddler and business owner of a growing, thriving business. The response was overwhelming, and I quickly realized how many of you needed guidance for creating your own schedule and finding balance between work and life. I realized that we all want a glimpse of how others are making it work so we can better structure our own lives. 

Because of this, I was inspired to start this series featuring other busy moms and business owners sharing how they manage their schedules and work towards work/life balance. My hope in everything I do is that we can make our lives less busy and more intentional so that we find more room for joy. I hope that this series will inspire you in your own life and help you find just the right combination of work and play so you can make it happen too. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business or work.

I'm a graphic designer, brand strategist, and photographer based out of Los Angeles. I'm a military wife and mother of two who enjoys working with creatives and entrepreneurs to create a strong foundation for their brand, develop their signature style, and flourish within their market.

What are your main daily responsibilities?

I don't think there's going to be enough room to share them all... LOL! I have two kids, and the oldest has only just started half day preschool, so until recently it's been a lot of running around and praying for nap time. I take care of the youngest full time, cook, clean, organize, and manage the household, and so on. It's pretty crazy. Oh yeah, I also operate my branding business, have launched a new course (and have 4 more in the works!!), and will be adding a brand new top secret project early next year, so there's all that too!

What time does your typical day start?

Too early! I'm a night owl, so mornings are THE WORST, but my baby girl is still up at least once overnight, and ready to be awake at 5AM bright and early. Her brother is right behind her at 5:30, so not much sleeping in here!

Take us through your typical day.

Well like I said, we're all up pretty early, but we don't truly get started until around 6. My husband and son eat their breakfast together while I feed my daughter. After that, I get the kids and myself dressed and run my oldest to school. He's there until early afternoon, so I come home, eat my breakfast and spend that time playing with my daughter until she goes for her nap, then I'm splitting my time between household chores and business. I grab lunch on the go most days since I pick my son up from preschool right after lunch time, and then we come back home for a little play time before afternoon "rest". I usually get work done during the rest time, but then as soon as the kids are back up and moving it's cleaning, playing, and getting dinner started. I wish I could say my day stops there, but after dinner are baths, books, bedtime for kids, and more work or household chores. Since my husband is working towards his second masters degree, we're both pretty busy after the kids are asleep. We do try to make at least 30 minutes for just vegging out before bed though - or right now we've just started watching Game of Thrones so that's almost an hour each night! SO fun!

What do you wish you had more time for?

I honestly feel pretty balanced right now, but I do wish I had more time for learning new skills. I've bought some calligraphy supplies, books, and kits, but haven't been able to play with them as much as I would like to.

What is one thing you always make time for?

My husband. I could be knee deep in housework, laundry, and paperwork for my business, but if he asks for me I'll be there no questions asked. I love my business, but nothing is so critical that it can't wait a day.

How do you manage your schedule?

I don't? Haha just kidding! It's a real delicate balance, especially as my son gets older and has more extra-curricular activities, but I'm finding that my Google Calendar in my phone and my weekly planner are pretty critical for appointment scheduling and avoiding conflicts.

How do you find the balance between work and home?

This is a really hard one, because my computer and my desk are in our family room. Mostly I find that I just need to turn off the screen and power it down. When I do that, then I don't tend to want to "check" and see. I do have my email linked to my phone, but I've turned off alerts and notifications. I only check it when I really feel like I have to, and not because something pops up.

What brings you joy in your day to day life?

SOOO many things! My life is filled with joy (except for housework, I'm still not on board with that concept yet)! I get to spend my days playing with my kids, my evenings with my husband, and I have a career that's completely my own and tailored to fit my strengths and personality. I can't imagine it gets much better than that! It's not to say there aren't hard or difficult times, but even then I just have to remind myself of these things and I'm pretty excited again!

Tell us one thing that you have learned about managing a busy life.

Oh boy... well I guess the most important thing that I've learned is to prioritize everything and don't overdo it. I've found the perfect balance for new client work, family emergencies, and product development but it's taken time and knowing whats important. Keeping a buffer in my schedule too helps when there's last minute changes or events that affect us.

What is one piece of advice you would give readers about managing their own schedule?

Take the time to learn what works for you, and realize that life changes (like having a second kiddo!) will sure change how you manage and schedule. For me, going with the flow and creating a prioritized list of important tasks for each day has been the secret to getting things done. That way if I have a sick kid, or my husband takes the day off, or I accidentally take a nap instead of doing the laundry (yep, this happens), it's ok. I can look at my task list and find ones that are high priority and start getting them done, knowing the lower priority ones can wait.


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If you are interested in contributing to this series, or know of someone you would like to see featured, send me an email at rachel@intentionally-designed.com and let me know!