Finding Balance with Katie Norris

When 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. 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. 

I believe that balance does exist and is actually necessary for our sanity and well being. Even though I hear often that balance doesn't exist, I feel that we each have our own version of balance and that we can find it in our lives. It's a process that we're all constantly living in and adjusting to in different seasons.

Because of this, I was inspired to start this series featuring other busy women and business owners sharing how they manage their schedules and work towards work/life balance. This series features talented and encouraging women like you and a look into what balance looks like for them. The idea is to share a real-life version of balance and how we each have our own variation of it depending on our life and season. 

Finding Balance Series Katie Norris

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

In 2008, I started my own photography business and felt called to serve with my camera. This calling led me to found Fotolanthropy, a nonprofit that celebrates incredible stories of hope. We produce documentaries and short films that chronicle the journeys of those who have defied great odds and lived well despite their circumstances. I am the producer of two award-winning documentaries, “Travis: A Soldier’s Story” and “The Luckiest Man,” and am currently producing Fotolanthropy’s newest feature documentary, “7 Yards.” It will tell the powerful story of Chris Norton, a young man who was told he would never walk again after a college football injury.
To creatively support the Fotolanthropy mission, I designed the Fotostrap, beautiful a personal camera strap for DSLR cameras. A portion of every purchase goes to Fotolanthropy, and I manage the Fotostrap retail e-commerce line. My work is all about hope and bringing more inspiration and uplifting stories to the world.

My favorite work is to be mom to my daughter, Rose, and wife to my husband, Reece. We also have a little miracle on the way so life is full and each day is its own adventure. We live in Dallas, Texas, and love to travel to the mountains in Colorado.

Take us through your typical day and your main daily responsibilities.

One thing that I love about being a business owner, is that each day is different. To keep myself organized, I have built in items that I love to include in my day for it to feel complete and balanced. My daughter wakes at 7:00 a.m. every morning so I try to rise at 6 or 6:30 to enjoy a cup of coffee in the quiet house and spend time with the Lord by doing a quiet time, and writing and reviewing my prayers and goals. This really is a game changer for me. I can tell that I live more fully and balanced when I can get this time to myself in the is sacred for this mama! I also love spending quality time with my daughter in the morning and then I try to get in some exercise before my workday begins. Because I’m still in my first trimester, my workouts are not too inspiring, but it’s something and keeps my mind clear! 

When I open up my computer for work, I keep these things in mind:

  • Review my top 6 “to do’s” and goals for the day on wunderlist
  • Only open an email once - reply immediately or don’t open until I know I have the time to reply
  • Do my most difficult task first
  • Schedule calls for the morning when it’s still coffee drinking time 
  • Music is a must - it helps me thrive throughout the work day

My daily tasks include keeping the ball rolling on our new film 7 Yards by coordinating with the film team, sponsors, distributors and also overseeing the overall grass roots efforts. For Fotostrap, I also oversee the mission, cultivate our team and I am currently in design mode bringing some new products to life.

I have care for my daughter a few days a week, so I really try to dive in then so that I can come home and go back to being mom for her. When I have to travel for filming, I always make sure to schedule a few days off after my trip to get that extra time back with her.

We keep things pretty simple in our home. We love catching up on our day, playing with Rose, making dinner together and we love going to bed early and ending the day with a few laughs from Seinfeld.

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How do you manage your schedule?

Years back, a mentor of mine gave me some great advice that I use as my guide: “When you say yes to something you don’t want to do or can’t do, you are saying no to your family.” This has helped me make the best decisions for our schedule. In the beginning phases of my businesses, I would say yes to almost everything and I quickly spiraled to near burn out. Through experience and learning the hard way, I have found the freedom in saying “no thanks” and not overcommitting myself. 

Also, to help manage my schedule, I use Wunderlist, google calendar and my husband and I actively coordinate schedules.

What is one thing you always make time for?

Coffee! Can I say that?! Since high school, I think there have only been a handful of days that did not include coffee. What I love about “coffee” is that it involves some quiet time, me time or time for great conversations or special interactions. I love drinking coffee while my daughter and I color in her Elsa and Anna coloring book. No matter what’s going on, I can always manage to make time for a good cup of joe.

How do you find rest?

A good book and a nap! We love to take a nap on the weekend when Rose is asleep.

I also rest best when I take time to take care of myself. It can be so easy to put yourself last but I always feel refreshed when I can find some quiet time to read, journal, listen to a podcast or treat myself to a pedicure. It’s incredible what an hour can do!

How do you find the balance between work and home?

I will say that becoming a mom has helped me better find balance at work and home. When I am on mom duty, I am with Rose. It’s nearly impossible to take phone calls with Daniel Tiger and “mama come dance!” in the background. When you own your own business, you can’t completely turn it off. If an email or an issue needs tending to, I will take care of it. But, as best as I can, I try to maximize my time so that I can close my laptop for the day around 5 p.m. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs so discussing work is a big part of our lives. But, this also means we are each others greatest cheerleaders. It’s not, “Where did you go for lunch today?” It’s, “How did that meeting go?” or “You are not going to believe what happened today!” We celebrate the road and journey together. 

Many times, one of us will have a late night working. But, that is what we chose and we know that is part of it. We do our best to encourage one another and then make up for that time with downtime when we can.

Tell us one thing that you have learned about finding balance in your life.

If I can get to that place of balance, which sometimes feels like an unachievable magical unicorn l am so happy and feel at peace. It is SO worth pursuing!

What is one piece of advice you would give readers about finding their own balance?

To have balance, you must keep it a priority. Balance doesn’t just happen, balance is found when you make a lot of good choices that accumulate. Choosing your family, living a healthy lifestyle, smelling the roses, feeling alive, connected and intentionally incorporating things in your day that you love. Finding balance is a gift and it can be taken from you if you don’t keep in check with yourself. So check in, every day, and the time will add up.

Follow along with Katie