Finding Balance with Michaela Beel
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.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business or work.
Hi friends! My name is Michaela and I'm an interior designer living in Michigan with my husband and 1-year-old Australian Labradoodle, Lincoln. I was born and raised in Northern California, got my Bachelor's Degree in Interior Design from Seattle Pacific University and my AA degree in Interior Design from FIDM in Los Angeles. While I was in school, my dad suggested I start a blog to chronicle my journey through design school, so that when I graduated I'd already have a bit of a following. I was reluctant, but SO glad I listened because when I graduated, I already had readers living all around the country who wanted my design services. I started my business in California right after graduating and moving back with my parents. When I met my husband and moved to Michigan only 8 months later, I had to essentially start my business all over again from the ground up. I'm so thankful for my blog that serves as a huge piece of my marketing, as that is what helped keep me afloat in times of transition. Now, having lived in Michigan for just over 4 years, I have awesome design clients here + a couple living in various places around the country as I take a limited number of virtual designs. My passion is working with individuals and families to create a home they will function well in and love for years to come. The home is where life happens and I don't want to take for granted that I'm helping people create that safe haven for them.
When I started my business right out of college I was getting a lot of questions about how I began my blog and business, while one of my best friends was also receiving the same questions! We realized there was a huge need for small creative business owners, so we decided to create The Bloom Workshop, a workshop for Creatives to learn how to sustain a thriving business and be inspired to continue doing what they love. We travel the country teaching these workshops, anywhere from 3-5 times a year. As a young child, I always wanted to be a teacher, so Bloom allows me to combine both my passion for design and teaching! We're so grateful for this opportunity.
Take us through your typical day and your main daily responsibilities.
Every day is so different-- I have a number of clients at one time, so I usually have at least one client design appointment per day. I try to schedule these in the mid-morning, so I'm not rushed out the door, but it also motivates me to get up and ready for the day at a decent hour (#workfromhomeproblems ;)) Earlier appointments also allows me to do errands after my meetings, and still being home in the afternoon to work and start dinner in the evening. My daily responsibilities include design work for my clients (whether this be meeting at a tile store and designing a bathroom, picking out furniture online to present to them, or drawing the floor plan of their house in CAD to be sure everything fits perfectly in place), writing a blog post a couple times per week, answering lots of emails, and working on our next Bloom Workshop event (which can include securing venues, catering, getting gift box items together for our attendees, designing our styled shoots, etc.) There's always LOTS to do! ;) Oh and then I also have to give our pup a couple walks. I can't forget about him!
How do you manage your schedule?
I'm a HUGE planner! I love lists and writing things down (and especially checking them off my list!) so as appointments come up and get scheduled with clients, I write them immediately in my planner and on my iCalendar. Unless I have two meetings with the same person in a day, I really try to never schedule two separate client meetings in the same day. I like to space these out to give myself one thing a day and deal with one design project at a time. (I also can't leave our puppy for more than 5-6 hours at a time, so this works out nicely, ha!) One thing I do is send out emails to my clients a day or two before our meetings, telling them I'm excited to see them at X time and place and even send them the address. This avoids any reschedules or miscommunications!
When scheduling my days, I try to give myself an hour for emails in the morning, a couple hours for my meetings, and then a solid 3-4 hours on the computer doing design work, blog posts, phone calls, etc. Knowing these chunks of time before the day starts helps keep me on track.
What is one thing you always make time for?
Breakfast! I'm starving the second I wake up, so I always make my english muffin and eat it while playing fetch with our dog. It's a fun way to start the day (except a couple mornings ago I looked away for a second and my english muffin was mysteriously gone...ha!) I don't think I'd have a good day without breakfast. After this, I try to do my morning Bible reading and/or devotion time. So important to start the day with the Lord! The other thing we always make time for (at least MOSTLY make time for) is dinner together. We sit at the table and talk about the day without our phones or TV. It's a good time to reconnect.
How do you find rest?
I try to relax in the evenings with my husband. This means going really hard during the day so that when he's home, I can put away my work! I don't think "rest" necessarily means literal resting and naps (although sometimes, yes please!) but I think it just means finding rest from your normal, doing things you enjoy, things that bring you inspiration or soothe the soul. We love taking our dog to the dog park, going out for a meal and enjoying conversation, taking a short weekend trip with friends, or having a game night in our apartment.
How do you find the balance between work and home?
I really try to get everything done while my husband is at work so that when he comes home, it's just our time to hang out! I also try to limit my work on the weekends. I always try to get a couple hours of things done on the weekend, so nothing piles up during the week, but other than that, I try to relax and have fun :)
Tell us one thing that you have learned about finding balance in your life.
You have to fight for it. If you don't, other things suffer. I started to feel it happening a couple months ago-- I was working late even after my husband got home from work. I was on my phone on social media, claiming I was "working" (which is often true!) but I have to have boundaries. We limited our phone use now and completely eliminated being on our phones while laying in bed. This has really helped!
What is one piece of advice you would give readers about finding their own balance?
I think you just have to set boundaries in order to find balance. Decide what's important to you and what's not, then make decisions based on that! For me, my husband is really important (hehe!) so I try to respect our time together by not working. I haven't been great at this in the past, so I'm trying to stick to some newly formed boundaries and make them into habits. I also think planning your week out ahead of time is a great idea. Not down to the minute, but at least a general idea of when you need to fit certain things in. This way you can be intentional about how you're using your time, making sure the priorities get done!