Work-Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is hard enough, but how do you maintain any semblance of sanity when you have two careers? When you go to work from 8 to 5 and are passionate about what you're doing, and then come home and dive into your freelance work and invest your heart and soul into it?

This is a recurring theme for us because we are both head over heels in love with Toast Design Studio, and yet we are also passionate and excited about our full-time jobs. And we're both equally passionate about friendships, family, pets, hobbies, homes, and travel.

I've embraced a lot of different paces of life over time. In college, I was out and busy from 8 AM to midnight every day. I had no free time and my pulse raced constantly with stress. A couple years ago, I was in a slump with Toast and feeling introverted and private, and I would leave the office at 5 (or sometimes 6) and Netflix until bedtime. What I eventually learned (and what should have been common sense before) is that neither of these extremes makes me happy. I am at my all-time best when I am fulfilled with my work, with one or two passion projects or hobbies, and with my social life and self-care.

I will be the first to admit that my lifestyle in the past has not always the healthiest. I tend to go full-tilt until I’ve worn myself down to the point of literal physical exhaustion. Then I’m so upset and tired that I go into hermit mode and completely cut off my contact with the outside world. A year ago, this led me to a major breaking point; we were launching our website at Toast and I was in the middle of grant-writing season and gearing up for our annual fundraiser  at my full-time job. I developed bursitis in my shoulder and tennis elbow: an incredibly painful combination. I would get home, set my phone down, and not look at it until the next morning, just to avoid dealing with anything and anyone. As it turns out, this is the wrong way to go about things. I spent this last year changing my approach to work and life, focusing on positivity, communication, and better time-management and productivity methods.

It feels like we’ve studied every book, blog post, and podcast on maintaining work-life balance. But what we’ve discovered since we launched Toast is that that managing work-work-life balance is very different, and there are a few tips we have learned along the way:

  1. Quality mental health practices. We like to do this through guided meditation and focusing on positivity. Tiffany went through a brief period of stress-induced insomnia, and this 45 minute guided meditation on Spotify fixed it like a charm. Emily spent 100 days using the Happiness Planner to develop mindful positivity practices.
  2. Work-Work-Life balance does not mean Work=Work=Life. Maintaining a healthy balance between full-time jobs, a freelance business, and everything else does not mean that each requires an equal devotion of energy all the time. Sometimes being able to rest and not update our Toast Instagram, or to work late at our day jobs, or launch another passion project, while everything else takes a back burner, is the key to keeping an overall balance.
  3. Two is better than one. Without a doubt, we could not do this without each other. Nothing compares to having a partner you can totally count on to pick up the slack when you need to focus on something else.
  4. Keep growing your passions. Turning your passion into a business can add a lot of pressure to something you love. We continue to cultivate and follow our other passions to avoid burnout. Try signing up for a run, volunteering at an animal shelter, or saving up your vacation days and taking a well-earned trip.
  5. Build your own support network. Surround yourself with individuals who will enrich and support your passions and lifestyle. Maintaining a work-work-life balance takes a lot of time and energy, but we’ve both been lucky enough to have full-time jobs that support our freelance passions; our work performances never suffer from working Toast after hours, and we come to our day jobs refreshed and excited from following our outside passions. Our families and friends support us wholly in our venture, and their help makes everything easier. We also make sure our clients are a good match for us. We’re not scared to pass on an opportunity if it’s clear to us that it’s not the right fit.