Work-Life Balance: Integration

September 2015 | by Jenn David Connolly

I have been working on my work-life balance for many years, especially since my first child was born in 2007. I have tried just about everything: working late at night, working hours before sunrise, working a rigid schedule, working a fluid schedule, working with offsite support, working with onsite support, working in a studio with employees, working in a home office with virtual employees. One thing that I’ve never compromised is my commitment to my clients. With my name on the business, I am the business, and I will deliver every time. When you’re working with Jenn David Design, you are getting me personally on your team, supported by my own team.

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It took a lot of experimenting and adapting to figure out what I truly wanted for the rhythm of my life and my business. Before I had kids, I was happy working many hours a day because I love what I do. Now that I have kids, I want to spend ample time with them too, and not just nights and weekends. I love being there to drop them off and pick them up from school, and having the afternoons to play together or go on adventures.

With both my kids having summers off now, I wanted to create space for freedom for all of us during the summers, to travel and explore, and also to just be and play. Schedules can be so rigid during the school year and one thing I love most is waking up and asking myself, “What kind of day do I want to create today?”

At one time, I thought that separation of home and business was the answer—after all, this is what is traditionally engrained in us by society. I gradually created more and more boundaries and separated home and work more and more. But instead of simplifying, I found that this actually complicated things.

I loved having my own studio, but after awhile, something didn’t sit right about it with me. I was spending more time at the studio and away from home, and it became harder and harder to carve out that quality time with my kids and for myself that I so savor. I found I needed to implement more managing strategies: what do I do with the kids when they’re out of school or have a day off and I need to be working? What do I do with the office when I want to leave early to enjoy afternoons with my children? There were aspects of the business that now felt like a burden: managing several employees and running a studio was draining me of my true love for my business: design and creativity. I found that having a physical location for the business tied me down more than I wanted. Ultimately, what I wanted most was to fully serve my clients in the best way possible in a way that worked for my life, and this solution didn’t fit.

I gradually made the change to create more freedom in my business, an aspect I now realize I truly love and cherish. I honed in on my positioning to a very specific focus, working exclusively with gourmet food brands. I am paid well to do the work I do best and love most, and my clients get my dedicated devotion to each project. I moved back to my home studio, and I now have support from my team only when I need it—which frees up all of us to do more of other things we love. Any burden is gone, and the freedom is inspiring me to challenge my creativity to new heights.

This summer was a true testament to putting this plan into action, and really learning how to follow the natural rhythm of work and life. I traveled nearly the entire summer with my family. We visited so many friends and extended family, seeing many states and cities. It was a joy to be surrounded by happiness and fun, and be on so many adventures. To see how much my children enjoyed it all was priceless. Through it all I was readily available and delivering for my clients whenever they needed it, even handling a few last-minute, urgent large projects.

I now realize that what has traditionally been ingrained in us about the separation of home and work being the answer to work-life balance is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Yes, it works for some. But not for me, at this time in my life. Being fluid with schedule and being open to what life and work look like for me, not being afraid to break conventions and try new things in life and work, has enabled a kind of freedom I’ve never tapped into before. I’m also being approached with many new and exciting business opportunities, and I don’t think that is any coincidence. I’m excited to see where things go from here.


One thought on “Work-Life Balance: Integration

  1. Pam

    Jenn, great article. I think it’s something most of us freelancers or small studios struggle with. I had a studio offsite once and while it was great to get out of the house and give me a structured schedule, it stressed me out. And it was a lot of money that could have been spent on self-promotion or other things. I love working from home, the freedom and flexibility suits me well. And my clients still get 100% from me. Happy designers = happy clients 🙂

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