The Myth of Work-Life Balance | Episode 007 transcript

This is the transcript for Episode 007 | The Myth of Work-Life Balance.
Jack & Jennifer discuss the myths of work-life balance.
Visit this post for show notes.

Jack: Hello, you are listening to the Get To Art podcast afterhours. Jennifer thinks we haven’t started recording yet but we totally have. I’m Jack Roach, funniest independent author around.

Jennifer: Independent author.

Jack: Go ahead, introduce yourself.

Jennifer: And I’m Jennifer Roach, Atlanta wedding photographer.

Jack: Premier wedding photographer.

Jennifer: Atlanta wedding photographer.

Jack: And this week which is Episode 7, right 7?

Jennifer: Sure.

Jack: We were going to talk about a day in the life of. But life got into our days this week so and so now we’re recording an adhoc episode, a day in the life and integrating work-life balance.

Jennifer: Because we don’t have work-life balance so we should probably talk about that.

Jack: So it is 11:30PM in the Atlanta studio, we’ve each had about half a beer or so, I don’t know. We are a little punchy. We are ready to go.

Jennifer: A little punchy.

Jack: And we thought we just do this one off the cuff and let it flow smoothly. So, Jennifer, what did you do this weekend?

Jennifer: Well, here at Atlanta yesterday was record high temperatures in the history of Atlanta, and my butt was outside at a wedding all day.

Jack: But that in Atlanta I feel like you are cheating a little bit.

Jennifer: Well, it was in Thomaston which is fairly close to Atlanta. It’s two hours away. Still record high temperatures. It was like 95, 96.

Jack: Too damn hot.

Jennifer: Yeah. They had to bring in this huge misting fans. People size versions of those little water bottle thing that you get with a fan and it mist you in the face. They had huge ones of those all over the place to mist everybody and it’s still was just unbearably hot.

Jack: And what did you do the day before that?

Jennifer: What did I do the day before that? It was Friday. Oh, it was our anniversary.

Jack: It was our anniversary.

Jennifer: It was our anniversary and we went out for our anniversary, and saw Aladdin.

Jack: And then today?

Jennifer: And then today I got like an hour or so of rest before I took our children to the pool for four hours, and then came home and went did an engagement session, so I can barely move.

Jack: The point that I’m trying to make in asking all these questions is that when you have a creative side hustle or whatever you want to call it, the idea of work-life balance is a joke. It is more like a pendulum. It just swings left and right. You work as hard as you can, you go, go, go, and then eventually you just run out of steam and say forget it. I need to relax for a while.

Jennifer: Yeah, exactly. And I was actually like driving at home from an engagement session today thinking, I need a break from shooting for a while because I feel like I’ve just been doing a lot of shooting lately like I had the engagement session today. I had obviously wedding all day yesterday, then I had another wedding less than a week ago. It was on Sunday so that was less than a week between weddings, and then I had engagement sessions I think before that so I was like, “I’m down. I need to lay down.”

Jack: And lest everybody accuse me of doing nothing, while she is gone, I’m taking care of the children, cutting the grass, keeping up with the house work because we don’t get to take the day off of that. We have three kids, right? Is it still just three?

Jennifer: Yeah, I think so.

Jack: My goodness.

Jennifer: That’s a lot of them.

Jack: Two of them are young so they require a lot of attention.

Jennifer: Yeah, constant.

Jack: One of them is a teenager so less attention needed.

Jennifer: Or wanted. She doesn’t want our attention.

Jack: It has been. Just a blastingly busy weekend for us.

Jennifer: Yup, and then the week before wasn’t any better because this was the last week of school. School got out on Wednesday and so there was end of year thing going on and then they were out and home all day, Thursday and Friday, just constantly wanting stuff. My days of being able to sit in my office and work are over for a couple of months.

Jack: But they are so happy.

Jennifer: Oh yeah. They are so happy. They’ve already been to the pool twice.

Jack: Once with you, once with me.

Jennifer: Yup.

Jack: So we are equally sunburnt.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Jack: So what do we do, Jennifer?

Jennifer: That’s a good question. I don’t really know. So I’ve been to this sessions and workshops and stuff, all talking about this work-life balance and how it’s almost like this mystical thing like a unicorn. Like nobody really knows if it’s a thing or if it’s can actually be achieve and what does that look like. It sounds different every time someone describes it and so I don’t really know how you achieve that. So some people say we have to learn how to say no to things, and that’s all well and good, but if you say no to a lot of things and you don’t have a business or a side hustle anymore so where do you draw that line.

Jack: Or a family, or a marriage, or boyfriend.

Jennifer: Yeah. So, you know, what do you say no to? If you are saying no to business things how do you grow your business?

Jack: And if you are saying no to the person or things, what’s the point?

Jennifer: Yeah, so I really feel like when you choose to be an entrepreneur and to have your own business and your own thing its because you want to provide a better life for your family that includes you in it, that you are not work all the time. And so that’s a good part of me being able to stay home and do the wedding photography business is because I don’t have to leave. We don’t have to put our kids in day care and I can be there for the school programs and that kind of stuff. But if you are missing all that stuff because of work then what’s the point?

Jack: At the same time even just basic relaxation, you know, people need time to recharge especially us, we are old. Jennifer, we’ve been married for 16 years.

Jennifer: I know.

Jack: Roughly 9 of them were good.

Jennifer: That many?

Jack: Yeah.

Jennifer: I feel like you’re being generous.

Jack: I’ve been drinking.

Jennifer: That’s true. What else is new?

Jack: So we have the drive but not the energy.

Jennifer: I’m getting to a point now where I’m starting to notice when things start taking a toll on me, and I’m getting better at that than I used to be. When I first started out I said yes to all the things and never said no to anything, and that gradually did take its toll on me and burn me out. So now I’m better at picking up the signs which is why I told you that I think that I’m going to take the month of July off from shooting and focus on other things and do other stuff of the business type stuff. But just put the camera away for a month and just sort of recharge.

Jack: A whole pass if you would.

Jennifer: Sure. I feel like you need that time off to sort of recharge your batteries figuratively. You also need to recharge your batteries literally too but.

Jack: We have invested heavily in the loop rechargeable batteries.

Jennifer: So many.

Jack: And I can always sell when there is a wedding coming up because none of the remotes work, none of the game controllers work. Jennifer’s office is just a pulsing green light from the dozens of chargers plugged in to every outlet in her room.

Jennifer: I had so many things that requires so many AA batteries, and I have to have a backup set for each one.

Jack: See that’s a work-life balance I’d like to find. The work batteries and the life batteries.

Jennifer: Yeah. Well, I mean, when a wedding is coming up the life batteries are the work batteries.

Jack: It just seems like you charge enough to buy an extra pair of batteries.

Jennifer: Well, we have a lot of batteries and I can never have too many. I don’t need a flash going out in a middle of a reception.

Jack: So as I was saying, I really pushed myself too hard, and I wish you were more supportive of that and in summation I win.

Jennifer: What? That’s not a competition. If it were I’d win.

Jack: Sounds like something a loser would say.

Jennifer: You would know.

Jack: Both of you and I run ourselves rugged. Your stuff tends to be more physical and now in the office where I have more time in front of the keyboards which my little fingers do get tired. My little pinky guys reach in over for those commas and that shift key.

Jennifer: Well, it’s just as tiring and can be just as exhausting sitting in the computer.

Jack: My issue is not being physically tired. It is more just about finding the time and the day to get all the things done that I want and need to do.

Jennifer: Yeah, because you have a full time job.

Jack: I have a full time job. I’ve got the writing and I’ve got the podcasting and all of the promotion and deal making and all of that that comes with those.

Jennifer: And the aforementioned children and wife.
Jack: Girlfriend, boyfriend. So with the holidays coming up I think everybody is looking for that perfect gift to give.

Jennifer: What holidays?

Jack: The annual tradition of changing the subject.

Jennifer: Oh okay, because it is May.

Jack: I believe Father’s day is coming up.

Jennifer: I should get the kids real father or something.

Jack: Do you have any techniques to help you in this day to day struggle beyond just taking the nuclear option and saying I’m taking just my stuff.

Jennifer: I think you really just have to take smaller steps before it gets to that point. I’m really bad about being a bit of a workaholic and if I see empty dates on the calendar I was like, “Well, those are empty got to fill them.” And then I fill them and then I do them and then I look back and I’m like, “Ah, why did I do that?” So I really need to start not treating empty days on the calendar as a challenge.

Jack: But time is money.

Jennifer: That’s true but then sometimes you just need to take a rest. You know, it’s been a long time since we just had an entire weekend with nothing, like you had nothing, I had nothing. What was like, February?

Jack: I believe football was involved.

Jennifer: Probably, alright, football was involved.

Jack: So do you think it is a myth, work-life balance?

Jennifer: I think it is a nice concept and it is easier said than done. I don’t think honestly that you can balance it. I think it is just you need to keep it in check. I think it’s never going to be perfectly balanced. Okay, think about this, when it is October and I have done a wedding every weekend for the last two months and you hate me at that point. Do you consider that to be a good work-life balance? No, obviously, right?

Jack: I’m sorry. I’m just getting really bad now.

Jennifer: Okay, because you remembering what October is like, right.
Jack: Yeah, but it starts in September.

Jennifer: Yeah, it does start in September. Now, it’s September and October. Well, so okay, the busyness starts in September. You don’t start hating me until October. But in January I have nothing. That’s when I’m like getting my bookings and all these people are coming in from just being recently engaged over Christmas.

Jack: New Years.

Jennifer: Yeah, in New Years. Getting so excited about all the bookings I’m getting for the next year. Look at all the bookings I’m getting. Yey! But nothing is actually going on. It is just getting a bunch of deposits and stuff. So I mean it is like, yey, let’s have a party. But I am not shooting in January. Nobody get takes their pictures in January. Nobody gets married in January. Then, the pendulum that you talk about is swung the totally opposite direction, so I mean there are seasons. I think you just have to remember in the busy times that it’s only a time. It’s only a season and it will be over.

Jack: But you can’t save up that rest and relaxation you gain in January, in cash some of it in in September.

Jennifer: God, I wish you could. That would be great. So what I’ve heard, this is something that I find interesting. Some other people that are in my industry talk about, they go on vacations or retreats either right before their busy seasons starts to sort of get the last bit of relaxation in before chaos breaks loose. Or they treat themselves to a nice trip or something, or a nice vacation after the busy season is over.

Jack: So from my perspective it is a little bit different because I’m really looking at my life more of a day to day basis whereas you’re looking at it, you know, weekend to weekend. So I do have a full-time job. I usually get home about 5:30 or so then I want to go to the gym. I want to read for personal development, and I also want to do some writing, or something writing related. My writing time is not always sitting down and typing. Sometimes it is revising, reading my own stuff, reading a craft book, that’s what I’m doing now. I’m in between my first draft and the revision process and there is a couple of craft books I want to read so that I can apply them. But I also want to go the gym and take care of myself physically. I love to meditate but I can’t find a time for that, and I want to spend time with the kids, spend time with you, and get to bed early enough to get 6-7 hours of sleep.

Jennifer: Yeah, that sounds almost impossible when you laid out like that doesn’t it.

Jack: Yeah, does. So what I try to do is knockout some of the reading during work, during my lunch break. I wouldn’t do it on my normal hours. That’s like stealing from the company.

Jennifer: Is this in case your boss is listening?

Jack: I know he is listening.

Jennifer: Okay. He is always listening.

Jack: So I’ll sit in the lobby with the kindle or paperback and try knockout that half hour reading then I don’t like to do any writing during that time because I don’t like to. I would get the chunk and people come up what you’re doing. But at least I can chunk that half hour earlier in the day. I’ve been experimenting with doing my exercise before work but shifting to sleep cycle where I’m getting up an hour earlier is a process. It’s a failing process.

Jennifer: How was that pool membership that you’re going to go in the morning?

Jack: I meant to ask you to pick the brochure for the adult swimming classes and I forgot.

Jennifer: You were there yesterday.

Jack: Yeah, I know. I was going to ask you because I’m no good on my own. So you know, I have my day job. I have my personal life and I include mental and physical health in that. I’ve got the writing stuff. I’ve got the podcast stuff. I’ve got the marriage stuff. I’ve got the family stuff, and I do count them separately. This isn’t about like win.

Jennifer: No. It is really not.

Jack: I think, Jennifer, looking at it there is only one conclusion. We’re going to have to get divorce.

Jennifer: That would free up some time for me. Cool, alright.

Jack: But we’re still going to do the podcast.

Jennifer: No. If we’re divorced I’m not doing the podcast anymore with you.

Jack: I think it would be a lot more fun.

Jennifer: Oh yeah, okay. You’d have to slap that explicit label on it. You couldn’t be family friendly anymore. You’d have to let me curse at you otherwise the whole thing would be just a bunch of bleeps.

Jack: Hold on a second. Are you saying that wouldn’t be an [unclear – 17:23]

Jennifer: Heck no!

Jack: Huh! To you dear listeners we have to admit that we are not presenting you with advice. We’re commiserating. It is tough. I guess the only advice I can give is know when to take a break, and know when to start saying this is not something I can spend my time on and remain healthy.

Jennifer: You know I feel like this is the sort of sexist I think but you know how sometimes women just want to complain and we don’t want you as a man to give us advice or tell us how to fix it. You know we want you to say, that sucks.

Jack: I’m sorry Jennifer that’s actually that’s actually an episode of [unclear – 18:07] thinking about.

Jennifer: Well, it’s a thing.

Jack: Damn! That sucks.

Jennifer: Yeah, we want you to just say, “Yeah, that sucks.” Well, here we are now, we’re the boyfriends saying to you listener, “Yeah, that sucks.”

Jack: And we hope you’ll say it back to us.

Jennifer: Yeah, I mean, it does. It does, there are great parts of the world and great parts of the life, but there are some not great parts of it too and definitely don’t go so far that you’re putting your physical or mental health in jeopardy. I was at the wedding in 95° all day yesterday. Heading home I could barely move because I had to drive home two hours and so I got locked up and everything, and so I could barely move today. And then I went out and did that engagement shoot, and now I really can’t move. Because there are so many stairs at that park.

Jack: What kind of park got stairs?

Jennifer: Old Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta. It has a lot of stairs.

Jack: Is it not Historic Fourth Ward Park?
Jennifer: It is Historic Fourth Ward Park. So you have to go up and down these stairs and so I was like already hurting. Now, I can’t move, so I know now like my body is telling me, hey you need to stop.

Jack: And thankfully tomorrow we’re going to get up and drive for two hours to go see family.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Jack: Thanks memorial day weekend.

Jennifer: But I won’t have to be running around on my feet for 8 hours and then go up and down the stairs on a park.

Jack: I do want to highlight one thing about how honest we’re being. Jennifer you are being maybe a little flip in about earlier about the nature of our relationship come October, but that is a bad time for our relationship.

Jennifer: It really is. Like we are always on the verge of fighting. I feel like our worst fights happen in like November when you’ve just had enough.

Jack: Well, a lot of times you double book weekends and so I have been at work and then all the aforementioned stuff that comes after work each day and then I’ve got the kids by myself all weekend, so I’m exhausted by the end of the day. You come home exhausted by the end of the day. I blame you for it and this goes on for how long this wedding season? 2, 3, 4 months?

Jennifer: The bad time is about two months.

Jack: About half way through it it’s rough.

Jennifer: We get in a pretty big fight usually right around that. But talking about balance, I will say this, so in the past when it was really bad I was not only booking my own weddings every weekend but I was seeing those empty dates on the calendar, and having all these friends asking me if I would come and be there second shooter. So I would go shoot with them for their weddings the day after mine so I’d have my wedding on Saturday and then go second shoot on Sunday. And I was doing this every weekend pretty much. I’m not doing that.

Jack: We made a joke of, [unclear – 21:16] you were thinking about some little books or educational courses to write for your side side business. And your idea for one of them is like how to keep a marriage alive as a wedding photographer and I said it would be very short. It would be one page. Says, you can’t. The end.

Jennifer: Yeah. But like I said I book to much in the past, just double booking weekends. So this year is going to be different because I’ve seen that’s just not a good time for anybody. So I think I only have one weekend where I actually book two of my own weddings in one weekend, one Saturday, one Sunday, which I don’t like to do even just for myself. You know, all the other stuff aside but just for me physically that’s exhausting. It hurts but it is just the way that things work out to where I ended up with that one weekend in November double book. But the rest of the weekends I did not do that and I’m not going to accept any second shooter opportunities. It is a weekend that I already have a wedding booked. You know what there is even a weekend in October that’s totally open.

Jack: Oh my goodness what are we going to do?

Jennifer: Do you want me to fill it? I bet I could fill it. Now, I was looking at the calendar, I was like, “Wait, is this a random weekend here I see? Oh my goodness.” So we may actually get a weekend off. So there you go, work-life balance.

Jack: There you go.

Jennifer: We’ve made some compromises. We’ve made some changes from last year and so this year it will not be the total mess that it has been in the past.

Jack: In conclusion, it is not worth killing yourself over.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Jack: But if you don’t pay attention that’s what going to wind up happening.

Jennifer: Well, just remember that the most important things are your physical and mental health, and your relationship, and your family, and then all the other stuff can come second.

Jack: But at the same time you can’t go too far the other way and not do it.

Jennifer: Well, no.

Jack: Well, I guess you could. You are not obligated to write, photograph, paint, all that. But you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to.

Jennifer: Yes, exactly.

Jack: You best buddy, Jenna Kutcher, says there is no such thing as work-life balance. It is work-life integration. And got to say, I don’t think she’s wrong.

Jennifer. No. I don’t think that there really is so much as a balance. It’s just you find a way that works for you and for your spouse, or partner, or family, or whoever and that’s just what you do.

Jack: Well, I think we’re gotten to a point where we are rumbling and repeating ourselves so let’s go ahead and call it an episode right here. My name is Jack Roach. You can find me at jackroachauthor.com, and on Instagram @jackroachauthor. You can also find my book Naan of Your Business, that’s N-A-A-N of Your Business on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and every other major book retailer. My wife is jennifermariephotographer.com. She is on Twitter as something…

Jennifer: No. Well, I’m on Twitter but I don’t use it.

Jack: She is on Instagram as something…

Jennifer: @jennifermariephotographyga because on Instagram jennifermariephotographer was already taken so.

Jack: And you can find both of us at gettoart.org but I have a feeling you already knew that otherwise what are you doing listening to us. Follow us on Instagram @gettoartpodcast.

Jennifer: Yeah, that’s about it.

Jack: And we will see you next time. I hope you had a happy and safe memorial day weekend. It is Sunday night. Wow, technically it is Monday morning now.

Jennifer: Yup.

Jack: So we are 2/3 of the way through the only break that we are getting for a while. Alright everybody don’t forget, take care of yourself, and then get to art.

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