By Mary Marantz
The Guest Blogging Series: While Natalie is recovering from surgery, her friends have offered to bring you incredible content. Learn more about the author of this post at the end and be sure to leave some love.
The first time we ever met Natalie Franke she told us that her biggest goal in life was to help other people shine. And we have watched her live out that purpose with her whole heart ever since! She is one of the most authentic, encouraging, integrity-filled, big-hearted people we have ever met. And it is an honor to call her a friend for life and to be filling in for her here on the blog today!
We’re Justin & Mary and we are in the business of building up other businesses and helping them craft a Legacy they can be proud of. We are educators, photographers, multi-preneurs, speakers, and we just added “author” to that list too! But most of all, we are a husband and wife team who decided to leap believing the net would appear because the adventure is always better, together. The most important thing you need to know about us, is that for us…it always started with love.
I think there is this thing that happens when you own your own business and become your own boss.
You go into it because you can set your own schedule and work from home and never get out of your yoga pants if you want to! Put your sensible corporate black heels on the top shelf of your closet….it’s Uggs all the way for you, baby! 🙂 And in SO many ways, working for yourself is one of the greatest, most satisfying, exciting things you can ever do. Justin & I are SO grateful that we get to work together and travel together and build things together and go on this adventure together every single day.
But owning your own business can also take its toll. Spending too many days in a row in yoga pants can take its toll. Having work hours that blur into one another and countless hours at a computer- your desk covered with empty coffee mugs and Lara Bar wrappers- can take.its.toll. And the fact is, somewhere around your fourth day in a row in yoga pants and your 117th episode of the Law & Order SVU marathon you’ve been putting on while you catch up on work…..you can start to feel not so human anymore.
And that’s the catch 22.
We started this business because we want freedom and adventure and to break the rules of normalcy. And all of that is amazing. But somewhere in there, I think at our most basic human level, we crave some structure & routine to feel normal too. We’ve been learning this slowly but surely, and over time we’ve figured out a few things that we can do every day to give us back some of that normalcy but still allow us to be the great adventurers we want to be too. Here are a few of our favorite ones, in no particular order.
1. Make your bed every day.
It sounds silly and small, I know. But a few things happen when you start out the day this way. First, you feel like you’ve accomplished something right off the bat. And that productivity is contagious….it’s a small win that spurs you on to get even more stuff done. Second, it brings order to the room. And that order is calming. Which is a great way to head into the day. And finally, I just find that I sleep better at night when I’m crawling into a bed that has been made rather than a tangle of sheets and pillows. And that sets me up for a good day the following day too.
2. Clear the clutter.
Speaking of order creating calm, if I ever find myself feeling anxious & distracted, 9 times out of 10 it’s because our work area/house is a mess. If I will just take 30 minutes to go through and do a quick straighten up before I try to tackle any work, then suddenly I feel like a) I’ve accomplished another thing and b) we are people who actually have it somewhat together. Even better: try doing this quick clean at night before you eat dinner/take off for the night. It will make dinner more relaxing & you can wake up to a clean house/ work space rather than having this on your list first thing.
3. Have a morning routine.
One that doesn’t involve email! Before I ever delve into email or the work of the day, I like to start my mornings for me. I wake up around 7am and put coffee on (this in itself is such a relaxing ritual for me with grinding the beans & prepping the coffee maker). I cozy up with a blanket, sip my coffee, do a little bible reading, put on some good music, and start my day slow. When you start the day in email, you start the day with a million people pulling you in every direction before you’ve even had the chance to wake up. And that sense of being spread too thin carries throughout the day. Starting the day for yourself fills up the tank so you can be more for other people. This morning routine is a relatively new change for me & I can tell you that it’s making a TON of difference!
4. Write your “Win the Day” list the night before.
The “Win the Day” list is something I’ve been using for years now that is basically the 3-5 things you want to accomplish in a day (as opposed to a super long to do list that no one ever finishes). And even if nothing else gets done, if you can finish those three to five things, then you can call that day a WIN. Something that I’ve been realizing as I do this, is that if I will sit down and write out tomorrow’s list the night before it does two things: 1) first I know exactly what I need to work on when I sit down at my desk the next day and 2) it helps to calm my brain as I should be turning off for the night. Writing it down gets it out of my head!
5. Take breaks throughout the day.
Go on a walk with your dog, drink your afternoon coffee in quiet rather than on the go, sit somewhere and close your eyes and breathe. Study after study after STUDY has shown that regular breaks throughout the day make you so much more productive. And it helps you to feel like you’re not chained to your computer.
6. Shower & get ready.
When we were at conference recently, I had a bit of an a-ha moment: I was getting up & getting showered AND getting fully ready every day. And I felt a million times better. When I work from home on the other hand, I’m (usually) showering but then I’m skipping the getting ready part because I’m just going to be working from home. So why put in the effort? And that has meant a LOT of days in yoga pants and messy buns on top of my head. And I realized that even though that sounds amazing, it was actually taking a toll on me. I just started to feel blah all the time and that’s how I was approaching every day. When we ran out to grab lunch or run to the bank, that’s how I was approaching other people too. When I shower & actually get ready, I feel better and more productive. And then I act that way too.
On a very regular basis, sit down and write out everything that’s swirling around your brain. Keep it somewhere safe like a notebook dedicated to just this. This way your brain will know that it’s somewhere safe and it won’t try to keep track of everything, which keeps it constantly racing in the middle of the night.
8. Have designated days.
Have set days when you do your grocery shopping & run errands. Have set days when you do all of your meetings and see people. Have days when you sit home & work uninterrupted. This creates FOCUS and allows you to batch tasks to get them done more efficiently. Something I have learned about myself as an Introvert, is that if I have even one thing (a meeting, Skype, dinner) on the calendar for that day… then I spend pretty much the whole day mentally preparing for it. And I don’t get a whole lot else done. I have learned that for me, I have to have entire days blocked off on the schedule (our home” days) where I don’t have to be anywhere or see anyone and I can just get work done!
9. Keep a notebook with you.
I pretty much always have a notebook with me in my bag. It never fails that as we’re going somewhere or running to pick up something or grabbing lunch, suddenly my brain starts spinning with a hundred things I need to do. Having the notebook means I can write it down & then forget about it for the time being rather than trying to remember it all.
10. Shut down for the night.
We like to have a couple of rituals, if you will, to signal to our brains that we’re shutting down for the night. I’ll shut my office door or Justin will turn out the light in his, I’ll light candles, I’ll turn on music for us to cook to, we’ll have a plan for what movie we’re going to watch that night or where we’re going to go. Having that ritual & reward to look forward to makes us work harder when we should be to get everything done & then it helps our brains to shut down for the night and actually feel rested when it’s time to turn off.
Ok, we hope this helps if even in some small way!! Here’s to chasing the adventure…AND feeling like you have a life!
PS: If you want to know even MORE about how to build a thriving business AND still have a life, be sure to check out our FREE guide: The 5 Best Business Decisions We’ve Ever Made!!
Justin & Mary Marantz are an international wedding photography duo who travel the globe shooting weddings, teaching, & inspiring other small business owners, as well as the founders & editors in chief of twin wedding blogs The Black Tie Bride and The Well Groomed Groom. In the past few years, they have put on their workshops worldwide including London, Australia, Germany & The Netherlands, took their What’s Next Tour” across the country on their own tour bus, authored their two books- The Guide & The Lighting Guide, presented at international conferences including WPPI and The Dutch Wedding Congress, and were featured in Inside Weddings, Style Me Pretty & Martha Stewart. Their iconic style of photography is recognized the world over and most recently earned them a place as a “Legend of Light” for Profoto with their year long video series “Walk Through a Wedding w/ Justin & Mary” walking through each step of the wedding day, as well as being named a Top 100 Photographer by SLR Lounge and Brandsmash. But on their best days, you can find them at home by the water with their very fluffy golden retriever, Atticus and drinking way more Starbucks than any normal person should.