February 2009

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Take Control of Your Time and Balance Your Career and Life

For estheticians, the task of finding balance in their lives often seems to involve having to choose between either having a career or having that balance.

That is not to say there aren’t many lucky estheticians who have an employment position that provides both. But there are many others out there who are self-employed, and while we all face similar challenges, for those who are self-employed the task is more complicated.

Everyone in the service industry must be constantly on their toes to recruit new clients. More clients equates to a bigger paycheck. So as we are going about our daily lives we are always “on stage,” being aware of those who might be interested in our services.

Being aware means we don’t leave the house looking so badly that we hope no one asks us what we do. If we do that, inevitably someone will ask, or we will run into a client who hasn’t been to see us in a while. There is also the chance that a great new career opportunity will meet us in the aisles of the grocery store or at the mall. We always have to look presentably professional and have our professional attitude on.

Some would say this isn’t contributing to balance, but it does make a huge difference in a career. So if you are a service industry person who cares about your future you have to give a little on the balance side to have a bright and prosperous future.

This doesn’t mean we can’t relax and have fun. But in our day-to-day lives, it means staying aware and being ready for opportunities. Those who are self-employed have to deal with this to the maximum because in addition to caring for clients there are the administrative responsibilities of running a business.

Those who don’t want to do the bookkeeping, the marketing, the research, the cleaning, etc. are far better off finding a place to be employed. There are these extra duties that can really throw a kink in finding personal balance. However, there are some things we can do to avoid burnout or a loss of personal life in order to pursue a career and keep a business running.

Scheduling is a big factor in keeping balance. Many new technicians make themselves available to clients six days a week and for long hours. Then they sit and wait, sit and wait and get frustrated.

Go back to the business plan. If one doesn’t exist then this can be part of the problem. It’s difficult to move a business forward if there is no plan. There are many resources to assist in this project. Schedule some time when you will work on this. Mark the time on the appointment book and specify it for business plan.

If Mondays are a slow day, then make it an administrative day and dedicate the time not to doing household duties, but to working on the business plan. Schedule specific time slots during workdays to handle bookkeeping, getting supplies and working the marketing plan. Most clients are flexible on appointments and you can easily fit them into the scheduled plan. If it becomes necessary to take a client during a time planned for administration, don’t delete the administrative task, reschedule it to another specific time.

For those technicians that are booked solid from the time they arrive until they leave, it is time to get assistance with administrative tasks. But in tough economic times, most technicians can find little pockets of time during the work schedule that are open and in essence wasted.

If you convert these time gaps to administrative tasks, the evenings and weekends become freer for focusing on balance, family and friends. Some people like to block out one afternoon or morning per week to focus on these tasks and book themselves a little tighter other days so that there are fewer time gaps that seem to be too short to be useful.

Take a computer to work. For independent contractors a laptop with internet access is probably one of the best tools for keeping balance. Now you can quickly and easily do a little accounting or work on advertising, client follow up, the business plan or product research if an opening arises. We have now made our scheduled work time more productive and again freed up evenings and weekends for personal balance.

If space allows, you can do this computer work at the reception desk, multitasking by also being ready for a client to walk in the door. If located in a salon setting, consider putting a “treatment in process” sign on the door and working quietly there. To anyone visiting in the salon, the treatment room looks busy and busy generally equates to more desirable.

Another way to keep balance if there are children at home is to schedule an afternoon during the week that is kids’ time. Schedule this day to do something fun just with them. Both parents and the kids can look forward to some time together. Maybe it will be grocery shopping; maybe feeding the ducks at the local pond. If we get them involved in the schedule creation, they will be more supportive and that helps balance. We need to be sure to mark the appointment on the schedule calendar so the time both looks busy and we stay on target with our schedule and don’t let “time thieves” steal it away.

Time thieves can really work to undermine balance. These are the interruptions others put onto us that we can’t control. Sometimes we can’t avoid them; much of the time, however, we can say something like, “I would be delighted to schedule some time to assist you with this, but I do not have time available now.” Or it may be as simple as telling that walk-in salesperson that we are unavailable or not interested. Maybe it means taking control of time wasted wandering around on the internet.

Many of us don’t schedule “unwind” time. It makes a huge difference in ability to sleep and be rested and ready for the next day if we schedule a little down time at the end of every day. As a self-acknowledged workaholic, I found that doing work related issues right up until bedtime was taking its toll. I wasn’t sleeping as well, and in reflection, I can see that what I accomplished wasn’t as productive.

Scheduling the last two hours of my day to be totally not work related made a huge difference. Those last two hours should be something you can enjoy and look forward to and you will come to guard them carefully. They help the mind and body transition from work to relaxation, which equates to better sleep and far better life balance.

Whether it is better work scheduling or better total scheduling, it is taking control that can give balance back to your career and personal life.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.