December 2012

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp

 

Seeking Balance in Both Career and Personal Life

For estheticians, the task of finding balance in their lives often seems to be a choice of having a career or not.

While some estheticians have an employment position that fits their needs, there are many others who are self-employed.

If you are employed, you can pretty much walk away from the stress of the job at the end of your shift. But for those who are self-employed the task is more complicated.

For all of us in the service industry we must be constantly on our toes to recruit new clients; that's just a fact of life. More clients equates to a bigger paycheck regardless of employment status.

As we are going about our daily lives we are always aware of those who might be interested in our services. Being aware means we always have to look presentably professional and have our professional attitude on.

We don't leave the house looking so badly we hope no one asks us what we do. If we do that, inevitably 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.

Some would say this isn't contributing to balance, but it does make a huge difference in a career which may affect how you feel about yourself and where you are in life. 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.

A positive to this is the message it sends to those around you. Each of us is a role model for our children. When we do things that demonstrate professionalism and dedication to our career, it teaches those values and can prepare a child to be an adult that will have a successful 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. It is these extra duties that can really throw a kink in finding personal balance. However, there are some things that can be done 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, that may the problem. It's difficult to move a business forward if there is no plan. There are many resources to assist in this project. Mark the time out on the appointment book and specify it for business planning.

Maybe Mondays are slow days, then make Monday an administrative day and dedicate the time not to doing household duties, but to working on the business plan. Schedule specific time slots during work days to handle bookkeeping, getting supplies, and working the marketing plan.

Most clients are pretty flexible on appointments and can easily be fit into the scheduled plan. If it becomes necessary to take a client during a time planned for administration, don't ignore the administrative task, and just reschedule it to another specific time.

For those technicians that are booked solid from the time they arrive until they leave, then 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 are doing nothing. If these time gaps are converted to administrative tasks, the evenings and weekends become a time for focusing on family and friends.

Some people like to block out one afternoon, (or one morning) per week to focus on these tasks and book themselves a little tighter other days so there are fewer time gaps that seem to be too short to be useful.

Take a computer to work. For independent contractors a laptop or tablet with internet access is probably one of the best tools for keeping balance. Now doing a little accounting or working on advertising, client follow up, the business plan, or product research is quickly and easily done if an opening arises.

We have now made our scheduled work time more productive and again, free up evenings and weekends for personal balance. If space allows, this computer work can be done at the reception desk so multi-tasking and being ready for a client to walk in the door is perfect.

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. This is the day scheduled to do something fun 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 also helps balance. We need to be sure to mark on the schedule calendar the appointment so that the time 1) looks busy and 2) 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 that others put onto us, however we do have a right to control. Sometimes we cannot avoid them, but much of the time we can say something like, "I would be delighted to schedule some time to assist you with this, but I do have an appointment 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. Google the term "time thieves" and you will find numerous great articles on the most common time thieves that work to undermine us, stress us and force us out of finding balance in our lives. Dedicate just 15 minutes to reading some of these eye opening articles will help retrieve lost and stress causing hours in daily life.

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 work-a-holic I found that by doing work related issues right up until bed time was taking its toll. I wasn't sleeping as well, and in reflection I can see that what I accomplished wasn't as productive.

By scheduling the last two hours of my day to be totally non-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 means taking control and that can give balance to career and personal life.

Judith Culp, has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. She is the owner of NW Institute of Esthetics, Inc. and contributing editor for Miladys Standard Esthetics: Advanced and lead author of Esthetician's Guide to Client Safety & Wellness. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.