For the past month or so after returning home from lots of travel, I’ve taken it upon myself to slow down. I’ve always had a “go go go” personality, so it’s been quite the challenge to take on less work, shorten my hours, and find time for me. More importantly, I’ve been working on having less stress in my life. Through self exploration, I’ve coined a little term for myself : ritualistic planner. This is what I am … and it makes so much sense.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that routine + organization keeps me calm and grounded. However, this is also the problem. I’ve been struggling with this for awhile simply because not everything in the future can always be planned. Logically, I understand that. I know now that this is exactly what has driven me to be where I am today as a successful freelancer. My situation is good and bad … the constant itch to plan and challenge myself keeps me on my toes, but also distracts me from relaxation and balance.

The reason I’m sharing this with you all is two fold. For those who stop by and check in, I want you to understand who I am. And guess what?? I’m also asking for advice! Because I’m a planner at heart, I’ve been trying out new activities to draw me away from overworking and achieve that calm and balanced life. Yoga, more exercise, knitting, and trying out new recipes are all on my list so far. So what do you think? If you have any other things I should try, fill me in. I’m open to ideas and happy to hear all your thoughts!

  1. Jen Serafini says:

    This is me too! I always like to over plan things. If things aren’t planned far in advance it stresses me out and gives me anxiety about what’s to come. I’ve learned to take a step back and realize that some things are better left unplanned and spontaneity can be a good thing in certain situations. Being an over planner and overworker has definitely been an advantage in my career but can sometimes be an added stresser in personal situations. I recommend trying to go with the flow as much as possible, enjoying the little things, purposely leaving your weekends open for fun things to just pop up. Glad to see someone else shares the same thoughts!

    • bre says:

      Glad to hear you connected! I definitely have been leaving my weekends open, especially free of work. It’s my most favorite time of the week nowadays where I SERIOUSLY relax, ha! Thanks for writing. xx.

  2. Rashi says:

    I think the key is to have a hobby of some sort that isn’t related to work at all. I think you are on the right track with all the things you want to try. Whether its yoga, cooking, knitting— I think it needs to be something where you can use the other parts of your brain or other muscles in your body. Creating a routine with that hobby also helps! Also, try something that you don’t need to take too seriously and you can just have fun and let go with. For me, that activity is dancing. There is nothing like sweating it out to music after a long day at work.

    • bre says:

      Thank you! I really like the phrase you said “use the other parts of your brain” cause you’re totally right. Being creative is actually really draining and never repetitive. Great point and exactly why I’m thinking of things that don’t necessarily mean I have to think a ton. :) xx.

  3. So glad you brought this up Breanna! Sometimes I spend more time planning than actually doing the activities I plan. That can’t be good!

    Planning is great to help organise a busy and activity filled life, but where do you draw the line? Love to hear others thoughts for how to make the break and dive into being a more present person

    x Elena @ Randomly Happy

    • Jenn Staz says:

      Had to reply – I totally relate to your problem of spending more time planning than doing. By the time I’m finished planning… I’m just burnt out a lot of times!

    • jo buckles says:

      Me too! I spend so much time looking for the perfect planner or planner pages! Costing me a fortune! Seems to be worse when I am tired! Any advice welcome…
      Thanks in advance x

  4. erika says:

    yup, this is totally me, too! i have a tendency to be 50 steps ahead of any given plan, which works in some situations but does tend to stress me out, most of the time. i actually had the phrase “carpe diem” tattooed on my wrist to help remind me that you can really only live for today and to slow down, and take it easy. i have found that yoga has worked wonders in helping me center myself and relax. i also leave my weekends open, like jen mentions above. i’m working on being more spontaneous as well… and also saying no to projects that don’t necessarily jive with my values. it’s taking time but my type a personality is starting to calm down a tiny bit. :)

    • bre says:

      HA, 50 steps ahead is SO correct. Love the idea of your tattoo and have actually thought of doing something like that myself as a reminder, but I’m too afraid I’d get bored of anything I put on myself permanently. Darn. Maybe I’ll find myself a reminder bracelet, haha. :) Thanks for your thoughts! xx.

  5. Sarah says:

    I’m the same way – works great for my career, but not so well for my personal life. Not planning ahead gives me major stress and anxiety. I do my best to go with the flow, but haven’t quite found a balance yet. Good luck to you & let us know if you find anything that works :)

  6. JP says:

    This is sort of me. I get really stressed out anytime I don’t know with 110% certainty what I’m doing and how I’m going to do it. I find the best thing for me is to know myself, and know when I need time with friends (at home or in the city), or time by myself with a movie (or two) and some hot chocolate!

  7. Noor says:

    I like that you share things like this on your blog I think its great to be real and a bit personal bc it helps readers connect which is always a plus when people read your blog bc they enjoy you and what you have to offer :)

    I was a lot like you but since I got older, married and had my son who is now 5 I have found that things tire me out so much easier. I used to be on full speed all the time. I think its good to be that way when you feel like it and can bc one day you get tired and cant so use it before you loose it I guess right lol..

  8. Cate says:

    Have you read The Artist’s Way? Honestly, I’ve only delved into part of it, but one idea I took away from it was the idea of creative dates, and it’s something that I’m building into my budget- I have a list of things I want to try that are new and different or that I like to do but don’t make time for often enough, and every month, I try and do something on the list, even if it’s just an afternoon out with coffee and a notebook, people watching. Other times it’s more involved, like an art class or something.

    Also, it’s a little bit planned, but still spontaneous (what do YOU feel like doing right now?), and creative without being stressful, like having a creative job can be, because it’s just for fun.

    Also, the knitting. It’s relaxing, grounding and a great outlet, especially once you get past learning. Easy to pick up in the evening or in the afternoon when I’m stuck on something, and portable. And useful and pretty :-) Ravelry is a great resource.

  9. kristin says:

    i was talking to a painter friend the other day, and i think a lot of us artists are ‘go go go’. i know once i start working on something i can never stop. (i was up til 3 am editing wedding photos the other nite.) it’s a curse and a blessing i think.

    the biggest relaxation for me right now is tv. i know it’s prbly dumb, what w/ all of the other things i could be doing. but it’s nice to escape reality every once in a while. esp since there are so many great shows on now. game of thrones anyone? or when i’m not enthralled in tv, i love to read. that’s another thing, once i start a book, and i love it, it will usually only take me a couple of days to finish.

    btw, i love your blog. you, and others like you, are an inspiration to me. i’m finally in a place where i think i might take the leap to freelancing. the corporate world is just not for me. i think i’ll miss the steady income (and benefits) but i am relishing the thought of working from home, on my sched. i know there’s pros and cons, but like i said, corporate sucks ass.

    • bre says:

      Thanks so much Kristin! First off – I just looked through your blog and I LOVE your photography aesthetic. Consider me on your side if you ever choose to go full time freelance. How awesome would that be??

      I’m currently also doing a lot of tv time because honestly, it’s mind numbing and easy to do after a day of hard work! I watch too many shows anyway … ha!

      xx.

  10. Kate says:

    I’m this way at heart, but I definitely took it to a new extreme in college. I made lists of EVERYTHING. Checking stuff off was motivating, but after awhile it was just so stressful! After that year, I forced myself to stop making lists and just jot down important dates in a datebook. It helped A LOT to just stop and accept that sometimes it’s actually kind of nice not to have a fully-fledged plan.

    Your stress obviously isn’t showing in your work, which is always amazing! I always love all your posts, and your general aesthetic–you posted a rejected mark on dribbble not long ago that I keep thinking about whenever I go to design marks for my client! Plus, your blog typeface is to die for.

    xx
    kate

  11. Anni says:

    I have been reading your blog for awhile now and always thought we had much in common – now I’m positive we do! I’m the same way and my best balance to chaotic days is yoga and walks with someone to talk to. Just a long Minnesota walk kind of cures all :)

    • bre says:

      Hey Anni,
      Glad you commented & we have so much in common! I wish it were a little warmer here because like you, I LOVE walks. My boyfriend and I walked around our neighborhood ( by St. Thomas ) almost everyday when it was warm … or to get Izzy’s ice cream, ha. Love that you’re from Minnesota! Minneapolis??

      This may be weird ( and random ) but do you know Jessie Farris? For some reason when I read your name I thought of her. Maybe she mentioned you before or tweeted you or something, but I just thought I’d ask. :)

      xx.

    • Anni says:

      YES I am a great friend of Jessie! She introduced me to your blog this summer and you’ve been on my google reader ever since! I am at the U in Minneapolis :)

    • bre says:

      Cool!! What are you going to the U for then? My boyfriend is finishing up grad school there on the west bank. Small world, although that school is big, ha! :)

  12. I’m the same exact way… maybe that’s why I’ve become a freelancer too. I have to make the longest most detailed lists before I go to bed each night or my mind just cannot rest at all… but then the next day I get overwhelmed by my crazy lists and skip around a lot, so it ends up being kind of a blessing & a curse!

    Personally I am trying to focus more on one project at a time and give it my full attention and care, rather than trying to make a small amount of progress on all of my projects during each day because I’ll just get overwhelmed and skim through everything and the quality just ends up suffering because of that.

  13. Kelly says:

    As someone who is similarly obsessed with planning to keep my crazy creative life in order, sometimes I relax by adding spice to my planning methods.
    For things that are far out and maybe less plan-able I try illustrating them like a map rather than making something concrete and stressful like a list. It’s silly and fun to draw your goals as something, like a solar system (with you as the sun of course, and all your thoughts revolving around you) and help me feel like I’ve gotten my thoughts out, but in a non-pressuring way.

    Also the working out thing helps, I like to rock climb to take my mind off things. It’s so mentally consuming and distracting to work on climbing routes, and the endorphin rush from the exercise is great.

  14. NAMEMaria says:

    I think what is fun is to be able to plan a fun craft or activity with a friend. I just decided to decorate my house for the holidays and enlisted the help of a friend who loves decorating to inspire and help me get my home ready for the house guests. I am also paying her for her services because I value her time.

  15. Dara says:

    I can really relate! It’s quite hard to relax and disengage sometimes.

    One way I cope is to deliberately do something with no purpose once in a while, like taking a long walk without a destination. The lack of purpose feels weird at first, but then it’s awesome because a little randomness can be really refreshing, and your mind can wander to all sorts of interesting places.

  16. I feel the same way, as a wedding photographer, I “technically” have a lot of time “off.” however during my off time, i am researching, connecting with clients, blogging, and still taking photos. i wish i had a separate work space so i could have two spaces – one to life, one to work. it is almost to accessible and way to easy to start working at any given point of the day. i have started to consciously close the computer, shut it down, and leave my phone in the other room so that i can unwind. as a creative it is hard to disconnect when facebook, twitter, pinterest are all a part of our work so eliminating the technology that powers those tools helps me to just stop. i totally struggle with this too girl, you aren’t alone!

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