Ever wonder how other women create a life that feels balanced, intentional and fulfilling?
A Balanced Life is my new blog series in which I interview mentors, makers, creatives and others who are intentionally seeking to live a more balanced life.
We talk about living life without the hustle, resisting norms around productivity + busyness, and about consciously making the choice to live life more attuned to your own rhythms, energy, needs.
Living a balanced life: prioritising joy while running a business
My first interview of the series is with the lovely Katharina Geissler-Evans, the founder of heiter magazine. We talked about prioritising joy while running a business. I love her philosophy of adding joy (or ‘heiter’) to her days, and the steps she takes to return to these heiter moments again and again.
“Heiter” is German for cheerful/joyful. The aim of Katharina’s work is to find and celebrate heiter moments in everyday life.
Other topics Katharina talks about are mindfulness, sustainable fashion and lifestyles, motherhood, community, creativity and self-care. She works closely with like-minded brands and creatives but also writes e-books, hosts events and holds talks on “Heiterkeit” (joyfulness) for other online communities. Alongside running heiter, Katharina consults with small and middle-sized businesses who struggle with their online presence.
You can find out more about her and heiter via her website, monthly newsletter and online magazine. She often hangs out on Instagram but also loves connecting on other platforms such as Pinterest and Facebook.
Welcome Katharina! Let’s find out what living a balanced life, and prioritising joy when running a business, looks like for you.
What does living a balanced life look like for you? What does a day in your life look like?
To me, a balanced life means being able to split my time fairly between the things that need to be done (work, chores, to-dos) and the things that make me feel heiter. I do believe that the feeling of heiter is personal. For some it might be reading a book and self-care, for others it might be going for a walk and spending time with people they love.
I try to incorporate heiter moments and activities into my daily routine and that really helps me stay true to myself and make room for my needs.
I have a ten-month-old son and parenting takes up most of my time, so this year my days look a bit different. My only official workday is Friday. That is when my husband (who has been very supportive) finishes work earlier and looks after our son for the rest of the day.
Even though looking after my son and trying to run a business alongside it takes up most of my time, I try to incorporate heiter moments and activities into my daily routine. This really helps me stay true to myself and make room for my needs.
These are some of my favourite ways of adding heiter to my days:
Mindfully drinking a hot drink
My “heiter” already starts in the morning. Thanks to my husband, who gets up a bit earlier than my son and I, there is always a cup of coffee waiting for me when I wake up. Instead of downing it, I try to drink it mindfully. I focus on its taste, smell, and the warmth of the cup. It’s one of the best feelings! Whenever I have another hot drink throughout the day, I try to do the same.
Enjoying the time with my little one
Parenting is not always easy and there are often ups and downs. What I try to do is celebrate and enjoy the ups as much as I can. The first morning cuddles and my son’s smiles always cheer me up. I embrace the little playful things we both enjoy e.g., building towers with building blocks; reading books like the Gruffalo; singing along to nursery rhymes and making music with kitchen utensils. I appreciate every hug and try to take in the lovely baby smell of his hair so that I can remember it for as long as possible.
Spending time in nature
I might not always have the time to go for long walks but what I usually manage to do is run some errands in our village which is only a ten-minute walk away. Instead of taking the car, I take my son along in his buggy and walk to where I need to go. We are lucky to live in the countryside and have nature right on our doorstep so inviting it into my daily routine is not hard.
Connecting with my loved ones is important to me and adds heiter to my day.
Catching up with people I love
Connecting with my loved ones is important to me and adds heiter to my day. Even if I have lots on my to-do list, I try to check in with my sister every morning. I might also give a friend a call when I drive somewhere and, in the evening, I always catch up with my husband. We try and put our phones away for an hour or two so that we can focus on each other.
As mentioned above, Friday is my only official workday. Whenever I sit down to focus on my business, I get my to-do list out and prioritise my tasks. Then I begin to write, take photos, create content, do some client work etc. After three hours of doing so, I stop. I then look at my to-do list again. Everything I wasn’t able to do (the things with lower priority) will be moved to the to-do list for my next working day.
Dealing with my to-dos that way allows me to take out another hour of my Friday to do something for myself. I might have a bath, watch a TV series I like or read. For additional me-time during the week, I might listen to an audio book or podcast when walking our son or pick up on a creative activity when he is asleep.
What inspired you to live this way? Which choices and changes did you make?
In late 2015 I worked full-time for one of the biggest fashion retailers in the world. In the evening and on Saturdays I attended lessons at university. Any free time I had (including my commute to and from work) was dedicated to my final university project. I didn’t want to do it half-heartedly; I wanted to give my best and meet everyone’s expectations. Along the way, I forgot about myself. Things went ok for a while and I managed to achieve one goal after the next.
What I didn’t do, though, was listen to my body. I ignored obvious signs that something wasn’t right, and I completely ignored the fact that I was really stressed from trying to do it all.
I ended up with severe health issues and had to stop. For weeks I wasn’t able to go in to work or attend university. My employer told me that they would stop paying me and my course leader at university was convinced I would fail the year. I was devastated but at the same time realised that I had to change something and make sure I got better again.
When health issues prevented me from working, the thing that helped me most was to invite moments of joy in.
The thing that helped me most back then was try to invite moments of joy in (or heiter moments as I call them). I took myself out for coffee, picked flowers and went for walks. I cooked meals I genuinely enjoyed and mindfully ate them. Step by step, I could feel my strength come back and you know what? I got better. I returned to work and even secured myself a promotion, and I finished university with first class honours.
That is how my “heiter philosophy” came about. I’ve been living it ever since.
What three strategies would you suggest for readers who also want to live a more balanced life?
- Regularly check in with yourself and identify your heiter makers: the things and activities that make you feel heiter are very personal and can change. It makes sense to regularly sit down and reflect on them.
- Incorporate heiter activities into your routine, e.g., don’t just drink that first coffee in the morning, mindfully enjoy it. If walking makes you feel heiter, try to walk to the nearby post office instead of driving there. If focusing on your breathing calms you down, take out a few minutes before you fall asleep and do so.
- Listen to your body and mind – and based on that, act with intuition. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself: what do I feel like doing right now? Do I really need to do those chores right now or can I move them to another day (when I perhaps feel more energised)? Would that decision make me happy or just the people around me?
Thank you, Katharina, for offering us this peak into a balanced life prioritising joy when running business! You can find out more about her and heiter via Katharina’s website, monthly newsletter and online magazine. I enjoy following along with her on Instagram, and Katharina is also on Pinterest and Facebook.
Want to find out more about setting boundaries, following your energy, living a balanced life and generally creating the work-life balance you long for?
I’ll be posting interviews for A Balanced Life every month or so. Do you have a suggestion for A Balanced Life? Would you like to be interviewed? Great! Send me a message. I’m always looking for inspiring people to feature.