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How Four Notary Solopreneurs Handle Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a struggle for many professionals, but it’s particularly tough for solopreneurs. We spoke to four Notaries about their challenges with maintaining a healthy work-life balance and the strategies they’ve used to overcome them.

Finding Priorities

Janae Blatch - Florida Academy of Notaries

Headshot of Janae Blatch

South Florida-based Notary Janae Blatch didn’t plan on becoming a full-time business owner. But when the pandemic struck, she ventured outside of her successful career in education and began working as a loan signing agent to earn extra income.

“It was supposed to be just part-time, but it took off so well and I realized I actually love it,” she says.

As time went on, Blatch gained more confidence and passion for her work as a signing agent, leading her to establish the Florida Academy of Notaries to provide training resources for other Notaries while leveraging her education skills.

While Blatch loved what she was doing, she soon realized that her signing agent work was taking away time from her family. This became clear when, on vacation, her children asked her to put her laptop away and stop working, reminding her that it was supposed to be their time and not work time.

“It was a real kick in the gut for me that my kids were starting to see that my priorities were off. They had to show me in their own little way,” she says. “Though we still have to do what we have to do to provide for our household, I can’t do that all the time because my family is more important.”

After this reminder from her children, Blatch decided to reevaluate her priorities. She now avoids the term “work-life balance” because she says it doesn’t address how she should really be spending her time.

“Now I like to look at it as prioritizing my life because work-life balance says to me that my work is equivalent to my family life. I don’t see it that way. I have priorities, but they’re not equal,” she explains. “It’s easier when I say, ‘I’ve got to take care of this first, and then this, and then this.’ It helps keep things in perspective.”

Janae’s Takeaway

As Blatch explains, it takes a lot of soul-searching to figure out your priorities. But now that she’s done so, she’s made significant changes in her workflow. Blatch no longer offers closings around the clock, has ditched the “hustle mindset” and avoids comparing herself to others to stay true to herself and her priorities.

The Beauty of Downtime

Sue Hope - NotaryAssist

Headshot of Sue Hope

Even though Sue Hope, owner of Notary Assist Software, has been in business since 1999, she finds that she’s still regularly learning how to manage work-life balance.

“I don’t think anybody’s perfect at it. You just have to try and do the best you can and give yourself grace on the days that you might not have as much balance as you would hope to. Give yourself the time and ability to be okay with not being in balance, but don’t let it go too far,” says Hope.

One way Hope makes that delineation is by setting office hours. “If I’m going to be working from eight to four or eight to five, I’m in my office and I close the door. Keeping real office hours has been a big help for me,” she says. At the end of her workday, she exits her home office and shuts the door behind her, leaving work at work.

Hope has also found building a network of trusted colleagues incredibly helpful. This way, when she takes time off, she can feel confident knowing her clients are being taken care of by her partners, who treat them as they would their own.

Sue emphasizes that it’s not just how she works that makes a difference but how she doesn’t work.

“We need to have downtime. We need to have time where we can just be alone with our thoughts. That’s where ideas come from. That’s when coming up with the next best thing happens, and it’s organic and exciting,” says Hope.

Sue’s Takeaway

According to Hope, “If you want to become the best version of yourself, carving out downtime and time to just relax, to be one with yourself or one with nature, or to be with your family, really helps you to realign ideas and helps your creativity flow.”

Following Her Own Path

Vanessa Terry - Notary2Notary

Headshot of Vanessa Terry

Vanessa Terry, owner of Notary2Notary, admits that finding work-life balance has been a struggle — especially while expanding her business.

“I’m a mom and that’s the biggest thing because I can all day, every day, 24 hours a day, work on my business. I love it! So I have to remember to stop working, cut it out, and go be a mom,” Terry says. “Trying to find that perfect balance so you’re spending that time and providing the tools and resources and the love to your family, and feeding the business so it can prosper, is definitely the main thing. It’s like being able to provide life into both areas of your life.”

To provide that life in her home and work, Terry has accepted that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy work-life balance, so she no longer compares herself to other solopreneurs and refuses to feel bad about how she differs from them.

One way she’s incorporated this mindset is by using one little word more often—no. Although Terry has always been quick to say yes, she’s found that saying no more often is necessary to avoid burnout.

“I got to a point where I was just saying yes, whether it was family or close friends or work,” Terry says. “I’m at the point now where I’m getting a lot more comfortable saying no to people that don’t line up with the priorities I’ve set. You have to prioritize yourself and your time to get things done, and don’t feel bad about it.”

Terry also released herself from unspoken social pressures, like the expectation that every family meal had to be homecooked. She admitted to feeling a bit guilty after eating out regularly with her family. But once she changed her mindset, she realized things like eating out or having groceries delivered worked better for her and her family.

“I don’t have to cook; the pots and pans don’t miss me. What I have to be is present with my kids at the dinner table, whether that’s at a restaurant or at home. That’s where I need to be. I didn’t need to be spending hours in the kitchen cooking.

Terry continues to look for ways to free up her time. She explains, “There are some ways you can automate in your life — whether that’s with work or with home. Something as simple as ordering groceries saves time. For me, the challenge was figuring out what tasks in my day-to-day have to be done and I’m the only one who can do them. Anything else that can be delegated gets delegated.”

Vanessa’s Takeaway

Terry encourages Notaries to think creatively and do what works for them. “Thinking outside the box as far as how you live your life, and not going with normal societal constructs of how things are done, is going to make a major difference,” she says.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Daniel Lewis - Lewis Notary Services

Headshot of Daniel Lewis

Daniel C. Lewis of Lewis Notary Services wanted more time with his family despite loving the thrill of working long signing days. This became clear when he wanted to coach his son’s basketball team and noticed that other fathers were actively involved with the team despite running their own businesses.

“I made a point to be the assistant coach. Then I was the coach for a couple of years, and then I helped with fundraising on my other kids’ swim teams,” Lewis explains. “That was my a-ha moment of ‘You know what? You really can manage your work and your life if you want.’ My family is a big priority to me along with my businesses. You just have to put a priority on that.”

With his family in mind, Lewis went on to make changes in his business. He started by defining his business goals while still carving out enough time to create meaningful memories with his children.

Then he developed a “map of life,” creating blocks of time for specific activities—from marketing to Notary assignments to family time. He even started carrying around a planner, where he now maps out his entire year to make sure he stays balanced.

Lewis also forged referral partnerships with a network of title companies, attorneys, and financial planners.

“A lot of people think that being a Notary entrepreneur, you’re in business all by yourself,” he says. “But my business has been successful because I was able to get referral partnerships.

Lewis expected these partnerships to improve his business and even free up time for his family. But what he didn’t expect was how much joy they would bring to him and his children.

“I learned the word ‘joy’. When I first started with coaching my son’s basketball team, I was able to be there and see him develop as a player and develop his interpersonal skills with his teammates,” Lewis says. “And then years later when he was graduating from high school and college, I showed him the pictures of the times we spent together. He said, ‘Wow, I do remember that’ and just seeing the joy on his face, and some of those relationships he built as I was coaching him, was just phenomenal... They see that I’m disciplined enough as a father running a business and having a work-life balance.”

That discipline and balance was passed along to his children, who can now juggle their own work and families thanks to their father’s example.

Daniel’s Takeaway

Now that Lewis is a grandfather, he sees how his lesson in work-life balance has truly been a gift that has kept on giving. “One of my grandchildren just got his first cell phone and the first thing he did was call and say, ‘Hey, I want you to be the first person in my phone.’ And I think it all goes back to how I spent that time as a business owner and as a father with my children.” says Lewis.

Tanya Fernandez is the Marketing Content Copywriter at the National Notary Association.

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