I often get asked how it is running a restaurant (or two) and whether I have time for anything else. Staying semi-in-shape, seeing my family & friends, maybe a sparkle of a love life and keeping a general healthy balance – the short answer is yes! I think that for most of us balance is fundamental to achieving success. Guilting yourself for doing the things that make you happy instead of working harder is completely irrational, yet most of us do it every day. So, here’s how I do it.
1. EVERY MINUTE COUNTS. While this might sound cliché, I am so aware of how quickly time flies by that I really try to maximise every second of the day. I very seldom dawdle, faff around or spend time lazing on the couch (unless this is something I feel I need to do (see point 2) and then prioritize it as self-care time). Usually, if I am not at work I am doing something important and constructive to me. I spend my time off going climbing, doing yoga, eating out (which I love! Especially brunch); and most of all doing it with the people that I love. The same applies to work – I try to spend my time productively so that I don’t feel that I’ve wasted a work day and then struggle to enjoy my time away from work. I am not very admin-orientated, but I do make a short daily checklist of goals to reach – if I am honest I usually only hit 2 / 3 of my 7 daily items ‘cause I get caught up in the daily restaurant hustle, but some days I really steam roll and manage to check it all which is really rewarding.I know it sounds obvious, but balance requires discipline, and part of that discipline is to prioritise what matters and make time for it. When you do that you’ll find it harder and harder to daze away in front of the TV for hours because you get very little long-term reward from that.
2. UNDERSTANDING ‘DOWN TIME’. To follow on from the first point, don’t mistake productivity for constantly being busy. Sometimes it’s as important to step back and switch off for a while. Time to recharge and draw inspiration. For me, that means spending a little bit of my day on Pinterest scrolling through my beautifully curated feed and filling my mental bank of recipe ideas, interior design and many, many future tattoo ideas. It also means I spend some evenings after a long work day chilling out in front of my laptop watching Netflix. I try watch something that I feel is going to energise my mind – like Chefs Table or Ugly Delicious – but in reality, sometimes it means I watch Gossip Girl for the 4th time with a glass of wine and zero guilt. Recharge time is so important and it comes in different forms.
3. LEARN TO TRUST OTHERS. This is probably the biggest and hardest of them all. It’s quite true that if you really want something done right then you must do it yourself. HOWEVER, and I say this about many things, don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough. If someone else can do the job well enough and it alleviates you time to do other things that are equally, if not more, important, then let it go. There are so many things in my restaurants that I want to control. What music is playing, how the chairs and tables are arranged, making sure the customers are all happy, making sure the micro herbs are put on correctly, or that the avocado is placed the right way up on all the dishes – these things can push to a level of perfection. For me. Not necessarily for my customers. Half of us probably don’t even notice the way micro herbs are put on our wraps, or which way the avo arrives. So, it’s something I can let go and trust my amazing team to do almost
I could go on forever about what I do every day, how I try squeeze in what feels like 3 days into 24 hours, but really it comes down to you. I’ve been in a position where I’ve worked a 9 to 5, had no hobbies or side hustle and still felt like I had no time at the end of the day. Looking back, I can honestly say it was because I wasn’t prioritising my own happiness. I wasn’t practicing self-care, reaching for my dreams or building on relationships that matter, I was spending time on things that didn’t motivate me and I was directionless. It makes a massive difference to set your eyes on something and then shift and structure your life to work towards it. It doesn’t need to be a big career goal, it could be something self-fulfilling like learning a language, travelling or giving back to your community. Any goal will require you to focus your time, perhaps learn or adapt your skills and lifestyle to accommodate it. That’s when you’ll find, although you might have less time, you’re doing so much more with it.
Lexi Monzeglio (@leximonzeglio) is the owner and chef at Lexi’s Healthy Eatery (@lexiseatery). The restaurant’s ethos is “Eat More Plants”. Lexi adopts a plant-based approach in both her own life and her restaurant, as well as a consciousness around how our actions today affect our health and the environment tomorrow. Spending a lot of time learning about food-based nutrition and studying through Matthew Kenney’s plant-based culinary school, she really tries to bring a bright, fresh and new understanding of a healthy, plant-based lifestyle.