Managing priorities in a way that preserves our own health and well being is something we all struggle with at some point. It's easy to get caught up in the demands of life, but it's important to create a sustainable balance, so we can continue to be productive in a positive way. In order to bring that 'balance' to your life, the first step is to have clarity about what balance means to you. What would a balanced day look like? What are the areas that would get more, or less, attention in your balanced day? How would you expect to feel different at the end of a day like that, compared to what is happening now?
Balance does not mean every area of your life gets an equal sized piece of the pie; it's about what is most important to you at this time.
Here are some steps you can take right now to move towards a healthier balance between work and life:
1. Let go of catastrophic thinking
Feeling like you're always juggling a hundred balls and if you drop even one your business will fail, your kids will turn out to be horrible people, your relationships will end? These worst-case scenarios playing in your head keep you running around in circles. The world will not come to an end if you take an evening off.
2. Let your schedule tell the truth
You may be quite prepared to list off your most important values, (ex. you want to be healthy, spend time with loved ones, grow your business) but the truth lies in your schedule. Do your commitments reflect the things that are most important to you?Eliminate empty, busy activities that sap your energy. What would you choose to do instead? Make sure your tasks align with your big picture.
3. It's ok to say NO.
Are you unable to refuse that friend who asks for a favor, or the manager who adds another task at the end of the day, or family who expects you to be available at all times? Set reasonable boundaries for yourself and others. Politely negotiate a compromise that is mindful of your priorities. Leaving more time for activities that are meaningful for you, will end your day on a more satisfied note.
4. Go offline
Technology has made our lives easier, but also added a lot more stress and blurred the lines between personal and work space. You will have to consciously create that boundary. Don't check your email more than thrice a day. Curb the urge to send that one email or respond to the new message in the middle of dinnertime. Schedule a block of time, when you can put away your devices and give yourself time to relax and de-stress.
5. Schedule ME time
Don't just wait to see what time is leftover after work. Put Me time in your schedule on a regular basis. This is your time to do something energizing and satisfying for you. At first you might feel selfish, guilty or even unproductive taking this time.
But without it, you will burn out. This is what helps you give back with more zest. Recharges your batteries. Meditate, exercise, do something you enjoy, pamper yourself. Be selfish for a little while.
6. Chase excellence, not perfection
Like any motivated, high achiever you want to be the best. The best parent, the best at work, the best at your relationships, the best at organizing an event or managing your responsibilities. Know when to say enough; don't drill yourself into a hole trying to get everything just perfect.
7. Enlist team members
Communicate openly with the important players in your life to share your goal of balancing what's important. Enlist the help of your family, colleagues, and friends. Delegate, share responsibilities. Re-assess regularly what's working and what's not. Discuss options with your employers that might give you more flexibility.
In the end, work life balance does not mean doing it all.
Be clear about your priorities and be prepared to make some short-term sacrifices for long-term goals and personal well-being.