Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World
Have you lost your balance?
You’re a productive person. You get through an amazing pile of tasks every day. But there’s always a long list of things you didn’t get to. What’s wrong? Maybe you have lost your balance.
Giving your all at work, pushing to give 110%, may sound good in a job interview, but it’s not realistic in the long run. That approach short-changes other aspects of your life—your relationships and your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
We all face the challenge of finding balance in this unbalanced world. There’s this myth out there that we can do it all—take care of ourselves, family, home, work, the world. The sad truth? We can’t. Nobody can be all things to all people all the time. The best we can hope for is to find balance.
When we’re out of balance, we let one side of our life steal focus and time from the rest. To find balance, we need to use our time and energy to benefit our whole life, not just one aspect of it.
Guidelines for Balance
Finding balance means changing expectations and attitudes as well as adjusting work style. It means setting priorities and making choices about how we spend our time. It involves being creative and getting help from others as well as planning how to care for others and ourselves.
Set Realistic Expectations
Nobody can do it all if “all” means giving 100% to career, marriage, children, and oneself. But if you define “all” as living with your own priorities and values, you can achieve balance.
Ditch the Guilt
Being a mom or dad does not make you a bad worker. Having a job does not make you a bad mom or dad. Everybody makes sacrifices to achieve balance. It’s up to you to decide what to keep and what to let slide. And that’s OK.
Set Your Priorities
Work is just part of the picture. It’s a big part, yes. But you only get one chance to raise your children. What will they remember in ten years—your slaving at the office or the fun you had having picnics in the park? And running yourself ragged does not contribute to the well-being of either your family or your job. You are responsible for scheduling time for rest, healing, and self-care.
Make Choices Based on Your Priorities
Filtering out activities that don’t contribute to the quality of your life isn’t easy. You need to look at them from a new perspective—yours. Is it more important for you to clean the bathroom or to take a walk with your kids? Should you take time for lunch with friends, or spend your lunch hour drafting that letter? Learn to say no. Set boundaries.
Go for Quality Over Quantity
“Doing more with less” is a popular business slogan. Turn that on its head. Do less with better quality. Give more time to your highest priorities and let the rest go.
Make a Plan
Whether you decide to keep work and life separate or integrate work and life, you need a plan. Keep a calendar that blends work and family obligations. Schedule time with your significant other. Don’t let work encroach on family time. If you bring work home, set boundaries around work and play time.
Your supervisor may be open to approving your working from home all or part of the time. Shifting work hours, limiting client meetings to a few days a week, and other creative solutions may be there for the asking. Ask.
Build teams at work and at home. Delegate. Do Grandma and Grandpa live in town? Enlist their help with the kids. Negotiate with your partner over who’s
responsible for cooking dinner. Don’t be too proud to find a cleaning service. Teach the kids to do their own laundry.
Care for Yourself
Schedule time for physical and mental health and to make you more creative and productive. Meditate. Keep a gratitude journal. Visit the spa. Find a community of similarly situated people to support and listen.
More Tips for Better Balance
· Plan your day the night before.
· Keep consistent work hours. Schedule time for meals, self-care, and family along with work. If you choose to integrate working and the rest of your life, set realistic limits.
· Protect your non-work time. Don’t take calls 24/7. Don’t check your email during family time.
· Do your most important task before checking your email.
· Break your tasks into smaller chunks for deadlines and motivation. Reward yourself when you finish a chunk.
· Limit the time you spend on social media.
· Farm out the tasks you don’t enjoy.
· Keep one calendar with both personal and work commitments
When we try to be everything to everybody, we set ourselves up for failure—big time. We can’t do it all. But we can decide what to do and what to leave undone based on our priorities and values. Setting realistic expectations, prioritizing, and scheduling time for our whole life, not just work, will help us to find balance in an unbalanced world.