It seems like an elusive idea that people work toward but very rarely ever find! Perhaps the problem is that the idea of it is so simple and people expect that having it will be just as simple. In reality, work/life balance is something that must be worked at continuously. Just because you have it one week doesn’t mean it is going to be there next week!
So how do we take steps to start balancing our time better? First, define what that balance looks like. This is going to be different for every person. If you have a target in your mind, it is going to be much more achievable than if you are firing blind!
Alright, have you got your definition of balance in your mind now? Good. Now it’s time to schedule it. Are you expecting spontaneity to make this happen – has it worked yet? I’m guessing not, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. Just like you put important client meetings on your calendar at work, do the same for non-work activities. That dinner date with your significant other? Schedule it. Coffee with your best friend? Schedule it! That Yoga class you’ve been meaning to take but never seem to have the time? …You guessed it! Schedule it! If it is on your calendar it is accounted for and then when it comes time to move things around, for that deadline that suddenly got moved up a week, those important non-work related activities are part of the planning process, instead of getting the backburner.
Feeling the time crunch? Time to limit your distractions. Ever add up how many minutes here or there that you lose by checking your phone or social media or having that conversation with your coworker that went just a little longer than planned? Those few minutes here and there add up! Imagine if you shut out distractions and set your mind on plowing through your to do list, then you could go home feeling like you DID accomplish your tasks that day. We’re all guilty of wasting time here and there, but in order to enjoy the bliss of balance, sacrifices must be made! (And I’m guessing your Facebook wall will still be there if you aren’t checking it 5 times throughout the day).
Simplify your life. Think about those things in your life that are draining you of your energy. Whether it’s a coworker that is continuously gossiping or the friend that always NEEDS your support – if it’s draining you and not benefitting you, then it’s time to rethink the amount of time you spend on it. It may be disappointing to your coworker that you don’t join in on the bashing of so and so or it may be shocking for that friend the first time you don’t answer the phone when they call, but we’re committed to finding this balance right? Simplifying is a good way to do it. Also think about this with your task list. Instead of running to the post-office, can you order the stamps online? Maybe you and your neighbor can check in with each other before running to the store for that carton of milk you forgot to pick up yesterday.
Be deliberate in the choices you make. Work/life balance is not found, it is achieved. If you are clear about what your balance looks like, you will be able to make it happen. “If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”