Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an overachiever. I am always going after new goals and clipping new accomplishments under my belt. In addition to being an overachiever, I have the tendency to over commit. I contribute this to undiagnosed ADD—no really. I have always found myself extremely bored if I didn’t have 100 things to do, but as time has continued and life has expanded I’m no longer facing the same issues. Instead of having 100 things to do, I have 1,000 (a mild exaggeration, but true feeling) and instead of being double booked, I have found myself triple booked. I’ve managed to be in two places at once in the past, but three places—that’s an art I’m not willing to master. Overwhelmed? That’s an understatement.
This year I have tried to balance my marriage, full-time job, graduate school, new puppy, community involvement and not to mention I started this blog. I’m sure the list goes on, but I’ll spare you of the unnecessarily long checklist of roles I’m currently playing in life. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Well only God will probably ever understand, because I know He made me with all of these passions and I am never truly fulfilled unless I am committing a piece of me to them all. However, what I have recently realized is that if so many pieces of me are out on loan in all of these places, what is left at home with me and my family? Not much. That can be concerning to anyone—single, married, puppy parents and human parents especially.
So how do you balance all of this? Trust me, I’m still searching for the magic algorithm as well. Once I have it, I will share it in grave detail because it’s hard isn’t it? Sometimes you are negotiating sleep, lunch breaks, your social life and leisure time to fit everything in. The negotiations usually end with you missing out on these things. That can simply add more stress right? So time becomes valuable now more than ever—literally every second. You fill the 24 hours, 1,440 minutes and 86,400 seconds of everyday with something that you can check one thing off your list . . . just to add another. I know it doesn’t sound fun, but balance should help you buckle down during busy season, relax and rest when you need to and the freedom to enjoy the life you are creating. Again, not a master, but here are a few tips I’m implementing to help with my work, life and play balance.
Check Your Priorities
In my house, it’s God, my husband and then everything else follows. That includes my puppy, dreams, school, work and other aspirations. I’ve been trying to be super productive and squeezing everything in, but I was over-committed to the point that instead of being productive, I was the exact opposite. Even with 86,400 seconds, there wasn’t enough time in the day. So it was time to check my priorities. I had to make a list of everything I was doing and see where it fell on my priority list. If it didn’t fit with my current life plan, it was time for me to transition that off my list. This didn’t only include activities, but people as well. Is someone draining your time and energy, but not contributing to your support system or spirits? Check them off too.
Get on a Schedule
I noticed that when I get home or over the weekend, my organization goes out the window. I realized that I have maximized productivity at work because I literally plan out my hours, days and weeks in order to accomplish as much as I can. So if I am functioning on a schedule at work and then return home to an open schedule, what do you think happens? Freedom! I begin to not do things because “I don’t feel like it”, “I just want to watch TV” or “I literally forgot I had to do that!” You do that too? It feels good to do nothing in the moment until you realized, “I didn’t accomplish anything tonight”. Well get on a schedule! That may not sound exciting, but it doesn’t have to be boring either. Include watching your favorite TV show, cooking, an hour-long convo with a girlfriend and 2-3 hours to work on something. Too structured? Mix up the days and times on your schedule to keep it new and somewhat spontaneous.
Elect an Accountability Partner
I have an accountability partner in almost every facet of life: work, home, organizations and friendships. I often tell them everything I have going on and what I need to accomplish by the end of the workday, night at home, meeting and weekend. I don’t share this with the expectation that they will check on me—but they do. They will ask, “Did you get that done?” That will either remind me to start or put fire under my ass to finish it!
Make Time For Yourself
When trying to balance time and energy between priorities, the first person we forget about is ourselves. We put ourselves last when it comes to quality time and energy. Setting aside time for yourself is very important. The “me time” can include general decompressing, reading and exercising. I have tried to implement a new morning mantra each week. I literally sit there in the dark before sunrise and before my feet hit the floor, to thank God for the day and give myself that moment alone. These mantra moments can really bring peace to your day and give you emotional consciousness from the time you wake until the time you lay down. Exercise is really important too! We don’t make time for it because it takes so much energy and effort, but an hour at the gym can feel like the most productive hour of the day and give you energy.
I hope these tips help you find balance in your hectic life. Be sure to think through all of your options before making major decisions about time and commitment.