How can you balance your work responsibilities with your personal responsibilities? It’s not easy. And it’s kind of a myth, that you can balance them perfectly and consistently. Things will get out of whack, and you’ll have to be conscious about realigning your life with your priorities.
Remember too that it is virtually impossible to achieve excellence in every area of life. There are always tradeoffs. The more your schedule and daily accomplishments align with your priorities and values, the better you will feel about those tradeoffs.
Four tips to allow you to balance work and life are to 1. establish priorities, 2. create systems and delegate, 3. manage your energy, and 4. regularly reassess how your life is working for you.
1. ESTABLISH PRIORITIES
Of course we want to be the best moms ever and have an amazing marriage and also succeed at our personal goals and business goals. How can we choose our priorities when it is all a priority?
First, drop the comparison game. It is probably underlying many of your so called priorities. You could probably live with a few dust bunnies and take out twice a week, but you see the Pinterest Boards and Facebook posts and advertisements of spotless homes and delicious home-cooked meals and that becomes your unspoken goal.
Maybe you’d be proud of yourself for one blog post a week and $1000 extra income per month, but you see ads and blog posts of superstars launching and earning $10,000 in their first month and then you feel like your $1000 dream is for losers.
It is absolutely counter-productive to compare yourself to others. What is it they say about comparing apples to oranges?
We’re all unique. Our journeys are all unique. All that truly matters is that you are making progress, baby steps towards your most treasured goals and ambitions. Don’t compare yourself to others and berate yourself. That’s like a daffodil berating itself for not being a rose. Pointless.
Second, evaluate the main areas of your life and figure out where you are. I split my own life into 5 areas, but use the categories that make sense to you. My Five Areas of Life are:
- 1. Vocation (Photography Business, Side Hustle);
- 2. Connection (Family, Friends, Community);
- 3. Body (Health and Well-Being);
- 4. Mind (Education and Knowledge); and
- 5. Spirit (Gratitude, Giving Back).
Now decide what is working and what isn’t? Where are your biggest pain points? Where are your biggest joys? Where do you experience the most guilt? Is the guilt legit, or the result of the comparison game?
By doing this exercise, your priorities should become clear. That is where you want to invest most of your time.
Finally, be realistic about your available time. You need to look at your calendar, your commitments, your energy, and set realistic goals.
Managing your time and priorities is a lot like going on a diet. It is tempting to go all in and set great big goals for yourself, but for most of us, that is setting ourselves up for failure.
Incremental positive lifestyle changes will have a much, much bigger impact on your success than the yo-yo cycle of superwoman and hot mess.
2. CREATE SYSTEMS AND ELIMINATE OBSTACLES
Once you’ve established your priorities, you need to identify the things you are doing right and systematize them, and identify your obstacles and eliminate/lessen them.
So what do I mean by creating systems?
Let’s say that you are successfully blogging twice a week, and it takes you 3 hours each time to decide what to write, search for and create graphics, and actually create and publish the blog posts. So that’s 6 hours a week, and 24 hours a month.
If you create a system for creating your blog posts, you might be able to cut that time in half.
For example, imagine creating an editorial calendar for your posts where you decide what to write for your 8 monthly posts. Maybe that will take 3 hours.
Imagine that creating your graphics at the start of the month takes you 4 hours.
But then writing and publishing the posts only takes you 45 minutes each time, or 1.5 hours a week and 6 hours a month.
So now it takes you 13 hours to do your monthly blog instead of 24 hours. You’ve just saved yourself 11 hours!
The other advantage of creating that system is that now you have the power to outsource! You’ll know at the start of the month what type of graphics and images you’ll need. Would it be worth it to you to pay $50 or $100 to get those 8 graphics created and emailed to you?
Now let’s take a look at eliminating obstacles.
Time is always a big one. Let’s say that developing your side hustle is a priority to you, but you don’t have any time.
Sit down with a piece of paper (or this worksheet) and brainstorm some possible solutions to your obstacle. Write them all down, don’t evaluate them right now, this is just an uncensored list of ideas.
Could you hire a babysitter once a week for 6 hours?
Or start a baby-sitting trade with a neighbor or friend?
What about waking up an hour earlier and starting a morning routine?
What about getting your kids on a schedule and having them take afternoon naps?
What setting them in front of the TV for 90 minutes a day so you can focus?
What about cooking the weeks meals on Sunday and freeing up the late afternoon/early evening for your side hustle?
Or could you drop one of your volunteer activities?
Once you have your list of possible solutions, go through and decide which ones you can implement and watch the time role in.
Almost any obstacle can be addressed or minimized. If you have one that you just can’t figure out, use google! I am sure someone, somewhere has had your problem and written about it.
3. MANAGE YOUR ENERGY
I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Having energy, both physical and emotional, to face your day is by far the biggest productivity booster there is, much more than having the perfect system or morning routine.
This also requires some reflection and introspection. When do you feel energized? What lifts you up? Are there certain people, certain meals, a certain type of coffee? Whatever it is, make time for it. Put it in your calendar. Do it every day.
And then slowly but surely add those energizers that you KNOW will be good for you but you just can’t do yet, like eating more vegetables, getting more sleep, getting more exercise, meditating, whatever. Baby steps. One ten minute walk. One ten minute stretch before you get ready for the day.
Likewise, what depletes you? What makes you feel demoralized, low, sluggish?
That pan of brownies?
Whatever it is, protect yourself from it. Lead yourself away from it, distract yourself from it. Or, if you can’t eliminate it completely, reduce your exposure to it. Or control your exposure to it — only face it when you are feeling strong and competent.
4. MONTHLY CHECK-IN
The idea of having monthly check-ins is to make sure that your priorities haven’t changed, and to tweak your systems to make sure they still work for you.
Maybe reward yourself after you do your monthly check-in with something that lifts your spirits, like a bouquet of flowers or a new lipstick or lunch with a friend.
So those are my tips. I will also add that balancing work and life is an ongoing effort. It’s not something that you can just master and then ignore because life is constantly changing.
Good luck! Let me know how in the comments or contact me page how this works for you!