Hmmm when thinking about this super important b-mail topic, I’ve asked myself some tough questions on whether I’m the right person to give you any advice, insights or suggestions on striking a balance between the many elements of my life.
I juggle a raft of responsibilities and commitments for my family, for my clients and for me. Most of the time, I’m successful. Sometimes, I drop a ball (or two!). Sometimes, I take on too much. Sometimes, I focus on doing things for others and screw myself over.
That said. I recognise I’m not perfect, I’ve got work to do on creating a better sense of proportion across the elements of my life and heck, I’m motivated to keep trying!
You with me? Yes? Then hoorraaaayyy, let’s get going.
First off, I believe there are a few baselines I need to cover off, in order to give us any chance of striking a balance.
Balance is right up there with trying to hit perfection: the goal posts will move and your definition of balance will move to follow. You change. Your priorities change. You adapt to circumstances and to others in your life and work. Accepting balance isn’t going to be a perfect split of time, effort or energies and nor will it be a fixed measure will help.
My take on balance isn’t going to yours and vice versa. Nor can it or should it be. Our unique combinations of personal values, life stages, experiences and motivations make us unique and our sense of balance unique.
Balance is a big picture game, not a detailed minute by minute account. In this case, big is most definitely where you will find beautiful. Using a bigger scale view, I find, means I gain a better sense of control and achievement. Putting myself under pressure to balance each hour or day is a route to failure. Looking at the week or even month adds successes, I’d otherwise have overlooked.
In summary: ditch striking perfection, accept your balance is just that, yours and think big.
Getting to it, here’s my tactics to seeking balance across my life, work and play.
1) Get a planner or diary system that works for you.
I use an Erin Condren planner to collate and carry around with me plus a Day Designer single day printable for my “work at home” days by Whitney English. (Want to check out these? Erin can be found here and Whitney here.) I also use erasable markers in a colour coded way – work is dark blue, family is turquoise, deadlines for bills or submissions are red and so on. I also have shared Google calendars with my partner, so we’re both in the loop and up to date.
2) Ensure you have time for doing your version of self care.
This might be a long bath, refreshing G&T on the seat outside or a hard cycle around the block. Whilst this might feel like a luxury, hardly ever does someone blast through their goals, achieve an ambition or secure a significant change in their life without some rest and recuperation time. That includes you. Call it maintenance, call it downtime, call it being a couch potato. I call it necessary.
3) Chunk it up – Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I’m a bit of a neat freak. I like my counters, cooker and fridge cleaned down and disinfected. I like the laundry basket to be empty. I like my taps to shine. I like the floor to be fluff free (Seriously, where does it all come from!!). That said I can’t do them all at once as time is often short. Priority 1 = countertops and then the rest are done in rotation (or by delegation to the rest of the household!).
4) Balance the rush with some reflection.
Including either a short breathing exercise and a bit of Pilates inspired stretching to a little gratitude practice enable me to see although I might not really feel like I’ve done much or to the standard I’d have liked, I have made inroads into serving others, living my values and showing up in a positive way. I like to count 3 things I did good and 3 things that were good done to me. You might prefer to follow a gratitude journalling app or write a note at the bottom of your planner page.
5) Don’t travel the road alone.
I’m a big fan of combining – mix up two or more tasks into one time slot. For example, commuting and catching up on newsletter, articles and the daily news. My partner and I both love reading – we read aloud to each other in turn and share our passion for different authors. I’ve discovered the Just So stories and he’s learnt about Tudor times. I also skill swap or time swap with friends in order to get things done in a quicker or more simple way.
With those in mind, I’m off to strike a balance and I hope you are too 🙂 What do you do to balance your life, work and play? Is there a mindset approach, a reframe or a practical tactic you deploy? All suggestions welcome!