As I get older, I find myself with more and more to do and less time in which to accomplish it all. How about you?
After talking with a friend recently I realized that others feel this way too. In Add More Joy to Your Long Weekend I talked about reining in my list of ‘to dos’ and how I took back my most recent three day weekend. Upon further reflection it dawned on me that I can live a more balanced life every day!
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Creating a Work-Life Balance
You can use the tips below to make small changes that will improve your work-life balance. Some of these are things I have been working on for a while and I feel pretty good about them. Others (I’m looking at you # 6) are still very much works in progress for me.
- Spend quality time with people who are important to you. Build connections with loved ones. Make the most of time you have together. If you’re in the car with someone you can turn off the music and talk. Cook a meal with someone. Spend two minutes snuggling each child at bedtime. It makes a world of difference to you and to them. You’ll both feel more connected. When you take the time to appreciate the important people in your life you feel more balanced.
- Be organized. When you are organized, less time is spent trying to to find things or figure out what to cook. There is more time to enjoy life. Planning meals in advance helps relieve daily pressure. (Read more about meal planning here and get your FREE meal planning guide at the end of the post.) Making lunches and laying out the family’s clothes the night before makes mornings more enjoyable. Yes, this means your clothes too!
- Prioritize. There may be a list of ‘to dos’ that is a mile long. Do you really need to do all of them? Pick your top 2-3 and make sure they get done. Anything else that gets done that day is a bonus.
- Schedule. Create a schedule that works for you and stick with it. Embedding routines in that schedule allows you to do many things automatically. This makes your day flow well and seem a little easier.
- Write things down. It’s hard to remember everything! Keep notes on important things coming up. Always keep them in the same place. Check them daily. You will have peace of mind knowing that you’re keeping track of upcoming events. Nick uses the Reminders App on his iPhone; it’s a great way to let go and focus on the present moment.
- Remember to take care of you! Get plenty of sleep. Eat well. Exercise. You will feel better about yourself as well as be more patient with others. A healthier you is a happier you. I have to admit that I am super guilty of slacking in this department. This is where I need the most work!
- Have a family calendar. Make sure everyone in the family can see it. Keep track of each family member’s activities and appointments on it. Some people like digital calendars that can be synced. We have a large dry erase calendar in our kitchen similar to this one: The Board Dudes 16X20-Inches Aluminum Framed Magnetic Dry-Erase Calendar with a Marker and Two Magnets (CYG21). Either way is fine, the more visible the calendar the more effective it is.
- Make purchases online for the sake of convenience. Many websites ship free with minimum purchases or if you use their store credit card. Save some time and buy online. You will often pay the same price and can shop from home. I once bought hair elastics online. Yes, that’s all I bought. I had just had our fourth baby and didn’t want to take four kids ages 6 and under to Target to buy hair elastics. They were in my mailbox in two days and saved me at least an hour!
- Leave work at work. Being present wherever you are allows you to feel more balanced in general. When you are at work focus on work. When you are at home focus on home. If this is difficult and there is something work related that keeps wiggling around in your brain, write it down. Email your work email, use a phone app or write a sticky note and place it in an obvious place (like on your car keys or the door handle).
- Let others help. Sometimes this means that someone else is in charge of cooking one night a week. Maybe you drop the kids off at their grandparents’ house for an hour while you exercise. Outsource chores such as cleaning the house or landscaping. Free up some time by letting others help you out. Your loved ones may be more willing to pitch in than you realize.
- Give yourself permission to let things go. Remember, it’s OK being less than perfect. Sometimes you need to leave the dishes in the sink to take part in something meaningful. This was hard for me at first. I really just wanted to do it all and get it all done. The reality is that sometimes letting go of one thing leads to being part of something even better. The laundry will still be there tomorrow. Trust me on this one. Sometimes I let it go for days at a time. I’m still waiting for the day the laundry fairy will magically clean, fold and put it all away!
By now you may have heard the rocks in a jar analogy. It is worth repeating. Imagine you have…
- a jar.
- some rocks representing the most important parts of life: health, family, friends, spirituality.
- some pebbles representing other valuable parts of life: job, home, hobbies, etc.
- lastly you have some sand representing everything else.
If you fill your jar (life) with the sand first you will have a harder time making the pebbles and rocks fit. To live a fulfilling and balanced life the rocks go in first, then the pebbles followed by the sand. A better work-life balance is your reward.
What are your tips for creating a work-life balance?
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