One of the main challenges we women face today is how to find balance in our lives. Between the pressures at work and our lives at home, we walk a fine line. Let’s face it, that cell phone in your purse not only makes life convenient for you, but makes you accessible to everyone else . . . no matter where you are, or what you are doing. In this world of 24-hour accessibility it is easy to bring your work with you wherever you go. However, I am sure you will agree, that does not make for a very balanced life. Here are some five tips I use, to keep my life in check.
Learn to Say “No.”
I know that start-up that just solicited some freelance work from you would be an amazing opportunity. The money you would make from the job might even help you pay for that cruise you promised yourself you’d take (when you find the time). But honey, don’t do it! I know you’re amazing, and they know you’re amazing, but amazing still only has 24 hours in a day. Spreading yourself too thin will dilute the amazing; making you less productive, your work less fantastic and your private life nonexistent.
If finding balance isn’t important to you, then say yes. However, if you want to have your cake and eat it too, let that opportunity pass by. Learn to weigh your options and turn down projects you really don’t have time for, despite their “wow” factor. It won’t be easy, but it will help you find balance. Try putting things in perspective. I mean, when you’re lying on your death bed are you really going to wish you’d spent more time working? Probably not.
Start New Projects Right Away
It may be tempting to rationalize that new project to the back burner. After all, it isn’t due for several months, right? Wrong. Instead, find a moment and dig in as soon as possible. Enthusiasm for new projects not only may earn you some points with the boss, but is good for you. Planning ahead will help you anticipate problems, balance your schedule and manage your time more effectively. In the long run, the time you save by planning ahead will allow you to do the things you really want to do, whereas procrastination only leads to playing catch-up; an action that is completely without balance. So do yourself a favor, start that new project today, and earn yourself some leisure time tomorrow. Now that’s balance.
Leave Work at Work
When you’re at work, work hard and make it count. If you do, it will make it easier to feel justified in not taking it home with you. Sure, there are moments when you must work outside the normal work day. However, those should be the exception, not the rule. The most difficult part of this is turning your brain off; finding a new focus. If you’re like me, even if you are not at work you are thinking about ideas for new projects, who you can contact to help you with those projects, who you can delegate to, what you need to know etc. etc. etc. That combined with cell phones, email and the internet can make it really hard to leave your work at work. Find a way to distract yourself by learning to present in the moment. Be where you are. Let your surroundings become your new focus.
It seems that cell phones have become the adult security blanket; our link to the outside world. We take them with us everywhere, and I mean everywhere (y’all know what I’m talkin’ about). We interrupt conversations we are having with real people, so we can respond to text messages. We have relationships through social media sites instead of face-to-face. While this may be common, I am not entirely convinced it is healthy. Occasionally, we need to reconnect. That is why, to find a new relationship balance, you should unplug. While the gadgets in our lives are useful, they can be a distraction. Instead, try having a new life adventure sans electronic devices. Sometimes it’s nice not to be interrupted.
Take Time to Give Back
Sometimes the best way to realign your balance is step outside of yourself. With hundreds of community groups, charities and soup kitchens there are plenty of people to help you find a way to give back. My favorite way to volunteer in my community is to coach peewee soccer. I have coached teams ranging from five-year-olds to sixth graders. Since soccer is something that I already love, it isn’t a stretch for me to find the time to help others learn to love it too. Find something you love or something you’re good at, and work with that. You don’t have to go far to find a need. Just keep your eyes open and then step up. Helping others not only gives you a new sense of wellbeing, but also helps put things in perspective, leading to a more balanced and healthy life.
I hope these suggestions have been helpful. I look forward to hearing how you find balance. Make a comment and let me know.