Many struggle with the challenge of balancing all the moving parts of work and life. The “end result” is also a subjective moving target. For those who seem to have a better handle on it, here’s what they did:
As with anything, it starts with what you want and it is a decision. I find it helpful to separate this into 6 areas and represent as a wheel with six “spokes”. Balance occurs when all the spokes are the same “length”, otherwise it’s a pretty bumpy ride! The six areas are Financial/Career, Mental/Educational, Social/Cultural, Spiritual/Ethical, Physical/Health, Home/Family. This truly a situation where “perception is reality” so whatever you perceive about your own balance is what you believe.
On the way to improving our work/life balance we will encounter obstacles. Some on the most obvious include: Failure to prioritize; Limiting beliefs; Unrealistic expectations; Making excuses. The first goes hand in hand with inadequate planning. We can also take a lesson from Brian Tracy’s “Eat That Frog” and dispatch the least desirable task first. If we “plan” 26 hours of “stuff” in a regular day, something or someone gets shortchanged. When we use the word “because”, we’ve identified a limiting belief. Next time you catch yourself saying that word ask yourself if the part after “because” is really true. Sometimes we expect too much of ourselves or underestimate the degree of difficulty or time. A great lesson here is that there are no unreasonable goals, only unreasonable timelines. When all else fails we dip “below the line” and make excuses for why this is so or this isn’t. Now we’ve let ourselves off the hook because it’s no longer our fault. In so doing we let others down as well.
In order to improve your work/life balance, you must start where you are and make the commitment to improve. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Start by taking each of the six areas above and rate yourself on a scale of 1-10. Ask yourself: “How satisfied am I with my allocation of time, priority given and success/progress achieved in each of those areas?” The “perfect score” is 60 points. As you look at your score, ask yourself: “What would I have to change to improve the lowest number?” You may discover that as you raise one number that another one drops and the simultaneous effect brings you closer to your balance. Next step is a new planning regimen. Plan each week before it starts. Be honest and challenge yourself to fairly represent all six areas. Institute time-blocking in your plan. Remember when you went to grade school? You had a certain number of time periods in a day and when the bell rang, you progressed from one to the next. Re-discover this principle to help you improve your balance.
As you go, expect that life will throw other obstacles your way. Circumstances such as illness, special occasions, crises, etc. will occasionally upset the routine. Stick to your commitment, stick to your resolve. We can’t do anything about yesterday, so let’s live in the present and plan for the future.