I love my life, I really do. It feels near perfect, except for one thing. I don’t always have time to do some of the things I want to do. And I don’t think I am alone in this. Infact when I come to think of it many of my friends feel the same. Actually I don’t think I have ever met anyone who does actually feel that they have enough time in their lives. There’s not enough hours in the day has become an everyday phrase in modern life. The feeling creates frustration. Frustration can cause stress. And at that point you know absolutely that your work and life is not in balance.
However it doesn’t have to be this way, it really doesn’t. If you want to create a better work life balance,iI you feel that your life is out of sync al it takes is a little work. (I know ironic but true). In order to balance your life it’s time to take charge and give yourself an overhaul. A life M.O.T.
What does work life balance mean to you?
Well what does it mean. The phrase conjours up a picture of bliss for us all. However my bliss is not the same as your bliss. Life work balance means differnet things to different people. Which means you have to define it for you. So get back to the drawing board. In the center of a piece of paper draw you. (Yes a stick figure is perfectly ok). Around you write all of the things you have in your life. Not just the big things like my job, my family, but the smaller things like walking the dog, doing the washing up, cleaning the house. Next to each word or phrase in brackets write how often you do this thing.
The wish list
Often when we do finally get the time to do those things we want to our mind draws a blank on what to do. So you need to know what is it actually you want to do that you are not doing right now? If you had all the time in the world what would you do? Make a wish list. Things you are doing in your life right now can also be included. And prioritise them with A (I really want to do this or enjoy doing this) to D (it would be nice sometimes)
Compare the two
So how do your wishes relate to your current life? Look at the A wishes. Are they even in your life right now? From these two exercises you now will have a clear idea of how your lifw is and how you want it to be.
Part of having more time means using our time efficiently. And no I am not talking about time management in its traditional sense (even though it’s a valid option and really does help). I am talking about using your energy at the right time. It might be that you are trying to do things at a time of day that just doesn’t work for you. For example after breakfast is not the time for me to try and write. I need 30 mins at least for my insulin to kick in. So instead of writing I can clean. Make an energy diary for a week and see where you struggle with tasks, where you don’t. After week you will already see some patterns of behaviour. You will notice where you have energy, where you don’t and what you can do best at these times.
Begin to change your habits to fit your energy instead of forcing yourself to do things for you when you can’t. So for example if you find it easier to answer work emails after lunch do that, reschedule your work day, if cleaning during the week is taking energy rather than giving do it on the weekend. It’s your life you control it. (And don’t worry about your boss questioning your actions. When you explain this will make you more efficient, Boss’s love efficiency 😉 )
Cut down on time wasters
Social media is one of the biggest time wasters on the planet. No I am not against it. I love Facebook. I can keep in touch with my friends from home. And I used to use hours and hours on it. It’s one of the best ever procrastination allies. So now I keep my facebook usage down to a minimum and at points in the day where I have to wait (for example at the train station). Now I suddenly have more time and less of a headache from looking at a screen! So cut down on the small things you do that waste your time. It can be easier to change your habits than you think so next time you reach for the phone ask yourself if you have checked your facebook in the last hour. Unless you are waiting for an important message put that phone back in your pocket for another hour.
Can you make your life easier?
Have a look at your energy levels and the things you do every week. Can you make this easier on yourself? For example do you need to wash up every day or can you do it every other day? Can you make larger portions of a meal and the reheat it on days where you will be busier or just days when you want to rest? When you look at it a lot of the things we think we need to do all the time are not actually necessary all of the time. And sometimes we use these things as an excuse as they are actually easier to do than the thing we say we want to do. If that’s the case then investigate the blockage.
Make time for the things that are important
I know, I know this is tough – but do you want to whine about not having time or do you want to have a better quality of life? I recommend starting small. At first I gave my self the deadline of being finished with work be it house, school or writing by giving myself the 8pm deadline ( iget up stupidly early so bedtime is usually 9:30pm, gods that makes me feel old!) After 8pm it’s me time. Once I had been doing this for a while I asked Mr T if we could make a date night once a week. Now every friday is date night. We actually rarely go out on date night, its just time for us to be together no distractions.
Give yourself a break
I have a friend who showed me her month calendar and each weekend is booked up for the next month. Full time study, one small child and no breaks, sounds like a recipe to a melt down to me. I suggested trying the weekend on, weekend off system. One weekend be social. One weekend stay home. Personally more and more I enjoy the weekends at home (well at least once the house cleaning is done!) Weekend on weekend off gives you a chance to recharge the batteries. Try it for a month and see how rested you begin to feel.
Learn to say No
It’s ok to say no. Trust me it is. When you take on things you don’t have the energy for you wear yourself down. Before you say yes, consider your energy levels, your upcoming week. There is no point in saying yes if you can’t actually give a full energetic commitment.
It has been said (repeatedly) that in order to have a perfect work life balance you need to love your work and therefore your life will be balanced. (And at some point in the future there will be an article about creating the work you love). Of course this is partly true. However as I have found when you love what you do it can still take a lot of your time from your personal life, if you don’t keep an eye on it. So put a little time to good use this week. Give yourself an MOT and you’ll see that by using this time to investigate your life it will give you a lot more time in the future.