When I look at my to-do list, my calendar, my daily planner, my emails, listen to my voicemail’s, check my kids school calendar for parent teacher conference, attend weddings, showers, parties, school events, visit family, attend church, and volunteer, I often ask myself how in the world do I do all these things and still have time for manicures, pedicures, spa time, travel, shopping and quite time. My answer to myself is, practice makes perfect.
It took a few years to master the art of time management and balancing my working life along with my social and family life. I was determined to dedicate time to each area of my life without neglecting anyone or anything that was important to me. That determination allowed me to find ways to fit everything I wanted to do and needed to do into my daily plan.
People ask me at least once a week “what do you have planned this weekend” or “where do you find the time to fit in all this stuff on your calendar” or they say “tell me your secret to work life balance because you seem to have it down packed.” My response is: I always balance my life by prioritizing my events and making sure that my to-do list always includes a time slot for myself.
You have to know that everything is not ASAP a RUSH, or an EMERGENCY.
You are in complete control of what you allow to be placed on your to-do list. Think about it, there are 24 hours in a day. If you work 8-9 hours a day on a typical day shift from 9-5, then you have about 5 hours left in the day to do things in your personal life. For me a typical day at work besides doing my job, includes taking my two 15 min breaks and taking at the least a ½ hour for lunch. I treat my work life the same way I do my personal life; I make sure I am added to the to-do list. That means that regardless of what I am doing, I take the breaks that I am allowed. Those 15 min breaks are used to regroup, refocus, and rejuvenate myself. Believe it or not, you can accomplish a lot in 15 min. I return calls, make doctor appointments, pay bills online, create a grocery list, and catch up on my social media sites and news outlets. Taking my breaks is a way for me to prevent stress from building up. Breaks are my stress breakers.
During my lunch time I avoid going out to lunch. This way I can utilize my entire lunch time relaxing and regrouping. Bringing my lunch and eating in is very beneficial because I save money, save on gas, and eliminate being stressed from all the lunch time traffic, the long lines waiting in drive-thru, then the little time left to eat after waiting in the line to get my food, then watching the clock to ensure I get back in enough time, all that in itself spells stress. I usually sit by myself with my headphones on listen to music and enjoy the lunch I packed. I can also continue with things I may have not been able to do while on break. It’s all about getting creative with the time you have.
Work life balance is all about knowing what is IMPORTANT.
At work you typically know you’re routine. You know what has to be done and when it has to be done by. So you have the opportunity to prioritize and assign a time frame to get it done. In your personal life you have to take the same approach. What is most important? You have to begin by keeping track of everything you have to do. That means you have to incorporate some type of calendar, daily planner, or upload a to-do list app on your smart phone.
You can’t balance anything unless you see it written down.
I have found that when I see things in writing I am more likely to prioritize it and get it done verses me having to remember every event, meeting and outing that I have and missing the majority of them because I overbooked myself and in some cases even forgot.
It’s a daily task that has to become a daily routine.
For me when I began to manage everything that needed to be done, and kept track of the dates, the time and locations, I found that when I exercised this task of management every day it turned into a habit that turned into my daily routine. I can have a conversation with someone and they invite me out, the first thing I do it pull out my smart phone and plug their information in. If you start this type of routine, you will get use to checking your schedule before adding to it and you will see that your work life balance will seem less and less stressful in managing.
I realized a long time ago that I can’t be everywhere at the same time and that I can do everything all the time, but I can do what I want most of the time if I plan accordingly. Work life balance is all about finding ways to enjoy every area of your life. You have to become creative with how you manage your time, you have to find ways to incorporate multiple things into one thing. It takes time and it take patients and it takes getting use to a routine, you just have to start!