These are my five top tips to help you survive, re-focus and keep motivated through those frenetic work/life/family days. How many hats do have to juggle every day? Spouse, parent, offspring, sibling, friend, employer/employee? I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that there just aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done.
The best present I ever gave myself (about two years ago) was to take time out to sit down with a blank piece of paper and think about how I spent my time and where my future was heading.
Now, I’m an organised person by nature (which is a blessing) but even so, the pressure seemed to be constant and I seldom managed to hit anything on the longer-term ‘to do’ list. I began by listing my main objectives/goals – i.e. what I wanted to achieve over the next five years; then I listed my responsibilities – ongoing family, friends and work commitments. Relaxation/quality time is simply whatever time is left and the point was, that was constantly being squeezed.
What did my list tell me? That I was simply trying to do the impossible. Tough decisions had to be made and that was quite a harsh truth – but I did it. And now I feel I’m back in control. If YOU are struggling to fit everything in, then read on!
1. Know what you want out of life
You need to be clear about what you want to achieve so you can focus on the best use of your time. I looked in detail at how I spent my week and when I realised I was over-committed I had to decide what my priorities were going to be. It’s hard to give up something you enjoy doing, but if it sucks time and doesn’t further your goals in life, or service your responsibilities, then ask yourself why you are doing it. Think instead of how you will use the time you save to get where you want to be. It’s a no-brainer!
2. Work smarter, not harder
a) You don’t have to do every single little thing yourself – delegating isn’t easy if you are a control freak, but keep reminding yourself it’s a key tool that will stop you working yourself into the ground.
b) Think about where you can cut corners, even if it means lowering your standards a little. Were they impossibly high to begin with?
c) If someone wants something do you automatically jump in and help, even when you are under pressure yourself? People will understand if you need to say ‘no’ at times, it happens to us all!
3. You are kind to others, so learn to be kind to yourself
Superwoman is a fictional character for a reason … unless you have exceptional powers then, like everyone else, there is a limit to what you can do in twenty-four hours. That must include some ‘me’ time and you should not feel guilty about that fact. There is a huge difference between being BUSY and being overloaded. Trying to do too much is stressful and you won’t function as efficiently, so it’s counter-productive anyway.
4. Life is all about the choices YOU make
Your life will be made up of things you must do, things you want to do and things you’d like to do. Whether you use a calendar, or lists, you need to focus on the MUST DO things, as a priority. If you remember only one thing after reading this post let it be this:
ALWAYS do the jobs you least want to do, first
– and that must include anything with a deadline
Choose to be organised and focused – it’s the key to being able to enjoy quality time without having nagging little worries cluttering your mind and pulling you down.
5. Are you meeting your daily happiness quota?
There are numerous elements in every aspect of your life that will be mundane and can be quite stressful in terms of timing and/or fitting them in. Taking the kids to the dentist/doctors, doing the shopping, driving in the rush hour traffic, endless meetings that don’t seem to move you forward, etc. But if your day consists of nothing but a long list of tasks that have you constantly on the go, then you need to re-think how you schedule your day.
Remember, YOU are in control of your calendar. You need to offset some of that stress by ensuring each day is also filled with things that make you feel good, too. Whether that’s quality time with the family, achieving something towards your main goals in life, or meditating … whatever works for you.
For me, writing makes me feel happy. Yes, it’s also work, because that’s what I do for a living, but it also happens to give me a big ‘happy’ boost. It also takes up a large chunk of ‘me’ time, as I switch off from everything else while I’m doing it and for me it’s a major source of relaxation. I’m lucky as I get to tick two boxes at the same time! But equally, there are times when I’m rushed off my feet doing work-related tasks that aren’t quite so pleasurable. Then, I reward myself by either doing a little gardening, or simply running a bubble bath, grabbing a glass of wine and locking myself in the bathroom for an hour.
Other things that make me feel happy: playing with the kids, spending time alone with my husband, catching up with friends, decorating/upcycling furniture, going for walks … but I like to think I’m there for family, friends and my peers whenever they need me – because that makes me happy, and fulfilled, too.
Finally, it’s important to remember:
Achieving a reasonable work/life balance is always going to be a daily struggle for most people. You will have good and bad days, no matter how organised, or focused you are. Approach each new day with enthusiasm and see it as an exciting challenge that could bring wonderful dividends.
Above all, surround yourself with positive, like-minded people and life will seem brighter and more enjoyable. If you can help someone in need as you travel along life’s path, then you are helping to fill the universe with good karma … life is what you choose to make it, so make it feel GOOD!