Stop Chasing After Work/Life Balance. Do This Instead
Let's first tackle this topic of balance because I think we've got it all wrong. There is NO possible way to always have everything in your life perfectly balanced. I think we can all agree that perfectionism is the enemy of happiness + productivity, and striving for some kind of perfect balance in life is a lost cause.
When I talk about balance, I'm talking about this idea of shifting priorities. We all have at least 2 or 3, but it's not possible for all 3 to be in the top spot at once. No matter how much of a superwoman you think you are, it's not a sustainable goal. So let's agree to let that one go for now.
Since everything can't be the most important all the time, we have to intentionally choose which of our priorities is in the top spot all the time. Maybe your top 3 are family, work and health. Sometimes you'll have to put more focus on one of these and less on the others for a short time and that is totally ok. Life is always changing and we need to learn how to roll with it.
The world we live in is so completely different from the one our parents or grandparents grew up in. Many families have 2 working parents, often with jobs outside the house, plus the insane amount of children’s activities our generation seems to feel are necessary for our kids’ development (spoiler: none of that is actually necessary!).
I'm so happy that as women we have choices beyond staying home to raise our babies. It's totally fine if that's what you choose for your life, but it's also ok if you choose to work outside the home or start your own business. More choice is good, we just need to learn how to balance it all and not burn out.
Climbing the corporate ladder or starting a business can be amazing and it can be terrible. If you don’t set boundaries with your family and create intentional habits and routines surrounding your work, it can easily take over your life. Yes, it takes hard work to be successful in any type of career, but how can you make your family a priority if you’re chained to your desk all. day. long?
If you want to learn to successfully balance your work with your kids + family, you need to be willing to step back and take an honest assessment of your time, your workload and your priorities. And then you need to be willing to make some changes in how you’re currently doing things.
I put together my top 3 tips for moving the needle towards a balanced work / life schedule, but know that true balance doesn’t exist. It’s a myth. The goal is not to have everything perfectly balanced at all times, but rather to feel like the priorities YOU have chosen are staying front and center in your life.
Ok, let’s dive into my 3 tips…
Create Good Routines
I know this one sounds easy, but it’s actually super easy to overlook. You wake up, scroll Instagram, check your email, have a little coffee or breakfast, get the kids to school and then you dive into work without much thought about anything else. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this scenario, BUT I challenge you to sit down and think about how you really want to start your day.
Do you want the first things entering your brain to be little bits of other people’s lives you see on Instagram or endless to dos that are piling up in your inbox? If that’s how you’re used to starting the day, I challenge you to shake things up a bit.
The morning is a great time to set the mood for the day. If you aren’t an early riser, don’t worry. I’m not going to tell you that it’s necessary if you want to be successful. Honestly the time you get up matters less than how you start your day.
If you’re always in a rush or you start right in on the requests from everyone else, it’s going to have an impact on your mood and your mindset. Consider instead, taking a few minutes when you first get up to meditate, do a devotional or read something that inspires you.
This doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment either. Even 3-5 minutes can make a difference!
Think about what would make you feel inspired and motivated to tackle your work and then add it to your morning routine. Keep it simple and you’re much more likely to stick with it.
Ok, on to number 2.
Manage Your Time Wisely
I know, this one also sounds easy right? Maybe it’s just me, but I know I’ve been working and looked at the clock, only to notice I’ve “worked” all day and don’t have anything to show for it. #sofrustrating
I know how tempting it is to open your email first thing and start responding to all the fires you find in there, but if you want to keep your work from taking over your life, you need to set some boundaries.
This may vary depending on whether you work for yourself or have a 9-5 job. You can’t always control the hours in a corporate job, but you usually have some control over which projects you work on and when.
If you’re running your own business, the first step is to create a schedule for yourself. Choose which hours you’re willing to work each day and STICK TO THEM. If you decide you want to quit at 5pm each day, be true to your word. I’d also recommend choosing which hours you will work on client tasks and when you will work on your own business tasks.
If you work in a corporate environment, I want you to think about your energy and motivation during your work day. Work on the most challenging projects when you are the most energized and save the mundane tasks that don’t take a lot of brainpower for the times when you have less energy.
The second step is to figure out how you work best – do you need to timeblock your tasks? Are you better at batching similar tasks or do you need to work on one project at a time? Would you benefit from using the Pomodoro method so you can work in a short sprint and then take a break?
Once you know your hours and how you’re going to structure them to be the most efficient, it’s time to put it in your calendar. It doesn’t matter if you’re a paper and pen girl or you’re #teamdigital4life, just get your day set up on the calendar so you don’t have to waste time wondering what to do and when. Just open your calendar and do what’s it says.
Ok so far you’re doing great. Are you ready for the last tip? Well here you go…
Choose Your Priorities
This one seems SO OBVIOUS right? I mean clearly your family is your priority. But if I followed you around for a couple of days, would I be able to tell that? Especially when it comes to our families, it’s easy to take for granted that they know we care and that they’re important to us.
On the flip side, it’s also ok for you to have other priorities in addition to your family. If you’re knee deep in a big project and need to have your focus on your work for a short time, that’s ok. Just be honest with your family about the timeline and what you need. Let them know that while you may be focused on work now, once this project ends you’ll return to normal.
Take some time to write out your top 2-3 priorities and then make sure the schedule you just created allows you to put your focus on the things that matter. If not, it’s ok to tweak your schedule. The beauty of life is that YOU are in control.
By creating a more intentional routine for how you start the day, creating a time management system that works for you and keeping your priorities front and center you’re definitely going to be inching closer to that ever-elusive work / life balance.
As a mama + business owner, I’m in the trenches with you. I know it can be a struggle some days, but I also know it’s possible to run a profitable business or have a successful career AND be present for your family. All it takes is a little intentional planning.
You’ve got this, babe!