How to find the elusive “work/life balance”

Work/life balance feet

Have you ever thought, “How can I find the right ‘work/life balance’?”

Have you ever wished there were more hours in a day? 

Have you seriously considered the idea of a clone?  Are you human? Do you have a job? 

I’m going to assume you answered “yes” to all those questions. 

If you are like most working adults, you’ve wondered – more than once – how to do it all.  A quick Amazon search shows over 50,000 books on time management.  Now, I’m not saying I have it figured out, but I’ve read a few of those time management books and I wanted to share the top 3 things that I’ve learned to help me feel more balanced.

Be honest with how you are spending your time

I read a book last year titled “168 Hours: You have more time than you think” by Laura Vanderkam.

The basic premise of the book was that we are not truly aware of how we are spending our time, and that when we realize how we spend our time, we’ll find openings to complete more of our goals.

The author challenged people to keep a time study for one whole week (168 hours). I did this and tracked my time in 15-minute increments for one entire week of time. Here are my results:

Work/life balance chart

Now I would say this wasn’t a “typical week” because we had more social activities than normal, but one-point Vanderkam makes in her book is that there is no “typical week!”

I realized I spend too much time on Social Media and watching TV (I didn’t really need the time study for that), and that I could reallocate that time to something that I value more.

Before the time study, I would have guessed that I work 45-50 hours per week. I was brutally honest during this time study and only booked the time toward work if they were productive working minutes, and I was surprised that it was closer to 37-40 hours!

Have you completed a time study? Do you think you’d be surprised by the results?

Change your mindset.

It’s not about each DAY it’s about the accumulation of time.

Another huge point from Vanderkam’s book, was not to focus so much on each 24-hour increment. It’s overwhelming some days thinking through all of your priorities!

Instead, think of the accumulation of time spent doing certain activities. You might feel like you don’t spend enough time with your spouse or kids throughout the week, but during the weekend, you might spend 10 straight hours with them (and then want a break!).

Don’t focus on the short-term time as much as the mid- to long-term.

Set priorities and stick to them!

I remember when I was pregnant with my son and talked to my mom about life after baby. (Side note: I knew EVERYTHING about children at that point!)

She was trying to prepare me for the competing priorities I would face and said, “you just have to decide what you want.” To which I replied, “I want it all!” I want the killer career, perfect child, the giant clean house, the fun and romantic marriage, leadership roles in my church, strong friendships, marathon PR times, and the volunteer resume that Bono would be jealous of. 

But I quickly learned that I cannot do it all –- and still be happy. Instead, I set priorities. My faith, my family, and my job take the top three slots. From there, I must choose what will take up the rest of my time.

Set your priorities, stick to them, and don’t feel guilty saying no!

Life hack: If you value friendships more than a clean house, then go out to dinner instead of having friends over to your messy house!

How about you?

What do you think of these tips? What have you discovered to help better balance competing priorities?

Let us know

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