If you’re always busy but feel like you aren’t performing at the optimal level in some areas of your life, then perhaps you need to check your work/life balance. It’s a very common problem and the work/home balance is probably the most challenging of all. It seems that you are needed everywhere and if you are a mother, there’s no end to that even when you get home after your work day! And if you are a solo parent the problem is escalated because you don’t have the luxury of back-up support at home.
Feeling satisfied that you’ve done a good job and are on top of things is what gives you the feeling of complete contentment. But when you are being pulled this way and that, how do you achieve it? Here’s some tips that will help you have a better work/life balance:
- Prioritize: It’s a good idea to make sure that your time is spent doing the things that are important. A lot of times we are very busy but we busy ourselves with things that really don’t matter because they are easier or ‘apparently’ urgent (not always the case if you really look into it). Working with good time management is just as important in your personal life as it is for work. Make yourself a to-do list that is in order of priority for the day, and then stick to it. Don’t be tempted to say, “I’ll just do these little things first” and then find you’ve run out of time to tackle the more important tasks. For example, if it’s important that you take your son to his final hockey game but you get delayed at work reading emails and that makes you late, putting your son’s game on your schedule for the day and prioritizing him before last-minute email checking would mean a smoother and happier end to your day.
- Give yourself downtime in your schedule: We can’t all be Wonder Woman and if you have such a full schedule there’s no flex time, something’s got to give. And the thing that will give eventually is your health and your sanity! Schedule breaks in your day for some downtime and make sure you take them. Whether that’s at work or at home, we all need a little time to refresh our energy. It may only be five minutes but that small breather space can make all the difference. Remember, a little relaxation goes a long way.
- Rethink what you commit to and learn to say no: It’s very easy to take on too much and then when it comes time to follow through, it turns into a hassle. As conscientious workers and parents, we don’t like to let people down so we say yes to a lot of things that we probably shouldn’t have committed to. Before you commit and say yes, ask yourself, “Is this important to me or am I doing it because I feel obliged?” If it’s not important, then decline and focus instead on what is important.
- Communicate: If people see that you are efficient and busily doing what you need to do, they’ll assume you are happy about it. If you aren’t happy about it or feel you need to get more balance back, then you must speak up so those around you know. The simple art of communication allows the people around you to either offer support or understand why you said no! Armed with information we can all make better decisions and choices.
- Fight the guilty feeling: If you can’t be somewhere or do something because you’ve made a conscious decision not to, then don’t feel guilty about it! We can’t be everywhere or do everything for everyone ALL of the time. Just because someone else has the tidiest house on the block, doesn’t mean you have to be cleaning at 9pm after the kids are in bed in competition with them. If you can’t or don’t want to be on the soccer committee, it’s not the end of the world! If you know you have made the decision for the right reasons, then let it go and once again focus on what is important…your sanity!
- Set some boundaries: If you are a kind and caring person (as I’m sure you are) you are probably a people pleaser too. That means that you tend to drop everything and help out, whenever there’s a need. But when is a right time and a wrong time? That’s entirely up to you, so you need to set yourself some boundaries for when you do things. If you want to always have Saturday as a sacred family day, where you spend quality time watching your kids play sport, don’t agree to go do overtime at work!
And just in case you haven’t got the message that life is too short to do anything other than the important things, read these wise words from Don Herold’s famous poem:
If I had my life to live over, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I know of very few things that I would take seriously. I would be crazier. I would be less hygienic. I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.