The last several weeks months I’ve felt overwhelmed, on edge, not productive enough and annoyed. It hasn’t been fun. I don’t think the guys living with me have enjoyed it either. I’ve felt this way because of my seemingly unending to-do list that included work, home, family and personal tasks.
It took a while for me to have a lightbulb moment: I’m the one putting pressure on myself to do all of these things on my ever-growing to-do list.
Yes, there are certain tasks that I need to get done in a very specific time frame, but the rest I have a say in. And I’ve been saying to myself that I need to get A LOT done daily. But guess what? The amount of work I have and the amount of time I have do not match up right now. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.
So now, I’m trying something new. I’m doing less work and playing more. And guess what? I’m happier, less stressed, and I’m pretty sure I’ve actually been more productive lately. I still don’t get done everything that I want to, but I’m more realistic of what I can do, and I’m more forgiving of myself for what I put off.
What am I doing exactly?
My real-life friends often ask when I get work done because they know I’m with one or both of my kids pretty much all of the time. The answer is usually “I work all of the time because I don’t really have much dedicated work time.” I really end up working before my husband goes to work, I sneak it in during the day, when my little one naps, and as soon as their heads hit the pillow, I’m back at my computer.
Doing this daily, for months, has left me frazzled, frustrated, and with divided attention most of the day. This isn’t a healthy approach for me or my kids. So, I’m committing to working less. Well, really getting less work done on a daily basis.
I understand that not everyone has the luxury of simply deciding that they’re going to work less. This is one of the perks of being self-employed. A drawback, however, is that if you put in less work, you may see less progress. I’m still trying to be okay with this idea. But for now, I’m going with reality of time available to me to work and then focusing on what I really can get done in that time.
For a while we weren’t doing formal playdates. We have a great neighborhood where friends are out most afternoons so impromptu playdates happen regularly. This is great, but because of the ease of this, we weren’t making a point to see other friends and do different activities out of the house.
In the last several weeks we’ve had some really fun play dates with friends, I’ve grabbed coffee with a girlfriend without the kiddos, and I went walking with a couple moms with the little kids. I even . . . wait for it . . . went out to dinner with a friend . . . until 11:30 at night!! All of that has brought back some much needed sanity in my life.
Again, not everyone has the time or the people to have regular playdates with, but take a moment to check in if you’re getting enough play (fun) time in your life. Even if you can’t do a girl’s night out, what about a girl’s night in? Can you and your partner trade nights to get out, or even lock yourself in another room and just relax?
Making time for yourself is hugely important to finding balance, and I know for myself (and many other moms I know), that time for ourselves is usually the lowest on our list of priorities. This usually needs to change to create more balance.
When you Can’t Achieve Less Work and More Play
I definitely know that this approach won’t work for everyone, for any number of reasons. This strategy may work at certain points in life and not others. If you’re at a point in time where you can’t work less and (or) play more, then try these other ideas to help create a bit more balance:
• Take your daily to do list and choose several activities that aren’t urgent for today.
• Decide that you won’t feel guilty if you have items left on your daily list.
• Feel good about everything that you are accomplishing on a regular basis.
• Change up your routine; go outside if you normally stay in or try a new park if you always go to the same one.
• Think about where else in life you can simplify: can you do easier lunches this week, or just throw the clothes in drawers instead of folding?
• Talk to your friends and understand that you’re not alone!
Finding balance is an ongoing process that often requires self-correction. It doesn’t take much for life to become unbalanced quickly. Don’t beat yourself up or stress more than you need to. Instead, make a plan for what you can do to change what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. If you can, try working less and playing more and see what changes for you.
What are the ways that you create balance in your life?