At the start of June I wrote a post on how I was sucking at work life balance. I had launched this blog only a month before and my work life balance had gotten seriously unbalanced in a short period of time. I was working all the time. My kids were annoyed and if I wasn’t working, I often felt on edge, like I should be working. I wanted to work; I was enjoying it but it had become too much.
This blog evolved from an idea that moms can use support when they’re trying to balance work and life. Work may be in or out of the home (or both in my case) and sometimes work is paid (woo hoo!) and other times we’re working for free (Yep, parenting! But the love, hugs and wonderful moments are the tip of the iceberg of the payment we receive). I had become the mom that I was hoping to “speak” to. So it was time to practice what I was preaching.
In that post where I shared about my struggles, I wrote about 4 steps to help lead to more balance. I’ve been using them and so far I’m feeling much better!
Here is what I’ve done:
- Said “no”
- Gotten more organized
- Checked social media less
If you downloaded my Guide to Sucking Less at Balance, you know that there is actually a step that comes before step 1 and I wanted to talk more about it today. (Don’t worry, I’ll cover the other steps soon!)
Before we get to that super-secret step, we need to remember that when it comes to creating balance, it’s an ongoing process. Balance may look different day-to-day. If we expect that the same things will always be the priority, then we may be setting ourselves up for stress.
Take my kids for example (I have two boys. One is 4 and the other is 1). In the big picture? Yes, they are my priority. On a daily basis? Not always. Some days, work comes first. Sometimes cleaning the house gets prioritized over them. Occasionally socializing becomes more important. In those moments, no, my kids are not the first thing I am focused on, but by being clear on what the priority is in that moment and taking care of it, or taking care of myself, I am then able to shift my focus back to my kids and have them be the priority.
With that being said, what is Step 1??
Step 1 is Awareness.
Awareness is noticing and knowing what you have going on in your life right now. What are all of the things, people, responsibilities and more that are competing for your time and attention? You may think you’re aware and know about everything that is consuming your time and energy but we may miss a few things.
Take action: Create awareness
I want you to take time to write down (on paper, your phone, your calendar, or use the free 3-page planner) everything you are trying to balance (It’s not so simple as work life balance). Think about people, tasks, activities, jobs, family, yourself, etc. Some of these may not seem urgent, like reading a certain book, but if you continue to think about the book you want to read, or you simply would like to finish the book, this is something that competes for your energy and attention.
Include the positives that you want to do as well as those that seem negative, or that you’d like to avoid. If you have been meaning to get that dentist appointment scheduled and keep putting it off (that may be me I’m talking about!), put it on the list. It may take a couple of days to really have a full list of everything that competes for attention in your life.
So now that you’re aware, you may be feeling overwhelmed.
This is normal when we really see everything we’re trying to manage. But don’t stop reading or give up!
Step 2 is prioritize.
When we prioritize, we’re making a point to say that one “thing” is more important than another and we’re making a choice to put said “thing” above others.
Keep in mind that prioritizing is very individualized and what I choose to prioritize may be (will be) different than you. And what I prioritize today is probably different than what I prioritize tomorrow. Priorities change- that’s okay.
So what I’d like you to do:
- Pick 3-5 priorities for the next month
- Choose 2-3 of those priorities to focus on for the next week
- Each day this week, determine 1 or 2 priorities that take precedent over all others.
- Repeat this each week this month
By taking these steps and narrowing down, you can become very clear on what you want or need to focus on. Keep in mind as you do this and start focusing on your chosen priorities, you can change the plan. Balance is an ongoing act and we may become unbalanced when we forget, or don’t allow ourselves to change the plan. And even with clear, well-planned priorities, we may still feel unbalanced. For me, creating work life balance is an ongoing act. This is feeling is another layer of awareness and when you notice it, I’d encourage you to check back in with your priorities and see what adjustments may need to be made.
What are you going to prioritize this week? What might you have to put aside?