How many times do we run through a busy week, running people around, cleaning the house, making sure there is food to eat and clean clothes to wear, working, paying the bills, keeping up with friends and family, somehow finding time to sleep (when we’re not stressing about all the things we need to do tomorrow) and reach the weekend thinking ‘I need more balance in my life!’.
Wouldn’t it be nice to feel more fulfilled in all the areas of your life, rather then constantly feeling guilty that there is some area being neglected? You can!
Life balance will mean something different for everyone, we are all unique and we lead different lives, it just makes sense that there would be no ‘one solution fits all’ for finding your balance. Call it work/life balance if you will, personally I refer to it as ‘life balance’ because your work is part of your life, and it isn’t seen as being separate in my mind. Its all about how we spend our date to day lives. We want to be able to balance our mind, heart, health, work, social, family, and fun. All of these different areas of your life intertwine in different ways, and finding the right balance for you is the key to feeling more fulfilled and happy.
Before you can ‘balance’ your life, you need to know how you are spending your time. My challenge to you is to think about an average week and to note down what you are generally doing throughout the day, include how much sleep you are getting, and time you spend preparing meals, eating, cleaning, driving etc.
Here is an example of a week in the life of Jane Smith:
You can see that her week is packed, she gets about 8 hours sleep a night, she works 3 days a week, she keeps the house clean, family fed, and she has a lot of running kids around to do.
Now imagine Jane decided she wanted to feel more balanced. For her this might mean doing more things for herself as she already does everything she can for her family. Say she wanted to start exercising more, take up an art class, go out to dinner with her husband once a week, or catch up with her friends twice a month.
For Jane, adding in any new habits or goals to her full week is going to take a miracle. Right now she has a full schedule, everyday is full of things she is committed to and do on a regular basis. So what happens when you decide to add more/new things to your list? You burn out. You can’t add water to a cup that is already full. If Jane wanted to just add in some ‘me time’ it will get cancelled time and time again because there just isn’t room for it ‘right now’. Sound familiar?
To find your balance you need to make some clear and real decisions. Not every week is the same, there are different commitments that happen at different times of the year and this will change your week. For now we just want to do an overview, focus on what’s happening now.
Once you have a draft you need to look at it with assessing eyes. There are 168 hours in the week, most people will need to sleep for at least 46 of those hours (I’m an 8 hour a night kind of girl so its 56 hours a week for me). So far that leaves 122 hours, take away work – 40 hours full time leaving 82 hours, or 20 hours part time leaving 102. Factor in time for driving to and from work (Lets estimate 3 hours a week), and your hygiene routine, lets assume 4 hours a week total and we’re looking at between 75 and 95 hours!
There are always going to be things you have to do that you would rather not do at all, but they all help you achieve your overall goals in the end. Not having to do the housework and cooking would be huge time savers, but not eating and smelling really bad are not idea either. You may be in a position to outsource some of these tasks, and that’s great! Free up your time and spend it doing the other things higher up on your list.
Using Jane as an example, she could introduce an hour a night of quality family time and she would instantly have an hour to herself. As it is they have 2 hours in the evening mostly spent watching TV and not really having ‘family time’ at all. On Thursdays and Fridays she doesn’t work as she catches up on house stuff and errands. If Jane tweaked these tasks she could fit in a class or some exercise! Say she changes to automatic payments rather then spending all that time on the phone paying bills. Once or twice a month she could spend Sunday breakfast with her girlfriends and have the rest of the day with her family. It’s all about making concious decisions about how you spend your time.
Give up the juggling act and be practical about how you spend your time. Life is too short to feel guilty about how you spend your time, so stop! Act conciously and you’ll find your balance.