Do you feel like you are juggling it all: work, home, family, personal lives?
Are you never quite sure what day it is and what you should be doing for whom (and when it needs to be done by!)?
I can so relate.
As a full time working mom, with a disabled husband, and a part time side job, my to-do list feels never ending. I fully believe that I will never have it all “under control”; seasons in life change and needs change. However, I do have some strategies that have helped me find balance and may help you too!
Color code your roles
We all have many roles. Consider which of these roles describes an important part of your life:
I highly recommend that you determine a color for each of these areas. Put a “key” on your bulletin to help you remember. Remember that none of these roles in isolation defines you. It is the beautiful blend of colors that create who you are.
Compartmentalize your time
I could not live without my google calendar, which I share with my husband. The temptation is to put everything on the same calendar and call it all “my schedule”. It is important, however, to mentally segment activities into the different parts of your life. Get yourself ready for work activities during work time, then family activities in the evening and possibly some personal activities before bed.
Within many online calendars, you can segment events into different calendars. Make the calendar distinguishable by using your color coding system. For example, my family color is dark green. So everything on my calendar that related to a family event is green. This system works equally well for paper calendars (although it can be a pain to keep all of the colors handy).
Keeping separate calendars (or at least coloring them) helps narrow down what you need to focus on and when. The day seems less daunting when you think in time chunks (home, work, personal, family), rather than mixing them all together into brain soup.
Create separate to-do lists
I am a big fan of an occasional brain dump. List everything that you can think of that needs to get done. This should be done quickly and without much thought, and can include everything from begin a vacation savings account to buy milk at the story today. From there, however, I highly recommend that you organize your to-do lists by role.
I use my color coded system to write in my planner each day what I need to get done as a business owner and as a mom. When I get to work, I write another to do list of what needs to get done at work. With few exceptions, I do not do work things at home and I do not do home things at work. This helps my brain to be more fully present wherever I am, makes me more efficient, and helps create more balance.
Keep work at work
Just as I keep separate calendars and to-do lists, I keep my work at work. This means that I do not have work email on my phone. I do not bring home paperwork. I don’t even bring home my computer. Yes, I may need to come into work a little early or stay late, but this commitment to keeping these parts of my life separate from each other has helped me stay sane.
If keeping work only at your work location is not an option (due to family or other obligations), create a specific time period at home in which you finish up your work and do not stray from that time. Maybe you have to pick up your kids at 4:00 pm and cannot stay late at work. Commit to spending 6:00-7:00 completing your work and do not spend even an extra minute on it. Your home should be a place for your family and personal life. Your office should be a place for your work life.
Balance your learning
As an avid reader, I have a tendency to find one genre and stick to it closely. To find balance, however, I find that reading a variety of books about the different areas of my life is the most satisfying. I read many fiction books, but then throw in some parenting, spiritual, marriage, and even professional development books as well.
I also enjoy listening to podcasts. Recently I moved beyond news podcasts to also include spiritual and even work related podcasts. I feel that the different parts of my life are all growing together and keeping in balance.
Keeping balance in the midst of a crazy life is hard, very hard. We have different roles, obligations, and interests that pull us in multiple directions at once. With planning and mindfulness, we can all take steps to embracing and balancing our lives.
Are you interested in taking your organization to the next level? Consider taking one of my highly sought after online courses:
The Organized SLP (sign up for June’s waiting list)
Productivity and Organization for Women (begin anytime!)
Tell me reader, do you struggle with keeping balance in your life? What additional tips do you have?